Local restaurateur hopes to ‘change the narrative’ around Trumbull Center

Photo of Amanda Cuda

TRUMBULL — Patrick Fahy’s first job was at the The Grille & Bar Restaurant, 942 White Plains Road.

The longtime Trumbull resident remembers the job, and the restaurant, fondly.

“It was a place where people would gather,” Fahy said.

The restaurant has long-since closed, and been replaced with a string of other eateries. Most recently, it was Bianco Rosso, an Italian restaurant and wine bar, which closed late last year.

Fahy owns several restaurants in the area, including Fatty Patty, at 2 Daniels Farm Road and parker. Steaks & Scotch at 921White Plains Road. He recently leased the space at 942 White Plains Road and plans to open a new restaurant that has the same kind of community gathering place feel as the old Grille.

“My plan is to get that kind of town (gathering) spot, the way it used to be,” he said.

He has a name picked out that he’s not yet ready to share, and he hopes to have his new restaurant open by the end of summer.

But Fahy said he’s not just looking to open a new restaurant. He said he also wants to change the narrative around Trumbull Center as a whole.

The Trumbull Center corridor includes two major business plazas on either side of White Plains Road. One contains a CVS and a Starbucks with a drive-thru.

The other, at 900 White Plains Road, is where the former Bianco Rosso space is and features multiple unoccupied storefronts, including one previously occupied by Starbucks, and another once occupied by the grocery store Porricelli’s Food Mart, which closed in 2012.

Over the past few years, the property has gained a reputation as an eyesore and a blight on the downtown area — a reputation that Fahy believes is unearned.

“The current narrative is that it’s rundown and the spaces are empty,” he said. “First of all, that’s false.”

He said, despite vacancies such as that of the 40,000-square-foot former Porcelli’s site, there’s a lot of good news at the 900 White Plains Road Plaza. Several new businesses have recently opened there, including Next Chapter Books and Pure Skin MedSpa.

There also has been a lot of discussion on how to renovate the plaza, including a plan to remove two buildings — an old professional building, and the building that used to house Starbucks and other businesses — at 900 White Plains Road, and replace them with a five-story mixed use property.

Trumbull economic and community development director Rina Bakalar shares Fahy’s hope for rehabilitating Trumbull center, though she admits there are obstacles. She said one of the problems with getting a vendor into the Poricelli’s space is that it doesn’t face the street, which has deterred many businesses.

“There’s just not enough street frontage for it to be an attractive space right now,” Bakalar said.

She said the property was “an older area. It was built in a different era.”

Indeed, three of the six buildings that make up the 900 White Plains Road property are more than 60 years old, two are 35 years old and the oldest is more than 90 years old. Bakalar and Fahy both said that, in the past, the plaza has frequently been home to businesses considered obsolete now, such as tanning salons and video stores.

But, like Fahy, Bakalar cheered the recent influx of new businesses. She said she has high hopes in particular for Fahy’s new restaurant.

“He’s got a great concept,” she said. “He’s a experienced restaurant person. He knows what he’s doing.”

Bakalar said she understand the frustration around the plaza, but she’s still “bullish” on the area.

“I think it’s just that people want to see the place hoppin’ and poppin’ and they don’t see it and they get upset,” she said.