Last January, Amanda and Mark Thompson closed the doors on their successful restaurant on 170 Lafayette St. in downtown Schenectady. Later this January, the couple are set to reopen at 135 Broadway in Schenectady. “God works in mysterious ways when you believe and wait patiently on his time of blessing,” Thompson wrote in an email exchange with The Alt.
Cooking southern cuisine for a living had been a dream of Amanda Thompson. She left her job at Walmart and sank $20,000 of her family’s cash into the Lafayette St. location after securing a lease from their landlord Marie Sgarlata.
After operating successfully for eight months and earning a reputation as one of the best Capital Region locations for authentic southern cuisine Sgarlata told them they had to vacate the premises.
Thompson told The Alt last year that Sgarlata “said she didn’t want us to be frying food anymore. She said that she didn’t know that we were going to be frying so much food.”
It was an odd situation to be in given that the restaurant was focused on southern cuisine from the start and had been thriving–no problems with customers, no late rent.
The couple says they offered to rent an empty storefront adjacent to the Lafayette St. property that Sgarlata also owned to address concerns she voiced about the size of their business, but a deal couldn’t be reached.
Jim Salengo of the Downtown Schenectady Improvement Corporation (DSIC) welcomed Ya Ya’s and went to bat for the restaurant trying to negotiate a new lease and then trying to help them find new space. Ya Ya’s had participated in the DSIC’s wing walk and their annual fundraiser.
“I’ve been working with them on and off for a year trying to help them find a spot,” Salengo told The Alt. “When I heard The Hot Spot’s lease was running up I spoke to the owners and gave then Amanda’s contact. It worked out in the long run and we’re very happy to have them.”
For Thompson, this means its back to businesses as usual–something she isn’t going to take for granted. “As far as the plans for the business we will continue to service the best in Soul Food but our hours will be a little different Monday-Saturday, 11-8 Serving Lunch and Dinner.”
The Alt will update this story when Thompson has a definite opening date.