Restaurants: Were there more per person in the old days?

PR Restuant chart sized.indd

 

The Stonehenge Inn off Route 7 was established in the late 1940s.

The Stonehenge Inn off Route 7 was established in the late 1940s.

The year was 1955. The town’s population was 6,200.

There were two schools, two banks, no supermarkets and the ZIP code was not yet in use.

Back then, there were 17 restaurants in Ridgefield — one for every 365 people. Today in Ridgefield there is roughly one restaurant for every 535 people, suggesting that for the size of the town there were actually more restaurants 60 years ago.

Some restaurant owners have suggested that today the supply exceeds the demand — the piece of the pie is getting smaller and smaller. And a perception that restaurants are a significant part of the town’s commercial base underlies the current discussion about limiting the number mobile food vendors — food trucks and carts — that are licensed by the town.

There is no standard number of the ideal supply to meet demand — there are simply too many variables and market forces at play. Ridgefield also serves as something of a commercial hub for some residents nearby towns with less of a center, like Redding and North Salem.

Toward the close of the 1950s, the town started to grow quickly and by 1965 the population was 15,000, more than doubling in 10 years. From then to today, there has been population growth, but not as fast and furious. The number of restaurants has also grown.

Over the 60 years, research by The Press indicates, Ridgefield went from 6,200 people and 17 restaurants in 1955 to 24,600 people and 46 restaurants in 2015.

The decade by decade count shows 1975 with the lowest density of restaurants against population — one for every 703 people.

Here’s the progression: 1955 — 17 restaurants, 6,200 people, one restaurant for every 365 people; 1965 — 24 restaurants, 15,000 people, one for every 625; 1975 — 27 restaurants, 19,000 people, one for every 704; 1985 — 32 restaurants, 20,000 people, one for every 625; 1995 — 42 restaurants, 22,000 people, one every 524; 2005 — 45 restaurants, 24,000 people, one for every 533 people; 2015 — 46 restaurants, 24,600 people, one for every 535.

Following is a listing of the restaurants in town at 10-year intervals starting in 1955.

Only two restaurants from 1955 continue in the same location, Stonehenge and Bernard’s. Both have had multiple owners and Bernard’s has had names changes, including Tode’s Inn originally and then the Inn at Ridgefield.

Joe’s Hideaway, now the Hideaway, is the next oldest restaurant location, followed by the Ancient Mariner.

Since this list offers snapshots in time, there will be many restaurants readers may recall that are not on the list, restaurants that have come and gone in between the 10-year periods when the counts were taken from Press records, compiled by archivist Jack Sanders.

Not included as “restaurants” are doughnut or bagel shops, bakeries, ice cream stores or coffee shops (like Starbucks). It does include delis like Genoa, which has a large seating area, all three Subway shops, pizza places and menued cafes like Tazza.

Does Ridgefield have too many restaurants? What are your thoughts? Post your thoughts here.

 

1955

Pop. 6,200

The town’s population was 6,200. Here are the restaurants The Press archives came up with for that year:

Angelo’s

Blue Feather

Cella

Circle Luncheonette

Colonial Steak

The Elms Inn

Fife And Drum

Fox Hill Inn

King Neptune

Le Bretagne

Mary’s

BV Ranch

Outpost Inn

Ridgefield Diner

Santini’s

Stonehenge

Tode’s Inn at Ridgefield

 

1965
Pop. 15,000

 

Stonehenge

The Elms Inn

Tode’s Inn at Ridgefield

Luigi’s

Colonial Steakhouse

Circle Diner

The Alibi

Fox Hill Inn

Carboni’s Kozy Knook

The Family Room

King Neptune

Nina’s

Ridge Bowl

Rickshaw

Ridgefield Diner

Valtiero’s

Fife and Drum

Joe’s Hideaway

Angelo’s

Blue Feather

Poncho’s

Ridgefield Luncheonette

Santini’s

Steak Barn

 

1975
Pop. 19,000

Alibi

Ancient Mariner

Chuck Wagon

Country Club House

Stonehenge

The Elms

Inn at Ridgefield

Dragon Inn

Friar Tuck

Friendly’s

Girolametti’s (Ice House)

Hungry Knight

King Neptune

La Chandelle (Michael’s)

Luigi’s

Nina’s

Perp’s

Red Lion

Ridgefield Coffee Shop

Roma Pizzeria

Smalley House

Venice

Sherlocks

 

1985
Pop. 20,000

Ancient Mariner

Anthony’s Red Lion

Café Natural

Connolly’s Steak/Seafood

Dana’s Restaurant

Elms Inn

Food Chandler

Friendly

Galloway’s Pub

Inn at Ridgefield

King Neptune

Le Coq Hardi

Lotus

Luigi’s

Nina’s

Pickles

Ridgefield Coffee Shop

Roma

Rusty Nail

Stonehenge

Tahiti East

Touchstone’s

Tower of Pizza

Venice

Winkl’s Restaurant

Gaddis

Entrez Vous

Scrimshaw’s

Sacco

Ice House

Hungry Knight

Joe’s Store

 

1995
Pop. 22,000

Amici’s Restaurant

Ancient Mariner

Biscotti

Boston Chicken

Abstract Grill

Bully’s

Corner Pub

Dimitri’s Diner

Dragon Palace

Duchess

Early Bird

The Elms

Franzese

Gail’s Station House

Inn at Ridgefield

King Neptune

La Florentina

Lotus

Mandarin House

Mannen

Moody’s Café

Nina’s

Chez Noue (Terra Sole)

Pizza Hut

Red Lion

Ridgefield Coffee Shop

Ridgefield General Store

Ridgefield Pizza

Roma

Rusty Nail

Sam’s Grill

Southwest Café

Spagone

Stonehenge

Subway

Venice

Genoa

33⅓ at Copps Hill (Pickles)

East Ridge Café

Joe’s Store

 

2005
Pop. 24,000

Ancient Mariner

Café Svago

Caputo’s East Ridge Café

Dimitri’s

Early Bird

Elms

Empire Szechuan

Fifty Coins (Upstream)

59 Bank Street

Gringo Café (Sagi)

Koo (Old Bully’s)

La Saliere (Terra Sole)

Mannen

Pizza Hut

Planet Pizza

Southwest Café

Spagone

Subway (2)

Thai Pearl

The Catch

The Corner Pub

The Sand Wedge

Toscana

Venice

Bernard’s (Inn at Ridgefield)

Wild Ginger

Stonehenge

The Grill (golf course)

Bailey’s Backyard

Gail’s

Insieme

Luc’s

Piccolo

Village Pizza

John’s Best pizza

Bar & Grill

Genoa

Poncho & Gringo’s

Subway #2

Bartolo

J + J’s Gathering Place

Patisserie

Red Lion (Closed mid 2005)

Joe’s Store

 

2015
Pop. 24,600

Ancient Mariner

Bartolo

Dimitri’s (Prospect)

Early Bird

John’s Best

Luc’s

Luna Rosa

Mannen

Prime Burger

Prospector

Subway (#1)

Gyro on Pita

Tiger’s Den

Toscana

V Thai

Venice

Village Pizza

Planet Pizza

Wild Ginger

Wooster Hollow Café

Bare Burger

Dog + Pony (Bissell House)

Bernard’s

Stonehenge

Fifty Coins

Bailey’s

Bar and Grill

Hoodoo Brown

Empire Szechuan

Genoa

Little Pub

Ritz Asia

Terra Sole

Southwest Café

Tom Tom’s

Yuan Asia

Cellar Door

Gallo

850 Pizza

Hideaway

Subway #2

Subway #3

Jersey Mike’s Subs

Tazza

Golf course

Joe’s store (now Tony’s Corner Deli)

 

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  • Townie

    It’s not a matter of having too many restaurants; it’s more about having affordable options. Every restaurant doesn’t need to be a dog and pony show – just good food at a reasonable price.

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