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F.M. Don’s Opening

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F.M. Don’s Opening



Hospitality is their middle name
Evans and Socha launch SoEva Hospitality Group

by Sue Wade

Punta Gorda, Florida – June 12, 2017 – Within less than three years, Punta Gorda developer Chris Evans has become pivotal to a larger team that’s changing not only the face of Marion Avenue but also a rural community near Schenectady, New York.

The same mission—hospitality—now energizes three ongoing enterprises in two states.

Said Evans, “Our culture is simple—a genuine desire to meet and exceed the expectations of our guests.”

In October 2014, shortly after he unlocked the long-shut iron gates to The Turtle Club Coastal Tavern and Claw Bar, the place was quickly pronounced Harbor Style magazine’s “Best New Restaurant.”

When New York developer William Socha became a regular there, Evans’s next project followed naturally. He and Socha partnered first at The Turtle Club, then almost immediately began developing a northern twin—The Glass Tavern in Glenville, Schenectady County, New York—which opened in summer 2016.

On May 1, Evans, Socha, and former Trabue Executive Chef Keith Meyer sealed the purchase of the eight-year-old Jack’s on Marion, owned by Bill and Janet Minerich in downtown Punta Gorda’s Sunloft Center since 2012.

Meyer, trained at the French Culinary Institute in New York, with former sous-chef positions at two Michelin-starred Manhattan restaurants, brings expertise in French cooking technique to a kitchen three times Trabue’s size and a restaurant of 260 seats.

“For us,” said Evans, “every restaurant has several keys to success: management, quality, capital, location and, of course, concept.”

The concept for his newest restaurant venture, he said, is historical, honoring his grandfather, F. M. “Don” Donelson, the Fishermen’s Village developer who was as central to the evolution of Punta Gorda nearly 50 years ago as Evans is today.

From its new name—F.M. Don’s—to the classic simplicity of its logo, its interior, and its menu, the establishment embodies old-fashioned authenticity. It’s a place for everyone, where they can find not just impeccably prepared entrees like Meyer’s famous Three Suns Ranch Bison Meatloaf, but also casual bar bites (3 p.m. until close) including short rib sliders and escargot, affordable small plates, and plates for sharing.

Said Meyer, “We want to keep people happy who’ve been coming to Jack’s for years, while injecting unique energy into this growing town.”

To come in the future: a catering division and a banquet space with private bar, for meetings of 50 or more, in Sunloft Center’s Suite 111, to the right of the restaurant on Marion Avenue.

The transition from Jack’s to F.M. Don’s began gradually at first but was realized more rapidly than even its management team had projected. By mid-May, Chef Keith was already acclimating to his new kitchen and soon introduced a new menu, weeks ahead of schedule.

Originally expected to evolve over six to eight months, F.M. Don’s will now see its ribbon cutting by the end of June.

At the same time, Evans and Socha have launched SoEva Hospitality Group, a management-company umbrella for its three different enterprises and more to come.

The F.M. Don’s logo, with a signature message promoting “genuine hospitality” and “classic provisions,” underscores a promise of hospitality that’s shared among all SoEva Hospitality Group venues—including The Turtle Club, Punta Gorda’s “purveyors of hospitality,” and The Glass Tavern’s upstate New York “hometown hospitality.”

As Evans summed it up, “Genuine hospitality is a feeling our guests have while they are at our establishments, and when they leave. That is what we do.”

Also running through all three settings is the vibrant beat of jazz and blues, already heard in F.M. Don’s and live weekly at The Turtle Club, where manager Jim Lawson, former owner of Marion Avenue’s Opus, coordinates special events such as Bourbon & Blues Nights, Wine & Jazz Nights, and Brunch & Blues.

The latest SoEva manager uniting both Turtle Club and F.M. Don’s is Nate McKelvy, formerly general manager at The Captain’s Table in Punta Gorda and Boca Grande’s historic Gasparilla Inn & Club.

Said Evans, “We’re fortunate to be working with the best hospitality professionals as we continue to serve our guests and grow our operations.”


The Glass Tavern Celebrates Grand Opening at Socha Plaza 115

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Friday, May 12 was a big day for The Glass Tavern Restaurant and Socha Plaza 115!

The Capital Region Chamber of Commerce CEO Mark Eagan was joined by several prominent lawmakers and businesspeople to celebrate the grand opening for The Glass Tavern Restaurant at Socha Plaza 115.

Co-founded by Socha Management President William J. Socha and Restaurateur Chris Evans, The Glass Tavern delivers a new twist to the Capital Region. With a modern feel and delectable flavors, The Glass Tavern offers the finest – and best-tasting – restaurant experience in the Capital Region.

As a place to bring both your families, and business partners, The Glass Tavern offers a delicious meal and some “hometown hospitality.”

Congratulations to Bill, Chris, and the rest of The Glass Tavern team! The Socha Management team wishes you continued success!

Socha Management Founder Sophia K. Socha Passes At Age 86

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It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of our founder, mother, grandmother, and esteemed businesswoman, Sophia K. Socha. We will miss her dearly.

Please see below for Sophia’s obituary:

Sophia Katherine Socha (Sophie), age 86, of Glenville, NY, and beloved widow of Walter J. Socha, entered into eternal rest with her family by her side on Wednesday, May 11, 2016 at Wesley Health Care Center in Saratoga Springs.

Born, Sophia Katherine Kopacki, on January 1, 1930 in Schaghticoke, NY, she was the daughter of Andrew Kopacki and Apolonia Filipek Kopacki. She grew up in Clifton Park, NY on her family’s Waite Road farm and attended school at a nearby one-room schoolhouse. She later graduated from Burnt Hills – Ballston Lake High School. After graduating from high school, the intelligent, numbers-savvy Sophie went to work for General Electric, working in the Payroll Department. Beautiful, as well as smart, Sophie did some informal modeling for a local clothes shop. An exercise enthusiast, Sophie even spent a few years as the gym teacher at St. Helen’s Catholic School!

Her major life’s work began after meeting, Walter J. Socha, a home builder. After they married on July 15, 1951, Walt relied on Sophie to meet with their home buyers and manage the contracts for their home sales. Together they created Walter J. Socha Builders, and after building and selling several homes and neighborhoods, they turned to apartment building and property management of those properties. Sophie filled the roles of rental agent, human resources, office manager, bookkeeper, as well as customer service, and later managed the office staff that was needed as the business grew.

Sophie had many interests outside of work. She loved gardening, and her yard was always Better Homes and Garden worthy. Red, pink and white geraniums and pink-purple hanging fushias were her favorites. She traveled the world with her husband, Walt, often with local Home Builders Association members. Sophie and Walt shared a love for the game of golf and were longtime members of The Edison Club, where they had many friends. Sophie loved fashion and looking her best, but was equally comfortable in casual clothes, enjoying the company of her grandchildren. She also loved polka dancing and was a devout Catholic with a special love for the Blessed Mother Mary.

Sophie is survived by her three children, Michael J. (Sara Landon) Socha, Marilyn Socha-Ruggiero (Lou Ruggiero) and William J. (Shelly) Socha; as well as her sisters, Caroline Trzeciak (Joseph), Julia Lipinski; and brother, Florian (Janet) Kopacki. Additionally, Sophie is survived by her six grandchildren, Natasha Wyatt, Brandon Wyatt, Zöe Socha, Grace Socha Sanders (Joseph Sanders), Grant (Erin) Socha and Taylor Socha; as well as several nieces and nephews. Sophie was predeceased by sisters, Frances Mutryn and Mary Chotkowski; and brothers, Stanley, Fred, Frank and John Kopacki.

The family would like to extend heartfelt thanks to the amazing and loving staff of 3 Hathorn at Wesley Health Care Center. These caring professionals became Sophie’s extended family. In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions be made in Sophie’s memory to Wesley Health Care Center, The Wesley Foundation at (or 131 Lawrence Street, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866) and/or The Church of The Immaculate Conception, 400 Saratoga Road, Glenville, NY 12302.

Hometown Hospitality Comes to Glenville

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   SCHENECTADY COUNTY, N.Y. — An innovative restaurateur and a management and development executive from Glenville, N.Y.  are pleased to announce a partnership aimed at providing a new dining “experience” tailored to the discerning tastes of Schenectady County and its unique communities.

            Christopher R. Evans, a seasoned restaurateur with roots in South West Florida, have completed the design and is currently constructing The Glass Tavern, located along the Route 50 corridor in Scotia-Glenville.  The 5,200 square feet of Socha Plaza 115, is a spectacular glass and brick mixed-use landmark recently opened by William J. Socha.

            Evans said he and Mr. Socha have designed The Glass Tavern as a unique setting for hometown hospitality and great dining, offering a variety of atmospheres – a formula he has already tested and proven at The Turtle Club & Claw Bar , a successful coastal tavern seafood restaurant along Florida’s famed Gulf Coast.

            In planning the new restaurant, Evans said he is focused on what patrons want most: excellent food served with hometown hospitality – every time, in every setting, for every customer. “Regardless whether the customer selects the welcoming atmosphere of a hometown tavern, the coastal flavor of a seafood and raw bar, or our dining room,” Evans said, “they will experience authentic, hometown hospitality.”

            “The variety of Glass Tavern’s dining experience is unified by our ‘house brand’ of hometown hospitality, which shapes every dining experience whether the meal and beverages are shared with business associates, friends, or family as a spur-of-the-moment gathering or a planned occasion,” he said.

            The Glass Tavern at Socha Plaza 115 is forging its unique plan and design to complement the demands and opportunities presented by its position in the heart of a mix-use building in a rapidly expanding community, said William J. Socha.  “As an integral part of Socha Plaza 115’s tenant mix, which includes residential, commercial, corporate residential, medical, and high-end retailers, The Glass Tavern is poised to become a community favorite both locally and as a dining destination,” Socha said. “I am delighted to welcome Chris to our team and look forward to his contributions in our community,” he said.

            The Glass Tavern is conveniently located on Route 50, across from Schenectady County Airport in the landmark Socha Plaza 115 building. The restaurant is slated to open this summer.

            For information about employment, hometown hospitality training, and allied opportunities, contact Christopher R. Evans at

Socha Plaza in the News Again

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On September 2nd, the Albany Business Review published another great article about our new Socha Plaza Mixed-Used Building. You can view a flattering slideshow of our new building, our tenants, workers-in-action, and apartments — and Socha Management President Bill Socha!

Here’s a caption from one of the photos in the slideshow:

The new $10 million Socha Plaza in Glenville, New York is attracting a range of commercial and residential tenants.

Read the full story and see the slideshow here.

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