Meridian Industrial

AT THE DAM RESTAURANT

7/28/2022 | HOPE E. TROMBLEY

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For years, mother-son-duo Susan Chadbourne and Paul Merker dreamed of owning a breakfast and lunch restaurant near the water.

When the established restaurant At the Dam Restaurant, 100 Main St. in Broad Brook, CT, went up for sale in 2019, the pair felt this was the perfect opportunity to make their dream come true.

Then, the Covid pandemic hit. “We were ready to open in March 2020 and less than a week before our planned opening date, the pandemic hit, delaying the opening – with many unknowns such as not knowing when we would be able to open, when the restrictions would be lifted and if we would be able to open at all,” said Chadbourne.

She, her son, family and friends had spent months getting ready to launch the revamped restaurant. They cleaned the space top to bottom, painted, brought it up to current health standards, developed their menu, created a new logo and purchased needed equipment.

“During that time many local people stopped in to see how we were doing with the renovations, asked when we were going to open,were excited to meet us as the new owners, and to see what renovations we were doing,” Chadbourne said. “That made us not only feel welcome, but we came to know the restaurant was definitely a place where friends meet.”

They forged ahead, waiting until the world received the thumbs-up to start opening up and they finally opened their doors in June of 2020.

“When the restrictions were lifted for inside seating, we did open but only at 50% capacity for the first 11 months, with many COVID rules and regulations to follow,” Chadbourne said. “It was a very slow start because many people were unsure of going out to a restaurant with the ever changing COVID restrictions. Weslowly but surely gained in popularity but during the beginning months, it was our ‘regulars’ who kept us afloat.”

It was those regular customers that helped the new owners stay motivated.

“It was great to get to know them and we now consider them friends,” said Chadbourne. “Over the past two years, due to the increase in our customer base, we now have six incredible employees to help us out.” Before purchasing At the Dam, Chadbourne had worked fulltime in the corporate world, but worked in area restaurants part-time because she loved it.

“I worked for 36 years in the corporate world and during that time I would work part-time in various restaurants such as the Somers Inn and Sue’s Kitchen because I loved being a waitress,” she said. “Over the years, it became a dream of mine to open a breakfast/ lunch restaurant, with a location specifically by the water. Paul has also always wanted to open a restaurant and we would talk of it but it seemed almost impossible.”

While scrolling through Facebook in May 2019, Merker saw a post by the previous owner of At the Dam Restaurant saying she wanted to retire and sell the restaurant.

“Paul showed me and we decided ‘it doesn’t hurt to ask.’ It seemed exactly like what we were looking for size-wise and it was by the water!” said Chadbourne. “So we talked to the previous owner and began the process of making the dream come true. She retired in November 2019 and we began a total revamp of the space.”

Merker is the chef and got his start at the airport in food service when he was 16. Chadbourne said since that first job, he has enjoyed working in various restaurants and golf courses such as Ellington Ridge Country Club and Rolling Meadows Country Club.

“He started as a cook, worked his way up to sous chef and is now a chef managing his own restaurant,” said the proud mom. “His favorite thing to cook is his house-made corned beef hash – he loves how it smells when he is cooking it on the grill. His favorite dish to eat is homemade macaroni and cheese. He enjoys grilling steaks on an open flamed charcoal grill for family and friends during the summer.”

Chadbourne prefers running the front of the house, waitressing and being with customers. She and Merker kept the previous restaurant name, even though it has had several owners and names over the years, starting out as Pigeon’s Pharmacy before becoming a restaurant.

“The old pharmacy soda fountain is our counter seating now,” noted Chadbourne. “Many customers tell us of how they used to come into the pharmacy when they were children and they share stories with us. The space the restaurant is in now has been a restaurant with a few different owners and names.”

Many of the previous restaurant customers continue to eat at At the Dam, along with new customers who have joined the ranks of “regulars.”

“They keep coming back because Paul’s food is not only delicious, it is consistently fresh and delicious,” said Chadbourne. “The service is friendly and I make an effort to learn everyone’s name. There is a special energy in the restaurant and we pride ourselves on keeping a very clean restaurant, with lots of people commenting on the cleanliness.” Many people come back for their favorite meal such as the corned beef hash or the Dam Buster which is a combination of eggs, pancakes or French toast, home fries, meat and toast. Paul has many customers who request his New England Chowder or another favorite soup or sandwich. Customers often plan their week around Friday’s lunch special of Fish n Chips saying it is the best they’ve ever had.

At the Dam boasts a Veteran’s Wall full of framed pictures of veterans who are customers or family of customers. Chadbourne said people often remark on how special the wall is and we welcome people to bring in their framed picture if they served to add to the wall.

On the breakfast menu is Merker’s popular housemade corn beef hash, fluffy buttermilk pancakes, Broad Brook French toast that is topped with sweet cinnamon brown sugar butter and whipped cream, and an omelet of the day, such as the shaved ribeye steak omelet or feta Florentine omelet to name just a few. Breakfast sandwiches and wraps are popular as well. We are also available to provide breakfast sandwiches to local businesses, anywhere from 20 to 200 sandwiches. We have provided that catering service to Federal Express, Lincoln Technical Institute, and Beebe Landscaping. Give us a call at (860) 623-1253 and we’d be happy to work together to create an order for you.

The lunch menu has grilled or cold sandwiches and melts, different specialty burgers, daily specials such as sweet Italian sausage and peppers, cheesesteak sandwich, and daily house-made soups.

We encourage people to find us on Facebook where we post the daily omelet of the day, lunch special and the soup of the day. Weekends include a special pancake French toast or waffle, an omelet of the weekend and a special breakfast sandwich.

AT THE DAM RESTAURANT LOCATED AT 100 MAIN STREET IN
BROAD BROOK, CT. WE ARE OPEN TUESDAY THROUGH SATURDAY,
7 A.M.-2 P.M. WITH BREAKFAST UNTIL 11:15 A.M., FOLLOWED BY
LUNCH. SUNDAYS THE RESTAURANT IS OPEN 7 A.M. TO NOON,
SERVING BREAKFAST ONLY.


ALL OUR FOOD IS AVAILABLE FOR TAKE OUT. PLEASE CALL US AT
(860) 623-1253 AND WE WILL GET IT READY FOR PICK UP.

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