After the previous operator of the Town of Colonie Golf Course clubhouse asked to break its contract, the town board made a quick decision in February to allow the only other bidder to start making changes before the golf season started.
When the town gave Martel’s Restaurant, Inc. the green light to start making renovations to the clubhouse on Feb. 27 — after Big Ed Fat Field, Inc. asked to get out of its contract with the town — Roger Martel had a lot of work to do.
In the last two-and-a-half months, Martel, owner of Martel’s Restaurant at Capital Hills Golf Course, had been diligently remodeling and preparing the clubhouse at the Colonie Golf Course to open before Memorial Day weekend.
“We actually pretty much gutted the place, the cosmetic end of it. We started with a new bar, new tables, new chairs, new draft beer system, new TV’s … We redid the ceiling and new carpeting,” said Martel.
While the clubhouse is on the golf course, Martel is looking at the bigger picture and can see the potential for the clubhouse to be a local attraction for dining and drinks. There will be patio seating available, overlooking the course and driving range.
“I’m here to do business with the golfers, as well as the neighborhood. I think this could be a nice neighborhood tavern. It’s family style. We’re going to have a kids menu, as well as a full menu for lunch and dinner. We’ll probably do breakfast on the weekends,” said Martel.
Longevity isn’t common in the restaurant business, but Martel has been in the game for 47 years and has owned the restaurant at Capital Hills for 21. He attributes his staying power to family and friends.
“I’ve had a lot of family support that has enabled me to be as successful as I have been in this business and a lot of good friends who are always supporting in many different ways — whether it’s being a helping hand when I need one or coming in and having dinner and spending their hard-earned money. Without that, you can’t survive,” said Martel.
Having support from friends and family helps, but a business won’t generate repeat customers without great service and dedicated, professional employees. The kitchen staff will be made of some of Martel’s former employees.
“The hard work of good employees is another key to our success. At Capital Hills, we have a lot of long-term employees. We’re very fortunate and respectful of that,” said Martel. “
The town has played an important and supportive role in Martel getting the business going. The town board made a decision in February to get a reliable business in to start preparing for the upcoming the golf season, knowing there wouldn’t be much time to settle in.
“In this particular venue, the support of the town has been very much appreciated in getting things done that need to be done. We didn’t get this bid until the last Thursday in February. To take this and make this transition and get all this work done in what I consider a short period of time … If you listen to the golfers out there, this is something that should have started back in November,” said Martel.
After being in the business as long as he has, Martel doesn’t plan on getting out anytime soon. There are parts of the job that make him eager to get to work everyday.
“The thrill of this business is the people you meet everyday, the excitement of the kids that work for you when they are 15 or 16 years old and now some of them are lawyers, doctors and engineers. It’s very rewarding to see they kept the same work ethic over the years, and now they have matured into adults,” said Martel.
“Obviously, the customers too. It’s very rewarding to see people and see them happy and enjoying their food and beverages, as well as bringing their families in. And I’m my own boss,” Martel added with a laugh.