STORY UPDATED AT 3:45 A.M. THURSDAY, SEPT. 24
A piece of Oswego's history was quickly and quietly torn down.
Dairy Hut, a mainstay at 121 South Main Street since 1962, was torn down by contractors for property owners Imperial Investments LLC., of Yorkville, between Sept. 18 and Sept. 22. village officials confirmed.
Imperial Investments Director of Development Mike Mann said the demolition process involved tearing the structure down and removing debris, something that has taken place over multiple days.
The company purchased the property in Aug. 2019 for $290,000. Village officials said a demolition permit had been issued to the contractors in the spring.
"It's one of those bittersweet moments, but I would say that it also feels like progress," Village Administrator Daniel Di Santo said.
"For those people who were around 50 years ago when the Dairy Hut was in its heyday, from what I understand, it was a far cry from where it is today...no more full menu, really run down, parts of the building were in disrepair...it's not to say that it was torn down in its pristine heyday condition," he said.
Di Santo said he was "thrilled" that Imperial Investments will be building a what he described as a homage to the Dairy Hut with the planned Dairy Barn restaurant project.
As previously reported in the Ledger, the space will eventually be filled with the Dairy Barn, offering year-round service and both interior and exterior dining.
According to project plans, the new structure will have about 5,000 square feet of interior space, and 1,200 square feet for an exterior shaded patio, with seating available inside and outside for year-round service. The Dairy Barn will feature an exterior service window located behind sliding barn doors, and talks have included the possibility of an interior game space, and birthday room on a second floor.
Similar menu options to those found at Dairy Hut will be available at the Dairy Barn, which is projected to open for business in July 2021.
"We couldn't be happier that it's not just any building, not just any restaurant going there, but a restaurant that is in direct tribute to the hey day of the Dairy Hut," Di Santo said. "It will be full service, it will have more people, it will have a window to walk up and get your ice cream. There's going to be more than a nod, but it will be an homage to the Dairy Hut.
"While it is bittersweet, I would say that I'm thrilled with the progress being made in our downtown."
Village President Troy Parlier also remarked on the end of Dairy Hut, saying, "Dairy Hut was a focal point for families in downtown Oswego for many years. We enjoy the memories we have, and look forward to the new memories and experiences awaiting at Dairy Barn as we turn the page."
Mann said Imperial Investments is currently answering questions from the village on the original set of submitted plans for the Dairy Barn, with plans to start excavation within the next month.
If all goes well, Mann said, the company hopes to have the foundation laid by Dec. 1.
Imperial Investments is also close to completing construction on its three-story commercial building, 113 Main, located next door to the planned Dairy Barn. 113 Main will be a mixed-use development with office spaces on the upper floors, and a restaurant on the ground level. The restaurant is expected to open this fall.