Following a spectacular December fire at its flagship store and bakery on Route 67 in downtown Malta, the local Dunkin’ Donuts franchise operator has filed plans to rebuild.
The destruction of the business in an early-morning conflagration on Dec. 19 left a gaping hole in Malta’s list of community gathering places. Investigators were unable to determined the cause.
At the time, franchise owners Thomas and Jerry Burke said they would rebuild, and they have now filed reconstruction plans with the town.
The Burkes want to erect a two-story building in keeping with Malta’s efforts to establish a high-density downtown in the vicinity of the Northway Exit 12. The shop and bakery would be on the first floor, corporate offices for the franchise on the second floor.
“We’ll be back hopefully by sometime in the middle of July. It will be a beautiful building,” said Jerry Burke, noting he’ll have a better timetable after meetings in the next month with the town.
The new plan includes a nearly 3,500-square-foot retail store, 3,100 feet of corporate office space, and — crucially — a 6,349-square-foot bakery.
The Malta location prior to the fire was the central bakery for 35 Saratoga County Dunkin’ Donuts shops owned by the Burke brothers. The company intends to re-establish the site as its central bakery.
In the interim, Burke said the local franchises have gotten their baked goods from a bakery owned by a different franchise operator in Schodack. “We’re limping by,” he said Friday.
About 30 people worked at the Malta shop, and were assigned to other stores after the fire.
In the new plan, the building has limited frontage on Route 67, just as the previous building did. But because of that, it will need to go before the Zoning Board of Appeals for a variance. Downtown standards adopted last year require new construction to be close to the road and fill most of the frontage. The burned building met the codes in place when it was built in 1997.
Town Building and Planning Director Anthony Tozzi said his office is working to minimize the extent of variances that Dunkin’ Donuts will need, but he believes a ZBA appearance will still be necessary.
In their application, the Burkes said the new restaurant will provide outdoor picnic tables, in keeping with town efforts to encourage seasonal outdoor dining. They also want to have a slightly bigger parking lot than the original shop to accommodate “the high-value summer season.”
The new building will follow new town architectural guidelines for the downtown area incorporated last year in what officials call a “form-based code.” As long as the building meets those codes, it can be approved administratively by planning department staff without Planning Board or Town Board review.
“The entire look of the facility, both inside and outside, will portray the quality that the Burke Companies want to provide to their customers and at the same time conform to the new form-based code,” the application states.