This is the Keeler’s that many of us still remember fondly, providing fine dining on State Street for 85 years. In 1884, brothers William and John Keeler opened this 56 State Street location at the southwest corner of State and Green Streets. Beloved by generations of Albanians, it was also popular with government officials: regular guests included Governor Alfred E. Smith and state senator (and later New York City mayor) James J. Walker. In O Albany!, William Kennedy provides a star-spangled list of occasional visitors, including Lillian Russell, John Philip Sousa, Mary Garden, Grover Cleveland and Thomas Edison.
The restaurant stayed in the Keeler family until 1955, then went through several owners, and closed without warning in November 1969. It ended its 85 years at that location ignominiously as Keeler’s Steak & Goblet, featuring “All the draft beer you can drink and all the salad you can eat.”
As famous as it was, the State Street location was not the only Keeler’s in downtown Albany. It was not even the first Keeler’s restaurant. That honor goes to the oyster bar opened by the brothers at 83-87 Green Street in 1864. And in the first third of the 20th century, there were four different Keeler’s locations in downtown Albany:
** Keeler’s Restaurant, 56 State Street
** Keeler’s Hotel and Restaurant, .480-492 Broadway and 76-78 Maiden Lane, southwest corner of Broadway and Maiden Lane. At a May 1912 dinner there, the guests of honor were “Buffalo Bill Cody” and two Lakota Indians who starred in his show, Iron Tail and Lone Bear. Iron Tail is remembered as one of the three models for the so-called Indian Head Nickel.
** Keeler’s Hotel Annex, 507-509 Broadway, east side, a few doors South of Maiden Lane
** Keeler’s Restaurant 582-584 Broadway (across from Union Station)
Copyright 2021 Julie O’Connor