“We fell in love with the island, just the feeling that you get. We felt like when you cross the ferry, you’re actually on vacation as soon as you arrive on the little island,” said Christina Pahis. “You feel almost like you left Connecticut.”
For eight years, Essex residents Avni Krasniqi and Pahis have owned and operated Haywire Burger Bar in Westbrook, CT, and on June 8, the couple opened Siren Kitchen & Bar on Essex Island at Safe Harbor Marina.
“We saw that the space has become available, and we said, ‘Let’s just kind of satisfy our curiosity and go and talk to [the owners] and see what their thoughts are,” Pahis said.
The concept for the restaurant fell into place.
“[At] Haywire, we do an elevated comfort food burger, and at Siren, we wanted to do the same thing more with like a lobster shack,” said Pahis. “I guess you could call it like an elevated lobster shack—focusing more so on fresh ingredients, summer flavors [and] lighter food.”
The menu is eclectic and puts a spin on American classics, like pulled pork sandwiches and chicken wings. Siren also features local Connecticut breweries and offers a variety of mixed drinks.
The idea to open a second restaurant was not in the works for Krasniqi and Pahis, especially during a pandemic, but when the opportunity presented itself, they could not resist.
“When all of this was happening—the idea of opening a new restaurant—we toyed back and forth [of] what’s the best course of action,” said Pahis. “And because it’s an outdoor location and there’s so much space for distancing [and] the breeze, it just felt ideal in terms of what everyone is recommending right now.”
Krasniqi and Pahis’ love for the location is what inspired the name of the restaurant.
“We wanted something that was relevant to the island,” said Pahis. “The sirens of Greek mythology were known for luring sailors to their shores with their singing, and we thought that was kind of a neat concept with bringing boats to the island—not for our singing obviously, but for our food, our drink and our atmosphere.”
Siren is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. There is currently no indoor seating and patrons must wear masks except when seated.
A complimentary ferry boat road is available to take customers from the shore of downtown Essex Village to the island side, and during the offseason, a floating bridge will be in place.