Bravo Bravo encore? Kanabis working on her third Mystic restaurant

All that remains of the Mystic house torn down to make way for a new restaurant.

It's not often you see a gracious old house being torn down in Mystic.

So I stopped to watch the other morning, when I passed by on Main Street to see two big construction machines clawing at the remains of the old Victorian house a few doors down from the post office.

It came down fast. All that was left when it was over was a big pile of wooden rubble, destined for some waiting Dumpsters.

I joined a small crowd gathered curbside to watch. We formed a little bit bigger group than the gathering of folks you sometimes see on a summer morning standing around to watch the bascule bridge go up.

"Don't ask me," a nearby Stonington police officer told just about anyone who asked him what was going on. He added that he heard the owners decided it was cheaper to build new than to remodel.

Indeed, that's what Angela Kanabis told me, when I called to ask why her family decided to tear down the house, so soon after moving it carefully from the back end of the lot up to the sidewalk.

"The contractors told me it was not a sound building," Kanabis said. "In order to meet all the codes and regulations (in remodeling) it would have ended up being a brand new building anyway."

Kanabis is the daughter of George Kanabis, the local attorney, and Carol Kanabis, who is well known for her successful restaurants in the area, which include Olio in Groton and Bravo Bravo and Azu in Mystic.

Kanabis said she recently moved back to Connecticut from New York to help with the family businesses, which include the construction project at 19 Main St. on the Stonington side of Mystic.

The new building, which has been approved by the town, will include a 51-seat restaurant, complete with a dining area on a covered porch, two upstairs apartments and on-site parking for 25 cars.

Kanabis said her family plans to open another Mystic restaurant in the new building, which is directly across the street from Bravo Bravo, and plan to keep the other two.

She said she can't say yet exactly what the new restaurant will look like - plans are being worked out - but it won't be like the other ones.

"We haven't finalized the exact plans, but we don't want it to be similar at all," she said.

Kanabis said they hope to start on the new building by mid-August and, if all goes according to plans, have the new restaurant open next summer.

The building that was torn down this week was the scene of a fatal fire in 2005, when it was located on the rear end of the lot.

Because of the fatality, it would go down as one of a number of serious fires in that part of town over the years. A large fire during a snowstorm in 1961 leveled what is now the site of the S&P Oyster Co. A serious fire swept through the original Whaler's Inn building, across the street, in the 1970s.

Of course a lot of people still remember the major fire that destroyed the big Central Hall building, just over the river on the Groton side of Main Street, in 2000.

That building is still missing, with a plywood fence marking the piece of the block the new owners have promised, so far without results, to replace.

With work under way at 19 Main St., the Kanabis family will make their own mark on the Mystic streetscape. They wlll also come to dominate the town's restaurant choices even more than they do now.

The architectural renderings for the new building indicate it will look a lot like the one torn down this week.

It will be nice to see the building go back up. But I know a lot of people will more look forward to another Kanabis restaurant.

This is the opinion of David Collins.

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