Groton Town Council extends lease with golf course eatery

Residents pack a room in the Groton Town Hall annex for a special meeting of the Groton Town Council on Tuesday, June 20, 2017, to comment on the potential closure of the Par 4 Restaurant at the Shennecossett Golf Course. (Deborah Straszheim/The Day)
Residents pack a room in the Groton Town Hall annex for a special meeting of the Groton Town Council on Tuesday, June 20, 2017, to comment on the potential closure of the Par 4 Restaurant at the Shennecossett Golf Course. (Deborah Straszheim/The Day)

Groton — The Groton Town Council voted Tuesday night to extend the lease of the Par 4 Restaurant at Shennecossett Golf Course for five and a half years, prompting cheers from a crowd of nearly 80 people.

Councilors met in executive session with Par 4 owners Peter Ganacoplos and Tony Christina and were able to reach agreement, Mayor Bruce Flax said.

"I appreciate the passion of the people who go to your restaurant and the fact that they really have an emotional connection to it," Flax said. He thanked the crowd for supporting the restaurant they love.

Ganacoplos said he was grateful for the patrons' support and happy with the outcome.

"We both had a need to make this happen because it really was a lose-lose for everybody," he said of the threatened closing. "We sat down and we came to an agreement. All the details were worked out and we couldn't be happier. I don't think the town could be happier and the public is pretty happy about everything, too."

Edward Moukawsher, a Groton attorney representing the owners, also attended the executive session.

The restaurant had been threatened with closure on July 1 after negotiations stalled about a week ago. 

Bradford King, president of the Shennecossett Men's Club, said he learned of the situation on Friday evening, crafted a petition that night and collected nearly 900 signatures. "This all happened in less than three days. So I think that really speaks to the passion of this family we have here," he said.

Restaurant customers described the Par 4 owners as part of their extended family. Cynthia Hurlock Garvey said the restaurant hosted gatherings for her family after her father died four years ago and after her mother died last year.

"The only thing they wanted was to have a gathering at the Par 4," she said of her late parents. "And they took care of everything."

"This is not only a job for them. This is their livelihood, and they love it," said Sandra Sinkowski, who also held a luncheon at the Par 4 after both of her parents passed away. 

The audience had started the evening frustrated and angry over the possible nonrenewal of the lease.

"A thriving business for 30 years and they're going to kick them out? Are you kidding me?" Neil O'Brien, a cousin of one of the owners, said before the vote.

"I just don't think it's right, what they're doing to my family," said Steven Christina Jr., a second cousin of the owner. "My family has done good things for the community for 30 years."

The council had scheduled the special meeting to discuss the restaurant and negotiations between the town and the Par 4 owners, then voted to go into executive session.

"Why can't you do it here, in front of us?" said Valentino Fazi, a frequent customer of the restaurant. "Why do you think we're here?"

Audience members mumbled "chickens" and "do the right thing" as councilors filed out of the meeting room, then cheered loudly when they returned.

d.straszheim@theday.com

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