Shirley’s Restaurant gets sold out of the family: Saratoga staple on West Avenue to feature new entrees
Published: Saturday, November 19, 2011
0diggsdigg ShareThis3By SUZANNA LOURIE
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Shirley’s Restaurant on West Avenue was recently sold. (ERICA MILLER, firstname.lastname@example.org)
SARATOGA SPRINGS — After renting the 74 West Ave. building for their seasonal hot dog stand, Doggie in the Window, Pete and Shirley Bishop purchased the property on the corner of Washington Street in 1961 where they then opened Shirley’s Restaurant.
Shirley’s son, Leland Bishop, took ownership in 1968, keeping the restaurant and its famous homemade pies in the family for 50 years until recently when Bishop sold the restaurant — effective Nov. 15 — for approximately $295,000 to the space’s new owner, Jean Pierre Lareau.
“My father was going to retire and my mother’s health isn’t in the greatest shape so when he got the offer, he decided to take it and retire now rather than wait around for a better offer,” said Jess Bishop, Leland’s son and current restaurant manager.
Jess Bishop and one of his three sisters continue to work at Shirley’s, keeping a strong presence of third-generation Bishops at the restaurant, which locals have come to know and love for its family-owned traditions, menus and friendly service.
Restaurant regulars won’t have to fear any of those traditions disappearing under Lareau’s ownership. The Montreal native is committed to maintaining the business the way it was, but with a few new twists.
“I started looking for a business to buy and I went to 30 or 40 businesses, but I fell in love with little Shirely’s because it was family-oriented and has a great reputation,” Lareau said Friday. “I made my due diligence — I talked to a lot of people and it has a great reputation, it’s a part of the history of Saratoga and I bought it from a great family.”
Lareau, a former president of Montreal’s now-closed harness track, Blue Bonnets Raceway, had been visiting Saratoga Springs and Saratoga Race Course each summer for more than 30 years. About a year ago, he decided to plant his roots in the community he had grown to love throughout the years.
The horse-racing enthusiast also has extensive experience as a restaurateur, owning a five-star restaurant in Montreal and having managed multiple concessions at Blue Bonnets Raceway.
“We’re keeping the same family-oriented business at Shirley’s — the same chef, the same type of food and the same dirt on the floors. We’ll bring a little newness, but we are keeping what makes Shirley’s great,” Lareau said. “I see a lot of potential for the future in bringing some special foods from Montreal, like poutine.” Poutine is a French-Canadian dish of french fries, gravy and cheese curds.
Although Leland Bishop could not be reached for comment, he had just been by Shirley’s for lunch and is still involved in the restaurant his parents built and with his loyal regulars and longtime employees. Jess Bishop also confirmed Lareau’s commitment to tradition and said no changes have been made thus far. Continued...