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Mary Hawley Inn To Become The Inn At Newtown



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Mary Hawley Inn To Become

The Inn At Newtown

By Steve Bigham

The first official business of new Mary Hawley Inn owner Rob Ryder is to change the restaurant’s name. This week he announced his plans to re-name the Main Street landmark “The Inn at Newtown.”

The establishment remained open for business earlier this week, but is expected to close later this month for about a week for renovations.

Mr Ryder purchased the business from Tom Belli earlier this month after several weeks of negotiations. The deal will be complete once Mr Ryder receives his liquor license. Details of the sale price were not disclosed. The 25,000-square-foot building is still owned by the Hawley Inn, LLC, aka the Vazzano family of Bridgeport.

The new owner also owns two other restaurants in the area – the Lakehouse in Brookfield and the Cookhouse in New Milford. He plans to turn his newest venture into something special. “I’ve been doing this all my life. I’m really excited about being in Newtown. I plan to bring some fresh food and some fresh ideas to a great town,” he said.

Those fresh ideas include having two different menus. The restaurant will feature a pub menu as a separate entity, which will offer “more comfortable food.”

“We’ll have steaks and sandwiches. Nothing too crazy, but I would like to liven up the bar a bit,” said Mr Ryder, who also recently opened a restaurant in Boston.

Of course, the main dining room will continue to serve a more upscale menu with seasonal ingredients.

As for the new name, Mr Ryder said he wanted to retain the building’s historic value in the name, while also making a change. Plus, he said, with a name like “The Inn at Newtown,” there is never any question as to where we are. The restaurant is expected to be operating under its new name by the end of October.

“That’s what we’re hoping for. I’d like to get as much of October in as I can. It’s always a good month,” Mr Ryder said.

Mr Ryder is a graduate of Cornell University where he studied hotel and restaurant management. He plans to bring in his own management team, including a new chef, who happens to be a Newtown resident.

The Hawley Manor, formerly owned by the Vazzano family, closed its doors for good in 1994. The restaurant and adjoining inn sat closed for more than three years until being purchased by partners Philip Manger and Richard Mullen in 1996. Mr Belli was considered a silent partner at the time.

Renovations to a lower room have not yet been finished. It could end up being a private party room or another bar. A decision will be made once we see what the town wants, Mr Ryder said.

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