The landmark Van Curler Hotel bar has been restored to provide a quiet cafe for students at Schenectady County Community College.
There’s no alcohol, but there will be coffee — including a special blend made just for SCCC. The spot will now be known as the Canal Side Cafe.
College President Quintin Bullock proposed renovations to the space because he felt it was wrong to leave the bar closed off and deteriorating.
“It’s such a historical space, and not being able to utilize it?” he said. Now, “it’s a great addition.”
And it may draw more than college students.
“So many people over the years have said, ‘I got married at old Van Curler Hotel’ and ‘My first date was at the bar.’ And this was the bar,” said Denise Murphy McGraw, chairwoman of the college’s board of trustees. “This holds great sentimental value for people in the community, and this place was in disrepair for decades. It was a dump.”
It was closed off for more than 20 years.
Now the wood has been restored, and college officials added a new tin ceiling. The original ceiling was gone, but they guessed that tin would be accurate.
They will serve snacks and light sandwiches as well as sell groceries and basic household supplies.
Now that SCCC has a dormitory, students need those essentials, “just to make life easier,” McGraw said.
There will also be makeup from No7, chargers for every type of electronic device, headphones and even laptop locks — all of the essentials for the modern college student.
And they can’t wait for it to open Monday.
“I would have quit my job sooner and come here full-time my first year if this had been here,” gushed student council vice president Beth Smith.
She loved the look of the small cafe, which is far quieter than the main cafeteria. She envisions poetry readings and other small performances in the intimate space.
“The cafe’s going to be great to showcase the talents of the students,” she said. “It’s got a great ambiance.”
And, at last, there will be choices in coffee. “People are always telling me ‘I had to stop at Dunkin Donuts’ because they only have one coffee [in the cafeteria],” Smith said. “They don’t have flavors or ice.”
Now the college is recruiting a few coffee connoisseurs to help them design an SCCC blend. Chris' Coffee will produce the blend, which will be available only at SCCC.
The cafe will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Fridays. The store will be open from noon to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Fridays and 8:30 a.m. to noon Saturdays.