LYONS — Joan Delaro’s job can be tough sometimes.
As director of the Lyons Main Street program, a program designed to help boost downtown, she has to fight perceptions that the town’s central business district has seen better days.
Granted, she said, the town has suffered some setbacks — such as the recent closings of its fine-dining restaurant, Maitre D’ at Trombino’s, and the Tops supermarket on Forgham Street. Another longtime business, Lyons Hardware, also has closed.
But Delaro said there’s plenty of good things going on in Lyons, and she sees some of those empty storefronts and buildings in a different light.
“It is a place that can give you business opportunities and give you some beautiful residential areas at reasonable prices,” she said.
Some folks from outside the town have apparently taken notice of the potential of downtown Lyons.
They include Devin and Sarah Schembri, who have purchased the former Growler’s on William Street and are in the process of renovating it in advance of an expected September opening.
“People have missed that (place),” said Delaro. “It was the ‘Cheers’ of the neighborhood.”
The husband is a California native, while the wife is originally from the area. They now live in the Williamson lakeside hamlet of Pultneyville.
Yet, Delaro said, here they are investing in a bar and restaurant in Lyons, including installing a brand-new kitchen.
“We’re getting people from outside our community to invest, and they seem excited to do so,” Delaro said.
Another example of this is at 35 Water St., where a couple is planning to renovate one of the commercial district’s oldest buildings.
Jim and Brenda Vice are creating a “little country store” that will provide foods essentials, said Delaro. Brenda Vice does workshops on the use of CBD oils, so the store will likely have a component beyond food, said Delaro.
She added that the couple has hired an architect to assist in the historic building’s renovation.
Lyons is getting plenty of investment from within the community as well.
One example is the Pour House, where owners Randy LaRue and Joe Couturier have moved the popular tavern from its Canal Street location to the site of the former Bridge Tavern, which hugs the canal at its Water Street location.
“So far, so good,” said LaRue, who, when he’s not running a tavern, works at Kodak.
The former Pour House closed after six years on Canal Street in late May and reopened July 14 at its new location. Its most recent use was as the home of a motorcycle club of which LaRue is a member.
“I had an opportunity to buy this space,” said LaRue. “Really, it’s a bigger, better location.”
The larger kitchen has afforded the Pour House to become much more of a full-fledged restaurant, LaRue said.
“It’s (the food business) been freakin’ slamming,” he said, noting the Pour House will celebrate its grand opening Sept. 14.
LaRue said he sees empty storefronts and buildings and doesn’t like it.
But he also sees something else.
“There’s a lot of opportunity and potential here,” he said. “It’s really not a bad town. The stigma’s got to get out of people’s heads. I wouldn’t have done it (invested in a new location) if I didn’t think the town wasn’t worth investing in.”