Albany is about to get its own “Hard Rock Cafe” for state politics.
A longtime public relations executive is opening a new memorabilia-filled restaurant that he hopes will deliver Albany out of its “sleepy” post-pandemic slump by attracting the capital’s power hungry movers and shakers.
Todd Shapiro, a longtime politico who served as a former spokesman for Ivana Trump and State Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs, plans to open the “War Room Tavern” – which will be part eatery, exclusive club and cigar lounge.
“I want to bring back the magic Albany used to have. I want to create an atmosphere to bring back downtown,” he told The Post. “There’s no place for a power lunch. I want to create the power lunch spot.”
The eatery — which will open on New Year’s Eve — is set to be filled with artifacts and state politics curios, like a sort of “Hard Rock Cafe” or “Planet Hollywood” of pols. But instead of Schwarzenegger’s workout shirt, it will have memorabilia from past governors, mayors and other electeds.
The artifacts on display include old voting machines, a Mayor’s jacket donated by Rudy Giuliani and disgraced ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s former cigar locker.
The menu, meanwhile, will be inspired by Mayor Eric Adams’ semi-vegan diet.
Shapiro hopes the “War Room” will become Albany’s it spot for power dining, filling a void left by the recent closures of other capital eateries, such as the famed Jack’s Oyster House.
“Albany used to be a fun and crazy place to go out. It’s now difficult to get a meal or have a late night drink after getting out of the legislative session,” he said.
Shapiro bought two, side by side four story buildings at 40 and 42 Eagle Street this past June.
One building has a ground floor bar, a restaurant/sushi bar and private members only club – for which he plans to charge a $5,000 annual membership.
The other side is a three-story cigar lounge he wants to “resemble the Grand Havana Room in New York City that closed down.”
It’s named after a famous room in on the second floor of the State Capitol Building dubbed the “War Room” depicting New York’s involvement in famous battles.
Since the summer, he’s collected an assortment of political paraphernalia including: a lieutenant governor’s chair from 1955, a 1939 election voting machine and 100s of photos of political types from Bill Clinton to Gov. Nelson Rockefeller and former Big Apple Mayor Jimmy Walker.
“It becomes bleak and dismal and I wanted to open a place and make a Zero Bond-like club – Albany lacks night clubs and a private social club,” said Shapiro, referencing the members-only club in Manhattan often frequented by his pal, Mayor Adams.
He said Adams, state AG Letitia James and Gov. George Pataki have already been to the club in recent weeks.
“One of the things we have to get over is Democrats and Republicans not talking to each other. It’s a great thing for Albany to help politicians to realize that they’re not separate species. There’s no reason they can’t get along,” Pataki told The Post.
Shapiro, 57, has worked in local government and the political world for upwards of 30 years.
He’s the CEO of his own company, Todd Shapiro Associates Public Relations, and has represented a long list of clients including the Trump Organization, former Big Apple Mayor Rudy Giuliani and outgoing Upper East Side Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney.
He presently reps ex-child actor and crypto billionaire Brock Pierce, grocery store magnate and host/owner of WABC radio John Catsimatidis, the FDNY-Uniformed Fire Officers Association/Uniformed FIrefighters Association and the Nassau and Suffolk County police PBAs.
“There’s three things I love in life: I love politics. I love sushi. I love cigars,” he told The Post.
“I have the best job in the world. Do the things you do everyday and you love and you’ll have the greatest career in the world.”
Meanwhile, Shapiro’s Adams-inspired menu items include a “Badass” vegan-seer potato soup, roasted vegetable lasagna, black bean tacos and pasta with charred tomatoes and white wine sauce.
He’s also collected recipes for beloved dishes of former and current pols: the Cuomo familie’s lasagna, AG James’ favorite chai latte and even Gov. Kathy Hochul has promised him her Buffalo chicken wing recipe.
Opening night is this New Year’s Eve, but Shapiro said he’s also planning an opening bash between the legislative session’s official start on Jan. 4 and Hochul’s State of the State address on Jan. 10.