Ballou’s Will Open in Indian Neck

The former Blue Cottage will become a second location for a popular area wine bar.

The sign announcing their arrival may have been up for a few weeks but Steve Kaye, owner of Ballou’s Wine Bar, shares that the lease for the 3,100-sqaure-foot restaurant was just signed less than a week ago.

Much anticipated, Ballou’s is tentatively scheduled to open mid-May at 2 Sybil Ave., where the most recently operated for the past several summers.

Right off the bat, Kaye shares that he and his wife Debbie will keep the restaurant open year-round where the former place was seasonal. Some other changes include an 11 p.m. closing time no matter what and no bar on the outside patio – servers will wait tables outdoors (see tentative hours of operation below).

What will be the same is a lot of the furniture and decor but not as you might think: Kaye has taken the “green” route and re-purposed most of the items from the former restaurant. The wood has been stained dark, booths have become bench-style seating and the bar will take on a deep mahogany finish. As for the storage of his more than 100 varieties of wine – Kaye is the process of hand-crafting racks and racks.

What will be new to the space is a more cozy atmosphere than the former beach-themed restaurant, more dining tables and a fireplace that will serve as a focal point in the main dining room. The outside patio will re-use the existing furniture and still welcomes about 100 guests.

Constantly looking to expand the first Ballou’s Wine Bar, which opened in Guilford in June, 2009, Kaye said he and his wife had been actively scouting locations for a second business for sometime. They had inquired about a space in North Haven that was taken and ended up finding the former Blue Cottage instead.

“Understanding the location, we felt it would be ideal  for the concept of Ballou’s,” said Kaye of the new space. Just about 20 minutes up Route 146 from their spot on the Guilford Green, Kaye is hoping Ballou’s Wine Bar in Branford will attract the 83,000 people found in the town’s five-mile radius. “I think it will bring people who looked at Guilford as too far; those few exits to people make a difference,” he commented.

While there are plans to allow the Branford location to develop based upon the demographic and clientele, Kaye said the offerings will be pretty much the same as the Guilford spot, which is thriving and popular all year long.  “Wine,” he furthers, “has expand over the past five years; people are much more educated and more comfortable with wine and we’re the place that they can come to learn more about wine.”

In addition to offering a variety of imported wine a well as local wines at the Branford spot, Ballou’s will add 15 beer taps to serve local and high-end brews, offering beer flights similar to their already popular wine flights. The menu of comfort foods like homemade pasta, pannis and fondue will also be the same as Guilford. Dessert lovers should also note that Debbie’s famed truffles will now be made in the leased space above the restaurant at 2 Sybil Ave.

During the summer months, there will be live music on the patio featuring a rotation of about 15 artists who currently perform at Ballou’s in Guilford; the genre is everything from jazz to pop. Indoors, Ballou’s will be a destination for women, book clubs and wine lectures, just as the Guilford spot is now.

“The biggest thing I want people to feel is that we are a casual European wine bar that this is a place to learn about wine and have fun,” said Kaye.

A long-term, 10-year lease has been signed for the space with two five-year options to re-new. The hope is to thrive and stay in Branford, said Kaye, and become a compliment to the nearby and . “We just want to be good neighbors,” he said, “and do the right thing.”

Ballou’s will begin hiring 35-50 staff members for the Branford location in the beginning to middle of April. Check Craigslist for application information.

Tentative Hours:

Sun.-Tues. 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m.

Weds-Thurs. 11:30 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Fri.-Sat. 11:30 a.m.- 11 p.m.

LifeLongNecker March 24, 2012 at 01:55 AM
Ok let me get this stright...100 on the Deck ..Maybe Another 50 inside And you have 24 parking spots ...Do The Math..an remember your Neighbors!!
ANGELA WOOLSEY March 24, 2012 at 06:40 AM
Will miss the beachy blue cottage.. such a perfect fit for the Indian Neck crowd. Just think of the crowd that kept it crowded... many young, beautiful college folks with their sundresses, sandals, fresh faces and energy having beer, and frozen drinks, chatting with their little groups about schools and new careers, sitting along side middle aged groups in their cropped linens with their martinis talking about how they're paying for the college their kids are going to and white haired bloody mary crowd, hanging out, very happily, on the old wooden beach furniture, listening to buffet style music. A lot of times you will see a parent and friends run into their children and their friends. It is quite laid back and nice. To be replaced with what works in Guilford??? Different crowd for sure. Branford doesn't have to be formal dark furniture, wine enthusiasts. People loved the blue cottage because it was laid back. It wasn't "trying so hard" I mean Debbie's famous TRUFFELS???REALLLY. Europen style and that's my point.. The people in the neck like AMERICA are more dock sider and pullover and cold Bud type of real shore people. Think Newport R.I. The Black Pearl. Pretty much what the Neck crowd is like. That whole stuffy european cosmo type is what the Guilford crowd needs to be. Granted one or two interesting lite bites on the menu might be fun but overall I don't think this will be a good fit. The people that spend in Branford don't do so to fit in like Guilford
Dr. Alfred C. Whitehead May 11, 2012 at 11:24 AM
Excellent point!
Dr. Alfred C. Whitehead May 11, 2012 at 11:36 AM
"...many young, beautiful college folks with their sundresses, sandals, fresh faces and energy having beer, and frozen drinks". These are the same inebriated young people who walked our surrounding neighborhoods late at night talking loud, cursing, urinating, littering and parking their cars illegally on our streets and in front of our driveways. The same ones that hassled homeowners when they were asked to move their cars? And what about the underaged drinkers... let's not forget them. The best thing about the Blue Cottage is when they took down their sign and left town. Their patrons trashed our neighborhoods for three years... and that's the truth of the matter.
Regina June 26, 2012 at 03:23 AM
We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the new location!! We are guilford Ballous regulars but were anxious to see the new spot!!! Same great service (with a smile and very attentive) and same great menu!!!! Only difference is the location, wish the water was in glfd!!! Well at least least we have two to chose from, but either way Ballous will win!!!!


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