The owners of popular West State Street bar The Watershed have announced plans for an additional business below their three-year old conversation-centric bar.
Owner Ashley Cake said the new space, which will be officially titled “The Downstairs” and be a separate entity from the Watershed, is going to be a draught bar, with all beers served on tap, as well as wine, champagne and soft drinks. Chef Tammy Cacciotti will also be expanding her offerings at the new establishment, to include hot foods and a wider menu than has been available.
“Tammy’s a really tremendous chef, so she’s going to be doing just a little bit more,” Cake said. “So there’ll be some hot food, which is great, and it’ll all be farm-to-table from local purveyors and snack-y stuff.”
As for the selection of beers, Cake said they’d be following the third/third/third rule they try to stick to at the Watershed: one-third of beer choices are international, one-third are from anywhere in the United States, and the last third are from around New York state. Cake said landowner John Guttridge, who has led the remaking of Press Bay Alley and that section of West State Street, has long looked for a tenant for the downstairs space but nothing had come through until Cake and business partner Dave Thomas established their business enough to consider taking on something new. The Downstairs will have its own identity, she said, but will maintain most of the same principles as the Watershed.
Cake has, of course, led a number of initiatives based in the Watershed, most of which have to do with improving bar behavior and empowering bar patrons to intervene in bad situations that can arise at bars, particularly when alcohol is added. While the business team is anticipating a slightly different environment downstairs, they want to keep pushing those initiatives regardless.
“The point of difference for the Watershed is the conversational atmosphere, but the conversational atmosphere helps us raise the expectations around bar service,” Cake said. “It’ll be the same downstairs. It’s going to be a little bit more boisterous, a little bit more extroverted than the Watershed. It’ll allow us to execute in another format the social expectations that we’ve raised already at the Watershed."
While Cake said it's technically infeasible to put an elevator into the building, in order to make it wheelchair accessible, but that they are discussing long-term options with the State Theatre for a shared option.