Mike Mingolello, co-owner of One Eyed Willy’s Seafood Shack, talks about the new restaurant coming to 641 E. Main St. in Meriden on  Tuesday. Mingolello is preparing to open the business in two weeks.Photos by Dave Zajac, Record-Journal

One Eyed Willy’s Seafood Shack brings taste of the sea to Meriden

One Eyed Willy’s Seafood Shack brings taste of the sea to Meriden

MERIDEN — With the summer months approaching, seafood lovers will have a new spot to check out: One Eyed Willy’s Seafood Shack, which should open on East Main Street in about two weeks.

Foodies will be able to indulge in a plethora of fresh, fried seafood like a Lobster Bomb, baked stuffed shrimp, and fried clam strip platters. The restaurant will also offer items like alligator nuggets, Hummel Hot Dogs, special blend burgers, shrimp and grits, biscuits and gravy, daily specials, and grab and go.

“We’ll always have lobster bisque and clam chowder as well, those were some signature soups we had over at Wise Guys,” said co-owner Mike Mingolello. “Even though we focused on pizza, we started to bring seafood in and it sold extremely fast so that’s when I had the idea: Meriden doesn’t have seafood let’s bring it in and also there’s not too many breakfast spots around here either.”

One Eyed Willy’s is owned by Mingolello and his wife, Lisa Marie Augustine. They reunited with Dennis “DJ” Purvis and Dawn McMahon on the project who have been long time friends and work partners turned family.

Mingolello previously owned and operated Wise Guys Pizza for two to three years before opening Fireside on Main, a wood fire restaurant in Plantsville, in 2022.

“When the pandemic was over we figured a lot of people would be going out to eat and that just didn’t work out,” Mingolello said.

Just shy of a year being open, Mingolello closed the doors to Fireside on Main on Feb. 28 due to rent, utilities, food cost and lack of business.

“We signed the lease for this location at 641 E. Main St. in February (2023),” Mingolello said. “We chose this location because it was on the main strip on East Main Street, we’re close to Maloney (High School), and we’re kind of smack dab in the middle of west and east for everyone who loves seafood to come down.”

A full remodel was done to the approximately 1,600-square-foot space.

“This used to be Dominos and then a Mexican restaurant and there were walls everywhere and it was not functional,” Mingolello said.

The custom accent wall behind the sand colored bar, hanging lights, blue walls, and checkered tablecloths create the illusion that you have left the city and are enjoying a meal in a beautiful shack on the beach.

“I think people will enjoy a place like this. It’s different, it’s something we truly don’t have,” Economic Development Director Joseph Feest said. “There’s parking in the back, they put some seating up in front where you can actually come in, sit down and eat, they have their license for beer and things like that as well. So I think it’s a great addition to East Main Street and it will do well. I wish him great success.”

Mike Mingolello grew up in Meriden and is extremely happy to be back home.

“Being the owners of Wise Guys we were always huge in the community we like giving back. We always had a good rapport with the community and we’re going to keep it going,” Mingolello said. “And I think because seafood is mainly going to be our focus, it’s going to be successful.”

Updates for One Eyed Willy’s Seafood Shack can be found on Facebook.

“We’re certainly always looking for new eateries in the city; everyone loves a new restaurant,” said Rosanne Ford, president of the Midstate Chamber of Commerce. “And though I don’t know everything he has to offer I’ve seen some of his Facebook posts and some of the things, and I’m certainly excited.”


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