CHESHIRE — Rose Dairy has received approval from the Planning and Zoning Commission to proceed with the construction of a new pavilion over its outdoor seating area, something the business hopes will improve the customer experience and extend its season later into the year.
Located at 906 South Main St., Rose Dairy has been operated seasonally for 18 years by brothers Jim and Joe Barbato and offers burgers, hot dogs, and a variety of soft-serve ice cream flavors.
The restaurant has no indoor seating, only an outdoor patio area adjacent to the building with several tables. With the construction of the pavilion area, which will begin sometime in early April and wrap up later that month, the restaurant hopes to bring people out even during rainy or sweltering summer weather.
The freestanding structure will be built out of wood and have built-in fans to keep guests cool in the summer, while during the autumn season heaters will be brought in — the shelter keeping the area warm for the diners present. It’s the hope of the brothers that versatility will allow them to stay open longer throughout the year.
“We're just looking to maximize the experience of our customers coming here and when the weather's not perfect, it's gonna make it more enjoyable to sit out here,” James Barbato said.
For seasonal restaurants such as Rose Dairy, which is open eight months a year, it’s essential to make the most of the time they are open. With no interior dining space, the restaurant hopes the improvement to the exterior space will allow people to linger longer and draw bigger crowds.
The expansion was met with unanimous approval from the Planning and Zoning Commission. Member were encouraged to see the growth of the local business. The restaurant industry has experienced supply chain issues since the pandemic in 2019, causing a rise in food costs that have led to the closure of many local restaurants. In the Plantsville center section of Southington, north of Cheshire, two major restaurants closed their doors within weeks of each other in February.
The continued success of Rose Dairy, said Earl Kurtz III, chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission, is a benefit not only to the strip of businesses around them but the community as a whole.
“It's a great thing. It just shows that obviously, the Cheshire people are supporting Cheshire business and it's great. It's a nice little plaza there. …There's a lot right there to choose from, and I'm glad to see they're all thriving,” Kurtz said. “Obviously we want to help a Cheshire business do better, that's why we approved it.”
That community support has been vital to Rose Dairy’s continued success, and with the addition of the pavilion, the owners hope to give back a little to the customers who have stuck by them for the past 18 years.
“We're a seasonal business that's open for eight months out of the year, so it's really just trying to make the most of the time we're open when the Cheshire community comes here,” Barbato said, “They've been supportive of us for a long time. Our family's been in the restaurant industry, so we have a lot of experience in that and we're just happy we get to serve the community a quality product, and we've gotten to know a lot of our customers really well over the years. It's just great to build relationships with the people that live in Cheshire.”