72 Tavern and Grill, connected to the Adirondack Bank Center in Utica, opened its doors during UFC weekend back in June of 2018. It closed in March of 2020 due to the pandemic. Now, with action returning to the Aud, 72 held another grand opening on Friday, October 8th, featuring a new staff and a brand new menu.

"We seem to like to open during big events," said Jeff Stone, manager of 72. "We opened to huge crowds when the UFC came to town, and now we're re-opening on the night that hockey fans return in-person to the Aud for the first game of the season."

The Utica Comets unveiled their new "Devils" colors at Adirondack Bank Center during a preseason game against Rochester on Friday. It's the first time all fans could enter the building for hockey since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Stone made sure the restaurant was ready, training a whole new staff of servers, bartenders, and what he calls, "top of the line" cooks in the kitchen. The labor shortage had prevented 72's opening, as owner Robert Esche and Stone chose to focus on pumping out food at Babes and Kookie's Q and Creamery, along with Eche's fine dining restaurant, Aqua Vino.

"We're ready to go and we've got a great crew ready to serve," Stone said during a soft opening on Thursday. He said the new menu features some of the dishes from the previous menu and new items, like the already popular Buffalo Chicken Wing Dip along with new apps, entrees and desserts. The "Injectable Donut Holes" are back by popular demand, and so is the popular "72 Burger."

"One item that we took off the menu is definitely coming back because everybody during our soft opening was asking for it," said Stone. The "Tuna Tartare" dish was removed from the new menu. Stone said, "I've heard a ton of flack about that," so we're we're bringing it back to the menu soon. "It's all about what the people want," he said.

Courtesy 72 Tavern and Grill
Courtesy 72 Tavern and Grill


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