A Groton restaurant that was in danger of closing has reached an agreement with the town to extend its lease for five and a half years, according to Groton Mayor Bruce Flax.
Par 4 has been in the community 30 years and the owners were planning to shut their doors July 1 if a deal was not made.
“This is the 19th hole,” said Kevin McMahon, who has been a patron to the restaurant for all 30 years.
The restaurant is right off of the Shennecossett Golf Course, but it’s not just a hub for golfers. It’s a popular venue for baby showers, funeral receptions, fundraisers and other events.
“This is like a 'Cheers',” customer George Gauthier, of Groton, said.
Gauthier, along with dozens of other people, went into Par 4 on Tuesday to sign a petition to save the restaurant.
Several petitions have been circulated and one organizer said he knew there are around 600 signatures on one of them.
“I’ve raised a child while I’ve been working here, I’ve been part of this community,” employee Kaitlin Cedio, one of the approximately 20 staff members at the restaurant, said.
The thought of closing was painful for Cedio, who’s been with Par 4 for 10 years.
Many other employees are the literal family of owners Peter Ganacoplos and Anthony Christina.
“Everybody’s going to feel the effects of it,” Christina said before the agreement was reached. “We don’t want to leave.”
Flax said the Town Council wanted to increase the cost of the lease and reduce it from 10 years to five years. Since negotiations were going slower than expected with Par 4, the council wanted to explore options and were considering putting out a request for proposal and seeing what new tenants would be interested in taking over the building. Flax said this was a last resort.
“With the budget issues that we’ve had in regard to every cent counting, the council really thought that they could get additional revenue from that restaurant. Clearly we underestimated the passion people have for the restaurant,” Flax said.
Ganacoplos and Christina said they got the news less than three weeks before their lease was due to be up. Plus they’ve invested in the building already and have plans to repaint, redo the rugs and update the kitchen.
“They haven’t given us any chance and we’re up in the air,” Christina said. “It’s caused a lot of heartache in the last week and a half.”
Customers were feeling the heartache of the potential closure as well.
“There are also people who say they will not patronize a new owner. So the Town of Groton need to think about that, too,” McMahon said.