‘America’s Oldest Pub’
On the surface, it looks like audacious claim. Trader Ed’s Nautical Pub & Restaurant opened for business at 630 Second Avenue in Lansingburgh in the fall of 2007. It now calls itself “America’s Oldest Pub,” but manager Terry Frederick emphasizes that the building, not the name, deserves the honor.
Terry has done a lot of research on the history of the building that Trader Ed’s occupies at the southeast corner of Second Avenue and 117th Street. The structure was erected in 1787 as a tavern, and has served that function for most of its existence. It has been known as William J. Smith’s Saloon, Liebener’s Tavern and the 630 Restaurant under past managements. For many years it was owned by Bolton Brewing family, who sold their Lansingburgh-brewed beer at Smith’s Saloon. The building has also been the home of the McQuade Druggist and the uptown branch office of the Troy Standard Press publishing company.
630 Second Avenue occupies a site where both General John Burgoyne and George Washington both stood, according to local tradition. The building and the neighborhood are both steeped in history. It sits close to the house where Herman Melville wrote some of his classic 19th century novels. “Legs” Diamond our local contribution to 20th century gangster lore, reportedly hung out frequently at 630 Second whenever he was in town.
Terry’s claim is that 630 Second Avenue is the oldest structure built as a pub or tavern to be used for that purpose today. He honored both the building and the neighborhood’s history when renovating Trader Ed’s last year, choosing a nautical theme to suit the structure’s proximity to both the Melville house and the Hudson River. At the same time, he knew that people won’t necessarily go to a restaurant just because it’s old. That might get them in the first time for curiosity’s sake, but the only thing that will bring them back on a regular basis is the food Trader Ed’s serves.
That’s why, while he boasts of his building’s history, Terry also says that “it’s all about the food.” Many people who’ve become regular diners at Trader Ed’s agree with him. They’ve been won over by a diverse menu served in a setting that makes you feel like you’ve gone on vacation without the high cost of a tank of gas. The menu gives you choices ranging from the golden-fried favorites of the Cape of New England, including the house specialty lobster rolls, to pasta specials served with Trader Ed’s own Mediterranean Marinara sauce. The restaurant’s slow-roasted Prime Rib is a big attraction on Fridays and Saturdays, while its complementary Peel-&-Eat Shrimp is a highlight of the daily island Hour.
Trader Ed’s gives you a choice of dining experiences, from the spacious interior (where patrons watch the Yankees on big screen TVs) to the café experience on the Second Avenue patio to the exotic flavor of the enclosed Brazilian Patio, which comes with its own Island Kitchen and Oyster Bar.
Terry has just come back from a vacation on the Cape that gave him plenty of ideas for upcoming menu specials. Fans of find dining in a fun, family-friendly setting will be looking forward to what’s new at “America’s Oldest Pub.”
Trader Ed’s opens daily at 11:30 a.m. For information on booking private parties, please call 518-237-2717.