Leaving The Grist Mill's historic location overlooking the Farmington River is bittersweet for owners Kristine and Anthony Giraulo, whose last day of operation in Farmington is Saturday.
However, the silver lining is that they will be moving into a far more visible location on the main drag in Avon where is located. The view will be different –Talcott Mountain – and they will still have outdoor dining, this time on a rooftop deck.
The Avon Planning and Zoning Commission approved their application at its meeting Tuesday night under the same conditions Carmen Anthony has followed since the Route 44 location opened in 1999, town staff confirmed Wednesday.
“Carmen did a great job in his program there and we expect to go in and take it to another level,” said The Grist Mill co-owner Anthony Giraulo, who is looking to open in Avon the first week in June.
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From cooking dishes in the kitchen with his mom at a young age to being part of the first graduating class at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY in 1973, Giraulo has always seen food as an art.
“It’s like being on stage. We like to deal with people. We’re artists and when somebody is satisfied, the art’s complete," Giraulo said.
While he is not a chef at The Grist Mill, he has a lot of insight into the menu, which has a Mediterranean core. The selection features many different ethnic cuisine styles, seafood, pasta, sandwiches, burgers, salads, soups and signature dishes like osso bucco, genuine calves liver, lobster, Dover sole and crab cakes.
“You can eat from South of France, you can eat game. We’re foodies, so we have representations in the kitchen from all over the world,” said Giraulo.
The menu also offers a $19.95 three-course dinner that includes salad, an entrée and dessert, as well as a glass of wine for an additional $7 charge. The main courses range from salmon to pork schnitzel, which can be topped off with The Grist Mill’s signature crème brûlée, bread pudding or gelato.
“We did that when the economy was in a slump,” said Giraulo.
The Giraulos also plan on having $5 happy hour dishes and martinis.
“We’re going to try and stimulate business to come our way,” said Giraulo, who bought The Grist Mill 11 years ago from Mario Zacco, the current landlord.
They chose not to sign another lease at 44 Mill Ln. in Farmington this year because they didn’t agree to the terms, Giraulo said. He and Kristine, both in their 50s, looked for a new location that could keep them in the Valley, close to their guests, Giraulo said. They approached about moving into the 51 East Main St. space in Avon a couple months ago, Vacalebre said.
“When one door closes and another one opens and this one happened to be brighter,” said Giraulo. “We enjoy competition. We think that our business and type of business and offerings will compliment Avon area.”
The Grist Mill will lease the space from Brian Foley, of Simsbury.
Even though The Grist Mill will no longer be in the 1640 Farmington grist mill, where it has been for about 20 years, it will carry the same name.
“If you go to a cowboy bar, you can go to Boston and be in a cowboy bar can’t you?” Giraulo said. “We’re bringing our name and the way we do business into a new era.”
Not only will the Avon spot be a more “contemporary environment” but The Grist Mill owners also plans to revamp their website, design a new logo and establish a Twitter account.
“We’re ready to make that leap, excited about becoming very fashionable and moving into a community that has very well recepted us in business over years,” Giraulo said. “It’s like it was written.”
The Grist Mill will be open on Saturday in Farmington from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for lunch and 4:30 to 9:30 p.m. for dinner.
“We’re excited about doing business in Avon. It’s a new frontier for us. It’s a new endeavor for us with familiar guests,” Giraulo said. “We hope to see friendly faces to say our sad goodbyes for leaving this location.”
Patrons can continue to reach The Grist Mill at its current phone number 860-676-8855 when the restaurant moves to Avon.