10.11.2010

Amtrak station hosting gift shop, cafe

A local marketing and events planner is turning empty space in the Saratoga Springs Amtrak station into a one-stop destination for food, gifts, entertainment and charitable giving.

Lady Myah Brown of Saratoga Springs has rented a 400-plus square-foot alcove in the waiting area inside the train station and opened a café and gift shop.

For the last couple weeks, she’s been catering to travelers with a spread of coffee, pastries, sweet potato pie, muffins, fruit and sandwiches, along with T-shirts and gifts. Saratoga Springwater Co. water and Saratoga Chips are on sale, while the work of local artists is displayed on consignment.

The alcove has been home to several similar businesses throughout the years, but it’s sat empty for the last few years.

Brown, a world traveler who reached Saratoga Springs last spring via the Bronx and the Commonwealth of Dominica in the West Indies, said she’s looking to appeal to customers in transit as well as locals. The train station waiting area, for example, with its high ceilings and grand piano stationed in the lobby, could be used as a site for open mics, a jazz performance series and other events, she said.

“I want to turn it into a destination place rather than a drop-off and pick-up place,” Brown said.

A portion of the proceeds from the café and gift shop will be made available to Saratoga County residents in need through Focus on Humanity, a nonprofit organization Brown’s late husband founded 28 years ago.

Focus on Humanity (Not to be confused with the nonprofit Focus for Humanity) has provided disaster relief and recovery services, as well as assistance for families affected by homelessness, job separation, fire and other circumstances. Through the nonprofit, Brown also offers grant-writing seminars, which will be held Tuesdays in the train station starting Oct. 26.

“There are a lot of people in need constantly and we try to do what we can,” Brown said.

A grand opening event is planned for Friday, Oct. 15. The Amtrak station is located at 9 Station Way, off West Avenue. Call the café and shop at 306-6560.

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