NAUGATUCK — Carrie Welton’s, the well-known bar and restaurant on Church Street downtown, will close its doors after Saturday.
The owner, George Petrakopoulos, told the Republican-American on Thursday of his decision, which he said was the only announcement he would make. Petrakopoulos, 57, of Waterbury, said he had been running the restaurant single-handed and wanted more time with his 2-year-old daughter.
“As I see her growing up, it’s like working for nothing and still having nothing with her,” Petrakopoulos said.
Petrakopoulos, who owns the storefronts on either side of the bar, owes the borough about $44,000 in real estate taxes dating back to 2008, and about $9,000 on the property inside the bar, dating back to 2007. The state Department of Revenue Services also has a lien on the property.
Petrakopoulos filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January. A bankruptcy trustee recommended last month that the case be converted to a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which usually leads to liquidation, due to Petrakopoulos’s failure to adequately participate in the proceedings, according to court documents. A hearing was held Wednesday.
Revenue has dried up due to the recession, and Petrakopoulos said he has not been able to keep tenants in his other storefronts. The mortgage is current, he said, but Petrakopoulos had to cut employees until he said he and his family have been keeping the place afloat.
“If everything was rented and everyone was paying on time all the time, this doesn’t happen,” Petrakopoulos said.
Petrakopoulos said business at the restaurant has been good, but not like it was seven years ago, when he took over after it moved from Waterbury. Back then, the economy was better and the place was popular with senior citizens, Petrakopoulos said.
“There’s enough people that either died or were incapacitated, or moved, to fill the place,” Petrakopoulos said.
The bar attracted a group of regulars every night that gave it the atmosphere of the television show “Cheers,” Petrakopoulos said.
Petrakopoulos was single then, but now he says the restaurant is not worth the time spent away from his daughter, when he could make the same amount of money at a less demanding job.
“I’m here 100 hours a week,” Petrakopoulos said. “I want to be able to spend a day with her without being exhausted.”
He said he is not sentimental enough to go out with great fanfare. Gift card owners have until Saturday to spend them. The kitchen opens at 11:30 a.m. and closes at 10 p.m., while the bar usually stays open until 1 a.m. or 2 a.m.
In the meantime, he will continue to own the building and seek a new tenant for the space.
“I still got up this morning and came to work,” he said. “It was like a regular day.”