SCHENECTADY — One of the most distinctive (and longest-vacant) storefronts in the Jay Street pedestrian mall will become home to the third location of Whistling Kettle.
The tea retailer and tea-themed restaurant will open at 138-142 Jay St. in the spring.
The company has similar storefront operations in Troy and Ballston Spa, as well as a wholesale/online office in Troy.
Owners Kevin and Meahgan Borowsky said they chose downtown Schenectady for their soon-to-be third location because of the ongoing revitalization underway there.
The property is a single building with three storefronts; it will need to undergo extensive renovations before it can become a restaurant. Much of the facade is nondescript, but 142 Jay St. contains a deeply recessed all-glass vestibule that looks like (and reportedly was) an old-time theater entrance.
Kevin Borowsky said he and his wife haven’t finalized their design for the facade. “The goal is to maintain the quirks, remove the ugly stuff,” he told The Daily Gazette on Wednesday.
Outdoor seating is likely to be part of the new look.
They’ll need Planning Commission approval for the alterations.
Ray Gillen, chairman of the Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority, said Metroplex will provide its standard 50 percent matching grant on upgrades to the facade. The 142 Jay St. storefront has been vacant since 2002, he noted.
“The fact that this property was empty for so long detracted from our efforts to redevelop Jay Street and all of downtown, given the prominent location of this building,” Gillen said via email. “We are very fortunate to have Whistling Kettle commit to buy and renovate this long-vacant property, adding to the momentum in downtown Schenectady.”
In a blog entry, Meahgan Borowsky said: “We are excited to create a unique design that will fit in with the rest of downtown but keeps the comfortable and inviting aspects that are a signature element of the Whistling Kettle experience.”
Kevin Borowsky said: “This was a project over a year in the making, with numerous delays and difficulties that had to be resolved in order to move forward. We are grateful to Metroplex who recognized our vision of the property and helped us to overcome the particular challenges associated with it.”