Longtime Flame-claimed Dryden restaurant seeks rebirth

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DRYDEN, NY – A venerable staple Dryden restaurant destroyed by fire is making plans for a comeback.

The Plantation Bar & Grill restaurant operated for many years in a converted house at 1285 Dryden Road. The restaurant and bar have worked hard to adapt to the difficult measures imposed by the COVID pandemic, battling the challenges of social distancing and limited indoor dining.

However, it was ultimately an after-hours fire that shut down the plantation. The fire burned for seven hours overnight and into the morning of June 19, 2021. Fortunately, no one was injured. Unfortunately, the building, which housed the restaurant and three apartment tenants, was a total loss. Some have lost their homes, others have lost their jobs, and the town of Dryden has lost the home of many memories and good times.

But, like the proverbial phoenix rising from the ashes, the restaurant is seeking a rebirth at its former location on Dryden Road. The Dryden Planning Board got a glimpse of those plans at their meeting last week.

Project engineer Adam Fishel of Marathon Engineering presented the plans with Plantations owner Danielle Maguire at his side. The new building would house a 2,600 square foot restaurant with a 1,000 square foot terrace. For comparison, the old restaurant housed about 2,000 square feet of indoor space and a 1,000 square foot terrace, so the new building would be a bit larger.

Local architect Claudia Brenner was tasked with the design work, creating a relatively simple one-story gabled structure. The design is not final and should be further refined before construction. The building will use burgundy vinyl siding (the color chosen to be similar to the building that burned), with 60 seats on deck and 81 inside.

The parking area would be gravel with 28 spaces, with LED lighting, a paved handicapped parking area and a driveway at the Dryden Road entrance. The ‘Plantations’ driveway sign would be restored, but moved to the adjacent lawn area – this will require a waiver to the City’s Zoning Board of Appeals appeal sign.

Generally, the Dryden Planning Board was supportive of the concept plan. Council members raised questions about the slope of the driveway and the lack of windows in the concept design, to which Fishel cautioned that it was only a basic design in an attempt to fix the price of construction – the council pointed out that the final design of the building needed windows. There were also concerns about overflow parking on busy nights, to which the council suggested they might want to approach neighboring businesses to work out agreements on the use of parking spaces.

Surprisingly enough, the board was able to vote to approve the plans at last week’s meeting. Generally speaking, reconstructions of damaged and destroyed structures enjoy greater flexibility, but this was certainly an unusually fast process, only possible due to unique, albeit unfortunate, circumstances. The vote was unanimous 4-0, with three members absent.

The Board of Directors wished them good luck in innovating before winter sets in. Hopefully next year the new Plantation Bar and Grill will open.

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