Berry’s Restaurant has been a Norwalk landmark for many years. Not only is it known as the home of good food in the Norwalk area, but is also one of the oldest continuing businesses and one owned by the same family for over 65 years. Main Street landmarks come and go, but Berry’s can still be found in the same spot serving yet another generation of families.
As far back as 1902, this was the site of a “Confectioners” shop known as the Norwalk Candy Kitchen. John Miller and James Thompson started the business and at first lived in the rear of the same quarters. Soon the Candy Kitchen belonged to Jim Thompson alone, and was operated by him as a restaurant and confectionery until Dean Berry purchased the business in 1944. Two years later in 1946 he sold it to Clarence and Elizabeth Berry. In 1961 the ownership transferred to their sons, Robert and James. Today it is owned by Robert, his wife Shirley and their Son Douglas Berry. The Berry’s still operate it today in the old tradition of a gathering place to dine, socialize and discuss the news of the day.
The building itself is historic in being the last remaining part of the St. Charles Hotel, a three-story hostelry built in the heyday of railroad travel in 1867 just after the Civil War. For years the part owned by Berry’s was known as the Nyman Block after the hotel ceased to use it and it was purchased by The Berry’s in 1980. A few years earlier the third floor ballroom had been removed for safety reasons.
Remodeling in 1983 opened both of the “west” rooms for restaurant and banquet use, enhancing the space of the original restaurant in the “east” room where the main entrance and counter are located. Once can now see the original tin ceiling in the middle room, and pub, the pillars which supported the upper stories inside and the original front. “The Dinky” Pub and Grille was added in 2004 to add liquor, beer and wine service.
The beautiful stained glass windows were created for the Gardiner Music Hall on East Main when it was built in 1887. The outside dining courtyard, St. Charles Place was a 2011 addition. The St. Charles features tented areas, umbrella tables and water fountains.
Senior Norwalkians recall the middle room as being Cook’s Cigar Store and Barber Shop, and later as Moores Store and CIT Financial Services. The west room was home to Lobey’s Restaurant (and saloon before Prohibition). The Singer Sewing Machine store later occupied this space. Be sure to view the excellent photos of early Norwalk around the walls of all three dining areas.Henry Timman - Historian