When they ventured out for lunch, Mildred and Fred Adams decided to see if rumors of the Waverly Inn reopening were true. They were soon sitting at its familiar wooden bar, enjoying a meal and reminiscing about the historic Cheshire site on its opening day.
"We spent a lot of time over here," said Mildred Adams, who grew up in Wallingford and remembers attending Lyman Hall High School proms at the Waverly during the big band era.
"This was the place," agreed her husband, Fred.
Restaurateur August Cipully hopes the Waverly Inn will be "the place" again.
"I love this place," Cipully said, handling hectic opening day duties at a table covered in fresh white linen. Cipully also owns Cheshire's Victorian House Restaurant & Tavern and K.T. Baxter's in Wallingford. "The first time I ever came here was when I moved to Cheshire in 1999. I came here to celebrate, never knowing I'd own the Vic House or this one. That's the way things happen."
Cipully's interest grew after a previous incarnation, The Waverly Tavern, closed in February 2011, leaving Cheshire without a facility large enough to accommodate much more than a small gathering. "There was no room for even a bereavement party, birthday party, or anniversary," Cipully observed. "We don't have the room at the Vic House and this is the only one that has a banquet hall in the back. I thought there was an opportunity and I just thought we should have it in Cheshire. People are going to Southington and Wallingford. We should have our own in Cheshire. I seized the moment, the opportunity."
The new business will be known as the Waverly Inn, the name used during most of the site's history after its modest beginnings as a pool hall called The Casino. Since the early 1900's, various Waverly Inns on the Maple Avenue property have survived fires, bankruptcy, divorce settlement, and subdivision of a grand ballroom to accommodate small offices and a bank. After an inaugural 50th wedding anniversary event for 110 people, the new restaurant officially opened on November 17.
"Everything is different," Cipully said. "The food is different, the ambience is different. It's going to be steaks, chops, a little bit of Italian fusion, oysters, clams, things of that nature."
The mood in the renovated dining room has taken an intimate turn with upscale décor and muted fashionable appointments. The tiled bar and physical layout of the rest of the Waverly, however, remain unchanged. "It's the same booths, same deep woods, nice atmosphere," Cipully said.
A walk through the kitchen revealed less obvious improvements, like a newly epoxied floor meant to eliminate water problems that plagued the lower level of the building in the past. Newly designed rest rooms also reflect the Waverly's evolution.
The reopening will return 25 to 30 employees to the local workforce. The staff already includes chef Edward DeCrosta, nutritionist Laura Chionchio, and Fran Solevo, a lifelong veteran of familiar local kitchens like F.J Soleo's Restaurant on Forbes Avenue in New Haven and the bygone Antonio's in East Haven.
"It's a very positive thing," said Sheldon Dill, President of the Cheshire Chamber of Commerce. "The Waverly has a long and rich tradition in the community. Especially with the economy the way it is, the work that August did will have a positive effect."
The Waverly Inn, 286 Maple Avenue, Cheshire. (203) 272-2441