130-seat “Nouveau American” restaurant planned for former Joyous Lake property in Woodstock

Former Joyous Lake (photo by Dion Ogust)

(photo by Dion Ogust)

Public hearing by public hearing, projects are taking shape before the Woodstock Planning Board, with stabilizing elements provided by the town Zoning Board of Appeals and Commission for Civic Design.

New owners of the former Joyous Lake property on Mill Hill Road, most recently occupied by Not Fade Away Trading Company and its t-shirt business, came before the planning board on September 1 for a preliminary sketch plan review to re-establish a restaurant in the fabled site of Ron Merians’ legendary music venue and eatery.

Local architects Lester and Jess Walker spoke for the new owners, collectively entitled 42 Mill Hill Road, LLC in honor of the property’s location, who are planning a new 130-seat Nouveau American restaurant to be run by noted chef, cookbook author and “detox lifestyle” guru Doris Choi. Plans show a pure-white open space with sightlines to the kitchen; the menu being worked on, according to Choi, will have “lots of vegetarian options.”


The place has no name yet, although each of the owners seemed well aware of the Joyous Lake’s history, from its start as a homey restaurant filled with the work of Woodstock’s top carpenters and builders, through its years as a premiere nightclub that became a prized stop for top musicians touring the East Coast, to later incarnations as a blues club and a restaurant whose Kingston-based owner was convicted of sexual abuse in 2003.

The Walkers and Choi were adamant that the new restaurant would not feature any music, except an occasional jazz brunch indoors. The owners also said that they had requested a meeting with longtime Woodstock restaurant operator Ching Ya (Sha) Wu, the owner of neighboring Wok & Roll and Harmony Cafe, who owns a small lot between the properties that once was used for Joyous Lake parking.

Given that the proposed changes on the building include shifts to the building’s windows, lighting and paint colors, the planning board decided to ask the Commission for Civic Design to review plans before they moved forward with their own site plan review. The new owners said they want to try and have their new restaurant open (and named) by Spring, 2017.


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