Legislators Back Johnny Rockets Deal for TU Center

National Restaurant Chain Eyes Downtown Address


ALBANY (Tuesday, April 26) – The Albany County Legislature is expected to vote next month on a deal that would bring a Johnny Rockets restaurant and full-service bar to the Times Union Center.

The legislature’s Civic Center Committee on Monday approved a plan for the national restaurant chain to lease more than 3,000 square feet of vacant space in the southeast portion of the county-owned arena, where the Wolf 1-11 sports grill operated. The committee recommended the full legislature approve a 10-year lease on May 9.

Johnny Rockets would start renting the space on July 15. Under the terms of the lease, it would pay the county six percent of its sales – or a minimum of $4,000 month – for the first five years. The minimum rent payment would increase to $4,350 a month starting in the sixth year of the contract. There would be no cap on rental fees.

The Johnny Rockets in Albany would be one of a select number in the U.S. to serve craft beer and alcohol. The restaurant and bar would be open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week, and later on nights when events are held in the Times Union Center.

“This establishment has the potential to bring larger crowds to downtown Albany and greater rent payments to Albany County,” the legislature’s majority leader, Frank Commisso, said.

Johnny Rockets and its bar could generate 33 percent more in rent than the previous tenant. If annual sales reach $1.5 million, Albany County would realize $90,000 in rent a year. Wolf’s 1-11 paid $59,000 a year.

Johnny Rockets would spend $300,000 on the rental space. The county would invest $175,000 to $200,000 on kitchen and bar equipment, and maintain ownership of it.

The restaurant chain would be able to opt out of the lease after three years if its sales dip below $1.1 million, but operator Louis W. Chicatelli Jr. of Niskayuna told legislators he is “committed to a long-term relationship.”

Chicatelli would be responsible for repairing the county’s restaurant equipment after three years.


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