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Crystal Restaurant building sold to local landlord

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Running the oldest established restaurant in the city, the Dephtereos family for decades has leased the storefront space at 85-87 Public Square that is home to the Crystal.

The family will continue to rent the 1,700 square feet of space for the iconic restaurant, although a new landlord has emerged as the owner of the nearly century-old building.

Landlord Ricky E. Frazier has purchased the building from a Babylon corporation, 85-87 Public Square Properties LLC, for $125,000, according to the Jefferson County clerk’s office. The property is assessed for $88,500.

But Peter J. Dephtereos, a third-generation restaurateur and current co-owner of the Crystal, said Sunday that his customers can continue to rely on the Crystal’s meatloaf lunch special, the inexpensive dinner menu, the Tom and Jerry rum-and-brandy concoction and its aged wooden booths.

He expects the Crystal will stay at its present location. “As of today, business as usual,” Mr. Dephtereos said.

The Dephtereos family had hoped to buy the building from its former owner, but a proposed deal was never consummated, Mr. Dephtereos said. Sources in City Hall said the former owner had upped the price at the last minute; Mr. Dephtereos declined to comment.

The former owner, whose personal identity was not included in city assessor or state Department of State records, could not be reached for comment. However, the Department of State documents revealed the same owner recently sold the adjacent Lincoln Building at 89-99 Public Square to local businessman Brian H. Murray for $500,000.

Mr. Frazier, who could not be reached for comment despite numerous attempts over the weekend, came into the restaurant on New Year’s Eve and told Mr. Dephtereos that he had just purchased the building.

“That’s the only contact I’ve ever had with him,” Mr. Dephtereos said, noting that they have not had a chance to discuss a lease arrangement.

City officials expressed surprise to hear that Mr. Frazier, who owns several other properties in the city, has acquired the building. Last May, an apartment building he owned at 239 High St. was destroyed in a fire set by an arsonist. The building was demolished.

Mr. Frazier owns 20 other units of rental property as well as a building that houses an auto repair shop at 413 Factory St. and a small vacant lot at 140 Rear High St.

Mr. Dephtereos and his wife, Libby S., co-own and manage the restaurant that his father, Joseph F., and uncle Leo Dephtereos had run for years. Joseph Dephtereos also owns a three-story building on the other side of the Crystal at 81 Public Square. It is assessed for $70,900.

Last year, the family worked with Neighbors of Watertown to the restore the facade and complete other improvements at the vacant structure. The family has plans to develop that building, but Peter Dephtereos would not disclose them Sunday night.

“We’re working on some ideas,” he said.

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