Former Madison Winter Club Set For Transformation into Steakhouse by Summer

Francesco Lulaj, owner of the former Madison Winter Club building, at his other restaurant, La Foresta, in Killingworth (CT Examiner).


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MADISON — The owner of the former Madison Winter Club property has announced plans to have the building renovated and opened into a new steakhouse by next summer. 

The owner, Francesco Lulaj, who bought the property 251 Boston Post Road  in March, said Monday that renovations have begun as approvals from different town commissions come through.

“It’ll take a little while and a lot of money to look good,” Lulaj said. “People expect excellence from me because they know how I do things and I can’t let people down in that way.”

Structurally, he said, he doesn’t have to do much. The roof was recently replaced and he plans to restore the old windows and fix the siding. 

“Electrical’s in good shape, plumbing, air conditioning, heating are in functional shape,” he said. 

The next step, he said, is improving the septic system, landscaping and interior renovation.

“It has to be redone inside,” he said. “New configuration of bathrooms, kitchen, dining room, put a big bar area where the ballroom is right now.”

Exterior of the Madison Winter Club (CT Examiner).

Lulaj, who also owns La Foresta in Killingworth, said this new restaurant will be the Ferrari to the Lamborghini that is La Foresta, serving prime steaks and seafood. 

Menu items have not yet been decided, but Lulaj said he wants the food selection, as well as the aesthetic, to reflect shoreline culture. 

“I’ll keep the character of the facade to look spectacular, and of course the inside will be all done,” he said. “We’ll mix the menu with seafood on the shoreline. You can’t be a traditional closed-windows-no-lights steakhouse.”

Town Planner Erin Mannix said Monday that the Planning and Zoning Commission approved a zoning map amendment to allow a planned development district on the property in November, allowing Lulaj to change the Winter Club into a steakhouse.

“It’s my understanding the applicant is working on his site plan application,” Mannix said. “He already has a regulated activity permit with the Inland Wetland Agency. The site approval is the last step.”

As long as the application adheres to the standards put forward in the planned development district zone, she said she doesn’t anticipate any hurdles from the town’s end for Lulaj to complete the steakhouse in time for summer.

The Madison Winter Club used to be a private club for residents who stayed in town over the winter months, First Selectman Peggy Lyons said.

“It’s probably been closed for two to three years at least,” she said. “They had made an attempt to revitalize it three years ago I think and it finally closed down.”

According to the Winter Club’s website, which is still up and running, the club had been in operation for over 75 years and was founded in 1934 when Charles Goodspeed gathered a group of friends for New Year’s Eve at the Madison Country Club. He later got permission from the country club to open a winter club. After relocating several times, the Madison Winter Club settled on Boston Post Road in 1966, where it stayed until its closing several years ago.