How Scott Varley Sold Sperry’s – And What It Says About the Future of Caroline Street
Saratoga-based associate broker Scott Varley in front of Sperry’s.
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – As a destination city where restaurants are the heart of downtown Saratoga Springs, it’s big news when any establishment is opened, closed or sold. That is especially true for Sperry’s, one of the city’s best and most popular restaurants.
Operating since 1932, Sperry’s is the most historic restaurant in downtown Saratoga, second only to Pennell’s, which has been in operation for over 90 years. Heck, even the Olde Bryan Inn – opened in 1981 – isn’t as long-standing as Sperry’s!
Yet through all of 2023, the rumor mill was rife with “news” that the Caroline Street stalwart was going to be sold. Not once but twice it was widely reported that buyers were heading to the closing table.
The ownership group, headed by former Saratoga Springs Mayor Scott Johnson, eagerly alerted the public that Roohan Realty had buyers able to get the deal done. Only Sperry’s doors remained closed, no deal reached fruition and plenty of folks wondered what was going to become of this integral part of Saratoga’s dining scene.
Scott Varley brought a buyer and seller together to give Sperry’s and Caroline Street a bright future.
Enter Scott Varley, the Keller Williams associate broker and Saratoga Springs native. Call it the art of the deal, or the result of having a database with over 13,000 people, but Varley was able to get to work pulling together a deal that now ensures the future of this Saratoga treasure. The sale of Sperry’s officially closed this month.
How did the Sperry’s deal between Louis Lannizzaro, owner of Wilton’s popular Nove Italian Restaurant, and the Johnson group, finally get done?
Varley said his personal interest in Sperry’s and his knowledge that the community was determined to ensure its future is what kept him plugging away.
“Because of my passion for Saratoga, the food culture, and real estate, I was actively prospecting to find a buyer. Someone in my sphere emerged and we put the deal together. Louis ultimately secured the property and we got it closed within two months,’’ Varley said.
“It was a once-in-a-lifetime moment. Sphere of influence is extremely valuable in the real estate world. Over the 34 years I’ve been in business, it’s hard to walk down Broadway without seeing many people I know. It’s a great feeling and I love Saratoga,’’ he said.
Drilling Down Into the Details of a Saratoga Commercial Deal
The difference between the two deals that failed to close and the one Varley brokered came down to several issues.
“No. 1, I had the strongest buyer. Since Louis was already in my sphere, I knew of his ability to close. Because of our personal relationship and my real estate experience, he takes my advice very seriously. I told him at all costs he had to buy Sperry’s for several reasons,’’ Varley said.
Lannizzaro also already owned the vacant parcel next to Sperry’s.
“This purchase magnified the value of his holdings there. Also, Sperry’s was a terrific value when looking at all of Caroline Street. For example, Dangos (an Irish pub) sold next door for over $2.2 million. In my opinion, Sperry’s is a better parcel,’’ Varley said.
The Sperry’s listing expired after those two deals fell through, but Varley knew Sperry’s was off-market and in need of a matchmaker.
“I only brought one buyer and of course, we closed it right away with no issues. Also, I do have a different approach to real estate. Many real estate people here just list a property and wait for the leads to come in. I actively prospect for buyers and sellers every week, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until noon. Our entire team does. This is a different, proactive approach more commonly seen in a large city environment, like New York City. It’s not commonplace in our real estate market,’’ he said.
The Future Value of Caroline Street? Look at Broadway
“I also see that Caroline Street has a bright future and that most of the street is somewhat undervalued. With the transformation of Broadway over the last 10 years, Caroline Street is next. In 10 years or so, Caroline Street will look a lot different. It’s the only part of downtown that hasn’t really been updated much and is logically the next ‘location.’ I told my buyer if he didn’t buy it, I would. That sounds like a joke, but I think that worked because … it was true!”
With a front-row seat downtown and an inside connection to so many Saratoga buyers and sellers, Varley sees the growing network of locals and out-of-towners coming into the Saratoga market.
“It isn’t one or the other. But the most important thing I can deliver is local expertise and connections plus my affiliation with Keller Williams, which is an international real estate company. And Saratoga is a one-of-a-kind market in all of upstate in that it’s the most known community worldwide outside of New York City,’’ he said.
With 34 years of residential and commercial real estate success that totals more than $1 billion in sales, Varley is at ground zero for all things real estate in Saratoga Springs.
“It’s so desirable and competitive that it took me 30 years before I could even get my hands on owning a Broadway building. To get commercial space, you really need to know someone who’s very deeply connected and has all the real estate know-how. And that’s me and our team.’’
A Great Outcome for Sperry’s & Its Owners
Both the new owners and the old are ecstatic about the plan that Sperry’s will once again open its doors as Sperry’s.
“I’m planning to keep the restaurant as Sperry’s. It’ll just be revamped. There’s no sense trying to change the name,’’ Lazzinnaro said.
That’s good news for Saratoga Springs, which continues to grow and develop, adding chic new condos and 4-star restaurants. But the charm that attracts folks to Saratoga is its rich history, and preserving that is job No. 1 for so many local residents and business leaders, including everyone who got Sperry’s and Caroline Street a new lease on life.