Mike Recchia, an experienced restaurant owner in years past, was looking to get back in the business - and Shelton provided the perfect location.

Recchia’s search led him to 350 Bridgeport Avenue, the former home of the Drafthouse bar and grill several years ago. After months of renovation work, at a cost in the thousands of dollars, a revamping of the menu, and adding to the liquor and craft beer selection, Stormy’s Bull & Barley was born.

“I really wanted to bring this place back to what it used to be,” said Recchia, who held a formal grand opening - even though the business never closed during the renovation process - last month.

“The Drafthouse did well for years here. I was told business slipped here in the years after the Drafthouse sold to new owners. I just want to bring the people back, and hopefully take this to new heights,” added Recchia, a Fairfield resident who once owned an Italian restaurant in Stamford.

Prior to Recchia’s purchasing the business, the interior was essentially split in two, with a large wall cutting off the long bar area from the restaurant seating section. Recchia said this closed concept also prevented employees in the bar area from seeing people enter the establishment.

The wall was lower by more than half, the drop ceiling was removed and a new, open ventilation system was installed, which led to a more open space. Next, according to Recchia, was installation of a garage door off the side of the building, which when opened leads to a new patio seating area with gas fire pit.

“It definitely adds a wow factor,” said Recchia. “People come in here and are amazed at what we have done.”

Recchia said once the major renovations were complete, he turned to changing the once dull interior design into an area spotted with flat-screen televisions and sports memorabilia. Recchia said that was when Stormy’s Bull & Barley became the newest sports bar along Bridgeport Avenue.

"It was pretty blah,” said Recchia about the old interior. “We didn’t have TVs, there was no memorabilia. It was just a basic restaurant and bar … unappealing. People want to come into a restaurant, of course have good food, but you want to walk out saying it was a cool place with great atmosphere. I believe we have created that here.”

The craft beer selection will be diverse, said Recchia, as will the menu, which had been basically a “burger place” under the previous ownership. The new menu features wings and burgers - like the Bull burger and the Truffle burger - as well as salads and entrees, from fish and chips to Lobster mac to Atlantic salmon. Recchia said offering a children’s menu was also key to helping bring back patrons.

“We wanted to have simple but good dishes,” said Recchia, “and bringing in the parents with children is important. We are trying to reach a wide audience. We are here for the long haul. Shelton is a rapidly developing community, and we want to be a part of that.”

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com