WATERBURY — Vasi’s Taverna is no more.
The Mediterranean restaurant announced its closure suddenly over the weekend after an 18-year run at 1700 Watertown Ave. Its last day of business was Dec. 29 and the property is for sale.
“The last two, three years business has been kind of falling off,” said Vasilios Kaloidis, who owns the business and the property. “I think Vasi’s has just run its course.”
The restaurant first acknowledged business was declining in the dining room in October 2018 when Gordon Ramsay came to revamp it on his show “24 Hours to Hell and Back,” in which the celebrity chef remakes ailing restaurants.
Vasi’s Taverna had a dining room and separate bar and banquet areas. Kaloidis said the 2019 holiday season was his best year ever for catering but patronage at the bar and dining room have declined due to an increase in competition.
Kaloidis is confident he can find a buyer due to the success of his catering business and that the location has been occupied by a restaurant for nearly 80 years.
He said he’ll miss the customers he befriended over the years, witnessing their engagements and watching their families grow.
“I’m working 80 hours a week, I have a young family at home, an older mother that needs help,” Kaloidis said.
Kaloidis had a buyer lined up for the property and business in December. The plan was to close for the first two weeks of January and open under new management with the same staff and menu. The sale fell through, at which point Kaloidis decided to take the two weeks to assess his business and decide whether to reopen the restaurant, which includes separate bar and banquet areas, continue only with banquets, or close the entire business.
“Last week I had to inform my staff and give them enough time to find jobs. All my staff has found jobs,” Kaloidis said.
A roadside “for sale” sign was put up earlier than expected by his Realtor.
Kaloidis said Gordon Ramsay’s revamp did more harm than good in the long run, though it did boost business immediately after the episode aired last January.
“The concept that he brought in did not adapt well to Waterbury. We gave it six months to try to make it work, the last six months we started bringing in our old menu, we started bringing in our happy hour items and a lot of things we had before but I think it was a little bit too little too late,” Kaloidis said. “Gordy isn’t always right.”
The menu Ramsay designed was too limited and expensive, he explained.
Kaloidis will keep working at Spartan Restaurant and Bar at 970 Chase Parkway, which he also owns. He also hopes to partner with up and coming restaurateurs at some point in the future.
“I want to help somebody grow,” he said. “A lot of my original staff are doing great things.”
But not before he makes some time for his family.
“I’ve got to take my kids to Disney first,” he said.
The sale is being managed by Jennifer Swerdlick of Fine & Company Real Estate Auction & Advisory Services. Interested buyers can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 860-280-8610.
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