After over a century in Albany, Orchard Tavern expands to Guilderland

The Enterprise — Michael Koff 

Kris Monforte, owner of the Orchard Tavern in Albany, displays a pepperoni pizza and a cheeseburger. He plans to open Orchard Tavern West in Guilderland’s Star Plaza in September. 

GUILDERLAND — The Orchard Tavern, which has been in operation in Albany at 68 North Manning Boulevard since about 1903, will open its first-ever second location, in Guilderland’s Star Plaza, at 2050 Western Ave., in the former Dorato’s Restaurant. 

Owner Kris Monforte, 41, said his goal is to open the new restaurant, Orchard Tavern West, on Sept. 1. 

Orchard Tavern is famous for its pizza, which Monforte said is unique, and which will be unchanged in the new location. The dough, he said, is made fresh every morning and laid out in rectangular personal pans to rise; topping is added to the dough, along with sauce and cheese. Pizzas are all the same size, he said, about 8 by 11 inches. 

The Orchard Tavern West menu will be the same as in Albany, featuring appetizers, burgers, sandwiches, salads, and dishes such as chicken parmigiana or full-rack barbecue ribs, as well as pizza. The Guilderland eatery will have a few entrées added, including steak, Monforte said.

“We’ll dress up our salads a little bit,” he said. Vegan offerings that were recently launched in Albany will be available in Guilderland as well. 

The Albany location offers live music, on Thursday through Saturday nights, on a patio that seats 120, Monforte said. He may have scaled-down music — not loud, and not late — at the Guilderland location, he said, since the venue has a third room that could work well for that. 

He also will use that third room in Guilderland sometimes for family movie nights. Food will be served in that room family-style, with a screen showing a children’s movie. “And who cares how loud they are,” he said. A movie for parents will play on a second screen in that same room. 

Like the Albany location, the Guilderland restaurant will also serve brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

The brunch will feature a mimosa bar with $1 mimosas, he said, with a choice of three toppings from among shrimp, steak, bacon, stuffed olives, hard-boiled eggs, avocado, and pineapple. 

Among the brunch foods will be vegan pancakes, Monforte said, adding, “Nobody is doing those!” 

The location, Monforte said, is a “good spot, lots of people, lots of families.” Plaza owner Michael Ermides is eager to get the site back to being a busy corner, Monforte said, adding, “I think it will be very busy.” 

All the items on the menu will be available for take-out, and Monforte also plans to offer family-style take-out pre-set meals a few nights a week.

Monforte offers a discount to people serving in the military and first responders. He explained that the discount — half off their first drink, and 10 percent off their meal — applies to veterans and active-duty military, firefighters, police officers, and people providing emergency services. 

Monforte says he grew up in Malta and attended Christian Brothers Academy. He spent 15 years in corporate sales, selling medical equipment, before taking over Orchard Tavern on January 1, 2018. 

His father and grandfather had always owned their own businesses, and he had always wanted to, he said, adding, “I thought Orchard Tavern was just a great business.” 

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