Tucker's Cafe, a small but popular restaurant on Commerce Drive for a quarter-century, should be back on the menu of Fairfield's dining spots again in late August -- but with new owners and a new name.
The little restaurant also may be somewhat larger in the future.
Tommy Febbraio, a longtime restaurateur in Fairfield who now owns the Gray Goose in Fairfield's Southport neighborhood and the Spotted Horse Tavern in Westport, recently bought Tucker's at 397 Commerce Drive from Denise Lamoureux, who opened the restaurant in April 1989.
Febbraio said the restaurant's new name will be "Little Goose," and that Peter Mennona and Kevin McHugh, his partners at the Gray Goose, will also team with him in managing Little Goose.
"The menu is going to be a combination of Gray Goose and the previous Tucker's menu," he said, adding that Little Goose likely would offer the burgers, homemade seafood chowder and a barbecue pork chop and rib combo that were popular with Tucker's customers.
Febbraio told the Fairfield Citizen he hadn't decided yet which Gray Goose dishes to feature at Little Goose. "I just started working on the menu," he said.
Lamoureux, who maintains ownership of the building that housed Tucker's, said she decided to sell the restaurant business so she could focus on "Finding Feathers," a spiritual healing center behind Tucker's that she opened 18 months ago. "The Gray Goose buying it was really what Tucker's needed," she said. Lamoureux said she has not been as devoted to Tucker's after she opened Finding Feathers, adding that the restaurant needs someone to invest money in sprucing it up.
Lamoureux said Febbraio is a friend and she knows the restaurant is in good hands. "To me, it's just a renovation. It's not really closed," she said. "I'm pretty sure Tommy Febbraio is going to keep some of my core people so it'll really be like you're walking into Tucker's renovated."
"I think it's going to be gorgeous," she said.
Febbraio said interior renovations will give Little Goose "that feel of perhaps your home and living room with cool windows and other unique features."
Febbraio said he's also thinking about the possibility of having a rooftop patio bar at Little Goose, but added that isn't anything he would try to do until the new restaurant is established. "Down the road, we've kind of toyed with the idea of doing a rooftop patio bar. We're going to get it open, get it rolling, and look into the idea of a rooftop patio bar," he said.
Febbraio said outdoor dining has proven popular in Fairfield and that a rooftop patio bar would help Little Goose compete with restaurants that offer that amenity.
Tucker's had seating for only about three dozen people at tables and another 10 at bar stools, but Lamoureux said she always viewed the restaurant's small size as an advantage. "I think people loved the fact it was small and charming. I think that's part of the charm of it," she said. She said Tucker's small size also enabled her to keep track of everything in the restaurant.
"When Tucker's was really busy, it looked big to me. When it closed, I was like, `It's so teeny,' " she said.
Febbraio, who owned Tommy's Restaurant in downtown Fairfield for 25 years and Sidetracks Restaurant on the Post Road for 21 years, said he decided to buy Tucker's because he likes the location. He said the restaurant is near the two cineplexes on lower Black Rock Turnpike and the recently opened Fairfield Metro train station. The 35.5-acre property where the train station is located also in the future is supposed to be the site of new offices, retail space, a hotel and possibly a 197-unit apartment building.
Febbraio said prices at Little Goose would be moderate and that the planned restaurant would remain open until midnight to accommodate movie-goers and late-night diners. "We're very excited about the opportunity and the potential that it certainly can bring," he said.
Lamoureux said the main reason Tucker's was successful for a quarter-century was the relationships that developed among and between customers and staff. "I think there was a tremendous amount of love there," she said. She said customers also liked the food and service.
Lamoureux considers Finding Feathers as a continuation of the good feelings and atmosphere that Tucker's was known for. "I continue doing that kind of work," she said. "Everyone that's come [to Finding Feathers] has just really loved it ... It's been really an honor to do this and help people."