How young was I went I saw that gigantic Central Avenue sign?
You know… this one.
See, back in the day, when Central Avenue was better known as Albany-Schenectady Road, Valle’s Steak House was a popular eatery and banquet hall. There were plenty of Valle’s Steak Houses around the Northeast; but the one in Albany had this beautiful marquee sign that was visible for miles. Oh, and isn’t that the Carroll’s burger joint in the lower right hand corner of the picture? Hmm… I’ll save that for another blog post.
In 1969, there were eleven Valle’s Steak House locations – ten in New England and one in Albany, according to an SEC filing from that time period. The restaurant in Albany was a popular destination for awards banquets, meetings and get-togethers. Eating at Valle’s Steak House was considered a top treat among the white-tablecloth restaurants that dotted Central Avenue at that time.
But Valle’s was dealt a deathblow when its founder passed away in 1977. The restaurants in the Valle’s chain were hit with massive inheritance taxes. That, combined with the restaurant’s chain’s concentration on food (and not liquor), killed the business.
Some time in the mid-1980’s, Valle’s shut down. The building was later repurposed as Gorton’s, a Scandinavian furniture store (I still recall the advertisements of “Gorton’s, the Scandinavian People,” in that thick Swedish dictation). By the early 1990’s, there were rumors that the building would become an OTB teletheater. It became Carol’s Fish Market for a time. Today, what was once Valle’s Steak House is now the home of a Bryant and Stratton college campus building.
I don’t recall ever eating at Valle’s; I do, however, recall that gigantic road sign. I recall it as I rode the CDTA bus in the mid-1970’s from classes at Christian Brothers Academy in downtown Albany (school number 8 in the list of “The Twelve”) to my home in a trailer park near Lisha Kill Road. It was one of those signs that – like the Mohawk Drive-In, Carroll’s, King’s Department Store and many others – have since disappeared or departed or were repainted or repurposed.
I wonder if it means something in that I remember the sign more than I remember the restaurant it promoted.
Oh Chuck…thank you sooo much. Literally, just last week I was searching online for ANY reference to Valle’s. I went there with my family only a couple times, but wow, what steaks they had!
I seem to recall some controversy over the sign because it was put up before zoning laws change to prohibit signs of that size and later on other businesses along Central Ave that couldn’t have a sign as large got their knickers in a twist about it.
Carrolls had the best French fries and an awesome hot roast beef sub I still remember to this day. Though I seem to recall there was a Carrols further up Central ave near where the old Fox Restaurant used to be located…there’s an obscure reference for you…
Now that was ‘going out for dinner’ – fine dining for my family – thanks for reminding me – I drive past that location and I could never remember what the name was
@Jango, I believe you are referring to the Golden Fox???? Valles was def. a staple on Central Avenue because as kids, we knew we were close to Kurver Creme…..
I remember Valle’s vividly. It was THE place to go if you wanted to impress someone or just wanted excellent food with excellent service. In a sense, it was the Angelo’s 677 Prime of its day! I heard its quality of both went significantly downhill before the founder’s passing. I could only afford to eat there once in the proverbial blue moon–once a year if I was affluent!
I never realized Valle’s was a chain. I do know that so many times, when a charismatic founder retires or passes on a business can go seriously downhill espec. if there’s no established heir apparent. Sometimes it’s good to go out while you’re still on top. I commend my old friend Al & Marge Meister for doing that. (My dad came over from Germany on the boat w/Emil Sr.) The old maxim: always leave them wanting more!
PS I had also forgotten about Gorton’s. OMG–did anyone really buy furniture from them??
I remember Valle’s. My first job was off Central just east of Valle’s. We used to go there for lunch occasionally with a salesman or entertaining visiting out of town clients. I also remember landing in Albany on a late evening flight and seeing the huge sign when we were on approach.
I also remember Carroll’s, and had lunch there much more often than Valle’s.
What I don’t remember is that AAA sign I see in the distance just to the left of the Valle’s sign. What was that related to?
Valle’s had steaks and service so good that my father would agree to wait in line to be seated. Never a patient man, ever.
I miss the Weathervane, too, as well as the ‘Pre-Hershey’s’ Friendly’s.
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