Ranked one of the top 25 public courses in the United States, the Richter Park Golf Course is home to one of Danbury’s hidden treasures, Café on the Green. Surrounded by huge picture windows, the three sides of the restaurant offer a breathtaking view that invites you to sit down and contemplate it while enjoying a casual or formal meal.
For 27 years, Tracey Kydes, owner of Café on the Green, has committed to providing its patrons with authentic Northern Italian cuisine.
His passion for culinary began at a young age. “I started when I was 15 years old as a dishwasher at a Bonanza restaurant in Westport. I went in and I asked, ‘Are you hiring?’ They said ‘no.’ I said, ‘I could do anything you want. I can work after school; I work for anything you want to give me.’”
Kydes was hired. After three months on the job, he was moved up to work in the grill.
“It came easily to me. I enjoyed it. People came, complemented me on it. I enjoyed cooking, helping people, being a part of people’s lives.”
From a Mom-and-Pop
Back in 1992, Café on the Green was just a cafeteria where costumers could get a hamburger, a hot dog, a premade sandwich or a can of soda out of a machine… It was a public golf course.
A golfer’s favorite hang-out spot, in 1993, a state ordinance prohibited smoking in public buildings, and Café on the Green became the first non-smoking restaurant in Danbury. “I got a lot of static at times because golfers are notorious smokers.”
Business suffered seriously, with customers choosing to go to other places. It took eight years for Kydes to turn business around. The restaurant underwent a big remodeling last year. They have a 12-seat, sit-down bar to accommodate golfers.
“I built this addition, The Grill, and that kind of alleviated a lot of things because the golfers didn’t have anywhere to go. They wanted to hang out but they didn’t want to spend, so it was something I had to do to survive. Before that, it was just a mom-and-pop.”
Best Affordable Upscale in Danbury
Don’t judge a book by its cover! The upscale décor and table settings may be a bit intimidating but, trust me, it’s the best and most affordable upscale dining experience around Danbury.
“People don’t know how affordable the prices here are, and we don’t charge for the stunning view,” said Luis Lopez, the restaurant’s general manager, smiling.
Lunch specials start at $14, dinner at $26, and every main course comes with a house salad, he explained.
Named in 2019 by the WalletHub as the 11th Most Diverse City in the Country, Danbury is home to an incredible cultural mix, and Café on the Green is a true reflection of this diversity, with staff members from Guatemala, Peru, Colombia, Honduras and Italy, among others.
Chef Alex Fernandez, from Honduras, is a modest man with a heart for cooking extraordinary food. Just like Kydes, Fernandez also started as a dishwasher and worked his way up.
“I learned to cook by watching my co-workers here. I felt in love with food, and today, I am one of the chefs.”
When asked what his favorite dish is, manager Lopez, who is from Peru, replied, “Everything.”
The synergy and hard work of the employees creates a positive vibe that is very inviting.
“I think that a lot of it has to do with the fact that they feel like they are part of something big. What they contribute, contributes to the whole purpose of being here. They are very appreciative. I am lucky; they make my life a lot easier and it works for all of us,” explained Kydes.
From Hamburger to Filet Mignon
“Café on the Green is one of those places where you can come in and get a casual meal, or a formal meal, a place to have a party. There is not a better view in the city. My chef has been around for 22 years, we’ve got a great reputation in Wine Spectator, Zagat rated, a bunch of awards. Because we are so far up on the hill, and out of the way, not on a main road, people don’t recognize it.”
Kydes mentioned that people choose Café on the Green only for special occasions, assuming the prices are high. “They are not going to spend more than at Stanziato’s Grill or one of the restaurants on Mill Plain Road, for example. Because we are so out of the way, people forget about us, but remember us.”
Café on the Green is open Monday thru Sunday for lunch and dinner, and it is located just minutes from I-84′s exit 2 at the Richter Park Golf Course on 100 Aunt Hack Road, Danbury, CT. Once you turn onto Aunt Hack Road off Mill Plain Road, just follow the signs with the Café on the Green logo and they will lead you there.
Reservations are recommended but walk-ins are welcome! For more information, or to book a private event, please call (203) 791-0369 or visit cafeonthegreenrestaurant.com.