Milford's Bees Knees Café to close in December, owner plans to relocate

Photo of Abby Weiss

The staff members of Milford's Bees Knees café have been “stung” by bad news. 

The quaint café is closing on Dec. 31 after three years in the Walnut Beach area, its staff members announced on Sunday.

“When we first opened our doors in November 2019, we never could have expected the outpouring of love and support that we’ve received from our beautiful community & beyond over the last three years,” they wrote in an Instagram post.

Owner Nancy Burke said her landlord, Susan Patrick, who owns the Walnut Beach Creamery, informed her in November that her three-year lease would not be renewed and Patrick plans to use the space to expand her creamery. 

When Burke asked for more time to relocate, Patrick gave her an additional two weeks until the beginning of January, she said. Burke said that still wasn't ample time to find another location and she wishes Patrick notified her sooner. 

“We were so heartbroken. We were so dismayed because we have been an ideal tenant. We brought a lot to the warmth of the beach area and did everything that was asked of us,” Burke said. “We're going to stay in the Christmas spirit and stay positive. They then move forward.”

Patrick said she's offered to help Burke relocate and has sent suggestions for places in the area to look into. 

"I wish [Burke] all the best and I hope that she reopens in the neighborhood," she said.

Burke has been in the restaurant business for 30 years, having owned a few restaurants in Fairfield County and her family’s Ridgefield-based catering business, Thirty-Three & 1/3. She and the family plan to continue catering when they have time.

To offset relocating and storage costs, she and the staff are creating a cookbook of Bees Knees recipes featuring illustrations from the front manager, Abbey Innamorato, Burke said. 

Her goal is to find another location in the Walnut Beach area.  

“We love the community,” she said. “We know about the community. We know when it's somebody's birthday, we know when somebody's getting married and we know when somebody has a death in their family. We have people who come in every day. They're the bee's knees.”

Burke moved to Milford from Ridgefield 15 years ago and opened the café in 2019, the day after Thanksgiving. Her late mother, who spread the love of cooking to her family, used to tell her kids, “You’re the bee’s knees.”

She and the café staff members have decorated the cozy space in bumblebee colors of black and yellow and with signs with encouraging messages. All of the café’s menu items, except for the bread, are made from scratch. 

Burke said her favorite part about running the café was arriving early in the morning to bake and looking forward to seeing customers.

“We really feel honored to have been a part of everybody's lives who came in the door,” she said.