The Cheshire Historical Society
Hitchcock Phillips House
43 Church Drive
Cheshire, Connecticut 06410 USA
The Waverly Inn Since 1896 - Cheshire Connecticut - Guest Speaker at the Cheshire Historical Society, September 22, 2008
Mr. Ricciuti was three years old in 1937 when his father, Louis D. Ricciuti, a New York lawyer, and his mother, Edythe moved their family to Cheshire to help her brother, Rocco Diorio, manage the Waverly Inn. The move followed the death of Diorio's wife, who had been largely responsible for the management of the Cheshire restaurant while Diorio managed a restaurant in Waterbury. Together, Ricciuti's parents and Diorio ran the Waverly Inn from 1937 until 1958.
The main portion of Riccuit's talk focused on the Wavery Inn's "glory days" from the 1940s to the early 1970s. During that time, the inn flourished. Following a disastrous fire in 1952, it was completely rebuilt and enlarged. He also traced the history of the property from 1896, when the inn was first built by Walter Scott of Cheshire, to its present-day descendent, the Waverly Tavern, which occupies less than one-third of the original space in a building that now houses offices, shops and a bank. Ricciuti, who lives in Cheshire, is retired. He owned and operated the English Furniture Store in Hamden for more than 30 years.
Mr. Ricciuti spoke to a packed house (standing room only) at our Monday night meeting. The crowd paid very close attention as Mr. Riccuiti talked of growing up with the Waverly Inn. He made history come alive and made everyone laugh as he said on one Thanksgiving, their own family turkey just placed on the dining room table was swept away to the restaurant as they were a bit short on the popular bird for patrons on that particular holiday. "So we didn't eat turkey that year," Mr. Riccuiti said matter of factly. He spoke at great length of the elegance of The Waverly Inn, his mother who was the perfect hostess, how his father was greatly influenced by the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City, and the many dignitaries that came to The Waverly Inn including Gov. Ribicoff, the Yankees, singers, movie stars, and so on. But what really touched the people listening to Mr. Ricciuti were his stories of his family and how close they were to one another and how hard they worked. He spoke of his father, a business man clearly ahead of his time, who had a gift of finding efficiencies in work systems and keeping a very close watch on people's tastes and preferences. And Mr. Riccuiti spoke of tragedies, of fires, and the resolve his family had to perservere and continue this fine restaurant through the years. I
Important Dates in History of Waverly Inn
1890 to 1900 Old Buck home, Colonial house owned by Judge Joel Hinman, purchased by Walter Scott of Waterbury, who ran the West Cheshire Hotel. 1896 The first Waverly Inn - name borrowed from novels of Scottish author Sir Walter Scott. (The Waverley Novels)
1905 Scott bought additional land adjacent to Buck house from Hinman and erected a separate building as a kind of museum known as the Casino. It also had pool tables and a two-lane bowling alley. No meals.
1911 Scott leased Inn to Charles Martin, who ran The Shelter across the street as an eating place for trolley travelers.
1912 Fire destroyed the Inn. Scott began to serve food at the Casino, which then became known as Waverly Inn and was gradually expanded.
1916 Scott died. His widow married Morris Ferron, who operated the Inn for a short time. The Ferrons leased the Inn to Billy Waterman, who continued as proprietor for a number of years.
1932 Rocco Diorio, a Waterbury restaurateur, bought Waverly Inn. It was transformed by Mrs. Emma Diorio, his wife, from a night club into an elegant dining establishment.
1937 The death of Mrs. Diorio brought Louis D. Ricciuiti and his wife Edythe D. Ricciuti (Diorio's sister) to Waverly where they continued to build the elegant aura of the business.
1940s Wartime mandated "victory gardens" to supply foods during times of rationing. The "chicken plant" was modernized. The post war period expanded the interest and acclaim of the Waverly, bringing an ever-increasing and devoted public.
An elegant establishment
1952 February 11, 1952 - Second fire destroyed the wood-framed building. February through October - Inn was rebuilt, expanded and refurbished, including magnificent furniture and fixtures from the historic Grand Hotel, Saratoga, NY. November 1952 - Grand Opening to a full house and expanded seating to 1200 capacity.
1959 Waverly Inn sold to Mr. Fred Roozen.
photo from 1960
Connecticut Rubber Group meeting, 1960
1962 Transferred to Mrs. Helene Roozen in divorce settlement.
1968 Inn sold to Maple Associates: ten members including Frank and Ralph Nastri, who ran the Inn until the late 70s. 1976 Financial hardships developed. Inn leased to Seiden Associates of Woodbridge.
1978 Seiden Management Corporation filed for bankruptcy. Business closed
1981 Inn auctioned. Purchased by Joseph Valentine and Ronald Clayton.
1985 Inn sold to Bowman Family for $750,000. Public auction held to sell fixtures and furnishings. Building restored for offices, retail and a restaurant occupying less than 1/3 original space.
1986 Restaurant leased to Thomas Rose, James Welch and partners. Opened as Waverly Manor.
1992 John Glass leased restaurant space as Waverly Tavern, which exists to the present.
October 1, 1995 - Mrs. Edythe Ricciuti celebrated 90th birthday at Waverly Tavern.
Louis A. Ricciuti for Cheshire Historical Society September 22, 2008
Many thanks to Ron Gagliardi for his videography of the evening's speaker.
Call 203-272-2574 or e-mail for more information.
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