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Litchfield Saltwater Grille hosting local food and brew night March 6

Litchfield Saltwater Grille hosting local food and brew night March 6

LITCHFIELD 

The Litchfield Saltwater Grille is hosting an evening of local food and local brews Wednesday, March 6, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Teaming up with Stamford’s Half Full Brewery, Saltwater Grille will host the Half-Full Beer Social, featuring a three-course meal, a raw bar, and beer tasting. There will be plenty of food, organizers say, to make sure that those in attendance won’t leave half-full.

Half Full founder and owner Conor Horrigan, a Litchfield native, will be on hand to present and talk about the four Half-Full beers that will be available for tasting.

Horrigan and Saltwater Grille owner Brett Clugston came up with the idea for the social.

Clugston said that it is basically a beer dinner but with more of an emphasis on walking around and mingling in a very open environment.

Clugston said that she hopes to get 40 or so people to make reservations for the social, which will take place at the dining area in the bar.

Given how hectic Saltwater is on weekends, especially Saturdays when they have live music, Clugston said that it made more sense to have the social on a weeknight.

“We turn away people on Saturday nights, we don’t usually have room,” she said. “So this is just something to make a night that’s usually a quieter night busier.”

The entrée consists of a choice between IPA battered fish and chips or braised beef and exotic mushrooms. Both will be served with Half Full IPA. The chocolate bread pudding will be served for dessert and four appetizers will be available, including bratwurst in puffed pastry and smoked mozzarella.

Throughout the night, patrons will have access to a raw bar that Clugston said will be displayed on ice. The raw bar, consisting of all fresh seafood, will include blue point oysters on the half shell, Rhode Island littleneck clams, peel and eat shrimp, and seafood salsa with white tortilla chips.

“You just walk up and you take it as a buffet,” Clugston said.

The four Half Full beers available are the Half Full Bright Ale, which Saltwater Grille always has on tap, the Half Full IPA, the Half Full Chocolate Brown Ale, and a Limited Small Batch Specialty Beer. The cost for everything is $50 per person.

According to Clugston, Saltwater Grille tries to have about five or six of these kinds of special events every year. Last year Saltwater Grille had a seafood jazz festival in July, a Saint Patrick’s Day Beer Tasting last March, and also holds an annual holiday toy drive.

For Clugston, the restaurant business is in her blood. Her parents have owned restaurants in Greenwich, Westport, and Bethel. She grew up working in restaurants, so it was only natural that she take on a place of her own, she said.

Her husband Albert, who started off as a sushi chef in Arizona, is the chef at Saltwater and wrote the menu for the Hall Full Social.

Clugston, originally from Newtown, has owned the Saltwater Grille in Litchfield for going on six years. She and her husband turned what was once Chuck’s steakhouse into the wine and seafood restaurant that it is today.

“We found this place and it was gorgeous,” Clugston said. “We changed it all up and (gave) it more of a wine country feel.”

This included turning the large salad bar into a raw bar and bringing in a list of about 450 wines, American and international. Clugston is also a sommelier. She felt that a fish house like Saltwater Grille was something that could fit in well in Litchfield since the town didn’t have one at the time.

The Litchfield Saltwater Grille is located at 26 Commons Drive, Route 202 in Litchfield. Visit www.litchfieldsaltwatergrille.org or call 860-567-4900.

Reach Ryan Flynn at 860-489-3121 extension 345.

Litchfield Saltwater Grille expanding to Torrington’s Main Street, with broad takeout menu

Litchfield Saltwater Grille expanding to Torrington’s Main Street, with broad takeout men

 

 

TORRINGTON 

A popular seafood restaurant in Litchfield is expanding its offerings to an empty restaurant space on Main Street.

Litchfield Saltwater Grille, located on Village Green Drive, is owned by Brook Noel and Andy Stowers, who moved to Connecticut from Wisconsin in 2012 and purchased the restaurant from the previous owners in 2013. Brett Clugston and her husband Albert had opened the restaurant in 2007.

Sliders, which opened in 2019 at 84 Main St., was preceded by Backstage restaurant, which closed in 2018 after seven years.

The new owners plan to offer their Salt 2.0, a takeout menu they created to provide meals during the pandemic featuring grain and salad bowls, sandwich wraps, burritos, tacos, nachos, and quesadillas, with gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options.

Having a successful restaurant next door to the Warner Theatre is important for the downtown’s success, officials have said, as the city continues to seek ways to draw more pedestrian traffic to places such as Franklin Plaza and other areas on and off Main Street.

The city’s Economic Development Department, led by Rishta Malanca, is working with Blue Haus Group on ways to use vacant spaces and popup events to attract people. The department also is seeking to make East Main Street corridor improvements for pedestrian and driver safety on the commercial roadway that is adjacent to many residential neighborhoods.

City Planner Martin Connor, who has enjoyed the restaurant’s food as a take-home meal option during the pandemic, said the owners had a “smart” plan for Torrington.

“The Salt 2.0 plan is pretty popular,” he said.

 

Downtown

The Mertz building is owned by the Warner Theatre. Executive Director Rufus de Rham said he was happy to know the restaurant space is reopening.

“The way they’re doing it is smart, with having grab-and-go food for now, and then offer sit-down service as things open up,” de Rham said. “I’m excited to see what happens.”

Losing Sliders was a big concern for the theater. “The departure of Sliders was very sudden, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. It caught us by surprise,” he said.

“We were worried; it’s difficult for us to fill this space,” de Rham said. “Then, out of the blue, here’s the Litchfield Saltwater Grille with this plan. We wanted to work with them. A lot of their ideas were very smart. I was also looking forward to a place to get burritos.”

After meeting with the owners several times, “we knew this was a partnership we wanted to happen,” de Rham said. “And fortunately for downtown Torrington, it did. So we’re very happy.”

Noel said the 2.0 restaurant option was born out of the pandemic, but it’s continuing in Litchfield, and she’s sure it will be popular in Torrington.

“Sit down and dine-in eating has taken a really big hit, and we needed to pivot our business somehow to compensate for that,” she said. “In Litchfield, there was a need for good, quality food that’s less expensive and fast, so people could be in and out in 10 minutes.

“So we took a dining room in the grille that had just three tables, and we turned it into a second kitchen,” she said. “From day one, it was incredibly successful. As we watched it grow, we knew we needed to keep it going.”

The 2.0 takeout meals were also a way to keep their employees working, she said.

“We would have had to lay people off, and we didn’t want to do that,” Noel said. “It’s allowed us to remain all our staff, and make it through the pandemic. We love it. We love the customers, and we have a ton of fun. So we thought, let’s do another one in Torrington.”

The couple chose Torrington, Noel said, because they already had a following there.

“That was the genesis of it because a lot of people are familiar with us already. With the space available at the Warner, it seemed like a great fit for us,” she said.

This week, Noel and Stoler were working in the Mertz building restaurant space. “I was up there painting yesterday,” she said. “We’re hoping to be open by the end of March or early April. I was there when it was Backstage, and as soon as I saw the space, I fell in love with it.”

New furniture and decor are also coming into the Mertz restaurant space. “There are all new colors and we’re getting all new furniture,” Noel said. “Most of what was it is gone now.”

The restaurant is large, and Stoler and Noel plan to divide it in half. “For the takeout business, customers will walk in on the bar side and order, and there’s seating there,” Noel said. “On the other side, it’ll have a different feeling, more like a venue restaurant, for private events for the theater, private parties, graduations, things like that.”

She also stressed that the Litchfield Saltwater Grille is not moving or closing. “We’re growing, not moving,” she said.