Downtown development attracts new restaurateur

ALBANY, NY: Significant development in downtown Albany has attracted new restaurateur Jeffrey Via, with a grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony for The Paper Dragon held January 9. The Downtown Albany Business Improvement District (BID) was joined by Mayor Kathy Sheehan, Legislator Sam Fein, Assemblymember John McDonald III's community liason Michael Saccoman, Via, partner Melissa Salamone, and community members in officially welcoming the new eatery to its 5 Clinton Square home.

Noting the $10 million Clinton Square DRI Award and $80 million Redburn portfolio investments as among the factors contributing heavily to the choice of location, The Paper Dragon opening follows a 20-plus year restaurant industry career for Via. With a background comprised of fine dining and molecular gastronomy, he sought, in opening his own restaurant, common ground between the simplicity of everyday food and the caliber experience associated with fine dining.

“As we have seen across downtown Albany, investment continues to spur additional investment, and the opening of The Paper Dragon is yet another example of that,” said Mayor Sheehan. “We are excited to see entrepreneurs capitalizing on, and adding to, the incredible development happening here, and wish Jeffrey continued success.”

The chef-owner previously opened six restaurants in as many states for others and, along with Salamone, ran the food and beverage program at the University of Miami. His love for the industry began long before though, when Via started working at a pizza shop in his hometown of Lancaster, PA and never looked back. Salamone being native to the Capital District brought the pair to the area, with Via seeking to establish his culinary roots here by bringing together a confluence of his passion for Asian food and accessible fine dining.

Fusing the familiar with a new twist brought about a menu that includes Breakfast Sushi Rolls in Lox and Omlette varieties, which have been received with great enthusiasm, Via said. With an eye on helping to attract people Downtown on weekends, the eatery is serving up a Dim Sum Brunch each Saturday. Other menu items include Shrimpdawg featuring an in-house made shrimp hotdog, kimchi slaw, miso tomato jam, and wasabi grain mustard; Peanut Thai Noodle Salad; and Veg Head featuring a tofu scramble, potato, veg hash, avocado, tomato, braised greens, and wheat points.

“I am so happy and honored to have a home Downtown and be part of the tremendous growth in this city. The best parts have been having my son be a part of it and meeting so many of our neighbors and new friends,” said Via. “We’ve experienced an incredible amount of community support already, making this experience even more rewarding than we could have anticipated.”

“Downtown continues to draw residents and businesses thanks in part to the world-class culinary artistry available here, now enhanced by the opening of The Paper Dragon,” said Georgette Steffens, executive director of the Downtown Albany BID. “We are thrilled that Jeffrey is sharing his vision and cuisine here, matching the level of amenities that those who live, work, and play here have come to expect in the heart of our Capital City.”

Named for Via’s love for dragons and the perceived blank canvas of the new venture, The Paper Dragon is open 7:00 AM-4:00 PM Monday-Friday and 10:00 AM-3:00 PM Saturday. More information on the menu, catering options, and upcoming events, can be found at paperdragonalbany.com.

Since 1996, the Downtown Albany Business Improvement District (BID) has worked to restore, promote and maintain the character and vitality of downtown Albany and improve the quality of life and overall image of downtown for those who work in, live in and visit New York’s Capital City. The BID is a private, not-for profit 501(c) (3) organization. For more information about Downtown Albany BID please visit downtownalbany.org or call 518.465.2143.   

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