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October 7, 2011


Filed under: Business,Features,Troy NY — duncan @ 2:25 pm

For Immediate Release

Contact Duncan Crary, 518-274-2723

Chris Ryan ’86 Plays Bootlegger in PBS Prohibition Film

Lessons Learned at Wagner Translate to Successful Community Business

TROY, NY (Oct. 7, 2011) — Chris Ryan ’86 made his acting debut on the small screen this October when his Troy, New York establishment, Ryan’s Wake Public House, served as a filming location for a PBS special.

River Street Riot!Ryan plays a mouthy bootlegger in “William Kennedy’s Prohibition Story,” a 30-minute documentary about the life and times of infamous East Coast gangster Jack “Legs” Diamond. The movie is airing statewide and beyond on PBS affiliate stations this winter.

Though it’s not every day that film crews set up shop there, Ryan’s riverfront bar in Troy’s entertainment district is a popular hangout where politicians, business leaders and artists mingle and make things happen in their community. Ryan’s Wake and its authentic turn-of-the century decor is a frequent winner in the “Best Bar” category, selected annually by Capital Region media.

“A true pub is more than a bar,” Ryan said. “It’s a community space, a ‘Third Place,’ where people of all walks of life relax and congregate after work. It’s often the first setting for important civic conversations that lead to real change in a small community like ours.”

As a business major at Wagner, Ryan supported himself by working as the Student Union Operations Manager and as manger/bartender at The Hawk’s Nest, a student pub. After college he worked for two years as a staff member, with a focus on economic development, for former Staten Island Borough President Ralph J. Lamberti.

“Working for Ralph gave me a great opportunity to participate in city government and appreciate how it affects the business community and most aspects of our lives.”

But as a native of Utica, Ryan was eager to return upstate to put his experience in business, economic development and hospitality to use.

In the early 1990s, Ryan accepted a management position at Brown’s Brewing Co., a locally owned upstart brewery and restaurant that has since become an anchor in Troy’s bustling waterfront entertainment district. While at Brown’s, Ryan helped establish Revolution Hall, a state-of-the-art performance space adjacent to and owned by the brewery. In 2005, the Wagner graduate opened Ryan’s Wake Public House on the same block.

These initiatives were major steps toward the urban revitalization of this small but up-and-coming Hudson River city, which is quickly becoming an attractive place for young professionals, artists and entrepreneurs to live, work and play.

Does Ryan plan to launch a new career as an actor? Probably not. But Troy has been the setting for several major motion pictures in recent years, including “Ironweed,”"The Age of Innocence” and “The Time Machine.”

“That’s why they call this place ‘Hollywood on the Hudson,’” Ryan said of his adopted city.

To catch Ryan’s performance in “William Kennedy’s Prohibition Story,” check the schedule of your local PBS station or purchase a DVD at For information about Ryan’s Wake Public House, visit:


The name “Ryan’s Wake” is a nod to the Ryan family funeral business and to the tradition of celebrating life at an Irish wake. It is also a playful reference to the wakes created by passing boats on the nearby Hudson River.


For high resolution movie stills and a clip from William Kennedy’s Prohibition Story,” filmed at Ryan’s Wake Public House, visit:


Media coverage resulting from this press release:

This pitch was picked up by the Wagner College Magazine.

October 2, 2011


Filed under: Business,Features,Troy NY — duncan @ 3:13 pm

For Immediate Release

Contact: Duncan Crary, 518-274-2723

Utica Brothers Appear in Prohibition Film Tonight on PBS Affiliate

“William Kennedy’s Prohibition Story” recounts exploits of upstate NY gangster

TROY, NY (Oct. 2, 2011) — Two Utica natives will appear in a documentary film about the Prohibition broadcast tonight on the Central NY PBS affiliate.

“William Kennedy’s Prohibition Story” is a 30-minute documentary film that airs tonight Sunday, Oct. 2 at 10 pm on PBS affiliate WCNY/Channel 24 – Syracuse, NY (and tonight on WHMT/Channel 17 – Troy at 7:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.).

The film stars Pulitzer Prize winning author and Albany native William Kennedy (“Ironweed,”"Legs”), who recounts the fascinating and violent exploits of gangster-bootlegger Jack “Legs” Diamond during the Prohibition era.

One of the most famous East Coast gangsters, Diamond built criminal empires in New York City and the Catskills during the 1920s and 30s.

The Kennedy film, which airs in conjunction with Ken Burn’s latest documentary “Prohibition,” includes archival footage and re-enactments.

In one re-enactment scene, native Utica brothers Chris Ryan, 47, and Matt Ryan, 46, play bootlegger brothers William “Red” Cassidy and Pete Cassidy who were murdered in 1929 by Legs Diamond in the gangster’s Hotsy Totsy Club on Manhattan’s West Side.

That scene and one other were filmed in Chris Ryan’s Troy, N.Y. bar, Ryan’s Wake Pub.


The beer served in the film is Utica Club!

For those who miss tonight’s broadcast, Central New York residents should check the WCNY/Channel 24 schedule for future broadcasts of “William Kennedy’s Prohibition Story.” The documentary film will also be available on DVD. It is also airing on other PBS stations across the state and beyond this October.


When Chris Ryan established Ryan’s Wake pub in 2005, in the waterfront entertainment district of Troy, N.Y., he kept his hometown connection alive by making sure Utica Club beer is always on tap. The bar owner says he serves about two kegs of UC per week, in addition to other popular Matt Brewing Company products.

Schultz & Dooley, the famous “spokesmugs” for the West End Brewing Company (later purchased by Matt Brewing Co.), also keep watch over the crowds at Ryan’s Wake, where many former Utica residents congregate.

For information about William Kennedy’s Prohibition Story, visit:


For high resolution movie stills and a clip from William Kennedy’s Prohibition Story,” filmed at Ryan’s Wake Public House, visit:

For information, call Duncan Crary at 518-274-2723


Media coverage resulting from this press release:

This pitch resulted in a television news story which aired on WKTV Ch. 2 in Utica.