OLD SAYBROOK, Conn. (WTNH)– Many along the shoreline remember the popular Dock & Dine restaurant in Old Saybrook, which was twice destroyed by storms – first Irene and then Superstorm Sandy. It was too expensive to rebuild with the new FEMA regulations so the owner has now come up with a new way to bring waterfront dining to the Point.
“I have mixed feelings to be honest,” said neighbor Barbara Harms.
She can see the benefit of more waterfront dining where Dock & Dine once stood but she is also within earshot of the site.
“The voices carry very clearly and I’m sure they’re not being very loud,” said Harms.
She’s concerned about a 300 seat outdoor restaurant proposed by Kodama, who has teamed up with Chef Colt Taylor of The Essex Public Market.
“It doesn’t take a big stretch to consider that it might sound like somebody’s having a big party next to you every night,” said Harms.
“We’re just trying to provide a nice dining experience,” said Chef Taylor. “A nice outdoor experience. Something that’s really forwarded thinking in the times that we’re in.”
‘Smoke on the Water’ as it would be called would include seven trailers containing two bars, ADA compliant restrooms, storage, and food prep areas.
“The only time they’re going to leave is in the event of a tropical storm emergency or any kind of an evacuation order,” said Chef Taylor.
And when the restaurant closes for the winter. All the cooking would be done on outdoor grills.
“And they’re enclosed with lids on them,” explained Chef Taylor.
Neighbors are also concerned about traffic and vermin.
“Every restaurant has their dumpsters outside,” said Chef Taylor. “How you control it comes down to your basic principals, your standards.”
The old Dock & Dine restaurant had 300 seats inside and another 120 outside so there was some outdoor dining.
Barbara Harms says she doesn’t want to say no completely to this new restaurant but she would like to see some restrictions like a lower seating capacity since all of that seating is outside.
“I think that would help a lot,” said Harms.
There are two more Zoom public hearings on this proposal. The next one is Monday night.