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Robby Tuttle tends bar at Cafe 181, which opened on Saturday. The restaurant, at 181 N. Colony Road in Wallingford, was formerly Sabbatical's Cafe. | Andrew Ragali / Record-Journal

New name, new look at Cafe 181 in Wallingford


WALLINGFORD — Cafe 181, named for its location at 181 N. Colony Road, has opened for business after two months of renovations.

Before the renovations, the restaurant was known as Sabbatical’s Cafe, which was first opened by Glenn Johnson in 1999. The restaurant was purchased by Al Gasser about seven years ago and remains under Gasser’s ownership.

It reopened under the new name Saturday.

There are plenty of restaurants and bars downtown competing for business, said Sharon LaRoche, Cafe 181’s manager, “that’s why we needed a change.”

The decision to renovate and rebrand Sabbatical’s Cafe was spontaneous, LaRoche said, based on an itch for change after seven years of ownership. The cafe now has a new staff, a redesigned interior and an updated menu.

LaRoche said Cafe 181 is “more like a pub atmosphere.”

The cafe will hold its grand opening the day of the Super Bowl, on Feb. 2, LaRoche said. It now offers a diverse menu of salads, wings, hot dogs, burgers, sandwiches and entre es. Along with craft beers on tap, LaRoche said the cafe will specialize in bourbons. In the near future, the cafe will have live music, she said.

The cafe’s interior is decorated in red, white and blue, for an “all-American” atmosphere, LaRoche said. Inscribed in a mirror at the rear of the bar is “Sabbatical’s Cafe,” giving customers a taste of the past.

One of the bigger changes made during the renovations, LaRoche said, was getting rid of the cafe’s dining booths. Replacing the booths are pub-style tables with tall stools.

Cafe 181 is directly across the street from property that will be developed as part of the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield commuter rail project. Construction of a new train station on North Cherry Street will begin next year, and the plot across from Cafe 181 will become a parking lot. LaRoche said she looks forward to the business that will be brought in by the station and its construction.

“That’s going to be nice,” she said.

Economic Development Commission Chairman Joe Mirra said he was glad to see the cafe “taking advantage of future upgrades in the area.”

“I commend them on their insight,” Mirra said. “I think it’s a good idea.” (203) 317-2224 Twitter: @Andyragz

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