It was once a no-frills Tipp Hill pub. It’s going to be radically different, with a
Syracuse, N.Y. — It was once a self-proclaimed, no-frills, “old guys” bar in the heart of Tipperary Hill. The customers, the beers and the feel of the place hardly changed from day to day.
Within the next year, the former George O’Dea’s pub at 1333 W. Fayette St. is going to be something radically different.
It will be called Emerald Cocktail Kitchen, with a focus on modern, elevated and well-crafted mixed drinks. The food will be meant to complement the cocktails.
The building itself, now a single story, will have two additional floors added on. And there will be a rooftop bar, with sweeping vistas of the city.
Most of the estimated $2 million project could open by November, owner Michele Roesch said. She’s aiming to open the rooftop space by St. Patrick’s Day 2023.
Even George O’Dea himself (if he was a real person) wouldn’t recognize it.
“Of course a lot of people have fond memories of O’Dea’s,” said Roesch, whose vision is behind the creation of Emerald Cocktail Kitchen. “I just hope this will be a place where people build new memories.”
Roesch knows the history. Her father, Jerry “Bonez” Roesch, owned and operated George O’Dea’s from the time he bought the building in 2000 until he semi-retired in 2016, leaving it to Michele and her brother. It had been other bars dating back to the early 1900s.
O’Dea’s was located at the funky corner where West Fayette bends to meet Wilbur and Tennyson streets near St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Church. It closed for good in 2020. Last year, Michele Roesch briefly ran a “ghost kitchen” take-out burger place there, which she hopes to bring back next year.
Roesch, with her mother Nora, also owns the successful Brasserie Bar & Bistro in Camillus’ Township 5. Nora Roesch will also be part of the team at the Emerald.
Roesch said all her experiences with O’Dea’s, Tipp Hill, the Brasserie and working as a team there helped shape her plans for the new place.
“Obviously a lot has been changing with the bar and restaurant industry in the last few years,” she said.
And she thinks Tipp Hill is ready for something new.
“It will mainly be a bar with an emphasis on curated, craft cocktails,” she said. “When I look at Tipp Hill, I mean yes there are a lot of bars. But I look at a place like Now & Later (Bottle Shop & Taproom), which brought in an emphasis on craft beer that really wasn’t here before. We want to complement that with an emphasis on good cocktails.”
The bar will also feature local craft beers. The kitchen will serve the bar clientele with a menu that is still being developed.
“The idea is that it will a place where you’re having drinks and the food comes out when its ready,” she said, adding that many dishes will be “shareables.” “It’s not really a sit-down restaurant.”
Adding the two new floors is actually a nod to the building’s history. It operated as a hotel or apartment building in the early 1900s, until a fire destroyed the upper floors. That left what had been the basement, which became bars with various owners over the years with names like Val’s, Dooley’s, and Dublin’s.
Michele Roesch is proud that her business, formally called Roeco, is run by women. She said she hopes to reach a goal or using at least 50% women- or minority-owned contractors for the project.
She’s been working on the plans for Emerald Cocktail Kitchen for a year, and has managed to keep much of the project a secret. She knows that some people will miss the old O’Dea’s.
That name, by the way, never referred to a real person. Michele Roesch has said it was “a family thing My grandfather used to call all the kids ‘little O’Deas.’ “
She plans to keep many mementos of the old O’Dea’s, including parts of the bar and some shamrock decorations, in the Emerald. But the old bar has been “taken down to the studs,” she said.
“To be honest, we haven’t really told anybody about this yet,” she said. Some of her Dad’s old regulars who do know have said “they’re just happy the building is still in the family.” She even hopes they’ll give the Emerald a try.
“I mean they’re definitely welcome,” she said. “O’Dea’s was my Dad’s place and it was great for 20 years. This is definitely more me and what I think is the building’s potential.”