A popular local eatery that closed its doors in 2011 after more than two and a half decades in business will reopen under new ownership next month.
LeAnn Ingalls, president and chief operating officer of the Whitehall Marina, said she anticipates diners sitting down to enjoy a meal or drink at the Finch and Chubb Restaurant within the next two weeks.
“We plan to open on March 13 if everything goes according to plan,” Ingalls said.
That date is symbolic because it comes exactly one year after the restaurant was purchased at auction by Bill Birna and the late Hillary “Bumper” Wagoner.
During the subsequent year, the eatery has undergone extensive improvements, some aesthetic, and others that are less noticeable but no less important.
“It’s a very old building with a great deal of character but there were some things that needed updating that have been updated while maintaining the integrity of the building,” said Ingalls, who will manage the restaurant. “It’s nice to take an old building like this, give it a little TLC and reopen it.”
Almost immediately after purchasing the 19th century building, the knob and tube electrical system was ripped out and replaced with modern wiring and fixtures. The kitchen was also completely renovated and modern appliances were installed.
The bar, commonly referred to as the Black Pearl, was repainted with lighter colors to give the room a more welcoming and comfortable atmosphere. The walls are now adorned with photographs of famous movie stars and professional athletes.
“It gives it a New York City kind of pub or bistro atmosphere,” Ingalls said. “I think people will be excited. I want people to feel comfortable coming in here dressed in their work clothes to have a drink or bring their family by for dinner.”
The foyer and dining area have been left largely unchanged and will be instantly familiar to anyone who frequented the restaurant in the past. While a new name for the restaurant was considered, Ingalls ultimately decided to stay with Finch and Chubb, largely out of respect to Ray and Linda Faville who built and nurtured the restaurant into a staple local and regional culinary scene.
“It has a good name and reputation. It’s an absolutely beautiful location and people came to Finch and Chubb for 26 years,” Ingalls said.
She said the restaurant will continue to offer fine dining in a casual atmosphere with price points between $8 and $22. The menu will include some of the eatery’s most well known entrees as well as the introduction of new dishes such as an organic black bean burger and elk flat iron steak, both of which will be prepared using farm fresh ingredients.
Some of the former staff will return and Ingalls, along with Abby Connors, a graduate of Whitehall High School and a culinary student at SUNY Adirondack, will handle much of the cooking.
During the summer the restaurant will offer outdoor dining with docks for boaters. All of the marina services will be located across the bay at the Whitehall Marina, which has hired an entirely new staff, and the two properties will complement each other.
The Dagon’s Den and Smokehouse, which is located at the marina, will serve pub and lunch fare while Finch and Chubb will cater to those looking for a quiet, sit down dinner.
“No menu items will be the same. Building upon the differences will make each stronger,” Ingalls said.
Finch and Chubb will initially serve dinner only and be open from 4 to 9 p.m. During the boating season it will have extended hours and be open seven days a week. The Whitehall Marina will reopen in mid-April.
“Finch and Chubb was popular and we believe with the work we’ve done and the introduction of new items on the menu it will be popular again,” Ingalls said.