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Colonie seafood icon changing hands, within the family

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During his 44 years as an Albany area restaurateur, only one thing has become more iconic than LeGrande Serras's handlebar mustache: His seafood restaurant on the bustling Wolf Road commercial strip in suburban Colonie.

The restaurant, originally named Real Seafood but changed several years ago to Reel Seafood as part of a legal maneuver, has been sold. To Serras's daughter, Aliki, the first ownership change since it was founded in 1983.

Aliki Serras, 28, today announced she plans to invest more than $1 million to renovate the restaurant her father opened in a former pancake house at 195 Wolf Road. The intention is to try to draw a younger, foodie-centric crowd, and that means some major decor changes, a new head chef and a new menu. To accomplish that, she will close the facility following dinner service on January 5 and hold a grand reopening on January 25 to unveil the changes.

The new look will be Mediterranean- and Aegean-inspired, with a contemporary décor, predominantly blue-and-white color scheme, and clean, distinctive lines throughout. Bar seating will double to 32; restaurant seating will increase slightly to 228.

"When we opened, this same strip had fewer than a dozen restaurants," LeGrande Serras said. Since then, the Wolf Road dining scene has exploded to include 55 restaurants of all kinds. Aliki Serras has been involved in the business in one capacity or another since she was a 9-year-old portioning pasta in the kitchen there after church on Sundays.

The new chef is Dustin Aipperspach, who was chef-owner of a Vail. Colorado-area restaurant who recently moved to the Albany area to be closer to his wife's family.

LeGrande Serras, 68, has, over the years, followed in the business footsteps of his grandfather and father to operate a variety of Capital Region restaurants. Among others he has owned and operated are HP Mulligan’s (later the Lexington Grill), on Wolf Road, Kirker’s steakhouse in Latham, and Peggy’s diner in Schenectady. Peggy's is where he, as a 9-year-old like his daughter years later, got his first taste of restaurant work by peeling potatoes for a penny a piece at Peggy’s, the diner his father and grandfather operated for more than two decades.

He plans to continue being a familiar face at Reel Seafood, but will expand his well-known efforts as a charity auctioneer, a role that has raised more than $13.5 million at 1,200 events.

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