SOUTHINGTON – After being closed for nearly a year and a half, Cadillac Ranch owner Graham Nicholson is looking to reopen his dance hall and restaurant in a few days.
With dancing and bar sales prohibited under Gov. Ned Lamont’s pandemic restrictions, Graham said it didn’t make sense to stay open and just sell food. He closed up, reconfigured his insurance policy to cover only the basics and waited for the restrictions to lift.
Cadillac Ranch is now set to open on Tuesday.
Even though bar sales and other prohibitions lifted earlier this year, Graham said it’s taken time to get Cadillac Ranch back up and running. He had to throw away all his food and nearly all his alcohol. One walk-in cooler that had been turned off didn’t restart. A bar had to be repaired along with water damage from a malfunctioning toilet.
“Unfortunately we found there were few more cobwebs in the mix than we thought, but we’re almost there and we still have our eyes set on Tuesday,” Graham said.“We’re on a target, we’re going to do it.”
Regulars have contacted him frequently about reopening. When Graham let people know there was finally a date, there was a lot of social media buzz.
“I must get 75 to over 100 emails, Facebook messages a day,” Graham said. “When are you opening, when are you opening?”
Parking lot dances
While indoor dancing was prohibited, it didn’t stop dedicated line dancers from using Cadillac Ranch’s parking lot. Graham said he didn’t organize the dances but regulars got their own DJ’s and used the property.
Jeanmarie Montabana, a Trumbull resident and regular at Cadillac Ranch for more than 20 years, said line dancing is a perfect socially distanced activity. Dancers don’t touch, and to remain even more distant they drew large chalk squares on the asphalt during dances.
“Everybody had their space,” she said.
Montabana and others held dances until November when it became too cold and the group moved to various VFW halls. She said there are few other places to line dance and that the community is tight.
“It’s like a big family, everybody knows everybody,” Montabana said.
She’s planning to be at Cadillac Ranch for Tuesday’s opening.
Remodeling and reopening
Graham owns the building at 45 Jude Lane, which he said saved Cadillac Ranch during the pandemic. Without a mortgage payment, he was able to trim other expenses and put the business on hold until better times.
He’s now faced with some large bills to restock the restaurant, pay for music licenses and replace the roof. He was encouraged by how excited regulars were to come back, though.
Cadillac Ranch will be open from Tuesday to Saturday.