What Has Creo’ Created?
Albany’s most talked-about new restaurant settles in. Has it lived up to the hype?
Photographs by Jennifer May
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No restaurant in recent memory has opened with the buzz and fanfare that surrounded Creo’s birth this past October. It was a story that had everything: high-powered restaurateurs White Management Corp. Local celeb-chef Andrew Plummer. Prime real estate in Stuyvesant Plaza. And even mass destruction.
Last summer, Capital Region foodies drove down Western Avenue and watched as Mangia, the family-style and very successful White-owned restaurant that had stood on the site for 15 years, was totally demolished to make room for the new building, which the owners said would be one of the first restaurants in the state to qualify for eco-friendly LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) status. Yet another story angle.
The new building was finished in less than four months, during which time the anticipation only grew. The name they chose, Creo’, means “I create” in Latin, and the owners hoped to create something special. This place had big dreams. White Management, which also owns the Butcher Block, Bountiful Bread, two Cold Stone Creamery franchises, and two other Mangia locations, lured executive chef Andrew Plummer and general manager Paul McCullough to the suburbs from McGuire’s, their high-end, much revered restaurant downtown. In partnership, they promised both to meet the needs of family diners who had enjoyed Mangia’s above-average, fairly priced fare and the expectations of Plummer’s fans, who have followed him from Allegro Café to McGuire’s for some of the best cooking in the area.
They decided that new construction was smarter than renovating the half-century-old structure (which had housed a Howard Johnson’s back in Stuyvesant Plaza’s pre-glitzy days). The construction budget, which was around $2 million, included high-efficiency windows, a grass roof, recycled-cork floors in the bar, and a recycled-rubber floor across the front of the expansive open kitchen.
Big dreams indeed. Now, six months after opening, have those dreams been realized?