East Side continues to be a destination restaurant making memories for customers
By Bob Mayer
New Bitain City Journal
What makes an Italian from Alabama think he can run a German restaurant in a Spanish neighborhood?
If you have ever met Nick Augustino, who owns East Side Restaurant on Dwight St. in New Britain with his wife Barbara and daughter Shari, you would understand. Nick has a larger than life personality and is a constant during dinner service drawing laughs and praise for the quality, quantity of food and the reasonable prices.
“We are a destination restaurant and we help make memories for all the people that come here and believe me when I say, they come from all over to dine here,” Nick said.
According to its website The East Side Restaurant has been continuously family owned and operated on the same site for over 70 years. Steffi and Eddie Walters were the original owners. They sold the restaurant to Bill and Ruth Bloethe and the Bloethes ran the restaurant for over 40 years while raising their four children.
The Bloethes commissioned a room-length mural in the dining room to be done by Kenneth Larson.
“We bought the place in 1999 so this Feb. 10th will be the 20th anniversary for us,” Nick said. “We worked with the chef with the recipes he left for me. That was the gold in the purchase. We learned how to make the schnitzel and the sauces, the brown, the demi glaze, the barley soup, the sauerkraut, red cabbage and potato pancakes.”
The Augustinos renovated in 2004 and then in 2009 they made use of the upper level called “The Munich Room” and the “Englisher Bier Garden.”
East Side has a state-of-the-art beer dispensing system, which pours a perfect 32° beer. That goes perfectly with our 5° shots from our spectacular Icy Shot Tower. The granite tables have snow rails to keep your beverages ice cold.
“It’s a one of a kind system,” Nick said. “Everybody has to have 40 different kinds of beers, not me, I have seven different kinds of beers. It’s fresh and cold and tastes great and we sell a helluva lot of beer here.”
East Side has become popular for wedding rehearsal dinners, birthday parties and funeral repass dinners.
“You know why we’re popular for that stuff because I charge you for how many people you have and who come,” Nick said. “Most places want a count and they will charge you even if all of the people don’t show up. I would never do that.”
Nick said he has a million memories and makes more every night and weekend, but he shared one of his favorites.
“We had a group come in middle of the day and I had never seen them,” he said. “Well I took care of them myself because I didn’t have any staff on for a large party. I had them going all afternoon. I put the horns on them and had them shouting our Tiki-Tiki-Hoy-Hoy chant and they put up a $1,700 bar bill.
“After they leave, I’m cleaning up and I find a diamond ring on the floor. I put it in an envelope and made sure that everyone knew if someone called for it, I wanted the phone. So, a woman calls, and I put her on a little bit but then tell her I had it and she started crying with happiness. She asked me if I wanted to know who the group was, and I said after a $1,700 bar tab I wanted to know. She said they were from the New York Times and a week or two later we got a full-page review in the New York Times.”