Now it’s official: Janel and Matt Bennett, owners of Sybaris, are buying the historic Oregon Electric Railway station in downtown Albany and plan to move their world-class restaurant there.
Rumors to that effect were floating around town when I reported on the pending sale of the building on Jan. 13. At the time, the deal had not progressed to the point where Matt could talk about it. But on Tuesday he told me: “We’re under contract to buy the building.”
He expects the sale to close in a couple of months.
The structure dates from 1912, when the tracks of the Oregon Electric reached Albany from Portland. Later the railroad provided passenger service between Portland and Eugene. It also opened several branch lines, including one to Corvallis. But it ceased passenger service in 1933.
In recent years the former Albany passenger station at 133 Fifth Ave S.E. housed Ciddici’s Pizza. The pizza and lottery outlet closed last spring as a result of a dispute over rent between the brothers who owned it. They settled at the end of the year and put the property up for sale.
Matt told me that Tim and Hamid Siddiqui, the owners, had kept most of the building intact, and he and his wife intend to restore all of it to as much of its original condition as possible. Among other things they plan to restore the former passenger waiting room to its full size.
Albany contractor Pyburn & Sons will do the work. When it’s done, the Bennetts will move their restaurant into the restored landmark from the space they have rented for 20 years at the corner of First Avenue and Washington Street, across from the Albany Carousel.
Matt says the restoration will take a while, and he hopes to open the new Sybaris early in 2023. (hh)