Pakistani restaurant set to open in Altamont

— From Jeff Thomas  

The Altamont Planning Board last week approved the special-use permit for Curry Patta restaurant located in Altamont Corners, giving it the go-ahead to open for business. The board also got a first look at the conceptual plans to double the size for the new restaurant and add a deck and stone patio. 

ALTAMONT — While the pandemic has been hard on restaurants, it’s also what gave Nadia Raza the nudge she needed to pursue her dream of opening a Pakastani restaurant in the village she recently moved to and loves.

At a special Nov. 9 meeting, the Altamont Planning Board unanimously approved a special-use permit for the Curry Patta, located at the intersection of Main Street and Altamont Boulevard in the Altamont Corners shopping plaza.

The board, however, approved only the first phase of what could potentially be a multi-phase project, also hearing for the first time on Nov. 9 about the expansion plans from a representative of Altamont Corners owner Jeff Thomas.

The now-1,200 square-foot Pakistani restaurant will be housed in the former Subway sandwich shop. The space has been under construction for some time, but now, with the permit in hand, it can open for business. Raza, the restaurant’s owner, told The Enterprise she anticipates opening the weekend of Dec. 4.

Because of limited space — only 800 of the restaurant’s 1,200 square feet is available for diners — and because of the pandemic, Raza said that the plan is to have five tables available for in-person dining, spaced six feet apart from each other, and added that she anticipates doing a good amount of take-out and delivery service. 

Thomas said that Curry Patta couldn’t function long-term at its current size, but, with the addition, it would effectively make it a normal-sized restaurant, adding it may still be smaller than your average-sized restaurant. 

Dealing with the size of her restaurant is one thing, construction can solve that problem, but Raza is opening Curry Patta during month eight of a once-in-a-century pandemic. 

Asked how she thinks the initial opening of the restaurant will go, Raza said that when she “brainstorms” about the sales and support the restaurant will receive, she thinks that, during the first couple of weeks, the restaurant might do a lot of take-out business because residents might be excited about a new restaurant coming to the village.

But she’s also realistic that that excitement is likely to die down, which is true of any business, she said. And she’s not expecting to become super-rich, especially during the pandemic; she knows it’s going to be a roller coaster. “And we are anticipating just that,” she said. 

After moving with her family from Rotterdam to their Leesome Lane home two years ago, Raza said that they are now “diehard fans” of Altamont, their neighborhood is “amazing,” and the residents have been nothing but supportive — what better way to serve the community than to bring in a nice business to the village?



Raza said that she has wanted her own restaurant for the past five years. 

But, had she not had her baby, now seven months old, she probably would not have quit her job, which she described as an “amazing” job, and one she had for 12 years. And, had the pandemic not occurred, Raza may never have taken the plunge.

Raza had been the regional manager for a dental practice that had offices Albany, Latham, and Schenectady in addition to being the property manager of the eight-tenant Schenectady office, she said.

She jokingly said to her husband and her father — at some point over the course her baby- and pandemic-provided at-home period — that now might be the time to open that restaurant she’d always dreamed about.

Her own culinary endeavors began about three years ago, when she had her own food booth at the Altamont and Schaghticoke fairs, she said; she then started selling kebab rolls at Proctors in Schenectady, which “sold like hotcakes”

But Raza won’t be doing the cooking in Curry Patta. The restaurant’s chef, she said, relocated to the area from Orlando about a month-and-a-half ago, quarantined for two weeks, and is now helping to get the kitchen ready.

Her husband, Joseph, is the owner of JNC General Contracting, Raza said; he’s the one performing the buildout of her restaurant. In addition to the couple’s seven-month-old baby, they have two other children, ages 12 and 13, who are currently remote learners at Farnsworth Middle School.

As for how the construction is coming along, Raza said the only speed bump so far has been the hood-exhaust-system installation, which was supposed to take two weeks; it’s now week five. So that’s slowed down kitchen construction, she said, which has in turn slowed down the dining area’s construction because a lot of the equipment from the kitchen has been moved to the dining area. 


Future plans

The planning board on Nov. 9 also heard the concept plan for Altamont Corners owner Jeff Thomas to more than double Curry Patta’s current footprint.

Don Cropsey, speaking on behalf of Thomas, said the plan is to build a 1,470-square-foot enclosed addition along with a wooden deck and stone patio that, taken together, appear to be of similar size to the enclosed addition. 

Cropsey said the intent is to lease the new space to Curry Patta.

The addition would be an amendment to Thomas’ existing special-use permit on the plaza, not to Raza’s permit.

Cropsey cautioned that the pre-concept sketch was just an idea: It wasn’t what Thomas was thinking exactly about, for example, for the exact number of seats in the enclosed addition or if there would actually be a fire table — which is a table that would have a fire in the middle of it that is perpetually going. 

Although one of the design details highlighted by Thomas was a cupola on the addition, which will double as a skylight and illuminate Raza’s proposed bar area.

Thomas has been involved in a number of projects in the village, having last purchased the former KeyBank building, in 2019, but he said that businesses aren’t all that interested in coming to Altamont.

With Curry Patta and its potential addition, Thomas said, he’s trying to help build something nice in Altamont so there’s a local dinner option within the community so that villagers don’t have to drive to the Crossgates area or Colonie.

Veronica’s, a restaurant on Altamont’s Main Street, closed in the midst of the pandemic.

So many people over the years — and in the recent months, Thomas said — have asked him to put a restaurant in the plaza.

When Raza came along, Thomas said, she had enthusiasm, a really good idea, good food, a really good business plan — that’s why he decided to invest in his own property — and by extension, Raza.

Thomas is not directly investing in Curry Patta; he’s got zero involvement in the business, he said. Thomas is just the landlord, but he feels it’s something good that will benefit the area.

“Is it risky?” he said. “Of course, [but] there’s risk in anything good that you do, in my opinion.”

As for any bureaucratic issues, it was noted during the Nov. 9 meeting that the project may need a variance and is also likely to run into issues with CSX; the rail line runs next to Thomas’s plaza.

Cropsey said he guessed the property line is “probably” 30 to 40 feet from the main trackline. That was when someone could be heard during the virtual meeting saying, “No way — no.”

Altamont’s building inspector, Lance Moore, said, speaking from the experience of trying to build an observation deck next to the tracks in Voorheesville and getting the rail trail installed, CSX has a 50-foot right-of-way on either side of the tracks. Moore is a Voorheesville resident and member of the New Scotland Zoning Board of Appeals. 

Raza said that she anticipates having belly dancing once a month when it’s safe to do so. But belly dancing, probably not unsurprisingly, is not a use that’s addressed anywhere in the Altamont code.

Planning Board Chairwoman Deb Hext told The Enterprise that anything not currently on Raza’s special-use permit — like belly dancing — would have to come back for a review. Whether that’s a full planning board hearing, or just a meeting, or a sit-down among Raza, Hext, and Moore, remains to be seen.

As an example, if Raza were to have a guitarist or violinist, she probably wouldn’t have to have her special-use permit amended, but a conversation would have to be had, Hext said. But the “whole belly-dancing thing” is something that would have to be discussed with the village attorney, she said.  


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