September 4, 2020
MILFORD - Bin 100 Restaurant and Stonebridge Restaurant are located on opposites sides of Milford and both have found a way to weather the COVID-19 pandemic. They are now looking to take advantage of a Milford staple: Restaurant Week.
"Milford Chamber has put together a week to help restaurants with their recovery, and to bring diners in and let them know we are safer than ever and that we have protocols in place to ensure their safety and the safety of our employees," said Bin 100 owner Elena Fusco of her downtown spot in Devon. "They can still have a great night out," Fusco said.
Restaurant Week, organized by the Milford Regional Chamber of Commerce, will include 16 establishments offering customers meals with deals the week of Sept. 20-26. Featured restaurants include Kimberly Restaurant, SBC, Stonebridge, Tavern on Point, Gusto Trattoria Italian Restaurant, Village Bistro, Fratelli Italian Restaurant, Ola, Michael Anthony's Pizzeria and Tuscan Grill, Reggiano's Ristorante, Bin 100 Restaurant, Liberty Rock Tavern, Eli's Tavern, Flipside, Milford Sports Pub and Hook & Reel.
Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, Bin 100 was open seven days a week, but closed on Mondays during the pandemic. Fusco is changing things up for Restaurant Week.
"Two years ago, we added on a new room, a party room or extra dining room," Fusco said. "It has been helpful because of the extra spacing that is now needed. During Restaurant week, we will be open 4 to 10 (p.m.) Monday through Thursday, 1 to 11 (p.m.) on Friday and Saturday and on Sunday from 1 to 9 (p.m.)," she said. "We are opening earlier the last three days so that people can enjoy the outside weather on our patio."
Many restaurants are offering curbside pickup this year for specials.
Rich Conine, owner of Stonebridge Restaurant, said, "We are all-in to everything the Chamber is doing. It is a great organization. My son Phil who is running the operation these days, is figuring out this to-go business. He has done everything to make sure that our meals get to people's houses fresh."
A popular destination in the downtown area in Milford center, Conine has his restaurant operating now for the 31st year.
"We've been plugging right along, doing OK because of our outdoor seating," he said. "We've been following the rules A to Z. Naturally we are nervous going into the fall with the 50 percent rule. But we have all our plexiglass in position and the Health Department is on board. Of course, we are rooting that we will be able to go to 75 percent (capacity)."
Claudio SanFrancesco, owner of Michael Anthony's Pizzeria and Tuscan Grill on New Haven Avenue, brought a track record of success when he chose to open a new restaurant in Milford six years back.
"Milford is a lovely town, very family friendly" said SanFrancesco, who has been in the business for 30 years including ownership of Jeffrey's in Milford and Hot Tomato in New Haven. In step with SanFrancesco is his chef Carmine DeAngelis.
But the business took a hit from COVID-19. "It was very tough, we had to lose employees and were totally closed for maybe a month," SanFrancesco said. "We've lost about 40 percent of our business. We did better once takeout was made available. We have been part of Restaurant Week before and it has been good for us."
Michael Anthony's has an outside patio and rooftop that holds 15 tables, with another 10 available inside. "We are not a big restaurant, so using the space we have with socially distancing our tables 8-feet apart is important," SanFrancesco said. "We are doing better. Our old customers, and now new ones, are coming in to eat and enjoy our food."
Bin 100 is in its 12th year. "Our staff is super excited," Fusco said. "Restaurant Week in the past was always fantastic — a week of Saturday nights for a restaurant. Little at a time we are seeing most of our guests back, some still get takeout. We've also have seen a new clientele, a little younger than usual. That is nice and a new opportunity for us."
Makayla Silva, director of marketing and events for the Milford Regional Chamber of Commerce, said that that reservations are recommended and that seating is on a first-come, first-serve basis.
"From the chamber's perspective, Restaurant Week is about rallying behind our restaurants and building confidence throughout the community to return to restaurants and support our local businesses," said Silva.
Among the offerings from the establishments are lunch for $14.95 or $20.95 for a three-course pre-fix meal. Dinners are being offered at either $20.95 or $34.95 for a 3-course pre-fix meal. Some restaurants are putting together a special package meal that may or may not include a beverage.
Fusco likes the idea of a take-out special. "This is for guests not yet comfortable to head out and dine in, they can get takeout and enjoy the meal," she said, noting that running a business during the pandemic has been a difficult task.
"It has been a big challenge for the whole restaurant industry," Fusco said. "A lot of us were shut down, and others doing curbside service for six weeks or more this year. We've also had to contend with reduced capacity. Some restaurants don't have outdoor dining so that makes it difficult for them.
"We have 16 restaurants involved," she said. "It was difficult getting some to sign up because they have space issues (handling as many customers as they had in the past due to restrictions)."
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Milford Restaurant Week
1201 Boston Post Road, Unit 1100
Milford CT, 06460
Milford Restaurant Week is a celebration of the area's top restaurants through curated prix-fixe menus that showcase their chef's greatest dishes.
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Milford Regional Chamber of Commerce