Canton residents Kevin and Esther Witkos are targeting a February opening for Wilson’s Pub on River Street in Collinsville.
“We’re getting excited,” Kevin Witkos said about inching closer to opening, adding that he feels like a kid on Dec. 23. The state senator represents several towns bordering Farmington, including Avon, Barkhamsted, Canton, Colebrook, Granby, Hartland, Harwinton, New Hartford, Norfolk, Simsbury, and Torrington.
Inside, the restaurant and bar has yet to be finished but Witkos, a 1982 graduate of Granby Memorial High School, said the work is progressing.
Getting to this point has taken a little longer than he originally hoped when he and Gregory Boyko, under the name 3 River Street, LLC, officially purchased the property last May for $119,000. At the time, Witkos, also a state senator, had hoped to open last fall.
Wilson's pays homage to the late “Bill” Wilson who operated the Fireplace Café at the 3 River St. location for many years.
The building was stripped down to the walls and completely refinished, first with four one-bedroom apartments upstairs.
For Witkos, well known as a former police sergeant in Canton, there were a few challenges along the way that slowed progress at the bar.
For example, a Small Business Administration Loan took longer to secure than he had hoped, Witkos said.
The first-floor space, like the rest of the building, was also taken down to walls.
“There was not a pipe or wire left in the place,” Witkos said.
And since the space was completely gutted it makes sense to perfect the plan, Witkos said.
"We had the opportunity to do it the right way,” he said.
Even Thursday, Witkos and chef Tom Barletta discussed minor tweaks with general contractor Edward Roberge, owner of Stonehouse Construction, L.L.C.
They’ve also had time to tweak the business plan. While not everything is set in stone and aspects could change based on response, the initial plan is to open from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. during the week and stay open until 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
Patio seating for approximately 18 will also be featured in addition to indoor seating and a full bar. Witkos plans to have Wilson's brother Barry unveil the refurbished totem pole that belonged to the late owner.
Witkos is also considering future possibilities such as weekend breakfasts and an annual summer blast party.
Barletta, a Canton native who has worked in Kansas for the past several years, said the restaurant will offer upscale pub food with a little twist. He will offer week-long specials and change the menu somewhat seasonally. In addition to staples like burgers, Barletta also plans to offer some dishes with an Asian flare as well as some vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options.
“You can reach out in each direction a little bit and maintain a style of comfort food,” he said.