Tim Knab can be an awfully convincing guy.
Maybe it was the purple face paint. Or maybe it was his high energy and persuasive nature. One thing is certain, it traces back almost a dozen years ago when Knab walked into a cozy weekday establishment on East Main Street in Rochester that only served breakfast and lunch and asked the owners to open their doors on Saturday nights during the National Lacrosse League season.
Knab, known as “Knabber” among local lacrosse fanatics, proposed that if Stock Exchange Restaurant owners John and Nicole Terrigino catered to a loyal lacrosse fanbase and became a hub for Knighthawks viewers, good times and profits could be had.
“Tim came wandering in the bar and asked me if I would be interested in opening up on a Saturday night before the Knighthawks game,” John Terrigino said. “And I said ‘hey, why not?’ And ever since then it’s been every Saturday night through the season.”
The rest is history. The restaurant became the official gathering spot for ‘Hawks fans whether it was a pregame party prior to a short walk to the Blue Cross Arena for home games, or a place to huddle around the television to watch road contests.
Fun nights followed. Games were won. Championships were captured. Glasses were raised. Memories were created.
The fan club called the Knighthawks Krew, formed by Knab himself 25 years ago, finally had a nest to call home. And the Terriginos took good care of the patrons and the team they seemed to adopt, opening their kitchen to feed the hungry athletes after each home game. Lacrosse memorabilia began to creep up along two walls inside the dining area.
“He’s never said ‘no’ to anything that anyone has asked him,” Knab said of John Terrigino. “That’s just the type of guy he is.”
There was the time when the town was blanketed with three feet of snow. The Knighthawks were on the road, but fans still wanted to go out and watch the game and the Stock Exchange doors were open.
It doesn’t take a die-hard to remember those evenings when the team won three consecutive championships from 2012-14.
“After the championship games, the trophy showed up at like 4:30 in the morning with a bunch of the players and the fans were still there,” Knab said. “John opened the doors. He said come on in and let’s have some fun.”
As lacrosse fans settled in, the venue became even more a part of their lives for special events. Weddings, baby showers, bridal showers and birthday parties became the norm for fans who couldn’t get enough of ‘’The Stock”.
“I don’t think you can put words to it,” Knab said. “My wife and I had a wedding ceremony renewing our vows there. We signed our closing papers and celebrated buying a house there. It’s one of those places that you have to be there to understand it.”
But like all good things, the Stock Exchange Restaurant’s time has come to an end. The Terriginos have owned the place for 22 years and have been affected by an exodus of other businesses in the immediate area.
“In the past six to eight months, in the surrounding buildings and in my building, there have been about 800 people to move out,” Terrigino said. “My wife and I have tried everything possible to continue but you get to the point where you look at the bottom line and realize that it’s not feasible anymore. We really tried to continue. It just wasn’t going to happen.”
July 31 was the official closing, with an Irish wake style sendoff led by Knab and the Krew. They said goodbye to a place that treated them so well.
“It’s been a great time,” Terrigino. “I will have these memories forever.”
The Terriginos plan to continue a catering business, but the Stock Exchange has officially seen its last transaction.
“We’re going to still do catering after we find a different kitchen to work out of,” Terrigino said. “And other than that, we’re not really sure. I’ve been doing the restaurant thing for 37 years since I was 16 years old. I’m just going to take it one step at a time.”
The Knighthawks Krew is also pondering its next step. The fanbase is clamoring for a new locale where they will cheer their new team, which arrived under a new ownership. The old Knighthawks departed north after the season to become the Halifax Thunderbirds after a 25-year run. A new Rochester Knighthawks expansion franchise has emerged, trading in its traditional purple and teal for army green. Executives from the new Rochester franchise, including General Manager Dan Carey, were on hand to celebrate the past by presenting Terrigino with a Knighhawks jersey. They also looked to the future as Knab said talks have begun already to find a new home for lacrosse parties.
“We’ve already started negotiations with another place,” Knab said. “Rochester really does support the Knighthawks and they know there are lots of fans we can bring in.”
It may take some persuading to get things officially in order but Knab is the guy for the job. He says he hasn’t worn face paint in about a year but hasn’t ruled out some makeup for the right occasion.
“The green camo paint is not hard for me to put on,” said Knab, an Air Force veteran. “I did quite a bit of it in the Gulf.”
Terrigino said Knab is a great guy to lead the charge for the new franchise.
“He lives and breathes for this game and for people,” Terrigino said. “Tim would drop everything to do anything for anybody, whether he knew them or not. Great guy. Over the top a lot but that’s what’s great about him. He’s nonstop energy.”