Tear it Down or Fix it Up? Quaker Steak & Lube

The outside of the property remains presentable because of a man who refers to himself as the former restaurant's "caretaker."

For more than six years it served up a slice of Americana in the form of racing and chicken wings, but like the gas stations it was built to resemble, Syracuse's Quaker Steak & Lube closed, leaving a community with an eyesore in the making.

The neon-light lined, 8,929 square foot building sits dark and abandoned off Walters Road in Van Buren. Built in 2008, the restaurant closed in the fall of 2014. The property currently has an assessed value of $1,400,000, according to Onondaga County property tax data.

"It could sit there for years into the future," said Claude Sykes, R-Town of Van Buren Supervisor. "We are hoping that somebody will come along, take it over, take it out of the foreclosure process and make it viable again."

Court documents obtained by CNYCentral show that as of February 2017, foreclosure proceedings are still underway between QSL Syracuse LLC (the former property owner with a South Dakota address) and Stearns Bank of Minnesota.

Calls to both parties were not returned by the time of this story's publishing.

The outside of the property remains presentable because of a man who refers to himself as the former restaurant's "caretaker."

"I'm the guy dumb enough to step up and do it on his own dime," laughed Jim Olin of Lakeland. "I don't want another eyesore in my community, but I also want it to look like the kind of place someone would want to come do business at."

Olin was one of thousands who enjoyed the restaurant on a regular basis. As an avid racing fan, there was no better place to be.

"Place you wanted to be in if that was your thing," said Olin. "The atmosphere was perfect. It was a place that was ours"

Olin still feels that connection.

When Hilco Real Estate was hired to try to auction off the property in 2015, Olin received a key to his former hangout. His was paid to keep the place looking nice and secure, a battle not easily won.

Damage is almost too light of a word from what you can see inside. Walls have been destroyed, more than a dozen windows have been shattered and dusty trash litters the floor.

"[Doors I secured] have little metal brackets in the corners to hold them shut," said Olin, pointing to one of the many boarded up doors of the restaurant.

Olin has become frustrated; he continues to do little projects on the building and mows the lawn for free. The agreement with Hilco terminated more than a year ago.

"It's been vacant for so long I'm probably beating a dead horse trying to save it," said Olin. "But I do it mostly for the community and for my own peace of mind. I want to see something come back in here."

If you have an idea for a building to be featured on Tear it Down or Fix it Up?, contact information can be found here.

Tear it Down or Fix it Up? will air each Monday during the month of May on CBS5 News at 11.

Previously CBS5 asked the question of Oswego's 1850 House and of Mattydale's Cinema North, and saw action.

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