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Jul 23, 2013
09:40 AM
The Connecticut Table

Pork Barrel Politics? Nope. A New 'Senatorial' Connecticut Pub

Pork Barrel Politics? Nope. A New 'Senatorial' Connecticut Pub

Laurie Gaboardi/The Farmington Valley Times

Roast turkey breast on grilled flatbread, with avocado aioli, crispy bacon, red onion, tomato, baby arugula, lemon and extra vigin olive oil.

It’s a staple in the plot line diet for TV shows—the guy who owns the pub is always a former police officer. But the narrative at the new Wilson’s Pub in the Collinsville section of Canton has a twist; the guy who co-owns the pub is not only a former cop but he’s also a current member of an exclusive “club” in Connecticut politics and government, the State Senate.

State Sen. Kevin Witkos is a Republican who represents the 8th District, which includes Avon, Barkhamsted, Canton, Colebrook, Granby, Hartland, Harwinton, New Hartford, Norfolk, Simsbury and Torrington.

He was also a Canton Police officer for more than two decades, before retiring as a sergeant in May 2012, when he announced his intention to purchase, renovate and re-open the Fireplace Cafe, a popular Collinsville watering hole operated by Bill Wilson since the 1960s.

The new incarnation, co-owned by Witkos and his wife, Esther, opened in late June. “Bill Wilson’s son, Jimmy Wilson, and his brother, Barry Wilson, came to the grand opening,” Witkos said.

With a photo of Bill Wilson just inside the front door, Wilson’s Pub is a diminutive space at just 1,100 square feet, with a patio offering seating for about 20.

The food is robust pub fare—and Wilson’s offers a wealth of specialty beers on a rotating basis. That inspired a beer mug club with 100 numbered, 18.5-ounce ceramic mugs emblazoned with Wilson’s Pub logo. “You buy the mug for $250, and you own it, but it stays here,” Witkos said. “For the rest of your life, a refill of draft beer will be $3.”

What does that beer help wash down?

Esther Witkos said her favorite item is the Portobello burger. “It’s different,” she said. “Normally, I’m not a mushroom fan, but I like it because it’s something different. It doesn’t taste like a mushroom."

As for the legislator, his favorite item on the menu is the mac & cheese (shown below). “I like it because it has five different cheeses, and you can’t go wrong with anything that has bacon,” he said. (OK, maybe just the right amount, or right type, of pork barrel politics.)

When they’re not enjoying the fare at their own place, the couple favors other Canton restaurants, the popular Buon Appetito, located at 50 Albany Turnpike, and Francesca’s, which opened in Collinsville last September.

Now that’s keeping business in the district and driving the local economy.

See The Farmington Valley Times’ story on Wilson’s Pub opening.

Left, Kevin and Esther Witkos.

Above, Esther and the Witkos' son, K.C., who pitches in at the pub, washing dishes.

Pork Barrel Politics? Nope. A New 'Senatorial' Connecticut Pub

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