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Sun., Oct. 4
Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York
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1844 House hires new general manager


POTSDAM — The 1844 House: An American Bistro is reaching for the next level and has hired a new general manager and sommelier to help it get there.

Barry L. Sears, originally of Carthage, has spent the last 15 years working for The View restaurant at Lake Placid’s Mirror Lake Inn, most recently supervising the restaurant’s wine program. He recently joined his friends Brian A. and Jenny D. Walker at their 6885 Route 11 eatery to help them run their restaurant.

“Me, Brian and Jenny go back almost as long as I’ve been in Lake Placid,” Mr. Sears said.

Ms. Walker said 1844 House has become increasingly busy in the last few years, and it was time to bring in some extra help.

“Our business has grown to the point where we need help. We need an extra set of hands,” she said.

In addition, the husband-and-wife team hopes Mr. Sears’s expertise will help 1844 House gain more acclaim.

The restaurant has received a three-diamond rating from AAA. It is one of the few restaurants in the region to do so, but the Walkers want to elevate the 1844 House to a four-diamond rating. If successful, it would be the north country’s second four-diamond establishment, following The View.

“We’re trying to create a destination restaurant in St. Lawrence County,” Mr. Walker said.

This requires a host of incremental improvements. That’s where Mr. Sears comes in.

He met Brian Walker more than a decade ago, when both were working as wait staff for The View.

He did not always intend to go into the restaurant business. He studied biochemistry at SUNY Plattsburgh, but said he more or less stumbled into a job at The View.

“Once I graduated it just kind of happened in Lake Placid, and it kind of grew from there,” he said.

The isolated task of working in a lab was not for him, he decided. He prefers working with people and learned most of what he knows about the restaurant industry on the job.

“Having worked in a bunch of different places, you quickly realize there are people who do things the right way and people who do things the easy way,” he said.

The potential to turn 1844 House into a four-diamond restaurant is there, he said.

“It’s going to be a process of making some changes. Not too big. It’s like polishing a stone,” he said.

He will help train the staff members, brushing up their knowledge of wine pairings. Reviewers from AAA come in secret and typically test the knowledge of the staff and the ability of the restaurant to handle complaints, so the Walkers and Mr. Sears want to make sure everybody is on top of his or her game when the time comes.

Most of the changes likely will not be noticed by the customers, Mr. Walker said.

“Usually when we make little changes like we do it goes completely unnoticed,” he said.

Meanwhile, as Mr. Sears takes charge of more the restaurant’s day-to-day operations, the Walkers plan to branch out into new areas. They will attend bridal shows to pitch the 1844 House as a wedding destination, and this summer will hold a special supper club series of meals.

1844 House will celebrate Mr. Sears’s arrival with a Sommelier’s Dinner on April 24.

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