Memorial Day in the Southtowns wouldn't be the same without Mickey Rats on the beach.
So take heart, Western New York: the popular lakefront bar is coming back.
The beach, patio and "a good portion of the existing bar" in Evans will open once again this summer for business and fun-in-the-sun revelry, said William Paladino, CEO of Ellicott Development Co., which purchased the property last year with plans for a much larger redevelopment of the site.
He said he hopes to open the bar by the end of May, but there's "still a lot of approvals and licenses" to get first.
However, it won't be entirely the same bar and club that longtime patrons are accustomed to. The name has yet to be determined, and only part of the building will be open, Paladino said.
"It'll look a lot different from what they're used to seeing," he said. "It's going to be a simpler plan for this summer, and then full-steam ahead for next summer with the completed development."
The developer is also finalizing negotiations with a new management team to run the bar, and hopes to announce details soon, he added.
"We certainly are going to maintain some of the history of Mickey Rats, but there will be new operators in there, and we think they're going to do a good job," Paladino said.
Officials will finalize their ideas this summer for how the permanent bar and restaurant will look.
An investor group led by Paladino acquired Mickey Rats Beach Club and Captain Kidd's Restaurant in late 2016 from longtime owner Richi Alberts, who retired after operating the popular establishments for 44 years.
The group, Grandview Bay LLC, paid $1.45 million for the 4.26-acre site along Lakeshore Road, and the club closed following the end of the 2017 summer season.
Paladino said last year that the group planned to remake the property into a mixed-use destination, with plenty of entertainment but also new apartments and condominiums. Plans included "multiple" restaurants and bars, as well as other services, he said at the time.
Those plans have now evolved to feature one four-story building on the site where Captain Kidd's is located, Paladino said Wednesday.
It would include "a couple of small retail components" on the first floor and a mix of for-sale condo and for-rent apartments on the other floors, Paladino said. The precise number of units and the prices have not yet been determined.
The beach would still be open and accessible to the public, although some portions will become private.
Paladino said Ellicott has already begun "to do a bunch of improvements in there," and "we were hoping to be a little further along" by this point, the developer said.
But officials are still working through "a lot of issues" with the state Department of Environmental Conservation and other government agencies, including the Town of Evans, which adopted a new master planning code, with setback and height requirements that the developer has to meet.
So "we're a little behind where we want to be in terms of the total development, but we're working on pushing things along," he added.
He said they hope to get the plans to the town within 30 days, and to start construction in the early fall on the residential building and an addition to the bar.