Schenectady

Restaurant planned for last piece of Mill Lane project in downtown Schenectady

Mill Lane owner J.T. Pollard stands in the second floor of the old South Church Street building known as The Blockhouse on Friday, April 8, 2022. A restaurant and bar are planned at the minor Schenectady landmark.
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Mill Lane owner J.T. Pollard stands in the second floor of the old South Church Street building known as The Blockhouse on Friday, April 8, 2022. A restaurant and bar are planned at the minor Schenectady landmark.

SCHENECTADY — Some protein is coming to the most carbohydrate-rich corner of Schenectady.

Owner/architect J.T. Pollard said the last vacant piece of the imposing Mill Lane Artisan District complex will gain a butcher shop as its tenant, and the historic brick building next door will host a restaurant, probably a steakhouse.

The large baking operation run by Bountiful Bread and the large Frog Alley brewery/taproom/distillery take up most of the lowest two levels of the 145,000-square-foot Mill Lane building. The small space at the west end of the building, as it tapers to a point where Mill Lane once ran, will be filled by the meat shop.

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The old brick building at the corner of South College and State streets is known as The Blockhouse. It has been many things over nearly 200 years, including the Blockhouse Beef And Brew tavern, but never actually was a blockhouse. 

“The Blockhouse kind of went on the back burner because this thing became so big, we had to get our arms around it,” Pollard said of the Mill Lane building, which grew in size and complexity as the project went on and dragged out when the pandemic hit.

The Blockhouse is, as the euphemism goes, loaded with character. A lot of work needs to be done, but there’s a lot to work with, from the massive wood beams in the lower level to the brick archway in the area that will be the dining room. Pollard is going to tone down the bold stylistic strokes he normally takes on designs.

“We’re going to let all the aesthetic of the old building shine through,” Pollard said.

Pollard and local entrepreneur Tim Trier, a previous collaborator, are working together on The Blockhouse.

They’re also looking at creating a small bar with a speakeasy vibe in the lower level.

One of the former incarnations of The Blockhouse was as a tire shop. So a restaurant and bar there would technically be the second time Pollard and Trier have converted a Schenectady tire dealer to such a use: 151 Bar & Restaurant on Lafayette Street once was a Firestone shop.

The estimated budget for the Blockhouse project is $1.5 million, and the projected time frame calls for early 2023 completion.

“It’s the last piece of the puzzle, I want to get it done,” Pollard said.

More: News | Schenectady | Scotia-Glenville

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