Kevin McHugh, native Westporter and prolific restaurateur, hopes to "harvest" yet another culinary success with plans to completely renovate the old Dairy Queen on Post Road East into a pub/restaurant called the Little Barn.
"It's going to be a head-turner, part of my philosophy is you have to start with the outside to draw them inside," said McHugh, who is partnering with Scott Beck on the project. "I think it's an iconic building."
"Before it was Swanky Franks it was Dairy Queen. I grew up in Westport and we all hung out there in high school," he recalled of the distinctive structure at 1050 Post Road East.
"The building has a gambrel shape. I thought of turning it into an actual barn and pulling the Little Pub concept into it. That's why we are calling it the Little Barn," McHugh said, referring to his success with renovating what became the Little Pub in Ridgefield. "When it's done it will look like we picked this thing up out of Vermont somewhere."
The building will be clad in reclaimed red barn siding and the roofing will be reclaimed corrugated steel. The barn cupolas on the roof are from Woodstock, Vt. "The place will ooze character," said McHugh, who also is a partner in the Spotted Horse here and The Chelsea and Gray Goose in Fairfield.
In addition to decades in the restaurant business, McHugh also has a background in design and construction. He is overseeing the renovations himself, but is working closely with Westport architect Rick Hoag.
The restaurant will have an outdoor patio with a fireplace inside and out. Inside, there will be a 12-seat bar, and the bar menu will feature appetizers and salads to sandwiches and tacos.
Entrees will home-style fare such as meatloaf and mashed potatoes, chicken pot pie and fish and chips. There will also be a kids' menu.
"We are hoping to be open the week before Thanksgiving," McHugh added.