The white, brown-roofed cottage stands out amongst the various chain stores and gas stations, its red door blazing against the plain exterior. Once inside, customers are enveloped in the dim lighting and warmth emanating from the stone-cobbled fireplace.
“We basically tried to transplant a pub from the middle of Europe and drop it here in Ridgefield,” Lars Anderson, the general manager of Little Pub, said.
Little Pub, with locations in Ridgefield, Wilton and Greenwich, is known for its rustic atmosphere and diverse menu, ranging from French onion burgers to mu shu pork tacos.
Cast-iron chandeliers hang from the wood-paneled ceiling; candles illuminate the high-top tables; the white stucco walls add to the comfortable ambience. All the wood is reclaimed from an old barn, and all the tables are hand-crafted.
“We really pay attention to detail,” Anderson said. “A lot goes into ambience and design of a restaurant, not just slapping it all together and hoping for the best.”
Similar in strategy but different in design, bartaco aims to take their customers to a beachy and relaxed place.
Woven basket lamps light up the beachy restaurant, with large black-and-white photographs dotting the blue and white wood-paneled walls. The menu is a twist on traditional Mexican cuisine, with specialty tacos such as spicy chorizo, baja fish and fried oyster.
“I think that the beachy decor gives bartaco a casual social vibe rather than really formal, which makes it more fun to go with friends,” Emma Parry ’17 said.
Another destination, Saugatuck Sweets, iconic for its ice cream, candy and ski lodge-style waffles, is reminiscent of an old-fashioned ice cream parlor. From fudgy brownie sundaes to Great Cakes’ cupcakes, customers are always able to satisfy their retro sweet tooth.
A neon sign reading “Saugatuck Sweets” glows a bright blue, reflecting off the tin ceiling. Blue and white subway-esque tiles cover the floor, with blue stools lined up near a little bar-type area for people to sit.
“It definitely makes you feel like you’re in a different place,” Olivia Troy ’17 said.
The owners, Chris and Al DiGuido, always had a vision of opening up a mom-and-pop shop.
“We thought back to the different ice cream parlors that we knew as kids,” Chris DiGuido said. She explained how they wanted to steer away from chain stores and “one-dimensional” yogurt shops.
“Ice cream and candy are happy,” said DiGuido, smiling. After pausing to say goodbye to some customers, she continued, “That’s what we wanted to do, to have the kids be able to ride their bikes from school. We wanted a fun place where kids can come in Westport like it used to be.”
Whether it be a retro-vibe, a beachy feel or a wintry, rustic ambience, creating a unique setting for a restaurant will have everyone coming back for more.
Anderson summed it up, saying, “Whether we meet you for the first time, or we’ve known you for five years, we try to make everyone feel at home.”