Fairfield couple transforms former 7-Eleven into dream business

FAIRFIELD — A local couple has converted the former 7-Eleven space on Reef Road into their dream business.

Jason and Bridget Lesizza have converted the popular spot into Reef Shack, a combined marketplace and grill that is bringing their family’s restaurant history forward to serve the community they call home.

“It is a marketplace, with all the convenience of a convenience store,” just without cigarettes or lottery tickets, explained Bridget Lesizza, who grew up in Fairfield and recognizes the location for its history and central role in the community.

Planning its ribbon-cutting ceremony on Dec. 11, the Reef Shack — decorated with the beachside sensibility in sync with its location — will feature locally sourced products, such as produce and milk, necessities and more.

But there will also be a unique menu that will include breakfast sandwiches available all day, an authentic Philly-style cheesesteak as one of its signature sandwiches, as well as various “grab-and-go” meals.

Authentic Italian ices — comparable to those Jason Lesizza grew up with at his father’s Chelsea neighborhood restaurant in New York — will be available.

“We thought we’d establish an Italian ice footprint,” Bridget said.

Jason has long had the dream of opening a restaurant, but also getting the chance to work directly with his wife and children.

He said his father, Renato, an Italian immigrant who owned and operated R.J. Scotty’s near 28th Street and Ninth Avenue in New York for many years, would probably have told him not to go into the restaurant business.

“But when you get older and it’s in your DNA, and opportunities arise like this location … it was meant to be,” he said.

“Doing this is a legacy that I can hand down through our generations,” Jason said, with not only the couple’s three children helping out at the new establishment, but also their nieces, nephews and siblings.

“We want our customers to feel that they are part of our family,” said Jason, who was previously commuting into New York.

Just days after the decades-old 7-Eleven closed in April, the couple signed the lease. Despite concerns about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, they also knew this was the place for them to stake their dream claim.

They also incorporated those concerns and questions related to the pandemic into how they planned and designed the business.

“We designed the entire business plan based on COVID,” Bridget said, including a takeout window, high-circulation HVAC system, touch-less payment options and “roaming handheld points of sales.”

“If anyone’s not comfortable coming into the store, they don’t have to,” she said.

While she acknowledged Fairfield as a great town for eating out, Bridget explained their hope is Reef Shack’s specialization — including the ices — will help make it one of a kind.

For more information, visit www.reefshackffld.com.