DRYDEN, N.Y. — A venerable Dryden dining staple destroyed by fire is making plans for a comeback.

The Plantation Bar & Grill restaurant operated for many years at a converted home at 1285 Dryden Road. The restaurant and bar worked hard to adapt to the difficult measures brought on by the COVID pandemic, struggling through the challenges of social distancing and limited indoor dining.

However, it was ultimately an after-hours fire that closed the Plantation. The blaze burned for seven hours through the overnight and morning of June 19th 2021. Thankfully, no one was injured. Unfortunately, the building, which housed the restaurant and three apartment tenants, was a total loss. Some lost their homes, others lost their jobs, and the town of Dryden lost the home of many memories and good times.

But, like the proverbial phoenix rising from the ashes, the restaurant seeks a rebirth at its old location on Dryden Road. The Dryden Planning Board got a preview of those plans at its 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 host a 2,600 square-foot restaurant with a 1,000 square-foot deck. For comparison, the former restaurant hosted about 2,000 square-feet of indoor space and a 1,000 square-foot deck, so the new building would be a little larger.

Local architect Claudia Brenner has been tasked with design work, creating a relatively unadorned one-story gabled structure. The design is not final and is expected to be more refined prior to construction. The building will use burgundy vinyl siding (the color chosen to be similar to the building that burned down), with 60 seats on the deck and 81 inside.

The parking area would be gravel with 28 spaces, with LED lighting, a paved handicap parking area and driveway apron at the entrance to Dryden Road. The “Plantations” driveway sign would be restored but moved over to the adjacent lawn area – this will require a sign variance from the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals.

Generally speaking, the Dryden Planning Board was favorable to the concept plan. Board members did raise questions about the slope of the driveway and the lack of windows in the concept design, to which Fishel cautioned it was just a base design for the sake of pricing out construction – the board stressed that the finalized building design needed windows. There were also some concerns about overflow parking on busy nights, to which the board suggested they may want to approach neighboring businesses to make some deals about using parking spaces.

Somewhat surprisingly, the board was able to take a vote to approve the plans at last week’s meeting. Generally speaking, reconstructions of damaged and destroyed structures are given much more flexibility, but this was certainly an unusually quick process, only possible because of the unique if unfortunate circumstances. The vote was unanimous 4-0, with three members absent.

The board wished them the best of luck with breaking ground before winter sets in. With any luck, some time next year, the new Plantation Bar and Grill will be open for business.

Brian Crandall

Brian Crandall reports on housing and development for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached at bcrandall@ithacavoice.com.