The Litchfield County Times
By Jack Coraggio
Washington - It was a year ago Saturday (June 26), a time when the economy was in a state of peril, that The White Horse, A Country Pub & Restaurant, served its first meal.
Proprietor John Harris bought the roadside eatery from Aura Showah and Doug Waterbury - who owned it as the Marbledale Pub for an outstanding 35 years - knowing well that it would be a risky venture. The food service industry, after all, is notoriously fickle, and the recession certainly did nothing to help.
But he renovated the building, established four separate dining spaces and created a better view of the adjacent Aspetuck River. Now, a year later, Mr. Harris is proud of his business' ability to weather the economic storm. He couldn't do it alone, he believes, but is succeeding with the support of a quality crew and quality food.
"I can only do so much myself, it's the rest of the staff, they really do great," said Mr. Harris, an English-born builder and resident of Kent, of his 35 employees.
Every meal undergoes three inspections, the prices are affordable (a classic cheeseburger with fries is $7.75) and the servers are delightful. The attention to detail has customers coming back, again and again, sometimes in the same day.
"This happens so frequently," began Mr. Harris. "We have a party of five come in for lunch, and then they come back again as a party of seven that night.
"It's just a very comfortable and elegant environment to be in," he continued.
These are glowing sentiments to be sure, but they come from the owner. He has affirmation to back up the statements, as, in less than a year, the pub has already received accolades from several publications.
"The new White Horse Country Pub and Restaurant will put Marbledale on the map throughout the quad state region - that is New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont," said the April/May edition of Country & Abroad Magazine.
The periodical gave the establishment the highest possible rating, five stars, which, according to Mr. Harris, is only the third time Country & Abroad has done so.
Additionally, as part of the Editor's Choice Award in Yankee Magazine, the White Horse was this year named Best Classic Pub.
Mr. Harris has invested in eateries in London, New York and Fairfield County, but in Marbledale he's found himself serving in the most hands-on capacity.
"I'm here 80 to 90 hours a week," said the owner about what some would consider a grueling schedule. "But I don't mind. I strive for perfection."
The White Horse, A Country Pub & Restaurant, will conduct an anniversary party and barbecue Saturday. June 26, from 4 to 7p.m. The event will feature a surf band known as The Clams, and fittingly, a white Arabian horse.
For more information, call The White Horse at 860-868-1496 or see the Web site at www.whitehorsecountrypub.com