Plans for old City Squire moving forward

Image provided by Lecce Group, LLCImage provided by Lecce Group, LLC

By Kristin Schultz

Gazette Reporter

SCHENECTADY — The Lecce Group LLC and John and Katrina Isopo cleared another hurdle on their way to opening a restaurant in the former City Squire location. The Schenectady Planning Commission unanimously granted site plan approval for the property at 1018 Keyes Ave.

The current structure will be torn down and replaced with another two-story building featuring a second-floor outdoor patio with a view of Upper Union Street.

While response to the proposed restaurant has been largely positive, one neighbor sent an email and attended the April 19 meeting to state that he was concerned about potential late-night noise from the outdoor patio.

Commission chairwoman Mary Moore Wallinger said the restaurant would still be subject to the local noise ordinance and the police could be called if noise got out of hand.

Lou Lecce, president and CEO of the Lecce Group, assured the resident he wants the restaurant to be a neighborhood place, not a hot party spot for the college crowd.

“I want good neighbors,” said Lecce. “I’ll give you my cellphone number. Call me if there’s an issue and I’ll take care of it.”

The new restaurant, City Squire Ale House, will be run by the Isopos, owners of three other local eateries.

While the menu is still under development, the restaurant veterans say they will serve standard, comfort food like burgers, sandwiches and salads. They will also offer specials and dishes featuring  non-traditional pub grub, like broccoli rabe — an ingredient that has gone over well at the couple’s  Anna’s Wood Fired Pizza.

“I like to put a twist on things,” said John. “But we’ll respond to what the customers like.”

The pair plans to have an evolving menu based on customer feedback.

For those looking to quench their thirst, there will be a bevy of craft beers along with wine, spirits and cocktails. The focus, however, will be on the suds.

To help select the brews, John has enlisted a certified cicerone (the sommelier of the beer world). They hope to have a dozen or more taps, and plan to offer bottled and canned selections from mostly small, regional breweries.

“We’re looking to be a comfortable place that appeals to everyone,” said Katrina. “It will be a place you can bring the kids for dinner or sit at the bar and have a beer after work.”

The current floor plan calls for room for around 100 diners on the first floor, with 35 of those seats outside on the patio. The second floor will seat another 100, with nearly 60 seats on the balcony.

The City Squire Ale House will serve lunch and dinner. Both Lecce Group and the Isopos would like to start demolition of the old building as soon as May 1, and are aiming for a Nov. 1 opening.