Rainbow Gardens will close this month

One of Milford’s popular downtown restaurants, Rainbow Gardens Restaurant and Bar at 117 Broad Street, will close before the month is over, and according to filings with the Secretary of State’s office it may become an establishment called Founder’s House.

John Profetto, who owns Rainbow Gardens with his wife, Heather, said they are under contract to sell the business, and will finalize the deal Sept. 6. The last day the restaurant will be open will be Aug. 24.

Although there has been plenty of talk on the streets about who the purchaser is, Profetto said he wasn’t at liberty to say.

However, according to filings with the Secretary of State’s office, Christopher Saley, a local businessman and the city’s public works director, will be the new owner and the restaurant is slated to become Founder’s House.

The state website lists Saley as managing member of 117 North Broad Street LLC, which is also listed as Founder’s House, with a registration date of July 16. Saley is also listed as a principal with the Bridge House Restaurant and Bonfire Grille in Milford.

Saley said this week that he also was not at liberty to discuss Rainbow Gardens.

John and Heather Profetto opened Rainbow Gardens in downtown Milford in 1996.

Heather once described the menu as cross-continental cuisine with a concentration on healthy and fresh ingredients — or bar meets spa. The eatery started out as a takeout and catering business in a small building on Bridgeport Avenue in the early 1990s. In 1993, the couple opened the Rainbow Cafe in New Haven. Then in 1995 they purchased an old Victorian house on Broad Street, renovated it, and opened Rainbow Gardens Restaurant and Bar in 1996. It has become a destination restaurant in downtown Miford.

John Profetto said the time seemed right to sell the business.

“It’s been 30 years,” he said. Their children have grown and he and Heather decided it was time to leave “a physically demanding business.”

He didn’t say they plan to retire, but rather they will “pursue other things.”

Profetto is working to find venues for parties that had booked the restaurant, and he’s trying to help the restaurant’s 35 employees find jobs, so now is a stressful time.

“I will be happy when everything is in place,” he said.

“We love Milford and have given our heart and soul to this city,” Profetto said, adding that it is that same commitment that makes him eager to make sure customers who had planned on holding events at Rainbow Gardens, and staff, are well taken care of.

Profetto said he believes the new owner plans to close the restaurant for a while to renovate it.

He did not want to say if the building has been sold, or just the business.

The Profettos are well known in Milford, not just for their food, but also for their appearance on a popular Food Network show, Chopped, in 2015. Heather and John, plus son Ryan and Heather’s sister, Kate Campbell, competed against each other for the cooking title. Heather won.

Selling the business appears to be bittersweet.

“We will miss the customers and the employees more than anything,” John Profetto said.