The Crystal Restaurant in Public Square, Watertown. Sydney Schaefer/Watertown Daily Times

WATERTOWN — While some cosmetic work began last week, the makeover of the iconic Crystal Restaurant on Public Square is all set to go.

The Watertown Local Development Corporation, also known as the Watertown Trust, on Tuesday agreed to hire a contractor to redo the building at 85-87 Public Square.

Bodah Contractor, whose owner’s wife is associated with the restaurant, was the low bidder out of two firms. Work cannot start until the state’s New York Main Street program gives its blessing, said Watertown Trust CEO Donald W. Rutherford.

That means the Crystal Restaurant’s historic neon sign should once again be prominently displayed on the Public Square landmark this spring.

Restoring the restaurant’s historic sign is part of a major facelift.

The facade work includes a complete restoration of the neon sign, replacing black tiling above the storefront window and around the front door, and repainting the building’s exterior.

“We’ve been eyeing to get started,” Mr. Rutherford said.

The facade work was supposed to start in early spring but then the coronavirus pandemic hit and all unnecessary construction work came to a grinding halt.

But last week, tiny shards of tile and clouds of white dust were flying through the air outside the Crystal as construction crews began removing the tile on the building’s facade.

The Watertown Trust is providing $25,000 in funding for the project, while the owners of the restaurant, the Dephtereos family, must kick in $27,000.

For months, the neon sign has been missing from the building’s exterior when it was removed for its restoration.

Work on the sign will be completed by Nasco Awnings and Signs Co. on Route 51. It won’t be put back up until the facade work is finished.

Several other building exteriors will be renovated with $400,000 from the city’s $10 million DRI program. The Watertown Trust is overseeing the DRI facade projects, while Neighbors of Watertown Inc. is arranging the work with contractors.

One project — the Musselman Building at 221-231 State St. — is done.

It might take longer to get the others finished because only two contractors expressed interest in doing the work, Mr. Rutherford said.

But some smaller jobs of installing awnings and exterior lighting should get done this summer.

Under the facade program, downtown building owners can apply for a maximum of $25,000 to fix up their facades and receive 75 percent of their costs for facade projects.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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