The Smudge Remembers
The Plaza Grill: Divorced 40-Somethings Wonder Where To Go Now
By Scott Salad
Published May 17th, 2015
ALBANY— The moment Michael Kapotnik first locked eyes with the woman he now calls his ex-wife, he was just another a 25-year-old out drinking in downtown Albany.
“It was a Friday in 1997, and we were at The Plaza Grill,” the 44-year-old pressmen said, recalling the first time he saw Amanda. “Smashmouth's Walkin' On The Sun was playing. I wrecked.”
That's when he said he spotted Amanda — the women he would eventually divorce 17 years later — chatting with a well-known local weatherman.
“When our eyes met, it was love at first sight,” said Kapotnik. “We've been together ever since... well, I mean until last November, that is.”
Kapotnik's story isn't unique. Thousands of Capital Region twenty-somethings who would later become divorced forty-somethings met at the lively downtown bar and grill.
The famed night-spot was sold in 2004 and renamed Franklin's Tower, forever altering Albany's lurid, oft-times desperate hook-up scene.
But for those who remember the repetitive song lists — which included a mix of both old and new shitty tunes — closet-like restrooms, rude bartenders and that short, blond-haired girl who sat near the dartboard in the same tight red sweater every Friday night, the bar will forever have a place in their hearts.
Forty-two-year-old Herk Blandister and his ex-wife, Liza, met as Come On Eileen played to a packed house. She ran off in 2014, leaving Herk to raise their 16 children alone.
“She wasn't that nice, so I'm glad she left,” the weary contractor admitted. “But man was I bummed when I heard about The Plaza Grill. What am I suppose to do now?”
“I always thought that I'd have that place to fall back on,” echoed Tequila Frim, who met her ex-husband, Jad, while Neil Diamond sang Sweet Caroline.
Unfortunately their marriage unraveled and the 42-year-old hairdresser found herself seeking both a quick divorce and an even quicker taxi ride to 414 Broadway.
“When I caught Jad massaging another man's feet, I was pretty upset,” she admitted. “But when I saw The Plaza Grill had been rebranded an ‘upscale tavern,’ I was simply heartbroken.”
Sadly, as more and more people opt for dating sites like Tinder, OK Cupid and Nobel-Prize-Winning Theoretical-Physicists-Only.com, quintessential singles bars like The Plaza Grill are becoming a thing of the past. And for folks like Frim, that's a painful realization.
“Who was it that said 'Good times never seemed so good?'” she asked. "That's some deep shit right there."