Colony Grill plans to open in February

The building at 36-38 Broad Street in downtown Milford that once housed Harrison’s Hardware is only a few months away as a Colony Grill, a pizza restaurant and bar. That is, if everything goes according to plan.

“We’re hoping to be open by the early part of 2013,” said Ken Martin, who co-owns the restaurant with Paul Coniglio, Cody Lee and Chris Drury. “Maybe February — that’s what we’re shooting for.”

Atherton & Associates Commercial Properties purchased the 7,000-square-foot structure in 2009 and announced in June it would become a Colony Grill. Having only recently completed the Planning & Zoning approvals process and done some basic demolition, Martin said the “real work” will get under way once they receive the building permits. He expects to have those in hand within a week or two.

“The process hasn’t been too bad,” Martin said. “The city has been very helpful.”

That helpfulness only made Martin more secure in the decision to make Milford the site of the group’s third restaurant. He and the others also own the Colony Grill locations in Stamford and Fairfield.

“We love Milford,” Martin said. “It’s similar to the other locations — it’s downtown, close to transportation and the building has old bones and history.”

However, he and his business partners looked at several places before ultimately choosing Milford.

“We kept coming back to Milford,” Martin said. “This one stood out the most. We all got excited about it and so we decided to pursue it.”

Economic Development Director Bob Gregory is glad to finally see that the building left in disrepair for so many years is getting a new tenant.

He had hoped to see another hardware store take over the site, but the condition of the building and the amount of money required to fix it up made it financially impossible for that type of business to move in.

“While it is with a touch of regret we couldn’t do that, I’m happy to see the place brought back to life,” Gregory said. “Colony Grill has had great success in other communities and I think it will do well in downtown Milford.”

The restaurant is joining a strip that just last year has numerous vacancies following the loss of a jeweler, Dunkin’ Donuts and a pizza place. There is now a frozen yogurt shop, an interior design store and a new pizza parlor.

“The economy hasn’t been the greatest so it’s quite a coup to have Colony involved,” Gregory said. “Everybody’s excited to see Colony coming in. It’s a very positive thing for downtown.”

Martin said he and the others plan to incorporate the city’s history and nostalgia, which includes hiring a local artist or high school students to recreate the mural on the side of the building on an interior wall.

“We are committed to establishing ourselves in Milford and really becoming a part of the community,” he said.

That does not mean they have ruled out eventually launching another location.

“It takes a lot of work to open a restaurant,” Martin said. “We may pursue another at some point, but it’s not on our radar right now. Our focus is this place.”

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