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Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

Gramercy Bistro: "This Is A City Success Story"

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Thursday, April 20, 2006

Ambiance ruled the evening during an April 19 reception honoring the re-opening and renovation at Gramercy Bistro.
View Slide Show
North Adams - "I am very happy."

The words belonged to Gramercy Bistro owner and Chef Alexander Smith as did the evening; Smith unveiled the Side Bar at Gramercy Bistro during a private April 19 reception to a swell of raves from about 60 invited guests.

"Side Bar" represents several months of planning and labor and the renovation project caused a temporary close of the Marshall Street restaurant.


Gramercy Bistro owner and Chef Alexander Smith
The restaurant is reopening to the public for dinner at 5 p.m. on April 20.

"Just Wonderful," "A Very Nice Job"

"I think this is just wonderful," said Oralie Thurston, who attended the reception.

"This is one of our favorite restaurants, " said Florence Wineberg. "We missed it while it was closed. They've done a very nice job here."

City Councilor Christopher Tremblay and his wife Melissa were among the guests. Tremblay's company tackled the electrical work when Smith was preparing to open the eatery in 2001.

"This was my first job when I went out on my own," Tremblay said.

The restaurant renovation, which included expanded seating capacity and added a 26 Marshall St. bar venue to the restaurant's original 24 Marshall St. site, is an example of the success stories within the city and the downtown, Tremblay said.

"There are multiple benefits," Tremblay said. "The restaurant generated business for myself and for other companies, and it employs people."

Melissa Tremblay said that the restaurant adds to the downtown atmosphere.

"This is a great place, a wonderful place that people can come to after a MASS MoCA show," she said. "It brings something to the downtown."

Christopher Tremblay emphasized that the bistro supports local agriculture and is a member of the Berkshire Grown organization, which promotes inclusion of locally-grown produce and foods at area eateries.

"They've done a very, very nice job," said Tremblay. "This is a city success story."

Old World Charm

Contractor Daniel Shulman, a partner of the Hammercraft carpentry firm, worked with Smith on the renovations. Drop-ceilings, florescent lighting, and layers of wall coverings were removed to make way for the ambiance of wood laminate flooring in the main bar area, a colored concrete hand-laid floor in the bathroom, walls sheathed in soft hues, and warm overhead illumination.

A bar was moved from the original restaurant area to the new space, and a back bar, which houses gleaming bottles of "spirits," was backed with copper. For the April 19 reception, tables and the bar surface were aglow with candlelight and adorned with fresh tulips.

The project included a new entrance.

"The building was built around 1908 and has genuine 'old world' charm," Smith has said. "We wanted to accent this as part of the new space and tie it into our existing space for an authentic feel.The original entrance opened into the dining room, which caused a blast of cold air during the winter months.Our new entrance will fix the problem."

A semi-permanent exhibit of art created by artist Danny O is

The works of artist Danny O are now part of the bistro experience.
bringing a bit of visual spice to the bistro dining experience.

Danny O At Gramercy

Six framed canvas works that showcase city streetscapes and buildings are presiding over restaurant tables. The works are available for purchase.

Smith has brought art to past restaurant ventures, including the former Cobble Cafe and Wild Amber Grill restaurants, both opened in Williamstown.

"Danny O's collage prints are a perfect complement to the ambiance at Gramercy Bistro and we are thrilled to feature his work as part of our grand re-opening," Smith said.

Danny O was "in the house" during the reception and said that he was delighted to have his work included at the bistro.

"I'm very happy to be part of this," he said. "[Smith] has told me that he enjoys all kinds of art but not all art fits into his restaurants. This fit."


Dining space at the bistro
Danny O has carved out a reputation as a unique collage artist whose work is created with bits of recycled paper and an unusual ink-and tape process that lifts color from sources such as vintage comic books.

Danny O's work has been included at MASS MoCA, the Chesterwood Estate and Museum in Stockbridge, and the DeCordova Museum in Lincoln, Mass.. Logan Airport, a Prudential Skywalk exhibit, and the Boston Children's Hospital have exhibited his work. Numerous publications have featured articles about Danny O and he has worked with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.

Unbelievable Transformation

Susan Gold was included among the reception's mix-and-minglers, and offered her thoughts on the side bar and the artwork.

"I can't get over this," she said as she looked around the space. "The transformation is unbelievable."

Tanya Meramag, Amy Tremblay, and Becky Gold attended the event and added their praise.

"This looks great," Becky Gold said.

"This came out really nice," said Meramag. "I'm happy to see it because we really need stuff like this here."

Since its' opening almost five years ago, the bistro has generated positive attention; a four-star rating appeared on a New York Times web site and in 2005, the AAA awarded the restaurant a three-diamond rating. Glowing reviews have appeared on the Boston Globe and Valley Advocate [Northampton] pages as well as on Fodors.com.

Bistro employees Breck Baker and Philip Cantelon


Gramercy Bistro offers "creative American cuisine with a focus on local, farm-fresh ingredients," according to information provided by Smith. The restaurant menu changes seasonally - a spring menu is now offered - and the wine list includes over 100 domestic and global wines.

Gramercy Bistro serves dinner from 5 p.m. Wed.-Mon., and is closed on Tuesday. Sunday brunch is offered beginning at 10 a.m..

Additional information about Gramercy Bistro is offered at a www.gramercybistro.com Internet web site or by calling 413-663-5300.

Information about Danny O is offered at a www.dannyoart.com Internet web site.

Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at suebush@iberkshires.com or at 802-823-9367.
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