The Day – Stonington commission approves new plan for Sailor Ed ownership

Mystic – The Stonington Planning and Zoning Commission on Tuesday approved a new plan for the former Sailor Ed property which calls for the construction of a new retail and storage building and the demolition of half of the existing building , with longtime restaurateur Jon Kodama opening his Go Fish restaurant in the remaining half.

The refurbished restaurant, at 29 Old Stonington Road, would seat 125 and the plan provides for the required number of parking spaces. Go Fish is now located in Olde Mistick Village.

The type of commercial use for the new building has yet to be decided, according to project engineer Sergio Cherenzia, who presented the plan to the commission at a public hearing on Tuesday.

After the hearing, at which no member of the public spoke, the commission unanimously approved the special use permit requested by applicant George Secchiaroli of Pawcatuck.

“It’s a big improvement there,” committee chairman Ben Philbrick told Cherenzia after the vote.

Commissioner Lynn Conway expressed concern about creating more traffic on Old Stonington Road for the Quiambaug Fire Department located across the street. The street is often lined with cars visiting the Dog Watch Mystic restaurant. City planner Keith Brynes said the fire district has not commented on the plan.

Trees, shrubs and landscaping will also be added to the site, which now includes a large crumbling asphalt lot. Commission members suggested adding more landscaping and demanded that a landscaped island be installed between the two buildings.

Located just east of the Big Y off Route 1, Sailor Ed’s had a long career from 1924 through the 1990s, billing itself as “the Shore Dinner House of Distinction.” It was popular with locals and tourists. A series of new owners followed before the last tenant, the Tongue and Groove nightclub, closed for good some 15 years ago. It has been vacant ever since.

Kodama is considered by many to be the dean of Southeast Connecticut’s restaurant scene. As well as Steak Loft and Go Fish in Mystic, he owns the waterfront restaurant Breakwater in Stonington Borough. He is also collaborating with Colt Taylor, owner of the Old Saybrook restaurant, on an outdoor restaurant project called Smoke on the Water on the site of Kodama’s former Dock & Dine restaurant at Old Saybrook Point. This restaurant was badly damaged by Hurricane Irene in 2011 and then Superstorm Sandy a year later.

Go Fish opened in 1996, but in 2017 its square footage was reduced from 13,200 to 5,817 square feet and seating capacity was reduced from 350 to just over 200 as its original lease expired and a part of its space having been taken by a financial services company. Go Fish was renovated at this time.

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