NORTH CREEK - The opening of a new restaurant has North Creek buzzing with anticipation.
The establishment formerly known as Kelly O's - and before that, Casey's North - is taking on a new persona as Durant's, under the ownership of Kip MacDonald and Marion Eagan, co-owners of the Black Mountain Inn on Route 8 in Johnsburg.
There is ample reason to be excited about the opening of Durant's; Black Mountain is somewhat of a phenomenon in Johnsburg, and its patrons hope that MacDonald and Eagan will work their magic on the new restaurant.
While business partnerships can be rocky, MacDonald and Eagan work remarkably well together. They have known each other for nearly their entire lives, and have been in business together since 1997, when fate brought the pair together at a restaurant called Brighton Station in Bennington, VT.
MacDonald had a general contracting and engineering business at the time, and owned the building, while Eagan ran the restaurant. Both were passionate about the restaurant business and had ties with the Adirondack area, so it was only natural to consider opening a restaurant in the Adirondacks.
Having been interested in the Black Mountain Motel for some time, they waited for the right moment to make the investment, and in July of 2005 the restaurant/inn was given a major makeover and reopened. The new and improved Black Mountain proved a big hit from the very beginning, thanks to a combination of friendly staff, efficient service, artistic d cor and, of course, an original menu boasting an array of delicious delectables.
With one Adirondack success story under their belts, MacDonald and Eagan set their sights on Durant's. As with the Black Mountain, the pair kept a keen watch on Durant's to find the best time to make their move.
"We watched the place for over a year, and when it got to the point where the price was feasible - when we could make it profitable - that's when we decided to go," Eagan said.
As the pair prepares for the opening of Durant's in the next few weeks, they are making some dramatic changes and making sure that this restaurant has its own unique flair. The interior of the restaurant has been rearranged to make for a more family oriented atmosphere. The menu will differ from the Black Mountain's, but the quality of the food served will be nothing less than equal.
"It's been an ongoing process for the last three months; we've been doing private food shows at the Black Mountain and we have a lot of great ideas for this menu," Eagan said. "The whole restaurant is going to be very people friendly, kid friendly, and native friendly."
Of course, Durant's has the advantage of being much larger than the Black Mountain, as well as being in a great location close to the center of North Creek. However, MacDonald and Eagan don't think that the two restaurants will be competing against one another.
"I think the Black Mountain has found its niche and this place too will find its niche. They are two different places," Eagan commented.
As for the name, coming up with something original took some serious thought.
"We had a tough time naming the place," MacDonald admitted. "It's kind of like naming a baby!"
The name Durant is taken from William Durant, a man who helped bring the trains and great camps to the Adirondack region.
"We kind of wanted to be connected with the area, but not strictly with the river or the mountain," Eagan said in reference to the many area businesses named after Gore Mountain and the Hudson River.
But what is really important to MacDonald and Eagan is the infectious enthusiasm and passion with which they run their businesses, characteristics that they guarantee will be found at Durant's.
"The key is actually knowing who you are serving and knowing you have a good item to serve," MacDonald said. "What we did was made it very friendly to the area people, to the locals. We continue to do that, they're all our good friends. We will carry that out here as well."
They plan to staff around 40 employees between both restaurants and are confident that their additional hires will complement the exceptional staff that they already have.
"We have been extremely lucky with staff. We have two top notch chefs and a great wait staff," Eagan stated. "What works nice at the Black Mountain is that ninety-nine percent of the time, the staff is always happy. The closeness of the Black Mountain allows that to happen."
Durant's is the next step in materializing a labor of love for MacDonald and Eagan, who have faith in the ability to transform pride, passion and hard work into a great business.
"This was not a shot in the dark; we know this restaurant is going to be successful. We just feel good about being part of the community, and they've been really good to us, and we are going to be carrying on that tradition here." MacDonald said. "We really like people and we really like food, and that makes it kind of a win-win situation."
Durant's is slated to open soon with MacDonald and Eagan hoping before Christmas. They are currently waiting to acquire a liquor license for the property. For now, the public will simply have to wait, but we can be sure that Durant's will add a distinctive touch of good food, friends, and fun to the community.