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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.

Kevin September 29, 2012 at 04:02 PM
I don't agree. Ruth's Chris is arguably the best steakhouse in the state. What better place for it than right in the middle of the Farmington Valley, which is the wealthiest area in northern Connecticut? It would be very successful, and would draw people from all over, which would have the added benefit of boosting other businesses in Avon.
Jim tolosku September 30, 2012 at 04:37 PM
Hey Kevin what do u think every wealthy person in Avon is a meat eater wrong and we are not the wealthiest area in the northern ct get your facts straight
Dean September 30, 2012 at 04:50 PM
Being from Fairfield, I was very familiar with the Colony Grill concept. Basically, you can't get near the place on the weekends down there, it's so popular. Of course, it's right in the heart of town in a walkable neighborhood, and there is a lot more disposable income in the area. I never heard anyone complain about the quality of the food, price, or the limited menu as I've read here. The Avon restaurant failed for three reasons: location, location, and location. That plaza corner on the speedy RT 44 is death, and anything that goes in there will fail. The curse of RT 44 claims another victim.
Kevin October 01, 2012 at 12:03 PM
Hey Jim, I don't recall saying that Avon would be a great location because they are "meat eaters" LOL. I said the Farmington Valley would be a good choice for an expensive restaurant like Ruth's Chris because it is the wealthiest area in northern Connecticut. 2010 Census Income ranks, Northern Connecticut: #1 Burlington. #2 Simsbury. #3 Avon.
Bob wheeler October 02, 2012 at 05:11 PM
Hey Kevin should restuarants only go in wealthy areas then why don't you tell Ruth Chris to move to Burlington because there rich way to go hero
Kevin October 02, 2012 at 07:48 PM
Alright it's obvious you're just trolling. I made a simple point that the Farmington Valley would be a good fit for an upscale restaurant. I have a hard time seeing your point, if you have one.
Brad Cox October 02, 2012 at 09:12 PM
I ate there last week, and there was nothing on the menu for me. 1 type of chicken sandwich, no real appetizers, the menu can fit on a grain of rice. I always wondered how they were still in business. Bring a TGIF. And Oh, please dont blame it on the location, the location is fine if the food is good. Period.
Brad Cox October 02, 2012 at 09:13 PM
Dummy, Carmen Anthony and Dakota are gone for the same reason Ruth Chris wont survive. you are an idiot
Wyatt October 02, 2012 at 09:45 PM
So sad to here. I loved the pizza and wings. Since moving here from NYC, I've had a terrible time finding decent pizza or wings and was so happy when I finally tried Colony Grill. Oh well...continuing my search for decent restaurants...
Kevin October 03, 2012 at 05:40 AM
Brad, you're comparing the horrible service at the Avon Carmen Anthony and the horrible steak at Dakota, with Ruth's Chris? Who's the idiot?
Jay October 03, 2012 at 03:03 PM
Ruths's would certainly have customers but I doubt they would have the volume they need to be worth the investment.
Jay October 03, 2012 at 03:24 PM
If anyone knows how to contact the owners please let me know. Thanks.
amy October 03, 2012 at 03:40 PM
Eveeything about it was awful. At first i couldnt even find the food on the menu. They had more about the history of the place on there then food items. They only had one size for pizza and it was far from good. It reminded me of thoes small celest microwave pizzas you alway see on sale for a doller at stop and shop. Way over priced and it took forever to get our crappy food. The decor was beautiful. If only they put there decorating passion into there food it might have worked. Sucks that people lost there jobs.
Marci October 03, 2012 at 04:26 PM
Jay, their main store is in Stamford, Ct... area code 203.. When I lived in Old Greenwich/Greenwich until 2000 when I moved here home to Avon we went almost every Friday and one of the owners would always be there on a Friday night working, often at the bar... You can go to Google and type in Colony Grill and it should bring up the Stamford #. Again,not sure if owners are there every night but Friday was always a given. Good Luck, Marci..
Marcie October 04, 2012 at 07:16 PM
A Steak House....or Buffalo Wild Wings. But I would love to see a Longhorn Steakhouse! I still think we need a Dave and Busters type place in the valley.
Jim Hombres October 11, 2012 at 06:34 PM
Irish and Pizza? I think we know why this failed.
Mike October 14, 2012 at 05:27 PM
Other than the bad service, bad food, bad management and having about 70% more space than they needed, I am not sure what went wrong. Went there a few times hoping things would improve but never did. Owner was more interested in having a beer and watching the Jets than actually managing the place.
Robert Fullerton October 14, 2012 at 10:53 PM
He also had performers scheduled for several weeks, and informed none of them of the closing (myself included). A fellow performer (scheduled the week of the closing), found out as he drove up to play, only to find the door padlocked.
Ronnie October 15, 2012 at 11:15 AM
I predicted this place would fail as soon as I heard it was going to open. There's too much pizza in the area, plus the menu was too limited. Also, they need a bigger sign on Rt. 44. I'm originally from NY and don't get the lack of diners in the area. A good reasonably priced diner in that location with good food would work. Also, why not an Outback Steakhouse? I could see that succeeding in that location especially since the demise of Dakota. Outbacks never seem to do poorly.
Jay October 15, 2012 at 02:30 PM
Well it would seem a good idea for some one to put a steakhouse back into Dakota's. The building screams Outback or Caribou or Mongolian something. As for traditional diners, I don't really see that working in Avon. The closest thing to a diner that I liked when I was younger was Abdow's. You could go and just have coffee or hit the breakfast buffet. Reasonable food at reasonable prices. Now it's Peurto Vallarta. Colony Grill made one big mistake. No grill! And seriously enough with the pizza joints.
Ronnie October 15, 2012 at 07:15 PM
I think the reason you don't think a diner would work is because you don't know good diners around here. Unfortunately all the good diners I know are in the NY area and even a couple in Fairfield County. THOSE diners WOULD work around here, I think. The diners I know would work on the MOON!! Seriously, they have phenomenal food at very reasonable prices. Colony Grill was not the right fit for the area and there's just not enough traffic going by on Rt. 44 to support that format. It looks like they're going to open another one in Milford soon, which is technically New Haven county, but it will be in a very high traffic area. I lived in Fairfield County for several years. I think this kind of place is more suited to areas where there is a younger, more urban, more business/less family atmosphere and where they have succeeded is more like that.
Jay October 15, 2012 at 09:51 PM
Only diner in NY I have been to was the Del Rio Diner in Brooklyn. Fifty page menu but still got the burgers and fries. That and a diner in off I-95 in Pelham but just for coffee on a road trip but I hear they just closed.
myles October 16, 2012 at 07:09 PM
I think the excuse about the location is a kind of cop out. Rt 44 is busy. The offset location can be countered with the appropriate signage. And to say that there isn't enough disposable income in the area is laughable. The thing about the farmington valley is that the people have discerning tastes and aren't afraid to let you know what the don't like and what they want. They keys to success out here are listening and adaptability. Listen to your customers and give them what they want. And colony started to do that, but just a little too late. I was assuming that after a rocky beginning and the realization that they would have to overhaul a formula that has worked well for them in the past, they just decided to cut their losses and move the capital they had left to another market. Ruth's Chris would definitely be a bad choice to put out here. It seems like all we have on 44 is $30 plates and restauranteurs that assume people with disposable income want to spend it all at once. Pretty sure white collars like burgers and wings too.
Ronnie October 18, 2012 at 06:55 AM
Discerning tastes? I think the people around here have weird taste. It's certainly a weird area, but what do I know? I'm from NYC originally. I have never seen a Boston Market close anywhere and yet it closed on Rt. 44. I suppose 20 people will post to say the chicken is crappy and too expensive and that's why they closed. So I guess that's why restaurants fail on Rt. 44. Yet the people certainly keep crappy establishments open like Friendly's and Bertucci's. So much for "discerning taste". No amount of signage in the world is going to make up for lack of taste and no amount of income makes up for people being cheap, which I think they are around here. Put the two together and it's extremely difficult to open a restaurant in this area. Char Khoon was wonderful, but let's face it, Canton was not the right audience for it. Rt. 44 is busy with people commuting, not necessarily shoppers. It's not a shopping destination so much as a commuter road. Other areas have highways nearby so you don't see the travelers mixed in with the shoppers. If you only had shoppers on that road you'd see fewer cars.
Marci October 18, 2012 at 03:15 PM
Just opened recently at a totally done over 'Bishops Corner' is a 'Noodles' in there. I thought they were only in the mid west as my young grandsons live in Wheaton,Ill and their Mac & Cheese is one of the list of about 4 foods they'll eat.. It's delicious food. You can eat there or get in line , order, get it and take it home. It was jammed two Saturday's ago around 5:00.. So,I asked a man to speak to the owner [as it's one of the owners of our Five Guys or he was which my sister told me is also opening at Bishops Corner] and he was busy but his partner told me when I begged them to come to Avon, that the owner was considering it.. Hoping someone on the zoning board sees this and puts another bug in his ear to come. The food is really good and has a great variety including Asian. They've a great Asian salad... It's not too expensive and on the menu you can pick from two sizes. Hoping they'll come as it will be affordable for those on a limited income once in a while as those who do well here in Avon as well as close for Simsbury ,Canton and Farmington.. Maybe in Colony empty building though I don't believe Noodles has alcoholic beverages but then I've never asked either out in Wheaton or here.. It's a fun place and I think would be popular in Avon and I didn't get a NO so here's hoping... :)
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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