Great biscuits and gravy! Some more great Southern-style cooking is coming to the Capital Region later this winter. Albany’s Southern-inspired eatery The Cuckoo’s Nest is planning to open a sister restaurant called The Nest on State Street in Downtown Schenectady. The new restaurant, which is expected to open in February or early March, will feature some classic dishes from The Cuckoo’s Nest, as well as quite a few new creations focusing on delicious Southern sides and veggies.
“The menu will probably be split 50-50 between new stuff and some Cuckoo’s Nest favorites that have been on the menu since it opened,” says Kaytrin Ziemann, who, along with her husband, Devin, co-owns The Cuckoo’s Nest and Crave, a fast-casual burger and frozen yogurt spot also in Albany. The new venture’s menu will include Cuckoo’s Nest favorites such as its famous biscuits and gravy, fried green tomatoes and, of course, fried chicken. It will also include some new creative fare such as spicy creole mussels, smoked eggplant with peanut dukkah (an Egyptian nut and spice dip) and a variety of different biscuit choices.
The Nest will also feature different decor from its Albany location. “Cuckoo’s is very farmhouse style, like grandma’s house with these cute little mismatched china plates,” says Ziemann. The new Schenectady spot, which will seat around 120 when its complete, will still have that cuckoo-like vibe, but with more intimacy, plus lots of greenery and bright emerald colors. “It’ll be really cool for a date night or a girl’s night out,” says Ziemann.
The Ziemanns are mainstays on the local food scene—and actually met at Johnny’s restaurant in Schenectady. Devin had been working there as a chef and Kaytrin, who’d gone to college for dietetics and food service management, as a waitress. The two bonded over their shared love of food. “We only knew each other for five months when we signed the lease for Crave in 2015,” says Ziemann about opening their first restaurant together.
Though the Ziemanns have made their mark, regionally, creating delicious Southern food, both were actually born and raised in the Capital Region. “I can’t tell you how many customers ask if the chef’s from the South,” says Kaytrin, a Schenectadian by birth, of her husband’s cooking. “But I’m like, ‘No, he’s from Altamont.'” Back in 2017, when the culinary duo were brainstorming on a theme for a second restaurant, they took a cross-country road trip for inspiration. “Everywhere we went, we were really drawn to Southern food,” says Ziemann. By November of the same year, The Cuckoo’s Nest was a reality.
Two years later, the Ziemanns are full speed ahead on their new Schenectady location. “I was never worried that we were going to be successful because anything Devin makes is going to be great,” says Kaytrin. “And luckily people agree with me.”