Rocky Hill Teen Buys Dockside Restaurant, Calls It Ferry Grill & Chill – Hartford Courant
A Rocky Hill restaurant that offers one of the best views in Hartford County — and sits just off the nation’s oldest continuously operating ferry — is now owned by perhaps Connecticut’s youngest restaurateur.
Sarah Bezdelovs, 19, a 2021 graduate of Rocky Hill High School, bought Ferry Park Grill, located on the shores of the Rocky Hill Glastonbury Ferry, from its former owner.
When the new Bezdelovs sign is installed, the lunch and dinner hut will have a new name: The Ferry Grill & Chill. The restaurant opens for the season today.
“I grew up in Rocky Hill. This place is where everyone comes – young people, old people, people who want to eat or people who just want to watch the water. I came here all the time to fish with my dad,” Bezdelovs said.
Just seven weeks after graduating from high school, Bezdelovs got a real estate license. She now works at Berkshire Hathaway in Glastonbury. She also works as a waiter and bartender at Maggie McFly’s in Glastonbury, but takes a temporary break from that job to start The Ferry Grill & Chill.
“I will keep trying new things until I find what works for me,” she said. “I don’t want to be limited to just one thing.”
The opportunity to take over the restaurant suddenly presented itself and she jumped at the chance.
“I’m a very impulsive person. It was a good opportunity and I didn’t want to deprive myself of it,” she said.
Bezdelovs will be in the kitchen alongside his team of around six people. Its chef is Sam Wilder, 20, of West Hartford. Wilder has just completed the acclaimed culinary program at Johnson & Wales University in Providence. He still has two years to complete the restaurant entrepreneurship program.
“My ambition is to own my own restaurant. This is the first job where I get to be the cook. It happened earlier than expected,” Wilder said.
“He’s passionate and good at what he does. He thrives in a kitchen,” Bedzelovs said.
Bezdelovs worked at the hut in previous seasons, at the counter and register and, at 16, in accounting. Wilder is also a shack veteran, working weekends while school was in session and summers full-time.
The Ferry Grill & Chill will be open seven days a week until the weather cools, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. It sells lobster rolls, lobster grilled cheese, and lobster mac and cheese—all market prices—as well as grilled salmon ($24), sea scallops ($28), grilled shrimp ($24) and fried platters of shrimp, clam strips, and fish and chips, each for $14. The sandwiches are BLTs, Chicken Sandwiches, Chicken Caesar Wraps and Tuna Fondues for $12, Shrimp Po Boy for $14, and Grilled Cheese for $8. Cheeseburgers, veggie burgers, and a “brunch burger” with bacon, eggs, and cheese are $12 each. A soul burger, with BBQ sauce, macaroni and cheese and onion ring, costs $14. Hot dogs are $6. The hut also serves soups, salads, fries, onion rings, calamari, chicken fillets, drinks, ice cream, Italian gelato and a children’s menu.
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This menu is smaller than in previous seasons.
“We tried to condense the menu. There was too much variety. In such a small kitchen, you want the best quality food in a short time,” Wilder said. “Restaurants are successful if they have a few items on the menu and do them really well.”
Russell Pelletier owned Ferry Park Grill before selling to Bezdelovs.
“It was difficult for me to find work and I needed a year-round income,” he said. He has a full-time job, and he keeps his connection to the food shack by helping Bezdelovs and Wilder get ready. Before owning the place, he had fond childhood memories of the restaurant.
“I used to come here as a kid and have a good time when my friends and I were riding bikes in the park,” he said.
The restaurant is next to Ferry Park at 277 Meadow Road. Phone orders are welcome at 860-328-2911. People 21 and older can BYOB. ferrygrillandchill.com.
Susan Dunne can be contacted at [email protected].