It was a long time coming, but the Red Barn can now offer patrons a pub-like setting for a casual drink before or after dinner.
The Tap Room is officially open at the dining landmark, which the Nistico family took over in 1983.
"We have waited 30 years," said Richard Nistico, who owns the restaurant at 292 Wilton Road with his brothers Chich and Tom. "Dad wanted to put one in when he bought the building."
Last December, the Planning and Zoning Commission gave the okay for the restaurant to add a 12-seat bar, which is open until 11 p.m. The project involved converting an area of the business that previously had been used for dining tables.
In 1982, the P&Z denied a similar request after the restaurant had opened a patron bar known as the Wagon Wheel -- which critics compared to a nightclub -- without permission. At that time there was organized opposition to the bar from neighbors, but no one expressed any objections this time around.
"I think initially they didn't know my family upon purchasing the property," Nistico said. "I think over 30 years they've seen how we operated ... We don't have any loud functions or events."
"I think our track record is proven and we respect our neighbors," he said.
The Tap Room, which also has two television sets for bar patrons, features a lighter menu, Nistico said, though all the menu offered in the dining room also is available there.
"We really haven't advertised," he said. "We're basically running off word of mouth."
"I can tell you this -- We have a lot of new faces already," he said, some of whom are former patrons who haven't visited for a lengthy period.
"We're very happy to have it," he said of the Tap Room. "It's a great addition to the restaurant."
The Nistico family originally opened the Arrow restaurant in the Saugatuck section of town in 1932, which it ran for decades. The Red Barn continues to operate as a family affair, with three generations handling the workload, including Richard's mother, Virginia, who at 86 still operates the cash register.
"It's wonderful," she said, "because we're together and we help each other."