ALBANY — The Skinny Pancake, a mission-driven eatery focused on serving local food, was welcomed to downtown Albany with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday, March 10.
The opening of the downtown Albany location, the company’s first in New York, comes nearly 20 years after The Skinny Pancake started as a food truck that brothers Benjy and Jonny Adler constructed themselves.
Opening inside the Kenmore Building, the catalyst for the Downtown location came following their participation in a local event in 2019, when Capital Region Chamber President & CEO Mark Eagan recognized a natural pairing between the Vermont-based creperie and what Redburn Development envisioned for the historic Downtown property.
“From their delicious meals, to their fun and funky atmosphere, to their commitment to using local suppliers when possible, we are so pleased to welcome The Skinny Pancake to the Capital Region,” he said. “They are the perfect fit for Redburn’s redevelopment of the Kenmore in downtown Albany. We are hopeful that this will be the first of several area locations that will open in the years to come.”
With the owners sold on both the vision Redburn Development Partners Principal Jeff Buell shared for the 3,200-square-foot space and the building’s development into a commercial and residential hub, the lease was signed, and construction began to build a restaurant where, Benjy Adler said, people would walk in and instantly feel comfortable.
“The Kenmore building is almost 200,000 square feet in total size. The most important spaces in this huge volume are not the 93 apartments, but the 10,000 square feet that make up our street front retail spaces,” Buell said. “These retailers, including the Skinny Pancake, enliven the streetscape and help us move towards our goal of creating an 18-hour downtown in Albany. We are overjoyed to have them in our neighborhood.”
The Skinny Pancake customers are greeted by a dining area comprised of both tables and chairs along the walls and a lounge area in the center of the room. Accenting the space are paintings by local artists, a chandelier made from a nearly 100-year-old wagon wheel, and a cast-iron stove emblazoned with “Happy Thought” from a Vermont farmhouse that doubles as a coffee bar.
“At The Skinny Pancake we serve more than food, we serve a purpose, and our customers are the reason we can fulfill it,” Benjy Adler said. “We fell in love with the Capital Region long ago and are overjoyed at the great response we’ve had since opening.”
Crepes, salads, and burgers including vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options are served at The Skinny Pancake, with the All Day Burrito and Everything But The Bagel Crepe launching with the opening of the new location. Favorite menu items for Downtown customers, Adler says, are the Johnny Crepe (maple BBQ pulled pork, maple BBQ sauce, caramelized onions, and Cabot cheddar in a cornmeal crepe) and The Cheesy Chicken Pesto (roasted chicken, house-made pesto, caramelized onions, VT mozzarella and Cabot cheddar). Customers can pair their meals with coffee, teas, sodas, beer, wine, and cocktails.
The Skinny Pancake’s expansion was about more than growing their footprint to include both the Green Mountain and Empire States. In Vermont, Adler says, the local food movement is increasingly becoming the standard and that to further their cause, The Skinny Pancake would need to expand outside the state to larger population centers. Customers at the Downtown location are tasting the flavors of local vendors that include Highland Hollow Farm, Halo Wholesale, Indian Ladder Farm, Stacks Espresso Bar, Yesfolk Tonics, and Wild Hill Maple.
Their mission to build a safer, healthier, and more delicious foodshed while working with communities in ways that go beyond a transactional relationship generally associated with the restaurant industry has taken shape in many forms. The Skinny Pancake is committed to donating 1 percent of their revenue to organizations that directly benefit the local foodshed. On top of what’s baked into the company’s DNA, as a response to COVID-19 the Adlers launched ShiftMeals to help feed the many unemployed members of the community; since the program began it has grown to include, among other things, community collective garden initiatives.
Benjy Adler was present for the ribbon-cutting ceremony and was also joined by Downtown Albany Business Improvement District (BID) Executive Director Georgette Steffens, Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, Albany County Senior Policy Analyst Lucas Rogers.
“It’s been amazing to experience people trying their first crepes or revisiting a memory from a visit to our Burlington location, and we are grateful to Redburn Development, our team, and our customers who have welcomed us so warmly into this neighborhood,” Benjy Adler said.
“Every day, you all show us how right we were in joining Downtown, and we look forward to many more years of serving you meaningful meals.”