Pasta Loft owner plans brewery

MILFORD – Restaurants are notoriously risky businesses. Take 241 Union Square, on the Milford Oval. At least four full-service restaurants occupied the space around the 1990s, including Purple Rose, Tomasino’s, Anthony’s and the Bavarian House.

Then in 1996 Terry Connor and his brother, Patrick, took over the building, starting a small bar andItalian restaurant they called The Pasta Loft. Patrick left to start The Pasta Loft2 in East Hampstead, and Terry stayed and expanded the restaurant twice and added a rear deck for outdoor dining.

Now he plans to expand once again, building a nanobrewery, to make beer in small batches in an addition in the rear of the building. The brewery would be overseen by Bruce Girouard, Pasta Loft’s brewmaster, an English teacher at Lexington High School who has worked here part time for 14 years and offers six draft lines in Pasta Loft’s event center.

Connor says he almost had the Oval to himself when he opened.

“Twenty-three years ago, it was just me and Stonecutters,” referring to the lounge that is now J’s Tavern Under the Bridge.

Much has changed over the years, downtown Milford is thriving – rapidly becoming a dining and night life destination, with restaurants planned for One Nashua Street and the old Souhegan National Bank building.

But there’s one thing that hasn’t changed – complaints about parking.

“The Oval has grown too fast,” Connor says. “I don’t know what people are thinking,” he said, when they start a business downtown, because the lack of parking is a big handicap.

Town officials have said the answer could be private-public partnerships, in which churches, for example, might rent out spaces when they’re not in use.

Connor, thinks that won’t work, because “nobody wants to walk.”

On his phone is a text message from a longtime customer who said he tried to come to The Pasta Loft, drove around, found no parking and left.

Connor said he tried without success to buy the corner lot where Payless Towing had been located so he could add several dozen spaces.

With a brewery, he says, The Pasta Loft will become a destination restaurant and not be as vulnerable to the parking shortage.

Connor also owns the big white building across from St. Patrick Church on Amherst Street, now home to Mike’s Auto Service. When Mike Brailey retires, he plans to turn the building into a large brew-pub with a 60 by 14 foot deck over the river and call it The Loft Brewing Company.

Connor grew up in Hampton Beach where his uncle owned Mama Leone’s. He started bartending there, then bought a string of convenience stores. One day he saw an ad for the Bavarian House in Milford and decided to take a chance.

“I knew nothing about Milford,” he said, but later learned that a great great grandfather is buried here and, someone on the other side of the family owned a milk company in Wilton.

Connor is excited about his plans. Already he can picture crowds out on the deck of The Loft Brewing Company, with views of the Swing Bridge on one side and the Stone Bridge upriver. There’s only one hang-up, he says:

“Where is everyone going to park?”

Kathy Cleveland may be reached at 673-3100 or