More than 60 food and merchandise vendors have opted out of this year's New York State Fair, many citing a labor shortage, according to media reports. Now, a Utica restaurant is stepping up by doubling the size of its food booth and turning it into a large restaurant and bar at this year's state fair, which will showcase the city of Utica.

Charlie Digristina of It's A Utica Thing! in Utica told WIBX, "We're stepping up. We're doubling the size of our booth and we're adding Saranac and Utica Club. It's not going to be easy with the labor shortage, but we're going to get it done and showcase the greatest little city in America - Utica, NY, he said.

Digristina's restaurant and bar will be located on Broadway at The Fair, across from the big rollercoaster. "I want to show the people of the state that Utica is hot right now and people are getting off exit 31 because what we have to offer," said Digristina.

It's A Utica Thing! features Italian specialties like Utica style Pizza, Utica Greens, Utica Chicken Riggies, and what Digristina calls "The Everything Sandwich" which features Greens, Chicken Riggies, in between 2 slices of Utica Tomato Pie.

The Everything Sandwich from It's A Utica Thing! in Utica. Photo courtesy of Charlie Digristina.
The Everything Sandwich from It's A Utica Thing! in Utica. Photo courtesy of Charlie Digristina.

Digristina said he's worked with the F.X. Matt Brewery in Utica to serve Utica beer products at the 2-week event in Syracuse. "How can you showcase the products of Utica, NY without Saranac," said Digristina.

It's A Utica Things sauces, Saranac and Utica Club. Photo Courtesy of Charlie Digristina
It's A Utica Things sauces, Saranac and Utica Club. Photo Courtesy of Charlie Digristina

According to the Syracuse Post Standard, 65 food and merchandise vendors have decided not to participate in this year's fair, including Vendors like Gianelli Sausage and Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, Baker’s Chicken Coop and Haddock’s Paddock, Tully’s Good Times and Tarson Pools & Spas.

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