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Updating a Classic

March 26, 2019

Last week I was driving past a graveyard, and it made me think about what I would like written on my tombstone. How do you even begin to encapsulate a life in a few words carved in stone? I am lots of things to lots of people. And without a doubt, life is full of change. But as I thought more about it, I came to realize that my existence on this planet can be summarized in the following statement:

He could have done anything he wanted, and he did.

“Anything” is probably a little bit strong. For example, I couldn’t have been an NBA superstar. Nor do I have the physical frame to be a long distance runner. But I’ve been lucky enough to be able to pursue my dreams, regardless of how trivial they may seem. And for this, I feel incredibly grateful.

Perhaps, this is why I like my job with Yelp as much as I do. There is a tremendous amount of freedom for me to pursue whatever kinds of events and promotions strike my fancy. Looking back on the most recent few, we’ve explored the menu at an Afghan restaurant, learned how to make dumplings, and visited a maple farm to taste the sweet and savory sides of syrup.

Our next Official Yelp Event is particularly exciting because it’s in downtown Albany, and it’s at a place that I always wished would step up its game. Now it is. That effort is being driven by two local tastemakers who I’ve been following for years. And on Monday, April 8, I’m going to get a chance to help these two fellows show off what they’ve been doing to improve a local landmark

Who are these people, where is this place, and what exactly is an Official Yelp Event? I’m glad you asked.

Once a month I organize an Official Yelp Event, or OYE for short. These are free events for members of the local Yelp community. Each one is hosted by some great local business that is interested in building a relationship with Yelpers, and creating an experience that demonstrates what makes it truly special.

Anyone with a registered Yelp account can submit an RSVP request, but the people who make it onto the guest list have to fulfill a few basic requirements.

They have to Yelp under their real name.
Their profile has to include a picture.
They must be over twenty-one.

From there, priority goes to those Yelpers who have been most recently active on the site or mobile app. Activity can come in many forms including writing great reviews, taking enticing photos, leaving useful tips, and more. Some people will make the guest list, and some will make the wait list. But we do try and spread the love around, so those who are interested in attending OYEs can get a taste of the experience.

In just under two weeks, we’re headed to the Albany Pump Station at CH Evans Brewing!

My first trip to Albany Pump Station was almost twelve years ago. I got a beer flight, split some calamari, and ate a plate of buffalo chicken fingers. Coming from California, anything “buffalo” was an exotic treat. And while I enjoyed it, what I enjoyed most was the idea of having a local, downtown Albany brewery.

Over time, I felt the place got a bit stale. It’s easy for a big restaurant that gets into a groove to fall into a rut. And Albany Pump Station is most definitely a big restaurant. So kudos to them for bringing on Sam Pagano and Ian O’Leary to shake things up on the beer and food programs.

I’ve been following Sam for years, and was bummed when he left the Capital Region to be the head brewer at City Steam in Hartford, Connecticut. But I was delighted to hear of his return. He’s actually been on board for about a year now and his hazy New England style IPAs and Pale Ales are some of the hidden gems of the local beverage scene. Plus he’s doing other things too.

Ian O’Leary has been on my radar ever since he had a hand in one of the most delicious things I ate back in 2017. But he has worked with Brian Bowden at The Ginger Man, Dimitrios Menagias at City Beer Hall, and Ric Orlando at New World Bistro Bar. Now he’s running the show at Albany Pump Station. Over the past several months he’s been working better ingredients and preparations onto the menu, and now Ian is ready to share how the team can execute his vision.

Naturally, I’ve called this event The Chef & The Brewer.

Those who make the guest list are going to be in for a night filled with remarkable treats. I’ve seen the list of comfort food inspired appetizers that Ian has lined up, and they looks delicious. After milling around, the Yelp community is going to sit down for a family style dinner made up a few different main dishes and sides to see how the kitchen handles red meat, chicken, and fish. Sam will have selected beers to go with all this bounty, and of course we’ll get to hear from these culinary creators.

Did I mention these events are free? Well, we do ask attendees to bring some cash and be generous in tipping the servers who bust their tails to make sure everything comes off without a hitch.

The hardest part of my job is telling those people who do not make guest list that they are on the wait list for an OYE. But I also want everyone who is interested to have a shot at getting on the guest list. The only way to do that is to submit an RSVP request. There’s no harm in throwing your hat into the ring.

So, if you’re interested, here’s the link where you can do that. And if you’re not quite into being social with friends from the internet you haven’t met yet, don’t worry. We’ll take pictures. Surely, there will be some thoughts written on everything that goes down.

But I do hope to see you there.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 26, 2019 11:31 am

    Oh sounds awesome but I will be away. I hope everyone enjoys it. I’ll look for pixs after event.

  2. March 26, 2019 12:14 pm

    Can you ask him to put the french dip back on the menu? The new steak sandwich is not a replacement for a french dip and The Pump Station’s was one of the best ones in the area…sigh.

  3. Buffsoulja permalink
    March 26, 2019 7:09 pm

    Awesome sauce

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