New business expected in old Jockey Hollow restaurant
Stefan Hard / Staff Photo An old sign remains in a window as a new front takes shape on the former Jockey Hollow Restaurant building on Route 14 in Barre Town. New owner Malone Properties is transforming the building.
BARRE TOWN — After standing vacant for several years, a once-popular pizza place that was something of a local landmark is undergoing an extreme makeover courtesy of an owner who decided it was time for something completely different.
Even Pat Malone isn’t sure what that something is yet, but he’s got an idea, and he’s pretty certain the South Barre building that housed Jockey Hollow Restaurant for many years, and never really caught on as anything else, won’t be another eating establishment.
Malone recently decided to start almost from scratch when it comes to the building that still sports a “Take Out” sign in one of its front windows, a remnant of its last incarnation as Caesar’s Fare. That restaurant, which opened in 2006 and closed two years later, didn’t last nearly as long as the one that borrowed its name — Jockey Hollow — from its location. The building, which housed Jockey Hollow Restaurant from 1970 to 2004, has been empty since Caesar’s Fare closed in 2008.
Malone said Monday he is in negotiations with a “national company” that has expressed interest in most of the space now under construction and predicted it will take on the look of a “service building” — complete with an overhead door — in coming weeks.
Malone said it was premature to name the prospective tenant but said things should firm up in the next couple of weeks and that the work, which started a week ago, should be finished by the end of April.
Although a two-story section of the old restaurant is still standing, most of the rest has been replaced — resolving a problem that can be traced to the building’s limited ceiling height and a floor plan that was anything but wide open.
Though Malone would have preferred to demolish the building and simply recycle its foundation, that wasn’t possible due to setback requirements that were enacted after the restaurant was built.
Chris Violette, Barre Town’s director of planning and zoning, said the building was 10.5 feet too close to Route 14 to meet the 50-foot setback requirements. Instead of demolishing the building, Malone obtained permission from the Development Review Board to modify the nonconforming structure last month.
Transforming the old restaurant is the final piece of Malone’s redevelopment of a 1.5-acre parcel that includes four other buildings — three leased by Tibbit’s Equipment Services Inc. and the fourth rented by local race car driver Nick Sweet.
That mix of tenants, and the space they require, has put a premium on on-site parking and steered Malone away from entertaining another eatery.
“The location is a little tough for a restaurant,” he said.
Although Malone is hoping to land a tenant for the bulk of the building, at least a portion of the 5,000-square-foot structure will likely be available.
“It will probably be a two-tenant situation,” he said, suggesting existing space in what was a second-floor banquet room will be available for lease after the work is finished.
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