BRISTOL - A large crowd helped open the Bristol Sports Bar & Grille Wednesday afternoon, including city officials congratulating the owner and staff on filling the space once occupied by the Milestone Restaurant.
Visitors took seats around the bar, ordered burgers and wings and raising their glasses for a toast.
“We still have a little work left to do. Today is our soft opening,” said owner Jim Stamatopoulos. “Our grand opening is planned for the 14th at 3 p.m., but it’s good to finally be open.”
Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu; Justin Malley, executive director of the Bristol Development Authority; Mark Thomas, marketing and public relations specialist for the city; and Cindy Bombard, executive director of the Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce, stopped in to congratulate Stamatopoulos and his team.
“It’s awesome to have this place open downtown, within easy walking distance,” said Bombard. “We need more restaurants.”
Malley said that the city wants to support “an increased amount of food and drink options” downtown.
“We’re especially happy to have it happening with someone like Jim,” said Malley. “We have had a close relationship with Jim for years. We appreciate the way that he is contributing to making business in Bristol better. There are a lot of people who have been looking forward to a rebirth of this space.”
Zoppo-Sassu said she had met with Stamatopoulos a few months ago and is “thrilled” to see the Bristol Sports Bar & Grille open for business.
“I’m happy that another storefront, and another eatery, is opening in our downtown,” she said.
Several of the bar’s first customers said they were excited about the new place.
Ed Dudko, who said he is a friend of bartender Pat Greene, said it is nice to have another place to eat in Bristol.
“Pat is a great bartender and Rich is a great cook,” said Dudko. “I used to come to Milestone a lot.”
Fran Brzozowski said he helped with the construction of the bar because he is good friend” with several employees.
“I’m excited,” he said. “I’d definitely recommend the sausage burger.”
Kevin Hayes, who came to the opening o with his daughter, Katrina, said that he was excited to see it open. He said he would be meeting his wife and some friends there later.
“It’s nice to see some energy and revitalization on the North Side,” he said.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or email@example.com.