NAUGATUCK — The local business community celebrated its latest successful downtown restaurant Tuesday at 66 Church St.
The business with the same name as its address is operated by John Magliore and partner Derrick Lee, who bought the building in the fall. Lee also owns Center Street Social in Shelton and Woodbridge Social in Woodbridge.
The duo started restoring the restaurant at 66 Church St. in April, using reclaimed wood and metal to create a rustic feel on both the interior and exterior. More importantly, Magliore said, they have created a warm, welcoming atmosphere.
“It’s just a fun, easygoing place that just kind of created itself, and the vision that we had for this place just kind of came to life,” he said.
The popular business has created a buzz around town. Not only has it been an achievement for Magliore and Lee, it has also been a triumph for the local business community, which saw the owner of the building’s former restaurant, Carrie Welton’s, fall into bankruptcy in 2013. The building had sat vacant until Magliore and Lee bought it in the spring.
During a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday with local officials and business leaders, Magliore, who has been in the restaurant business since the 1980s, insisted to a reporter that the story should not be about him.
“This is about a staff that really cares about each other, a kitchen staff who gets along and helps each other,” he said.
And, he said, it’s about a customer base that is so pleased with the new restaurant that customers have not only thanked him but have given him hugs.
Diners have enjoyed the restaurant’s new American menu and a variety of craft beer and unique cocktails.
Lynn Ward, president of the Waterbury Regional Chamber of Commerce, said she knows people are talking about the restaurant in Naugatuck, Waterbury and beyond.
“It’s the hottest, coolest place, and we’re really excited to have them as a chamber member,” she said.
Mayor Robert Mezzo said he has only heard positive things about 66 Church St.
“It’s a well-run establishment, and the owners know how to operate a facility well,” he said.
Ron Pugliese, president and chief executive officer of the Naugatuck Economic Development Corporation, also lauded the business.
“I think this is something that just continues to show what we’re attempting to do, which is to build up the downtown,” he said. “With all of the projects we have going on Parcels A, B and C, our goal is to get people downtown on Church Street.”
State Rep. Rosa Rebimbas (R-70) has an office on Church Street and said the business is amazing for the area.
To Magliore, the restaurant is a labor of love.
“I’ve been a part of a lot of different openings — never something this special,” he said, adding that he plans to expand to either side of the current restaurant space.
Currently, the restaurant seats about 60 people, and has additional room in the bar.
“We wanted a small space, but this place is too great to be small,” he said. “We need to expand, and we want people to know that we plan to expand.”