No More Redding Roadhouse Blues

For years, Westporters have passed the Redding Roadhouse — the restaurant/bar with live music and a casual-but-almost-biker’s-hangout vibe on Route 53, past Devil’s Den  and the Saugatuck Reservoir — and wondered, “What’s up with that?”

For years, they drove on by.

A group of Westporters plans to change all that.

Earlier this month Ted Stonbely, his wife Colleen Cook, and her brother Wirt Cook took over the place. When they reopened 3 days later, they’d already made  tweaks.

Bigger changes lie ahead. Including more outreach to folks down in these parts.

The proud owners of the Redding Roadhouse (from left): Ted Stonbely, Colleen Cook Stonbely, Karen Cook and Wirt Cook.Colleen and Wirt are Staples graduates.

Ted — he would have been a 1998 Staples graduate, but got shipped off to the Gunnery, then attended culinary school and worked for Daniel Boulud — and Colleen (Staples ’95) had wanted to open their own place for years.

But, he says, the New York restaurant scene is “difficult, expensive and frightening.”

A year ago, after their 2nd child was born, Ted and Colleen moved to Weston. Two main reasons: quality of life, and restaurant opportunities.

Last July, Ted heard the Redding Roadhouse was available. But the space — including a huge dining area, bar, outdoor patio and little-used upstairs room — seemed daunting.

Ted and Colleen looked some more. Nothing clicked.

But when Wirt and his wife Karen said they’d help, the challenges of the Redding Roadhouse seemed manageable. Fortunately, it was still available.

The Redding Roadhouse

Since opening July 5, the owners have pared down the main menu; added local produce; introduced a bar menu; painted the outside, and erected a fence.

They’re tackling the upstairs space — the “Mark Twain Room,” named for Redding’s most famous resident, which had been mostly dark.

They’ll redo the dining room, tap room and patio too. “We’re giving this a new identity,” Ted says.

He calls the new Roadhouse “modern casual American. There’s no airs. Wirt has worked in New York kitchens for 10 years — places like Butter and The Darby — so he brings a great touch to comfort food. He’s got a nice, elevated style.”

Ted says that in recent years, the Roadhouse “moved away from families.” With 2 kids of their own, he and Colleen knew exactly what was needed: a kids’ menu. It’s already very popular.

The dining room will be updated before the end of summer.

The owners are moving the live music from the bar in front to a secondary room. “A lot of people like music. But you shouldn’t have to listen to it if you don’t want to,” Ted says.

Added to the roster of rock and country bands will be local favorites like Dylan Connor, Mark Mollica and Merritt Jacob. In addition to being great musicians, they’re Ted and Colleen’s friends.

The Redding Roadhouse traditionally drew from surrounding towns like Bethel, Danbury, Ridgefield and Easton.

“We’re looking south too,” says Ted. “We want to get Westport and Fairfield involved. There are plenty of people there who know and appreciate good food, and want to have a good time.”

One of those good times is Oktoberfest. Redding Roadhouse did it in the past.

Ted, Colleen, Wirt and Karen have their eye on that too.

“We’ll make it even bigger,” Ted says. “We’ll have an outside beer hall.

“And it will run all through October.”

18 responses to “No More Redding Roadhouse Blues

  1. The food should be more affordable. Who pays $13 for a burger?

  2. The Roadhouse rules!

    It’s the perfect place to ‘get outta dodge’ for the evening and the drive from Westport is beautiful heading along the Resevoir…you’re there in no time! The new menu is truly delicious with a great selection and friendly staff (if you can’t tell I’ve been there a few times now) And Zach, their handcrafted burger is worth every penny.
    * A side note: Wirt and Karen are now full time Redding residents.

  3. Jack Whittle

    Count me as a Westporter who didn’t just “drive on by” but actually stopped in (on the motorcycle or with a car full of family) and ate at the RR from time to time over the years – brunch, lunch and dinner. Liked it then, although I’m happy to hear there’s some new younger energy running the place. I wish them success.

  4. Great news. I always looked longingly at the patio and wanted to stop in but had heard it was not really family friendly. I hope they can keep it fun and affordable and we will be there!

  5. Westporter4ever

    AWESOME! I loved that place!! having graduated with Colleen, i wish them much success! Also…I will gladly pay $13 for a hamburger if its a good one…it is actually hard to find a good burger around here that’s not cooked on the grill at home (sorry my fiance is a BBQ master!)

  6. Dennis Jackson

    As ex-Westporters who’ve long since moved to Wilton for a little more space, peace, quiet, etc., the Roadhouse has long been our favorite just as it was, whether by bike or car. A ride along Rt 53 past the reservoir and a G&T on the patio on a Summer’s eve: priceless. We wish the new entrepreneurs great success. At the same time we hope they don’t let it get too crowded, or any more pricey, or go the way of The Three Bears, The Peppermill, or Cobb’s Mill.

  7. Excited that there will be serious care and appreciation taken of this place. I think outreach is great, however the comments above seem to insinuate that the folks in Redding/Easton/Bethel/Danbury won’t appreciate it. Please know there are many people in this immediate area, myself included, who are excited at the possibility of new ownership raising the culinary caliber of this hidden gem. Can’t wait to check it out.

  8. Good luck Ted & Collen!

  9. Ione Johnson

    often visited the Roadhouse when in Ridgefield visiting my son/family…..love this place! As a Mark Twain aficionado, I’m excited to hear about updating the MTwain Room; didn’t know there was one! Hope to see you soon!
    Ione Johnson, La Crosse, WI

  10. Is Cobbs Mill Inn in Weston open? Any comments on Cobbs Mill.

  11. Sound Beacher

    Last year we drove on up from Greenwich to go to Oktoberfest. It had been a few years since we’d done it and the kids liked it more when they were younger, but it was fun for me!! Glad to hear they’ll be working on improvements.

  12. I agree with recent poster Amy that this article insinuates people from Redding/Bethel/Easton/Danbury won’t appreciate this restaurant. Some of us moved up here (myself from New Canaan) to get away from certain unsavory aspects of Fairfield County and yes, we have sophisticated palates and culinary proclivities, too. We shop almost solely at local farms (Holbrook, Sport Hill), are patrons of the arts, hold interesting jobs, and are excited to see this gem re-open. I’d rather hang out with a bunch of bikers than bankers though, personally.

  13. The Roadhouse is in the middle of nowhere, or equi-distant from everywhere, depending on how you look at it. It’s easy to drive past, as nothing else is around it, but it’s a great place and a great space. When we lived in Newtown, we’d stop in on our way back from Westport/Norwalk.
    Perhaps Voodoo Carnival and other “down county” bands will get to perform there. And with the Georgetown Saloon closed (true?), more people will be looking for good pub food and live music. Best of luck.

    • Georgetown Saloon is closed. Former owner Adam Lubarsky (not the one who closed it) is opening a new spot, the Blu Parrot, on the old Jasmine/Arrow restaurant site in Saugatuck, near I-95 exit 17. It will feature live music too.

  14. I’ve never been to the RR but now I will definitely come up from Fairield in October to try it out. Salute!

  15. Very informative article.Thanks Again. Really Great.

  16. My Westport-based classic rock and blues band — Voodoo Carnival — will be rockin’ the RR on Dec. 7. We’re excited as it’s our inaugural RR rocker. Come out; I think you’re going to like. http://www.voodoocarnival.com
    Levi