A three-person partnership hopes to bring new life to the former Downtown Danny O’s, the well-known drinking spot in downtown Shelton that just closed its doors.
“We want to help bring more activity to downtown,” said Chris Jones of Shelton, one of the partners.
The new owners are making some changes to the inside of the establishment, and hope to re-open with a new name in the next few months.
They plan to redesign the place a bit, adding a brick oven pizza and putting dining tables in the bar room on the right to encourage more people to eat there.
“This is an opportunity,” Jones said.
They also are looking for help in renaming the former Downtown Danny O’s, which had been in business since 2001.
To get public input, they have set up a website (www.NameOurBar.com) to accept suggested names.
“Be a part of it by helping us name the new bar!,” states the website, which is being promoted through business cards and a billboard on Route 34 in Derby, close to the Shelton border.
Closing on business was last week
“We’re doing some cleaning up,” Jones said on Saturday as he, co-owner Tim Connors of Seymour and others cleaned and moved around certain fixtures and furniture as part of the refurbishing effort.
The third co-owner prefers to remain anonymous for now.
The new owners closed on the business late last week, purchasing it from brothers Danny and Dave Orazietti. The Oraziettis remain owners of the three-story building at 441 Howe Ave., which also includes four apartments.
Jones is well known in Shelton as an Echo Hose volunteer firefighter and through his involvement in politics, having served as an alderman and ran twice for mayor.
His skills as the owner of a hardwood floor refinisher and installer will come in handy during the establishment’s renovation. Jones also had worked as a bartender in the late 1980s when he served in the Army, after graduating from Shelton High School in 1985.
Keeping it with ‘local guys’
“I grew up with the Oraziettis,” Jones said of the well-known local family. “I’ve known Danny since he was in high school. It was nice that they decided to keep it with local guys because I know there was outside interest. He gave us the first shot.”
He said the Orazietti brothers had been running the place for a long time, and wanted to move on.
Danny Orazietti said he thinks the new owners have what it takes to run a successful bar and food establishment. “They should do well,” he said.
Danny Orazietti will continue to operate the original Danny O’s Bar & Grille on River Road in Shelton.
Old wooden bar will remain in place
The new owners have plenty of ideas for the place, which Jones said he — like most Shelton residents — patronized on many occasions through the years.
The old wooden bar in the room on the right will remain in place, although a newer back corner will be removed to allow for more dining tables.
Jones said part of the lease with the Orazietti requires that the original wooden bar, which dates back to the 1800s, remains in place.
“It’s the nostalgic side. This is history. If that bar could talk…,” said Jones, with a smile.
They hope to put more of an emphasis on food. The goal is to make this room a place for all ages, placing a quantity of large-screen TV screens on a wall to watch sporting events.
Other room and upstairs
The pool tables and dart boards will be moved into the newer room on the left, which has the garage doors that open to the front outdoor patio. A copper bar top may be added in the newer room.
Upstairs, in what has been known as the Green Room, they may turn one section into a video game area with reclining chairs and a large screen. They hope to attract people in their 20s and 30s who want to play football, car racing and other video games while sharing drinks with friends.
The second floor also could become a place for special activities such as acoustic music nights, comedy shows and corporate functions. There is an upstairs rear patio, which is convenient for patrons who smoke.
Many fond memories
Jones remembers Downtown Danny O’s fondly, saying it had the feel of a neighborhood bar, a place where you could meet with friends and run into old acquaintances.
“Being right in the center of town, I would go there since it opened,” he said.
Before being restored by the Oraziettis, the bar had other names — including Sully’s and Rapp’s.
Jones noted one Downtown Danny O’s tradition that won’t change with the new ownership. The Christmas lights and related decorations will still go up at holiday time, with the Oraziettis having left them for the new owners.
“It’s the best-looking place at Christmas time,” Jones said.