Exploring Albany's inglorious past and dubious future

Before it was Safeway Muffler

casa bianca combo

Before it turned into Safeway Muffler, 1117 Central Avenue (across from Ford’s Tavern) was quite the address. It was begun with lofty ideals in 1948 by Anthony Fusco and Joseph Belardo, as the Casa Bianca Restaurant and Cocktail Lounge. Within a few years it was really just a cocktail lounge with musical and comedic acts, busted now and then for serving to minors. The place changed hands in 1957, becoming the Combo Club (owned by Anthony J. Aliberti). The Combo Club was initially similar in style to the Casa Bianca’s footsteps, but with a more limited menu, more raucous music and, by 1959, “exotic dancers.” The building was sold once more and for about six or seven months in 1960, became The Rockette. The Rockette was a rowdy roadhouse and a favorite of drunk college students; in its brief existence it became infamous among local law enforcement for fist fights and underage drinking. It’s unclear whether The Rockette closed of its own free will or was railroaded out due to its status as a public nuisance, but by the end of 1960 it had been bought by Safeway Muffler.

safeway man

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