The day – What is Sailor Ed’s? The Day recounts Stonington Restaurant’s long journey in response to reader’s question
Mystic – Though now vacant, with a “For Sale” sign on its faded blue shingles and chain link fence blocking the entrance to its parking lot, this Old Stonington Road building once housed Sailors Ed’s, a thriving seafood restaurant that catered to locals. and tourists.
It has been billed as “The Shore Dinner House of Distinction”.
A Day reader recently asked what Sailor Ed was as part of the journal’s CuriousCT series. Other more recent residents started asking the same question when a man from Pawcatuck offered to reopen the restaurant last month with 100 seats and outdoor vendors. The Stonington Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a public hearing on the plan.
Located just east of the Big Y off Highway 1, Sailor’s Ed’s had a long haul from 1965 through the early 1990s. This was followed by a series of restaurants and name changes. before its latest incarnation, the Tongue and Groove nightclub, featuring a controversial sign with a large pink tongue. The building closed for good about 15 years ago.
The sprawling 10,000-square-foot, 250-seat restaurant has hundreds of parking spaces and sits on 2.6 acres of land that borders a cove.
A vintage postcard from the early 1970s shows a carefully painted white building with a fireplace and canopy. A black sign on the front with white script featured the restaurant’s name, while a flag pole displayed the American flag. Inside, there were varnished floors, light pine woodwork, fireplaces, and nautical decor such as lifebuoys and fishing nets.
The postcard stated that the restaurant served all types of Seaford and American specialties and invited the public to visit its new cocktail bar.
“Open for lunch and dinner. Air conditioning. Catering for banquets, parties and receptions. The host of Godomskys,” the postcard says.
A red and white restaurant matchbook cover features a lobster and touts Sailor Ed’s as an “unmatched shore dinner house.”
The longtime owner was Chet Godomsky and his family. Godomsky bought the building in 1965 and has built additions to it twice. In 1984, he sold it to Robert Doherty, who ran old establishments such as the Mystic River Tavern, Ryann’s Cafe in Stonington, and Seafarer Restaurant in Mystic. Doherty filed for bankruptcy a year later, and Godomsky, who held the mortgage, took over the property in 1985 after a foreclosure. Godomsky then reopened the restaurant after extensive renovations.
In 1987 Howard Wallach of Old Lyme, who owned the popular Bee and Thistle Inn in Old Lyme, bought Sailor Ed’s from Godomsky for $ 950,000. It closed for two years in the early 1990s before reopening again in 1993. In 1992 Efthymios Papakostas, owner of the former Avanti’s restaurant which closed in 2020, bought it from Union Trust Bank, which had taken it back into foreclosure. Papakostas renovated Sailor Ed’s and ran it for about a year.
In 1996, renowned restaurateurs George and Ainslie Turner of Stonington, who owned and operated the former Harbor View and Skipper Dock restaurant in the Borough of Stonington from 1969 to 1988, reopened the Sailor’s Ed space with a new menu, a new decor and a new name – the Quiambaug Loger. This restaurant closed in 1998.
From March 2000, the restaurant operated for 10 months under the name Mystic Lobster Co., a restaurant and concert hall. It remained vacant until 2004, when a Mystic man opened the Tongue and Groove Lounge, which closed the following year.
The restaurant building and property is currently owned by the Pappas Group of Bedford, NH, the principal of which is Papakostas.
Former Stonington First Selectman Rob Simmons recalled that it was his father, who was president of the Wadawanuck Club in the Borough of Stonington at the time, who gave Godomsky, a Navy veteran, a job as a cook at the club in the late 1950s.
Simmons said Godomsky cooked at the club for six or seven years, then told club officials he and his wife were going to open their own restaurant, Sailors Ed’s.
Simmons remembers often having dinner at Sailor Ed’s with his family and “always enjoying it”.
“Chet has always been very friendly and a lovely host. He always had that wonderful smile. He really loved people,” said Simmons. “And you’ve always had a great meal at a great price.”
Simmons said the restaurant caters to tourists on bus trips to Mystic during the day and serves traditional and family-friendly dinner at night.
“It was a lot of fun. Chet always went out and worked at the tables,” Simmons said.
The building operated as a restaurant for several decades before it became Sailor Ed’s. Retired Stonington Police Chief and local historian Dave Erskine recalled that he was named Clark’s before Sailor Ed’s.
Erskine said it has become a popular location for banquets and other special events, including those for city employees.
“I had my 25th class reunion there,” Erskine recalls.
He recalled that Godomsky gave police bottles of wine or liquor as a “thank you” for referring people visiting Mystic to his restaurant, which was a short drive from downtown.
“He had a great reputation,” Erskine said. “It was the place to be.”