‘I Don't Think it's Fair': Popular West Haven Restaurant Settles With Upscale Mall Developer

 At Nick’s Luncheonette in West Haven, the customers come for the friendly service, the food and especially, the home fries.

“You’re supposed to have them like that, you know really, really soft,” said Edwina Roddy, who is in town visiting from Massachusetts.

“He makes the best home fries, no doubt in my mind,” said Bob Bromley, a longtime customer.

The popular breakfast and lunch spot will need to soon find a new space to stay in business.

Developers are acquiring the restaurant to make way for the new Haven South mall, which is expected to bring high-end retailers and restaurants to West Haven’s waterfront.

Owner Nick Milas said he reached a verbal agreement Wednesday night before the city council authorized the potential use of eminent domain down the road.

Mayor Ed O’Brien has told NBC Connecticut that eminent domain would be a last resort.

The offer is better than before, Milas said, but he wishes it didn’t have to come to this after serving customers at the corner of 1st Ave. and Elm St. for nearly 25 years.

“To close one business to put another business, I don’t think it’s fair,” Milas told NBC Connecticut, during the Friday lunch rush when not a table was empty.

His staff and customers agree.

“How do you take one man’s business and give it to another man?” said Alicia Barbagiovanni, a waitress of 16 years. “The rich get richer and the little man gets kicked out.”

“I’m heartbroken for them,” Roddy said, “it’s terrible.”

Nick’s Luncheonette is one of the last properties to settle with the developer of the Haven South. The neighboring S & S Mini Mart and Citgo Gas station is still holding out.

“In the end,” Milas said, “I lose big money because this is my retirement, this is my life.”

The loyal customers say they hope Milas re-opens somewhere nearby.

“I think he’ll find a location local,” Bromley said, “I hope so anyway. Wherever he goes, I’ll go, too.”

But that doesn’t make leaving this location any easier.

“I’m always happy to work here,” Milas said, holding back tears, “And it comes to the end.”

There is no set date when he has to move out, Milas said, adding he hopes to keep his restaurant open for another six months.

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