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A massive dining space complements a massive dining menu at Maggie McFly’s in Brookfield.
Together they are something to see, as together they dwarf every other eatery in the region—the floor space is broadly proportioned, the booths are roomy and the menu is fortified with choices.
For a better frame of reference, follow some numbers: Between the barroom and the dining room, the restaurant can accommodate as many as 240 customers. Not including the Sunday brunch items, the specials, the options for children, or any other add-on menu, it takes a dozen pages in a hefty leather-bound tome to contain just the regular selection of dishes.
That said, the assortment of dishes obviously ranges widely. Despite the name, Maggie McFly’s is not some faux Irish pub that serves cheeseburgers out of the freezer and stew out of the can. The restaurant does serve cheeseburgers and stew, but each dish is made fresh. And it has a selection of more than 70 beers—but that’s still just a fraction of the offerings.
“We wanted to have variety and offer something for everybody,” said owner Ray Carter, a man who has worked in some area of the food service industry since he was a teenager, but never opened a place until a couple decades ago. “So people can think of [Maggie McFly’s] as one-stop shopping.”
The menu has a wide array of pizzas, like California Club with the bacon and chicken, or the grilled vegetable and goat cheese pie, which is self-explanatory. There are 18 versions of the hamburger, including the Cabernet Burger, which has mushrooms and onions sautéed in a red wine glaze. There is a section for pasta selections, a section for panini sandwiches, a section for chicken dishes, and a section for specialty entrees.
Guests can have their choice of fish dishes or salads or entrees inspired from Asia or Latin America. The soft tacos are a big seller and are so delicious it reminds one that a restaurant can offer it all and still have it all be good.
Mr. Carter and co-founder (since retired) Dave Golden opened the first Maggie McFly’s location in Middlebury, near I-84’s Exit 17 ramp, some 20 years ago. That was a time when chain restaurants such as TGI Friday’s and Chili’s did gangbuster business centered on beer-battered appetizers and signature cocktails, with a whole bunch of crazy tchotchkes festooning the interior walls.
Back then, though, Maggie McFly’s wasn’t a chain. Once the owners opened a second location in Southbury, four exits west on I-84, then Maggie McFly’s was a chain.
The owners wanted to take the corporate approach and ensure one restaurant mimicked the other. However, there was one integral difference, a ruling that came down from Hartford, according to Mr. Carter.
“When we opened the Southbury one, the new smoking law came into play,” said Mr. Carter, referring to the 2003 Clean Indoor Air Act, which banned smoking from workplaces. “We decided we wanted to go for food over bar.”
In 2007, the Brookfield location opened its doors, which is still biggest of the then three (in December a fourth one opened in Glastonbury) and the only one built on a single floor; the idea again was to give the restaurant more attention than the bar. Remember the size of that menu …
It was also the first one not to feature a scale model of a triplane, such as the one flown by aviatrix Maggie McFly. OK, so there was never a Maggie McFly, but the owner liked the idea of having a pilot reminiscent of Amelia Earhart as the face of the business, and something about the invented alliterative name fit.
In 2009, about a year after the Brookfield link of the now four-restaurant chain opened, the adjacent Brookfield Indoor Golf Club virtual golf course was established. It is also owned by Mr. Carter, the lover of the real game, who already had the extra room and needed something to put there.
The restaurateur decided a pseudo-golf range would be a good fit after seeing it in action at a PGA Golf Show in Orlando. The Brookfield Indoor Golf Club works as an auxiliary to Maggie McFly’s, a complementary addition that is not to be confused with an arcade.
It is the only one of his locations that wouldn’t succeed, said Mr. Harper, without the anchor of pre-existing Maggie McFly’s.
According to manager Nicole Bourgeois Believe, the virtual golf course does phenomenally “when it’s not suitable to golf outside.” If it weren’t for the convenience of food and drink that Maggie McFly’s offers, in busy times or slow Mr. Carter is skeptical the golf game would make it.
Seeing the way the restaurant keeps expanding, it is clear Mr. Carter has found a good formula. The owner thinks it’s because his place can fit between high-end and commonplace, not too rowdy but still comfortable enough to comfortably watch NCAA basketball action.
To learn more, see the Web site at www.maggiemcflys.com. The restaurant is located at 195 Federal Road and the phone number is 203-775-7960.