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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.

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.

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