HARWINTON >> Jerry Czyz’s bright idea to expand his restaurant has resulted in a much-needed addition to the local dining scene.
The Edison Grill is bigger and better in just about every way, and the new edition of the restaurant has been a hit since opening about three weeks ago, he said.
The Edison Grill story started in August 2013 when Czyz opened the eatery in the location that housed the Birge Park Luncheonette for nearly 40 years. At the time, the Edison Grill served breakfast and lunch and started to gain a steady following for its good food and good service.
Czyz was working for both Eastside Electric and managing the Edison Grill. Just four months into owning the restaurant, Czyz was in a bad car accident in front of the building. But from what could have been a tragedy came triumph.
After multiple surgeries and continuing rehab, Czyz came to the realization that he wouldn’t be able to continue his previous role at Eastside Electric. While out of commission for about a year, Czyz started thinking about the Edison Grill and its future and decided to pursue his idea of a newer and bigger place.
“The opportunity to expand was here, and I decided we should roll with it,” Czyz said. “It has its challenges, but I can still run a restaurant. It’s not the same physical work I had been doing before.”
While the “old” Edison Grill was open, work started on the new space. The evolution included adding dinner to the menu, with breakfast being scaled back to weekends. There is a full bar, stocked with quality bottles and 10 brews on tap. The kitchen is new and there are seating areas at the bar, the counter near the kitchen as well as table and booth seating.
There was only a three-day shutdown between the switch, and the new and improved Edison Grill opened on May 21. While the new space was being built, the Edison Grill remained open for breakfast and lunch in what is now the previous space next door.
“It’s a lot bigger and things have been going really well,” Czyz said.
So well, in fact, that the restaurant has grown from eight to 25 employees and shows no signs of slowing down.
The name of the restaurant comes from trying to tie something in to Eastside Electric, which occupies most of the building and is owned by Czyz’s farther-in-law, Greg Mele. Thomas Edison is front and center in the interior with photographs, quotes and other memorabilia of the famed inventor displayed throughout the restaurant.
“It’s catchy, people like the name, let’s go to Edison’s,” Czyz said. “And with Eastside Electric here as well, what goes with electricity better than the lightbulb?”
As far as the menu, the meatloaf, mac and cheese and fresh-ground burgers are among the favorites and Czyz is looking forward to serving those and other Amercian pub food favorites for years to come.
“I love it. You have to love being in the restaurant business and nothing is better than pleasing the customers,” Czyz said. “The quality and freshness of the food is there and it’s what helped get us to this point.”
Edison move adds full bar, more choices
HARWINTON — Thomas Edison is in the details at the newly reopened Edison Grill.
Traces of the famed inventor can be found in the custom light fixtures, on the walls that display some of his most famous quotes, in original antique photographs and on a sheet of stamps bearing his face.
Patrons might even find him at the bottom of an Edison margarita.
“What you’ve got here is a one-of-a-kind restaurant,” Jeremiah Czyz said Wednesday as he stood in the middle of his restaurant two hours before the lunch rush.
The Edison Grill used to be on the other side of East Side Electric in a smaller space, and Czyz worked for both businesses. But after a car crash and four surgeries, he was forced to focus on the business that didn’t require heavy lifting.
So he and his wife, Michelle — the dietitian behind many of the grill’s recipes — moved the business to the larger space. They also added a dinner service, a full bar and 14 other employees, including multiple bartenders. Their grand opening was May 21.
Czyz said he couldn’t have done it without Michelle, who does billing and training, in addition to coming up with recipes.
“Basically all the important stuff,” he said.
The restaurateur said he’s working out some of the kinks while transitioning from being in charge of eight employees to 22. He said he decided to stop serving breakfast during the week so he could focus on the quality of the food. “It’s a work in progress,” Czyz said.
He recommended people try the macaroni and cheese, which has been a big hit so far. He also said people rave about the burgers. To try more than one menu item, Czyz suggested getting a few things from the small plates menu.
The grill’s name was inspired in part by its proximity to East Side Electric. “You think of electricity, you think of a light bulb,” Czyz said.
Town residents have responded positively to Edison Grill’s move next door and its new look, he said. On Thursday evening, before the eatery opened, there was a line all the way down to their previous storefront, he noted.
Greg Mele, of East Side Electric and Czyz’s father-inlaw, had a hand in decorating the place.
Czyz said Mele enjoys hunting for vintage finds, and helped fill the restaurant with Edison-related collectibles.
“There’s a lot of love in this restaurant,” Czyz said.
Customers can spot an original Edison phonograph and vintage soda taps carefully placed in the room.
They also can try one of the grill’s 10 craft beers on tap, hand-selected wine or a specialty cocktail. Czyz said he took a bartending class so he could make informed decisions about his drink menu, and he personally picked out every liquor.
“I believe in the quality,” he said. “I don’t believe in selling cheap stuff.”
It took months and a lot of hard work to renovate the new Edison Grill. Here’s a video slideshow showing the progress over time for the bar, kitchen and dining room.