In this issue, we spotlight Ambition Bistro and the Jay Street Marketplace of Schenectady small businesses. The Mission of Taste of Schenectady® is to inspire people to support family owned and independent restaurants and gourmet food and lifestyle businesses—as well as our local community, and ALL of its people!
AMBITION BISTRO The Most Unknown Restaurant in Schenectady Celebrating 18 Years! Renson and Salomon opened Ambition Coffee & Eatery April 10th, 2000, in downtown Schenectady. They purchased the building formerly home to the historic Old Jay Tavern at 154 Jay Street (on the Jay Street Pedestrian Mall and walkway). Renson holds a degree in Culinary Arts from Schenectady County Community College and Salomon holds a degree in Business/Marketing from Siena. Ambition started out just as a restaurant which then morphed into something greater and larger than they ever expected. Along the way, Marc let his passion out and when asked, “What is Ambition?” Renson normally responds, “I don’t know. Ambition is my soul, and how do you describe a soul? And if you can describe a soul, then that’s Ambition.” Encountering strange customers and wild experiences Renson said to himself, “…this is a book.” So he started keeping notes of all the odd things that happened. From customers asking if the cream of tomato had milk in it or what does the vanilla tea taste like? He took those notes and penned his hilarious memoir, Is the Coffee Fresh? Drama, dysfunction and daily life at a downtown coffeehouse. Nationally published by 23House Publishing, his book won the award for best non-fiction in 2017. Is the Coffee Fresh? Drama, dysfunction and daily life at a downtown coffeehouse. Renson was chef to Bradley Cooper for seven weeks while Cooper filmed The Place Beyond the Pines, and also periodically fed the co-stars too--- Ryan Gosling, Eva Mendes and Ray Liotta. Broadwayworld.com contacted Renson and asked if they could film a video in his restaurant while Priscilla Queen of the Desert was at Proctors. Renson appeared twice on the nationally syndicated The Dr Oz Show (only for a cameo appearance both times serving food to the Doctor and his VIP guests). ESPN owner Bill Rasmussen said to Renson, “Ambition always wins” as Marc fed him for two days while he visited Downtown Schenectady. 20 Taste of Schenectady® and Beyond • www.tasteofschenectady.com • Vol. 4 • No. 1
Then came The Cake Boss, Alton Brown, Kristin Chenoweth, Bethenny Frankel, George Hamilton, KD Lang, Barbara Eden, and Miss America. “I fed a burger to The Godfather of Soul James Brown,” said Ambition co-owner Marc Renson---as he let out an umm, tilted his head and gave a wink, as if saying, yay, I’m cool! as the specialty sandwiches---and the crisp, fresh greens and fresh vegetable garnishes make the perfect accompaniment and/or entrée. Renson’s bread pudding won the award from Taste of the Capital Region---and the judges from Yelp Albany chose his chili as winner in the Chili Chow Down contest 2016. Ambition was chosen as one of the best restaurants in 2013 by the Daily Gazette---and was voted as one of the restaurants you must see when visiting Schenectady from Culture Trip in 2015. Now celebrating 18 years in operation, this Downtown Schenectady restaurant is known for its funky menu, nostalgic atmosphere (“if you like the gay 80s,” says Renson), and openness! Ambition also offers a fully stocked bar. Their barista prepares all espresso-based coffee drinks, smoothies and teas. Ambition specializes in serving breakfast and specialty sandwiches Monday through Friday 8am till 3pm, and a phenomenal Brunch---open till 8pm on evenings, during Proctors’ shows. I personally love the delicious and dreamy sandwiches, and earthy selection of breads--- Sourdough, Multigrain, Rye, Pumpernickel, Spinach Wrap, Tomato Wrap, Wheat Wrap, Croissant, Hard Roll, or Bagel ($1 additional on whole sandwiches only), Herbed Focaccia, Sun-dried Tomato Ciabatta, or Pretzel Bread (for an additional $2 whole sandwiches only). Select your bread and Build- Your-Own Sandwiches by choosing your favorite meat (Turkey, Honey Ham, Roast Beef, Albacore Tuna Salad, and Pesto Chicken Salad), as well as cheese selections and/or gourmet-made spreads. Saturday and Sunday Brunch-starting at 9am. Choose one of the specialty Omelets, sandwiches and/or salads! Drink selections include; Mimosa, Bloody Mary, South of the Border with shot of Kahlua and whipped cream, Irish coffee with Bushmill’s whiskey and whipped cream, and/or Godiva Hot Chocolate. You’ll taste the difference at Ambition Bistro! ADV 154 Jay Street · Schenectady, NY (518) 382-9277 ambitionbistro.com Ambition Bistro offers Build-Your-Own Salads all-year-long. The salad selections are as eclectic Taste of Schenectady® and Beyond • www.tasteofschenectady.com • Vol. 4 • No. 1 21