Albany restaurateur opens new place, readies second

ALBANY — While Emrys Young was relocating her Kitchen 216 soul-food restaurant this fall from lower Central Avenue to a standalone building in the parking lot of Crossgates Commons, she was also redeveloping the original storefront into a takeout/delivery spot called QuitaB’s, serving gourmet sandwiches and salads.

QuitaB’s was due to open Wednesday (Dec. 1), said Young, who owns the restaurants with her husband, Wasiim Young. But, citing significant customer interest, the couple pushed the opening back to Thursday and are adjusting hours and the business model, at least for the first week.

QuitaB’s was conceived as a cash-free storefront, with all ordering and payment done online and the location open only for pickup, by customers and delivery drivers. However, Emrys Young said Wednesday afternoon, she will allow in-person ordering and payment at first to satisfy demand before reverting to the original plan, likely next week.   

QuitaB’s is at 85 Central Ave. Hours previously were listed as 2 to 8 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday, though Young said she would be opening at 11 a.m. Thursday and adjusting hours as the days progress. At the moment, it has a and on Uber Eats. There is not yet a QuitaB’s presence on Grubhub, but the restaurant’s Facebook page indicates it will be available on that platform as well.

The small menu offers 10 sandwiches/wraps ($10.60 to $13.60), including Philly cheesesteak, grilled or fried chicken, fish fry and burgers of beef, turkey or salmon. Garden and Caesar salads are also available with a variety of the sandwich toppings. 

The switch to an online-based restaurant for delivery and takeout presumably addresses some of the concerns about the block, between Henry Johnson Boulevard and Lexington Avenue, that Young raised in October, when she discussed moving Kitchen 216. She specifically cited loitering, panhandling and crime in the area.

Kitchen 216, a dine-in restaurant that took over the Crossgates Commons location of Latham-based Zaitoon Kitchen, is due to open in the coming weeks, Young said, pending final regulatory approval and other technicalities.

The Youngs founded Kitchen 216, featuring a modern take on soul food, on Lark Street in 2018, moving it to Central Avenue a year later. Starting at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, in March 2020, Kitchen 216 provided 75 or more free lunches on weekdays to children whose schools had closed and didn’t have access to regular lunch programs. Emrys Young, who is also the chef, said last month that the move to a bigger space with parking would allow the restaurant to grow culinarily and to reach a larger audience.