Bar to become rustic saloon

SARANAC LAKE – The village Planning Board approved a plan Tuesday to turn Captain Cook’s Bar and Grill into a rustic-style saloon, but only after the property’s new owner and board members dickered over some of the details.

Stacey Byno plans to remove the existing roof addition on the building, located at 65 Broadway, and replace it with a rooftop deck and bar that would have 48 seats and a small kitchen.

“The applicant is also going to completely gut the inside and give it a new fresh look and feel and theme,” said village Community Development Director Jeremy Evans.

The bar would be renamed the 1819 Saloon, a reference to the year Jacob Smith Moody became the first settler of what would later be named Saranac Lake. The design of the building presented Tuesday shows a large longhorn steer skull on its front facade, above the new name of the bar. The building’s facade would remain largely grey in color, accented with red highlights and red trim.

The rooftop deck would only be open during the warmer weather months, although it would be used during Winter Carnival. It would be accessed via a staircase that would be built on part of the existing wooden deck on the side of the building.

The board’s hour-long review was relatively routine, except for a pair of issues. The first surrounded Byno’s plan to install metal grids below the railing for the rooftop deck, along the front and a portion of the side of the building. Edward DeLeon of Saranac Lake, Byno’s architect, said they would keep trash and people from falling into the street.

“It’s something simple that you won’t even really see,” he said.

But board member Scott Stoddard said he was concerned about the look of the metal panels. He asked if there was an alternative.

“I’m sure you’ve tried to think through what theme you want this place to be,” he said. “It certainly fits that. But I have some concern with what the style is and how it looks in that part of the village.”

Byno said the material below the railing goes to the building’s rustic saloon style. She also said it’s “kind of hard for me to listen” to feedback about the building’s style given the investment she’s making on the project, which Byno said is nearly $1 million.

“I’m trying to bring the village back to life, and I think it’s wonderful design, and I worked very hard on it,” she said.

Stoddard said he appreciates the investment but said he doesn’t think the design looks saloon-like and doesn’t think it fits the village.

“If you want to be consistent with the architecture in Saranac Lake, Saranac Lake isn’t really brown, log-cabiny Western motif,” said board member Patricia Hilling. “Your sign looks like it would be an out-west-type thing.”

Later, board Chairwoman Leslie Karasin and member Molly Hann suggested flower boxes be added below the building’s two street-level windows, since there isn’t much green space on the property.

But Byno said she didn’t want to add flower boxes because they could become trash receptacles or be vandalized by people standing outside the bar in the summertime. Karasin didn’t buy it.

“It seems to me a couple window boxes out there wouldn’t be the end of the world, and I don’t really buy the notion that they would be destroyed,” she said.

“I could go to Lake Placid,” a flustered Byno responded. “I’m trying to make baby steps for people to want to invest in Saranac Lake. If you start breaking apart tedious little things like flower boxes – I think this is a wonderful design that will fit Saranac Lake.”

Karasin said if Byno brought the same design to Lake Placid, its Joint Review Board would have just as many questions.

The Planning Board ultimately approved the project with a series of conditions, including that an alternate plan for the railing panels be provided at a later date. One of the other conditions applies to trash storage. The property’s current dumpster is on adjacent village property, a problem Evans said the new owner is inheriting and isn’t limited to just this location in the village. If there isn’t enough room on the property to locate and screen a dumpster, DeLeon said he would work with the village to find another way to resolve the issue.

DeLeon said work on the project is expected to begin in early September.