Marty Keary, a co-owner of Old Daley Hospitality, is widely known in the Capital Region for his effusive, happy-go-lucky approach to life. The toothy grin that anchors his face serves as a personal welcome message to anyone who dines or celebrates at his company’s many holdings. That sunlight-warm smile now graces the service window at The Snowman ice cream stand in Lansingburgh (Old Daley Hospitality’s latest acquisition), somehow not turning each cone served into a soupy puddle before it is enjoyed. That smile and gregarious personality stem from the influence his friends and family have had on him throughout his life, which is imbued into his profession. But the smile is a shield, guarding the truth that Keary has battled crippling anxiety.

Like bicameral houses legislating the path of his life, the soul-satisfying need to provide service and care is sometimes ablated by his inward turn caused by anxiety. It is something he has grappled with since he was a child, something he started to first identify as a teenager listening to Tony Robbins’ motivational speeches. All of the hard-won success in the hospitality industry that Keary has earned comes from his ability to tame the anxious beast — a necessity for life in service — and with the help and guidance of his partners and family.

Anxiety, said Keary, is “smiles on the outside, nervous on the inside.” The draw to hospitality is magnetic for those suffering with anxiety; Keary said his “people pleasing” tendencies, while genuine and authentic to his personality, are also coping mechanisms for dealing with anxiety. Keary’s best friend since sixth grade in Speigletown, Jim Pettit, first hooked him into the hospitality industry. Pettit had a job busing tables in high school at Old Daley Inn restaurant, on Second Avenue in Lansingburgh. The restaurant (a circa-1700s former stagecoach stop) was owned by Gene Coletti, who saw in Keary a propensity to serve with a smile, but also realized the underlying nervousness that dogged him. The nickname “two party Marty” was quickly anointed because the stress of serving multiple parties at once triggered his anxiety.

In his twenties, Keary began work in the insurance industry, like his father. In that time, he and Pettit created the Focusmaster gym apparatus in 1993. It was originally designed for the boxing and mixed martial arts (MMA) industry and in the mid-1990s they struck big when MMA great Chuck Liddell signed on to use and promote the equipment. “We’re dream-big guys,” said Keary, and having the world’s top MMA fighter endorse their product only seemed part of the dream. (In 2015, the Focusmaster team won $100,000 on Jillian Michaels’ “Sweat Inc.” reality show competition.)

By the early 2000s, he realized that life in a cubicle would never satisfy him. “It was the most boring job. It wasn’t anything tangible. If I’m going to sell something, it has to be something I’m passionate about,” he said. Again, he asked Pettit for a job. Pettit took over management of the catering operation for Old Daley Inn while Coletti continued to focus on the future of the Old Daley brand after the sale of the restaurant building in Lansingburgh. (Today, the building is a veterinary hospital.). Keary came in to help build catering but also to solidify his career in hospitality as a front-of-house employee and business mastermind. By 2003, a new catering facility was opened to accommodate the rapid expansion of catering services and an official partnership between Coletti, Pettit and Keary formed. (“Gene is a decade older than us and we call him, ‘our steady rudder,'” Keary said.)

In 2008, Old Daley Inn reopened at Crooked Lake House in Averill Park, hosting its first wedding in 2011, quickly becoming a leading wedding vendor locally, and opening the Oak Room for winter dining. In 2018, the trio, along with their wives and families, opened Daley on Yates in Schenectady in a former taxi cab stand owned by a family member. In the last year, Keary, Pettit and Coletti have renovated outdoor bar and dining space at the Crooked Lake location and bought The Snowman ice cream stand in Lansingburgh from the Murphy family. Keary recalls many school field trips ending at The Snowman and Pettit telling him, “I’m going to buy that (ice cream stand) one day.”

The Snowman was then expanded for extra parking and year-round ice cream production for sale at local grocery stores, and a new taco truck that travels between Crooked Lake and The Snowman. This truck builds on the mobile food model Pettit and Coletti started four decades ago with a simple chicken teriyaki cart in West Capitol Park, in Albany.

“We’ve all known each other for 40-something years. Our true gold in success is our relationship with other people,” Keary said. Family is a core component of the success and growth, with Coletti’s son, Kyle, managing the Focusmaster empire and each partner’s wife serving as a critical voice in the company. “Ninety percent of the people have been with us since they were kids,” Keary said, and the family ties vibe resonates in all the Old Daley team does.

Despite the success of his company and career, Keary fell into a severe anxiety-induced depression in 2012. “It was like a midlife crisis. The fear and worry was unreasonable. It was doing me no good. Zero good. No one could understand. I was just gone,” he said. He began reading books like “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne and the works of Wayne Dyer and realized that, “the love you give comes back to you.” He originally learned this lesson from his mother, who raised Keary and his four sisters mostly on her own while taking in other neighborhood children and families who fell on hard times. “I saw (my mother) open doors for people just with her amazing energy. That was her greatest gift to me,” Keary said, welled with tears.

Those lessons drove Keary to write, “Words from a Friend: A Daily Guide to a Purposeful Life,” in 2016.” The book is designed as a daily devotional to help people emerge from depression and cope with anxiety much like he did. Anxiety is a precursor to healing, he said, and the full-circle approach to healing meant he needed to re-explore his depression in order to help others with their own healing. “I just woke up one morning and started writing. I couldn’t not write this stuff once it started,” he said.

Keary’s foray into media continues with “The Daley Dish,” a YouTube series he created with Pettit and Coletti. Focused on raucous, sometimes raunchy, cocktail-tinged conversations with industry and community leaders, Keary continues to use his own experience and processes to connect with people in the series, much like he does with every customer of Old Daley Hospitality holdings.

“Giving is what always brings me back,” Keary said. “The more I have, the more I have to give.”