SCHENECTADY — Rod Riehl was standing in a parking lot on Keyes Avenue Wednesday when his phone rang.
“Hello? Yeah, I was just calling to let you know the Squire is coming down today,” he said into the phone.
Longstanding neighborhood fixture The City Squire was demolished Wednesday to make way for a new restaurant and bar. The Lecce Group LLC is developing the property.
Riehl bought the watering hole in the Upper Union Street business district from the Hogan family in the mid 1970s and spent the next three decades slinging suds and serving grub to locals.
The business changed hands in 2007 and the restaurant ultimately shuttered in 2015.
Earlier this year, The Lecce Group purchased the property and, in April, received Schenectady City Planning Commission approval to demolish the 1930s-era structure to build a new neighborhood restaurant in its place.
As demolition got underway, onlookers gathered on the sidewalks to take pictures and videos. Cars slowed as they passed, and some drivers also snapped photos with their cellphones.
Twitter reacted as well:
Totally the end of an era. Sigh. https://t.co/omyN1VDZsw
— Shannon Gray (@Shannon218) May 10, 2017
Facebook users recounted memories of the City Squire. Donna Davenport remembered a wedding rehearsal dinner there in 1969, and Peter Persico said he met his wife there.
Not unaware of the Squire’s storied past, the Lecce Group intends the new restaurant to also have a relaxed, neighborhood vibe. John and Katrina Isopo, who own Anna’s Wood Fired Pizza, Mario’s and Prima Pizza, will run the restaurant.
In addition, the new owners will give a nod to tradition by naming the forthcoming eatery The City Squire Ale House.
Current plans call for a two-story building that will feature a 35-seat patio on the first floor and nearly 60 seats on a second-floor balcony overlooking Keyes Avenue. All told, the restaurant will seat nearly 300 during peak summer hours.
The menu is under development, but diners can expect familiar pub food, like burgers and club sandwiches. In addition, John Isopo plans to incorporate some of his favorite ingredients, like broccoli rabe, into a few dishes.
It wouldn’t be an ale house without the ale. The Isopos are curating a list of craft beers that will be available on tap. Cans and bottles will also be available when the doors open in the fall.