Milford’s Joey C’s sold, but owner says ‘the Roadhouse will live on’

MILFORD — After 12 years, Joey C’s Roadhouse restaurant is closing its Milford location, according to Joe Catalano, who owns the place with his wife Ania.

“We weren’t looking to sell, but someone approached us with an offer to buy the location,” Joe Catalano said.

Ania said the opportunity came up, and it seemed like a chance to simplify their lives.

“Instead of running two restaurants, we can focus all our attention on the Boathouse in Stratford,” she said.

In addition to Joey C’s Roadhouse Restaurant and Joe C’s Boathouse Cantina and Grill, the two also have just added a food truck.

“We wanted to focus all our attention on one restaurant, and we also just got a new Roadhouse food truck this year,” said Ania Catalano. “The Roadhouse will continue to live on, but just in a different form and now it will be mobile.”

Joe described Joey C’s Roadhouse as a mom-and-pop restaurant and said when they opened, it was blood, sweat and tears that made it successful.

“We started on Berwyn Street in Milford, in a little tiny 11-seat takeout restaurant, and at the time, we were just testing it out to see if we wanted to keep going,” said Ania Catalano. “We were there for two years, and then we bought (the current) building 10 years ago. So it’s been 12 years total in Milford.”

Ania said when they opened at their first location, it was just a crew of Joe, three other employees and herself.

“Every weekend, the 11 seats that we had were packed,” she said.

“The phone would also be ringing off the hook for takeout orders,” added Joe.

One of the memories the Catalanos will take with them was the build-out of the current location. Even though it was stressful, it was a great adventure they went on, they said.

“We wanted to make it unique, and we took our time when we were buying all these antique things that are in here,” said Ania. “We actually bought a fallen barn from Easton for all the barn wood that people see here.”

The Catalanos said one thing people don’t know about the build-out is they had a set design crew help them do a lot of the faux plaster and decor, because the designer was friends with their architect.

“A lot of these chandeliers and things came from a big set design warehouse in New Mexico,” said Ania. “They literally came in a truck with all this stuff in there because, since we are New England, it was hard to find stuff like the skulls and the big candelabras, the wagon wheel, and the decor. But they had access to it because that’s what they used to design movie sets.”

Joe said throughout the 12 years, they have had great memories with customers, and some of the customers became friends.

“Our customers did end up being our friends because we saw them every week, and we were always here,” said Ania.

The last day Joey C’s Roadhouse will be open is on Nov. 28, and even though the couple isn’t planning a big farewell party, they expect it will be busy.

“That last day is a Sunday, and we will be here most of the day. I don’t want to say we will have a party, but it probably will be,” said Ania. “It will probably be an impromptu party. But it will be the farewell weekend.”

The Catalanos said selling the location is a bittersweet feeling because it is a long chapter of their lives closing.

“Having a business like this is like having a child,” said Joe. “You nurture it, and you spend a lot of time with it.”

When they posted the news that they were selling Joey C’s Roadhouse location, they received a lot of community feedback, from congratulations to people being shocked they were selling.

“A lot of people were happy, and they understand,” said Ania Catalano. “We are thinking about our family and lives, and how much longer we have to gain some freedom of ourselves because, in the restaurant business, you don’t get days off.”

Joe said he also noticed that in the 12 years of operating a restaurant in Milford, they have seen their customers get married and start families. Some customers have been coming to the restaurant since they were children themselves, he said.

“We received a lot of comments of people having their first date at our restaurant here, and now they are married.”

The Catalanos said they would like to thank everyone for coming to Joey C’s Roadhouse in Milford for the past 12 years and for choosing their restaurant to celebrate many special occasions from first dates to birthdays.

“Everyone has a month to come and enjoy food at this location, but we are not going to have barbecue withdrawal because we are going to be adding the favorite items to the menu at the Boathouse,” said Ania. “It will be a 10-minute drive down the road. We are not disappearing from the face of the earth.”