|By G. Michael Dobbs
Bill Stetson, the owner of the new Collegian Court, is seen here with his general manager Kerry Robak in front of the restaurant’s refurbished bar.
Reminder Publications photo by G. Michael Dobbs
CHICOPEE – As new owner Bill Stetson walked around the Collegian Court restaurant pointing out the work he has done to re-open the Chicopee landmark, one can see the new version of the eatery is a mix of the old and the new.
After buying the property Stetson started renovations, undertaking much of the work himself. This week, the restaurant re-opened for lunch and dinner.
Stetson’s tour started in the bar area. He called attention to the fact that he retained the original tile floors and the redwood wall panels, but added a wine rack where the service window used to be that displays 181 bottles of win.
He has retained the bar’s original railing but made the bar wider for customers who would like to eat in the bar while watching one of the several flat screen television that have been installed.
Stetson has added new wood floors to replace old carpeting and added new booths.
The ceiling has even been replaced with a new tin tile surface and changes to the rest room include constructing one that is handicapped accessible, something the former layout didn’t have.
By the entrance near the park lot, there is another nod to the past. Stetson said, “I was told there had been a booth here where everyday the police chief, the mayor and the president of Chicopee Savings Bank used to have lunch back in the 1960s.”
He removed coat racks and cabinets in the spot and added a booth.
Inside the main dining room, Stetson removed and refinished the trademark wagon wheel light fixtures, cleans and refinished the wooden panels walls. He had the fireplace inspected and cleaned and he intends to use it in the winter months.
In the kitchen he has installed new equipment.
For events, a portable dance floor can be assembled, he added.
Walking out into the courtyard, Stetson and his general manager Kerry Robak explained the wooden walls and trusses have been removed and come next spring a new concrete pad will be poured.
Stetson said the last remodeling for the restaurant was in 1961 when it was first opened. Previous to the Collegian Court, he explained, part of the building had been a bakery while the other was The Post Office Club.
The signature pumpkin bread has been maintained on the menu, which Stetson said has been modified.
“Seventy prevent of it is traditional American food, 15 to 20 percent is classic Polish and the rest are plates that are combinations,” he said.
He said there has been some experimentation to combine Polish and non-Polish ingredients in hybrid dishes. Stetson noted a hash made with kielbasa, pepperoni pierogis and kapusta-stuffed chicken.
He added with a smile there has been a lot of tasting sessions at his home.
Stetson said the new Collegian Court would be open seven days a week.
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