SARANAC LAKE - The new leaseholder of Casa Del Sol will restore the restaurant to its former glory, menu and all.
The property was purchased by local contractor Charles "Tug" Duffy in August. A five-year lease that includes two five-year options for renewal was recently signed by Walter McClure. If things go smoothly, the restaurant could reopen in May.
"It had to be Casa Del Sol with the original recipes, dating back to when Harry Tucker was the original owner," Duffy said. "That was the most important thing. There were some people that came forward with boatloads of cash, but they wanted to change the theme. That wasn't really in my or my partner's interest."
Casa Del Sol
(Enterprise file photo — Chris?Knight)
McClure, who was at Casa Del Sol's grand opening in 1978, seemed like a perfect fit.
"My wife grew up just down the street, on Duprey Street," McClure said. "When I got out of college I opened a bar in Lake Placid called P.J. O'neill's, which is now the Lake Placid Pub and Brewery. I was there from 1977 to 1984. We opened in the summer of '77, and Harry opened Casa in '78. I was actually at the opening, so I've been a customer since day one."
McClure's first endeavor was a bar, but he isn't a stranger to the restaurant business, either.
"I was in the steakhouse business for about 25 years," McClure said. "I was at Morton's Steakhouse in Chicago for about seven years and I worked for the Palm Restaurant for about 18 years. In the last four years I've worked for a couple small restaurants, and I opened one large restaurant in St. Louis. Now I'm here doing this."
Tucker sold Casa Del Sol to Bryan Morgan in 2008, but it was closed in December 2012 when Morgan decided to sell the property, saying he had paid too much for it and owed more than $650,000 in total liabilities.
The restaurant has two kitchens that both contain equipment. McClure said he's just starting to assess the property, but he expects some of that equipment will need to be replaced and renovations will have to be made before opening day.
McClure said he will probably hire someone to help manage the kitchen. Even though the agreement is to keep most of Casa's menu offerings intact, McClure said there might be a few new options on opening day.
"It always had great food at a good price point," McClure said. "The deal was to run it as Casa Del Sol, a Mexican restaurant. I expect we'll offer most of the old favorites, but no restaurant menu ever stays the same. Whatever we do, we'll keep it in the Mexican theme."