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Owners elect to not rebuild Dairy Circus

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Owners elect to not rebuild Dairy Circus

Dairy Circus, a community staple for decades, won’t be rebuilt after being destroyed by an April fir
Owners elect to not rebuild Dairy Circus
Michael Thorne, 11, of Scotia, in April takes a cellphone photo of the burned out remains of Dairy Circus on Sacandaga Road in Scotia.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

Dairy Circus, a community staple for decades, won’t be rebuilt after being destroyed by an April fire.

The main factor in deciding not to rebuild the ice cream stand and restaurant was cost, said Doreen Clemons, one of the owners. That includes the cost of rebuilding the physical structure and other associated costs, like the upcoming increase in minimum wage, she said.

“We put our whole life down there and my big thing right now is missing seeing everybody,” Clemons said in an interview on Thursday. “It wasn’t an easy decision to make in any way.”

The building on Sacandaga Road was devastated by an April 18 fire that started in the attic. The cause of the fire has not been determined.

Clemons said the coming wage increase was weighing on her and her husband as they considered whether to rebuild, as it would increase operational costs.

In April, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law a plan to raise the state minimum wage to $15 per hour. Minimum wage increases are scheduled incrementally over the next few years, with the amount each year and timetable for reaching $15 varying by county. For Schenectady County, the wage is set to reach $12.50 at the end of 2020, and will gradually increase toward $15 based on a schedule set by the state.

Luis Aguero, building inspector for the village, said the property will be sold and likely developed. The shop sat on two lots that were recently combined, which makes the property larger and better for development, he said. It’s located in a general business zone, which means almost any type of business can go into the area.

In 2015, the Dairy Circus building and its lot were assessed by the county at a full market value of $216,000, Aguero said. He added that with the Scotia Motel around the corner on Neal Street possibly being turned into a Comfort Inn & Suites, the village could attract a large tenant to the Sacandaga Road lot.

The Clemons family had operated the stand since 1970, which was a frequent stop for area residents and students of Scotia-Glenville High School across the street. The shop was also featured in a scene in the 2012 film “The Place Beyond the Pines,” which starred Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper and Eva Mendes.

Following the fire, community members rallied in support of rebuilding the restaurant. One GoFundMe page was started shortly after the incident and has since raised $8,270 through donations by 115 people. It’s not clear what will happen to those donations. Phone calls on Thursday to Mayor Kris Kastberg’s office about what will be done with donations the village received for the restaurant were not returned.

Clemons said the outpouring of community support has been overwhelming.

“I always thought of our family as giving and then when everybody gives to you it’s crazy,” she said. “I’m at a loss for words when it comes to what everybody did for us.”

Reach Gazette reporter Brett Samuels 395-3113, [email protected] or @Brett_Samuels27.

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