DEEP RIVER – Two new eateries have recently opened in Deep River Center, Dunkin’ Donuts and ‘du Glaze French Restaurant and Bakery.

Dunkin’ Donuts opened in the Elms Building, a former rooming house, while ‘du Glaze opened in the former Mike’s Bakery.

First Selectman Dick Smith said both restaurants add to the character of Main Street and have already attracted residents from the nearby towns of Essex, Chester, and Haddam.

Smith does not expect either restaurant will hurt existing nearby businesses.

Some of the people from the other breakfast restaurants will go to Dunkin’ Donuts but some Dunkin’ Donuts customers may decide to go to other places for breakfast,” Smith said.

Many of those visiting those restaurants already drive on Main Street, which is part of Route 154, so Smith does not expect a drastic increase in traffic.

Smith said Dunkin’ Donuts has a following and that customers who used to drive to Old Saybrook will instead stop in Deep River and patronize nearby businesses after getting their Dunkin’ Donuts treats.

As for ‘du Glaze, Smith believes this restaurant adds a unique element to downtown and that the restaurant is expected to open new outdoor patio seating surrounded by an iron rail.

Since there is little on-site parking, Smith encourages customers to utilize the municipal parking lot behind the library and, during the evenings, to park over at the banks.

Smith said the new businesses have added to the town’s tax base, hired local residents, and met his overall goal for the town.

“I want people walking up and down Deep River Center, our goal is to make the village business district stronger,” Smith said.

The town expects retail and offices will soon open in the Elms Building next to Dunkin’ Donuts which will be “less intensive” than the donut shop.

Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman Jonathan Kastner said it is unlikely a second food establishment will open in the Elms Building.

Parking, Smith said, should not be a problem since customers can utilize a new access road that will connect that parking area to a new Walgreens Pharmacy and adjacent 40-space municipal parking lot.

Both the Walgreens and the parking lot are expected to open in March or April.

This will change the traffic flow of the area making the driveway north of the Elms Building an entrance only while the driveway between Walgreens and the Elms Building will be an exit only.

Customers will be able to enter and exit the new municipal parking lot on Elm Street and Main Street.

Smith believes traffic flow will improve even more when Shore Discount Liquors moves out of the Deep River Shopping Center and into the former Swan Funeral Home.

This will result in the second vacant retail space in the center after Trudee’s Treasures closed in 2007 but Smith expects the spaces will not be vacant for long.

After Walgreens opens, Smith expects an increase in downtown pedestrian traffic leading to increased business for all Deep River Center stores and restaurants.

“We have a really strong business district here. Many stores are run by great people, we want people to stay here and spend their money,” Smith said.

In total, Smith said millions of dollars have been invested with the Walgreens and Elms Building projects and that hundreds of thousands of dollars have been invested for the ‘du Glaze Restaurant.

A proposed streetscape plan for Main Street, which will include brick walkways and lighting, should be completed by the summer, Smith said.
Funding for that plan comes from a STEAP grant received from the state.

The only stalled project in town is a proposed relocated and expanded Cumberland Farms convenience store with gasoline station.

Smith said the town has spent over $70,000 defending itself in court after several residents filed appeals.

The Superior Court upheld the Planning and Zoning Commission’s decision to approve the project and Smith is hopeful that the Appellate Court also will side with the commission allowing the project to become a reality.

Smith believes the Cumberland Farms project will beautify the town through the creation of a convenience store building with colonial elements, increased landscaping and the demolition of an abandoned former hardware store.