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A look inside The Shop in Troy

The Shop bar

By Lauren Hittinger

This Friday marks the grand opening for The Shop, a new restaurant and bar in downtown Troy. It's the third commercial space to open at the former site of Trojan Hardware along 4th Street and Congress, following the May opening of Rare Form Brewing Co. and the Collar Works art gallery.

Looking to create a neighborhood bar, owner Kevin Blodgett says The Shop will have a "casual atmosphere, with no pretense. We just want people who are going to enjoy good food and good conversation."

I stopped by to talk to Blodgett and his partner Nada Rifai to get the scoop on the restaurant, the building, and how The Shop fits into Troy.

There are photos from The Shop above in large format -- click or scroll all the way up.

How are you different from other places in Troy?

Blodgett: What we're offering here is different in the sense that we are taking what we've learned from traveling around different cities, what we've found on the Internet, and what works in urban locations like this -- and is essentially absent here -- which is raising the bar to a higher standard.

We're offering a lot of small-batch spirits that can't be found most places in town. We're are only putting quality craft beers on tap. We're dealing with a lot of small-scale breweries. Some of them are brand new, and some of them are lesser known.

And with respect to our food, we're not offering burgers, wings, nachos -- none of the standard pub fare. All of it is made in house. There's not a microwave in the kitchen. And everything is made to order. For example, a lot of places around here will offer brisket. It's always barbecue brisket. Our brisket is a French country recipe.
We're not reinventing the wheel, but we are putting our own spin on it. Making it unique. Making it ours.

Rifai: The idea behind the menu was to take really simple ingredients -- no crazy expensive cuts of meat or crazy expensive cheeses -- so it remains at a price people can afford. We're taking simple ingredients and elevating them to the point of sexy and exciting. And the kicker -- because we're not using crazy expensive ingredients -- you don't need to boost the price. It's really fun; it's playful.

The Shop beer tap handles

You have a really interesting interior to this space. Tell me about it, and your inspiration.

Blodgett: I'd call it vintage industrial design. About 90 percent of the material in here is reclaimed and reused material, and at least 75 percent of it came from this collection of buildings -- whether it was from the apartments upstairs or stuff from the basement.

All of these materials, most people would have thrown them in the landfill. But with a little bit of extra work, a little bit of skill, and an eye for detail, you can turn them into really cool features in a space like this. We're all about all-natural materials: wood, concrete, steel. There's nothing synthetic, there's nothing manufactured in China.

And what about the wood shop theme?

Blodgett: Coming from a background in carpentry, it was kind of natural for me to want to do a shop-themed space. It's tricky to pull that off without being kitschy or cheesy, so we tried to soften that a lot, but there's certainly an element of old tools and craftsmanship and that kind of thing.

I do have a wood shop in the compound in the back, and we used to have friends over there all the time to hang out by the wood stove, play cards, and laugh and drink. And I just wanted to create that kind of feeling, but open to the public, because people loved hanging out there.

The Shop is only a small part of a larger building that you've been rehabbing. What is your history with this space?

Blodgett: The hardware store [Trojan Hardware] was here for 90-plus years. They started in one of these buildings and over the course of those 90-plus years bought up the adjacent buildings. So this compound, as we call it, was originally seven separate buildings that is now one parcel.

The hardware store occupied the entire first floor and as they acquired buildings they'd just knock through the brick wall and join them together. So since late 2012 we've been in the process of dividing them back up into individual commercial spaces to make them more manageable for today's business climate -- smaller, more manageable spaces.

The Shop space being renovated in 2014 May
The Shop space back in May 2014 as it was still being renovated.

Why did you buy this building originally?

Blodgett: I must be crazy. It didn't look this big when I bought it...

When I moved back to Troy, I moved back with an interest in architecture and design and rehab and all that stuff. I completed one building and sold it, and I was into my second one when this property became available. And the location is awesome because it's on a corner, so it gets a lot of natural light, it gets a lot of drive-by traffic, and it's on Route 2, which is one of the better-travelled routes of Troy.

It's a little bit on the outskirts of the heart of downtown, but you know, Troy was already coming back then, and it's only continued to go forward and develop and grow. Buildings are being bought and rehabbed all over the place now. Everyone thought I was an idiot back then, but you know...

What else is going on in your compound in the future?

Blodgett: Nada and I are currently trying to get all of the final pieces in place to have The Shop fully functional and not just limping to the starting gate.

I won't use that...

Blodgett: No, we're very public about that. This is our opening menu. We lost our chef a week and a half ago. So we had to pare down our menu to give the kitchen a chance to make it. So far they've been doing great. But you can see from the title -- it's called the "Everything Went Wrong, Shop's Opening Menu."

We're very candid about things not going according to plan. That's small business. Things are going to go wrong, it's just how quickly you can you adapt, adjust, and correct.

The 35,000 square foot "compound" has two more undeveloped commercial spaces that are being rehabbed, in addition to seven loft-style apartments that will be available to rent later this year and early 2015. After The Shop is complete, Blodgett and Rifai plan to open a deli and marketplace in the corner space at 4th and Congress.

Currently The Shop will be open 7 days a week, starting at 4PM -- they're planning weekend brunch in the future.

Lauren writes about shopping, crafting, and living well on a small budget at The Thrifty Ginger.

Earlier on AOA: Rare Form Brewing Company

Find It

The Shop
135 4th Street
Troy, NY 12180


Awesome! I can't wait to check this out during Troy Night Out. Do they have S&S beer on tap? I've been trying to find it in Troy. https://www.facebook.com/sandsbrewery

OK, this is completely unconnected, but I drove by here yesterday and noticed the building next door to The Shop looks to be just one bay window wide, and two stories tall. Anyone know what this is? Is it its own property or just connected to one of the other buildings? Reminds me of the Skinny House in Boston.

Hi Rich- It doesn't look like they have that on tap right now. Here's a close-up of their current beer menu (as of 10/30): http://i.imgur.com/BNMhfKf.jpg

Thanks for the pic Lauren! I see a Rushing Duck in my future. Ha.

Ryan-- it's not unconnected at all! Kevin Blodgett owns, and is developing, that entire massive building on the corner. If you're facing the front door of The Shop, the building to the left is Collar Works, a gallery and arts space. It's a little narrow building with a door only in the rear. There's an art opening there Friday night, too!
The right hand side of The Shop is also part of this same "compound," but it's not working commercial space yet.

Interesting, would like to see the entire menu.
Wonder if this is near my great uncle Dave's The 5 L's on Congress near the bridge. I think it got torn down though.

Seems like a more industrial version of another certain place in Troy without the crazy expensive cheeses and meats...

Thanks, Lauren! That's neat.

I went into this place the other night, because I was hungry (at 9 p.m.) and had nothing but oatmeal in the house. They put quite a bit of effort into the decor and the concept, and they should be complimented for their creativity. The food was good and cheap. The nice Lady tending bar was very friendly, extremely competent, and a warm presence.

That said, I think it might be time for me to move out of Troy. Troy has "jumped the shark".

This place is too affected for my tastes. I liked "Daisy Bakers". I liked Fuddy-Duddy Troy. I liked Dorky Troy. I really hope that Troy does not become some wannabe version of Hudson. That would really suck.

There is a cool bar in Philmont, NY that I love. I think it's called the "Public House". I stop in there from time to time when traveling back to Albany.

THAT is a bar. It's cool, and, if you don't know why it's cool, then you are not cool. Lo siento.

The Black Swan in Tivoli WAS a great bar.

My point is that you know a great bar when you see one. The Ruck is a great bar, period.

This "Shop" place is not a bar that I would have any interest in frequenting. My initial impression is that they are trying too hard to create a "scene". Too trendy. I suspect that this style will seem very dated in about 5 years. I am sorry to sound harsh, but that's just my first impression.

Troy needs a cool music venue with a quality, LOUD sound system that can play until 3 a.m. without neighbor complaints - and a person with good taste to book good bands.

This whole (Bushwick Lumberjack, whatever it is) aesthetic is becoming very boring, and it needs to go away. I hope that the next generation is cooking up something more interesting, because this is the most boring generation since I cannot remember when.

I wish them well, and I hope they make money. It's a damn-sight better than 90% of the bars out there, but I will not be going back.

We get it, Joe. We'll stay off your lawn.

Okay, Goader "LB"

I don't have a lawn.

This kind of thing (The Shop, or whatever-the-expletive) is not going to cut it.

I can buy good beer or wine and make decent meal on any Monday.

Give me a G-Damned reason to patronize this color-by-numbers Hipster bar!

I was pissing into ice cubes in 1999, at the base of the Manhattan Bridge! I'm tired of this crap! I am sick of this co-opted crap.

Who is footing the bill? Who is investing in this stuff?

Much of this recent development in Troy smacks of window-dressing. I get the sense that someone is calibrating the style and appearance of these places, so as to conform to a mainstream notion of "edgy" and "hip". I am not buying it.

This place smells of Bullshit.

Who is your chef? The place looks amazing!! Can't wait to go.

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