By Kristin Schultz
SCHENECTADY – If everything goes according to plan, Upper Union Street will have a new watering hole before the year is out.
The Lecce Group, in a joint venture with John and Katrina Isopo, hope to close on the purchase of the former City Squire, tear it down and build an Irish pub serving light fare and specialty craft beers for lunch and dinner.
“It’s a great location,” said Lecce Group President and CEO Lou Lecce. “This has been a restaurant for decades and we’ve heard from the community that they want to see it reopened. They miss the local Irish pub where you can just go watch the football game and grab something to eat.”
Lecce is the developer on a medical office building being build nearby on Upper Union as well as other Capital Region developments. Since this newest venture will be a restaurant, Lecce is teaming with the Isopos, owners of three area restaurants: Mario’s in Niskayuna, Anna’s Woodfired Pizza in the Galleria 7 Market and Prima Pizza in Schenectady.
“Everybody loves their food,” Lecce said.
The Lecce Group and Isopos plan to demolish the current building and start from scratch, putting up a 2,000 to 3,000 square-foot, two-story pub with an outdoor patio planned for the second floor. Peter Gillies, managing principal at Woodward Connor Gillies Seleman, is designing the new building.
Plans have been filed with the city of Schenectady, and the project was scheduled to go before the Planning Commission on March 15.
The Lecce Group and Isopos are purchasing the property from longtime owner Rod Riehl, who owned and ran the City Squire from the time he bought it in 1975 until he sold the business in 2007 to Kathleen Olesko and Karen Card. The pair shuttered the restaurant in 2015 citing lack of support.
Since it closed, there has been some interest in the property, but nothing ever panned out. Riehl did not return a call for comment for this story, but his fellow business owners on Upper Union are happy that he may finally be able to get out from under the property and retire peacefully.
“Congratulations to Rod Riehl!” read the latest issue of the business district’s newsletter.
As for the new plans, Upper Union Street Business District Board Chairman Chris Mastroianni thinks the Irish pub will be a good addition to the street.
“Any improvement or development on the street is positive,” he said. “This will be a good addition because it will be another spot for people to gather and dine.”
He went on to say that more businesses in the district drives traffic in the area, which improves other businesses.
If plans are approved and construction goes smoothly, Lecce hopes to have the new restaurant open serving suds, chips and a neighborhood vibe by October.