Original owner to reopen South Station
By Gordon Dritschilo
Wally Sabotka thinks what Rutland needs is a good steakhouse.
So, the restaurateur who most recently owned Sam’s Steakhouse in Ludlow plans to renovate the former South Station and reopen it in early summer as Southside Steakhouse.
“I think it needs to be moderately priced and try to appeal to everybody,” he said. “That’s what Rutland’s all about.”
Sabotka was the South Station’s original owner, opening it in 1982 and selling it in 2006. It continued under new owner William Gillam until it closed in March of 2013.
“It was very good to me for 24 years,” Sabotka said of the South Main Street location.
Thomas Donahue, executive vice president of the Rutland Region Chamber of Commerce, said South Station left a hole in the Rutland dining scene when it closed.
“It’s one of those places that was somewhat critical to the way things work in Rutland because it was a very busy meeting place,” he said. “We haven’t had that central small- to medium-size meeting spot for businesses since South Station went out of business.”
Sabotka said he has long loved the steakhouse business and saw it as an unmet need in Rutland. He also said he plans to adopt a practice he used in Ludlow — in-house dry aging.
“We age steaks in a climate-controlled meat locker,” he said. “It breaks down all the muscles and tenderizes all the steaks, giving it a slightly beefier flavor. Some of our steaks will be aged for a minimum of 21 days. I’m also going to have burgers and comfort foods on the menu and a very aggressive wine program.”
Sabotka also said he plans a total renovation of the interior, which will leave the restaurant looking nothing like it did before.
“It’s obviously in need of a serious face lift,” he said. “I’m expanding the kitchen. ... We’re kind of starting over.”