Phil Rossignol, owner of Southside Food Company, says the business is growing to meet the demand for imported Italian and Polish food, as well as take-out sandwiches. On Thursday he said the shop is in the middle of renovations which will increase the floor space and allow him to stock and display a wider variety of products, as well as include tables for his take-out customers.
Rossignol said he grew up in Amsterdam, but has lived in various locations such as Florida, Saratoga and Columbia County, NY and has worked as a chef for about 25 years. He said he returned to the area and started the business on Bridge Street in Amsterdam two years ago in order to be close to his family, but also because he liked the changes he saw happening on the south side area. He said it was the combination of several factors that led him to choose the Bridge Street location: the presence of established businesses like Armory Grill and Herk’s Tavern, the emergence of new businesses, the street-scaping work done several years ago, the Erie Canal bike trail, and the soon to be completed Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook pedestrian bridge.
“It’s neat because it’s kind of like a throwback to what it used to be with a little modern twist,” said Rossignol.
“It says a lot about the city because if you told me five years ago that I could sell pig’s feet, frog legs and rack of lamb from a little market in Amsterdam in the south side, I would have said ‘no way’. But you can and I do and it’s great. Because it gives me the opportunity to do more than just sandwiches.”
Rossignol said his initial concept was to open a small candy store, citing growing up near Fariello’s on Lincoln Avenue as his inspiration. Previously, he had operated a candy store in Columbia County, NY. However, the idea grew from there to include imported Italian food. He said last spring, he began selling imported Polish food and just a few months ago began offering take-out sandwiches. Rossignol said he hopes to start offering Hispanic foods in the near future.
“Our sandwich business, which we just started in the last couple months has really taken off,” said Rossignol, “we’re expanding that…people have been really receptive.”
Rossignol said that social media and word of mouth from both the bicyclist and boating community has been crucial.
“This time of year, a good chunk of my business on Fridays and Saturdays are people off the bike path. And not many of them are local,” he said, citing visitors from as far away as Ohio. He said that boaters and bicyclists frequently share their experiences on Facebook or Twitter, which generates additional business for him.
“It’s nice to know that somebody from outside the area stops, likes what they have, and tells somebody else,” he said.
Rossignol says he expects increased traffic from boaters once the pedestrian bridge is completed.
“I think the bridge is going to be fantastic, it’s a good thing for the city,” he said. “And I think it will spawn more businesses.”
Rossignol said that regardless of where visitors end up eating, increased traffic will result in a benefit to him and the whole city.
“They’ll remember there were things to do here,” said Rossignol. “I’m a firm believer that competition is good.”
The Southside Food Company is located at 56 Bridge Street, Amsterdam, NY. Hours are Tuesday – Friday 10am to 6pm, Saturday 10am to 2pm, and Sunday 10am to 1pm. For more information, visit their Facebook page or call (518) 627-4169.