Gray Goose owners hatch restaurant plan for downtown Westport
Updated 2:22 pm, Tuesday, July 26, 2011
"When I look at the house, it lends itself to an early colonial, tavern kind of theme," said Gray Goose co-owner Kevin McHugh. "When we say tavern, everything is going to be reclaimed -- reclaimed lumber, reclaimed iron gates. There's also going to be wide-plank flooring and exposed wood rafters."
McHugh said the new restaurant would have about 110 seats, including 30 on an outdoor patio in front of the house, which will be lit by gas-burning lanterns. He added that the restaurant's atmosphere will be "casual chic without being pretentious."
The new restaurant will likely open late this year or in early 2012, McHugh said.
McHugh and Tommy Febbraio opened the Gray Goose on Old Post Road in Southport last year, with the restaurant's one-year anniversary coinciding with their signing of the lease for the Church Lane restaurant on July 15. McHugh also owns Little Pub in Ridgefield, while Febbraio owned three former restaurants, Sidetracks and Tommy's in Fairfield and Arizona Flats in Black Rock.
"If one were to go to Little Pub, and then go to the Gray Goose, what comes to mind is that Gray Goose is an elevated version of Little Pub," McHugh said. "This space will be an elevated version of the Gray Goose. It will be the next notch up."
The Federal-style Sherwood House, which dates back to the early 19th Century, will be linked by a new walkway to an 11,500-square-foot site at 101-107 Post Road East. The Westport-based David Adam Realty commercial real estate firm is redeveloping both properties.
An Urban Outfitters clothing store is scheduled to open at 101-107 Post Road East in the first quarter of 2012, according to David Adam Realty's president, David Waldman.
"I think the Sherwood House and the tenant that's going in there is exactly what the town has been pushing for in regards to its revitalization initiatives," Waldman said.
The restoration of the 5,500-square-foot Sherwood House comprises part of a broader plan led by Waldman to establish Church Lane as a focal point of Westport's center.
Waldman is also a principal in the Bedford Square Associates development group, which plans to convert the downtown Westport Weston Family Y and the adjacent property at 35 Church Lane into a mixed-use complex when the Y relocates to its new site at Camp Mahackeno. The redevelopment project currently calls for around 60,000 to 70,000 square feet for restaurant and retail space, more than 40 condominiums, approximately 100 parking spaces in an underground garage and public pedestrian areas. The Sherwood House is currently undergoing extensive renovations. After being lifted this spring for a new foundation to be built, the house is now sitting at ground level again. Installation of a new first floor and roof, and residing work are scheduled to follow soon. McHugh and Febbraio's restaurant will occupy 3,400 square feet on the ground floor, while another 2,100 square feet on the second floor will be used for office space.
As Town Hall officials and local business leaders look to spur downtown revitalization, McHugh said he and Febbraio -- both Westport natives -- hope to contribute to that effort with their new restaurant.
"Being people that have been in Westport since the 1970s, we saw Westport in its heyday with restaurants and bars. And then we saw them all disappear," he said. "We're trying to create some energy that's been missing from this town for a good 20-plus years."