The 21 Mill St. location, which formerly housed the infamous restaurant that appeared on Food Network’s “Kitchen Nightmares” in 2014, may at last see a light to lift its curse. It most currently housed the 1847 Tavern and Grill, which closed in September 2017 after just three months of business.
Gary and Donna Gilbert, owners of Milan’s Wonder Bar plus Huron’s Sand Bar and Riverview Lanes, announced they intend to purchase the location. They said they hope to make it profitable, saying they “are in the process” of working with the bank now, but are confident “it will happen.”
The couple has seen success of such a venture in the recent past after they purchased The Wonder Bar in 2013.
Gary Gilbert said he and his wife intend to make it an investment property for them. After renovations, improvements, adding a full menu and 18 craft beers and creating a new family-friendly atmosphere during lunch and dinner-time hours, business at The Wonder Bar is booming, bringing in nearly quadruple what it was averaging before.
Gilbert said while under the former management, the business brought in about $4,000 weekly. He and his wife average between $12,000 to $15,000 in the same time frame now.
“We will have a different partner there at that location in Norwalk,” Gilbert said. “Chances are we will lease out and sell that business and just be the landlords. I don’t know that at our age we’re going to take on anymore. It’s a lot.”
Gilbert said he thinks the Mill Street location is craving to become a steakhouse. However, no matter what goes in there, he said he’s going to be picky on who is the business partner.
“It’s just dying to be a steakhouse, so we’re going to try and see if we can bring that to the Norwalk community,” he said. “I think the property is dying for some energetic people (who) have a little bit of cash — because it’s going to take a little bit of cash — and who will put a good product in there and make money. I’m going to be selective on that as well.”
Gilbert said he’s not overly daunted by the restaurant’s former claim to fame, but instead would urge the potential business partners and the community to remember the positive times the location had — and has yet to offer. One positive venture he mentioned was when the location was known as the Press Box.
“I just think if we can clean that property up and bring a good venue in there, it will eliminate what Joe Nagy did with the food show and bring back the concept of when it was as the the Press Box when a lot of people would frequent the Press Box,” Gilbert said.
Regardless, he’s not willing to see the location become anything but successful.
“It also has a couple rentals upstairs. There are two apartments upstairs, with the possibility of four more,” Gilbert said. “I’m going to turn it into a profitable situation with what all I have in mind.”