“When I was looking for another place to open, this was available,” Tompkins said. “My roots are from South Meriden.”
The kitchen has a window connected to the bar and a second window facing River Road, which customers can use to order takeout. Tompkins said the takeout window will be open until midnight Friday, Saturday and Sunday as he hopes to cater to a late-night crowd.
“I don’t expect to have a mad rush at 11:30 but if anybody wants food, it’s kind of a niche that no one else is doing right now,” Tompkins said.
The Red Bridge Grill menu includes hamburgers, multiple flavors of chicken wings, and entrées such as shepherds pie and stuffed shells. He plans to serve fried oysters, clam strips and lobster rolls this summer.
“It’s comfort food, bar food. There’s nothing I can’t make,” Tompkins said. “I’m going to try to experiment, see what sells.”
Joe Quilty, a bartender at The Village Barn and longtime friend of Tompkins, said traffic at the bar has increased since his arrival.
“It’s been very busy since he got here, word is spreading fast about the quality of the food,” Quilty said. “Everybody knows Rick, his reputation, what he brings.”
“Most bars have to have food to retain their liquor license,” Tompkins said. “They can either do something basic, or they can really make their customers happy, generate more business for the bar. It’s a perfect fit for me.”