When Jon Greenwood speaks passionately of his restaurant, it’s easy to forget about the global pandemic momentarily. Then again, his friendly staff surrounds him, face masks intact as they carefully disinfect tables before a fully booked weekday night.
Jon is owner and executive chef of Massie’s, an Italian American restaurant in South Glens Falls.
In mid-March, Jon decided to close temporarily, using the time to renovate the beloved restaurant significantly. Since he reopened, he’s had to face challenges that come with only operating at 50% indoor capacity. In Jon’s case, this means occasionally sending eager customers home.
Nevertheless, he is still smiling. His business is booming.
“Part of our philosophy at Massie’s is to stay positive about everything,” said Jon, as he showed a reservation book nearly full through the next month.
With plenty of accomplishments since Jon’s purchase of Massie’s, he and his team have much to celebrate.
Learn about Massie’s recent renovations, the restaurant’s growth in less than five years, and Jon’s respect for merging old and new.
When COVID-19 hit, Jon took a month before deciding to use the time to renovate the restaurant.
Established in 1929, Massie’s has been a staple of the region for generations, housed in a building that’s nearly 150 years old.
It was the community’s love for the establishment, plus the hurdles of moving into such a historic structure, that initially attracted Jon to the restaurant.
“People thought I was crazy,” said Jon of his 2016 purchase of Massie’s, “But I loved the challenge of re-energizing a place with so much history.”
At the time, Jon was just 31 years old, spending his winters cooking in Colorado, and his summers working in restaurants in the Adirondacks. Though he initially considered moving to Colorado permanently, the Queensbury High School graduate chose to stay close to family.
Under Jon’s ownership, Massie’s kitchen was transformed into a 2,500 square foot state-of-the-art space. An original bar was renovated within a large room used for private events. This past year, Jon has updated the entire main dining space, adding a brand new, spacious bar. Customers can now dine in comfortable booths, locally constructed tables, or sit at high-top seating in the large bar area.
“I think our customers see our huge amount of space, and that we’re very clean,” said Jon. “We can easily accommodate social distancing.”
Ensuring that carefully selected details were included in the renovations, Jon commissioned Blackburn Gallery to reproduce meaningful photos showcasing Massie’s story — images of original owner Ralph “Massie” Russo and family, including Ralph’s wife, Dorothy “Dot” Russo, and their three sons, Ralph Jr., Bobby, and Pat.
The Best of Modern and Traditional
Ask generations of families who regularly return to Massie’s, and there is sure to be a favorite go-to menu item.
Chef Jon ensures old favorites stay on the menu (fried calamari, chicken pate, and their famous relish tray), but he and his team also continue to add fresh new items.
Italian specialties like linguini clam sauce, eggplant parmigiana, and chicken or veal piccata are made in small batches using, according to Jon, “extremely critical, precise recipes.”
“The key is to make it reliable, and make it consistent,” said Jon. “And we definitely overfeed!”
Jon also reported that Massie’s takeout orders have increased so much, the business had to install additional phone lines to handle the demand. Takeout favorites include the meatballs (Massie’s makes 250-300 meatballs a week!) plus any homemade sauces that Massie’s sells by the quart.
In the past month, Massie’s has added five new staff, including Executive Chef, Keith Wildey, a Culinary Institute of America graduate and previous chef of the Lakeside Lodge & Grille. Keith brings Massie’s staff count to 24, up from nine when Jon initially took ownership.
Asked about what he most looks forward to, Jon states his day-to-day life allows him to “live his passion.”
“I always focus on the dining experience,” said Jon. “I try to make decisions on what is best. Sometimes it’s worth investing more in the restaurant so that families have high-quality experiences.”
As the Massie’s staff continues to expand, Jon looks forward to having more time for restaurant management, plus being able to meet and greet customers. A lover of whiskey, Jon also wants to make Massie’s known for their ongoing rotation of high-end spirits, promising to keep the libations affordable.
And, he teases to stay on the lookout for whatever Massie’s has in store next! While we wait, enjoy Massie’s cuisine through takeout, or dine in the restaurant’s beautifully renovated space. Reservations are highly encouraged!
Special thanks to NBT Bank for supporting this story.
Says VP & Commercial Relationship Manager, Tim Robinson: “Massie’s Restaurant, a local favorite of our community, went through significant re-modeling over the past few years under the new ownership of Jon Greenwood. What a terrific job by Jon and family to breathe new life into a long-time community restaurant. The service and food are top notch and the remodeled restaurant has a look and feel that will have you wanting to come back, again and again. NBT Bank proudly supports our local restaurants, customers, and communities during these challenging times.”