Captone Property Management

The Athens News
Posted: Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Old Schoolhouse Will Play Host to ‘From Scratch’ Cafe

The Center Albany Cafe opens Monday in the old Alexander/Albany Elementary School.

It’s not often you hear that a former school building is being used for a restaurant, but that’s what’s happening with the old Alexander/Albany elementary school.

The historic school building, located on the main drag in Albany, is now home to the Center Albany Café and Catering, described in a press release as “a sit-down restaurant with down-home specialties made from scratch daily from chef and restaurateur Amy Foster.” The building, which stopped serving as a school about seven years ago, already houses several other services and facilities.

Regular hours will begin on Monday, March 26, with a special grand opening on Friday, March 30.

In the release Foster said, “We are looking to create a place that will provide the Athens community a unique dining experience as well as meet the needs of Albany senior citizens, working professionals, child care program and school-aged students with Athens-Meigs ESC and Alexander Schools.

“Our focus from the beginning is to have the kind of place that just ties everything together,” she added.

Foster thanked Capstone Property Management “for extending that opportunity and sharing in that vision.”

Capstone manages the former school building as “Center Albany,” which is being renovated into a community and small business hub with Sound Health, Stages Early Learning Center, Athens-Meigs ESC, the village of Albany, and Albany Seniors already occupying space.

In the release, Jeff Niese, manager of the building, said the restaurant will benefit current and future tenants of the building, but clientele from across the county as well. “… we expect that it will quickly become a major draw for Athens county residents who not only look for a tasty, home-cooked meal that is affordable for families, but also for those folks who actually grew up in this fantastic building,” Niese said. “What a joy it will be to eat in the same cafeteria that you ate in as a child.”

The release stressed, however, that customers won’t be eating in a school cafeteria. While historic fixtures will remain to some extent, visitors “will find a well-appointed dining area with an old-fashioned country feel complemented by amenities such as locally featured produce, grab-and-go options, and heart-healthy menu options.”

According to the news release, chef Foster grew up in the restaurant industry and spent four years as sales and catering director at Hocking College and three years as banquet vaptain at the Ohio University Inn.

The release said that Albany Café and Catering hopes to provide full-scale catering on- and off-site services, including the ability to host small as well as large gatherings of up to 350 in the old school gymnasium.

The café will be open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. At present, Saturdays are solely for catered events, and other days of the week are also available for catering.

The grand opening on Friday, March 30will start at 4 p.m. and feature a home-style buffet and tours of the historic building.