A new pizza restaurant is expected to open at the site of the old Harrison’s Hardware building by next spring.
Bryan Atherton of Atherton & Associates Commercial Properties announced Tuesday that Colony Grill Development has reached a lease agreement with Milford Broad Street, LLC to open a Colony Grill restaurant at 36-38 Broad St.
This will be the fourth Colony Grill in Connecticut; other existing sites are located in Stamford, Avon and Fairfield.
The Colony Grill concept began in 1935 in an Irish neighborhood in post-Prohibition south Stamford, restaurant owners said. Since then, the “Colony” has become famous for what is now its only menu offering: a one-of-a-kind, one-size, thin-crust pizza — with or without its signature hot oil — served simply, amid classic American charm.
Colony Grill has been featured in such publications as Gourmet Magazine, Connecticut Magazine, and Roadfood: The Coast-to-Coast Guide to America’s Best Local Eateries.
“We are extremely excited to be working toward opening a Colony Grill in Milford in the coming months,” said Chris Drury, co-owner of Colony Grill Development, and a former longtime National Hockey League standout. “My partners and I love the history of the space and its proximity to a wide range of other great restaurants and retailers, public transportation, and the beautiful Milford harbor. We are hopeful Colony Grill can become a strong community partner not only in the vibrant downtown area but, by extension, throughout the entire City of Milford for many years to come.”
Paul Coniglio, Cody Lee and Ken Martin co-own and operate Colony Grill Development, LLC with Drury. The four Connecticut natives played baseball together as youngsters on the 1989 Little League World Championship team from Trumbull that defeated Taiwan on ABC’s Wide World of Sports.
“We think Colony Grill offers a deliciously unique pizza amid a very appealing tavern-like setting,” Martin said. “It’s the type of place we always envisioned operating as long-time friends, and we feel the sincerity and energy we put into running Colony Grill restaurants is something Milford residents, in turn, will be able to embrace and enjoy with their own close friends and family.”
Colony Grill restaurants are open seven days a week, serving pizza and drinks from 11:30 a.m. until late closing.
Economic Development Director Robert Gregory said the company has considerable work to do before it opens. It has started the Planning & Zoning process. Plans for renovating the building still have to be completed, and then work on the building would begin.
“It does need a lot of work,” Gregory said. “The back part of the building was added on in a hodge podge manner, and I think that’s where they want to put a deck.”
While the mural on the side of the Harrison’s building would not likely be salvaged, company owners hope to take a picture of it and preserve it in some kind of reproduction fashion. The reproduction of the mural would then likely be located inside the building, Gregory said.
“They talked about having some memorabilia from Harrison’s as decor,” Gregory said, “Kathy Alagno [Milford Chamber of Commerce president] suggested that. And in some way, shape or form, they want to preserve the Harrison’s sign, somewhere inside the restaurant.”
Milford Green Pizza recently opened downtown at the former Peter Pan Pizza site, but Gregory predicted the new pizza restaurant wouldn’t hurt the existing one.
“Look at Wooster Street in New Haven,” Gregory said. “They have Sally’s and Pepe’s and several others. They’re known as the pizza capital of the world. And Richie Conine, owner of Stonebridge, always says he welcomes more restaurants. It’s good for business.”
Mayor Ben Blake welcomed the news.
“The Harrison’s building is steeped in Milford history and is at a critical location in our downtown,” Blake said. “I’ve met with the owners of Colony Grill and they are committed to preserving the local charm of the property while encouraging business and activity in our city center. Importantly, I’ve eaten at other Colony sites and you get great pizza and an attractive atmosphere. This is a great fit.”