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Colony Grill Closes After Slow Business

The Avon location for the popular Stamford native family pizza restaurant was in the former 99 Restaurant location for six months before closing its doors Monday.

Colony Grill will still be serving up its famous Stamford pizza pies, just not in Avon.

The restaurant in the former 99 Restaurant and On the Border location in Nod Brook Mall closed quietly on Monday leaving some asking whether it was temporary or permanent.

Co-owner Ed Tessier told Avon Patch Thursday that the Colony Grill owners decided on Sunday to permanently closed its doors in Avon. While he said business was going "alright" this summer, it slowed down afterward and wasn't picking back up.

"There basically was not enough volume to cover the overhead," Tessier said. "It always is a tough decision."

The owners poured a lot of money into the Avon location, including the purchase of an expensive state-of-the-art German draft system that streamed beer from refrigerated kegs to the bar tap. Only a few other restaurants and bars in the country have the technology. Tessier said it's possible that Colony Grill will lease the system to another business.

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When asked why he thought the flow of customers into the new establishment was slow he said, "We don't have the answer."

The restaurants that preceded Colony Grill – On the Border and 99 Restaurant – struggled in that spot. The location, which sits to the back corner of Nod Brook Mall, is the furthest business from the front entrance near The Fresh Market. Visibility of that space from Route 44 is poor. Besides its green illuminated sign on the restaurant, the only other sign for Colony Grill was a small one at the plaza entrance. 

The restaurant got involved in the community early, from co-sponsoring the Avon Road Race that raises money for the Pine Grove School PTO to hosting a Toss the Dough fundraiser for the Avon Volunteer Fire Department.

While the Colony Grill pizza recipe is very popular in Stamford and Fairfield, some driving from Stamford to check out the location when it opened, the name was new to the Farmington Valley. While some enjoyed the new restaurant, others found it overpriced for a 12-inch pizza and thought the wait to get their food was too long.

When co-owner Gary James' parents – Carol and Gene Bohannan – purchased the Stamford restaurant in 1962 from its original owner in the Irish Stamford neighborhood, they served sandwiches and other lunch items. Pizza was offered after 4 p.m. Lunch hour was slow, but the pizza sales soared, so the family kept the original name and trimmed their menu to pizza only. The simplicity of the menu allowed them to focus on their specialty, pizza, which take about 35 minutes to make. Salad was added to the Avon menu when they moved into Nod Brook.

But in Avon, some felt misled that they walked into a restaurant with "grill" in the name that didn't serve burgers and grill fare, just pizza and salad. The owners tried to accomodate the demand and added wings and Sunday brunch.

While the owners are disappointed in the turn of events at the Avon location they had high hopes for, the Colony Grill franchise has not given up. In addition to remaining open in Stamford and Fairfield, they are opening another location in Milford.

Tessier said they hope to open in Milford by January.

Gina November 13, 2012 at 11:49 PM
My husband and I are very upset to hear that Colony Grill is closing. My husband is from Fairfield County and grew up going to the Colony in Stamford. The two of us have been going to Colony for years and my husband moved to Northern CT after we got married we were so excited to have a Colony close by. The problem is people do not appreciate tradition. Colony Grill serves pizza that is unlike other places around. The fact that the original Colony only serves pizza and you don't even need a menu is what adds to its character. I wish the owners had moved it closer to Northern CT, but still close enough to Stamford/Fairfield area that people knew what it was. The people of Avon went there not knowing anything about it and then started complaining. My husband and I were shocked when the menu started changing...that must have been a tough decision by the owners. We will miss ya Colony, but we'll see you in Southern CT. Maybe someday you can try again....
Marty McDouchey December 19, 2012 at 02:57 AM
People appreciate tradition...Lukes Donuts and Miller's are two of them. People like real pizza that's quality and not drenched in oil. If these guys wanted to do a straight Irish pub they would have succeeded...but they opted to serve junk pizza. Too many good Italian places with quality ingredients to settle for this flimsy garbage.
Allan Ornstein January 26, 2013 at 04:00 PM
I'll tell you why Colony Grill closed. The service was atrocious. The Food was vile. The menu was pathetic. Just a plain piece of paper with less than 10 food items to choose from. The Pizza was like purchasing a cheap frozen one at the grocery store. When we placed our order with our server, he disappeared after our food was served by some other staff member. The hostess in the restaurant greeted what little customers, by cracking and blowing bubbles from her gum. Great first impression of a establishment. Kids were running wild in the restaurant, while parents were getting their booze on. Colony Grill is more of a watering hole, with little or no emphasis on their food menu. This place was just like going to a bar. I will never go back to any of their locations. If you think their food is outstanding, then you all mus be drunk, and have no taste buds!
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Donna M Rechetnuk-Begin August 04, 2013 at 08:03 PM
Worse pizza ever! a frozen pizza would be better. Thank GOD they closed. The location had nothing to do with it...lousy pizza

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