WALLINGFORD — Christian Rao, owner of the downtown restaurant J. Christian’s, is looking to quell rumors that he plans to sell the business.
“Technically, it’s not for sale,” Rao said. “But if someone comes along and says, ‘hey I’m going to give you a good price for your restaurant’ — I’m going to listen.”
Around Christmas, someone said the business was going to close in a post on Facebook that was later deleted.
After that, Rao said, some seemed to believe he was closing or selling the North Main Street restaurant.
“It really spread like wildfire,” said Rao, who also owns Cafe Ra, right around the corner at 350 Center St.
A few people even approached him about buying the restaurant, but “they kind of low balled it or they were not in the restaurant business,” Rao said.
“It’s just always been my philosophy that your business should always be for sale,” he said. “If someone wants to buy your business, that means you’re doing a good job.”
But Rao has no immediate plans to close or sell.
He recently signed a five-year renewal option on the lease for the building at 9 N. Main St.
Rao opened J. Christian’s in 2011. It is ranked as the number one downtown Wallingford restaurant on Yelp.
The restaurant and lounge offers an American-style menu with many traditional southern entrees and is located in a renovated 1920’s bank building.
“There’s a uniqueness to the style of his building,” said Tim Ryan, the town’s economic development specialist.
The building used to house the Wallingford Electric Division, as well as a bookstore, Ryan said.
“It’s one of Wallingford’s historical buildings that has converted very nicely into a restaurant,” he said.
Rao said that if he were to sell the business, he would look for a buyer that planned to “keep some of the nostalgic feel to” the restaurant.
Jonathan Harris, a North Carolina native who led the restaurant’s kitchen for six years, is returning to the restaurant after being away for two years.
“He's really excited to come back and get back to his Southern roots,” Rao said.