For any Saratogian who calls this wonderful city home, it’s a well-known fact that restaurants come and go. Maybe you were a fan of the Saratoga Pizza House, Mino’s Sushi or Jacksland’s. All are now distant memories in Saratoga’s culinary past. But one Saratoga restaurant has endured the test of time—in more ways than one. The Olde Bryan Inn is one of those spots that will seemingly never go out of style because of it’s incredible, frozen-in-time decor. Sure, the French onion soup and chicken wings are top of the line, but it’s that homey, old-fashioned interior design that keeps us coming back and feeling like we’re sitting inside something historical.
The Olde Bryan Inn flaunts feats of architectural expertise that have gone untouched for more than 100 years. The three Rumford fireplaces—built tall and shallow to allow more heat to spill sideways instead of up the chimney—are fixtures of the Inn, and, in the winter, determine the best seats in the house. Stone lintel designs remain above several door frames, including the one leading from the bar to the front dining room. The front door, exposed beams, ceiling joinery, staircase and stone wall date back to the 19th century. “The wall outside is as straight as straight can be,” says John Kosek, the Inn’s former General Manager and its quasi-in-house historian. “You can’t imagine the artistry of putting that house together back then. I couldn’t imagine what it would cost to put together a house like that today.”
John Bryan built the Federal-style stone house in 1826. In Bryan’s time, it was a family home built on the site of a tavern run by his father, Alexander Bryan, a scout in the Revolutionary War that relayed information about the advance of British troops during the Battle of Saratoga. Since then, the Inn has changed hands many times, hosting a handful of families and even moonlighting as a laundromat. “Lots of people have lived there,” Kosek says. “And lots of changes have been made.”
The Inn’s latest owners, Dave Powers and Steve Sullivan, have been running it for almost 40 years. They added much of the building’s current interior decor: church-pew booth seating bought from the Church of St. Peter in the late ’70s; portraits of children painted in the first half of the 18th century; photos of the Inn in its earlier iterations; and etchings of the Saratoga area. Their touch reinforces the rustic, timeless feel of the Inn, without allowing it to feel too antiquated.
Samantha Bosshart, Executive Director of the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation, is a big fan of the Inn—especially the 12-over-12 windows: “Some of the panes you can see were hand-blown,” she says. As the only remaining Federal Style house in Saratoga, the Olde Bryan Inn isn’t just a charming restaurant, but “is important to Saratoga’s architectural heritage.”