Family sells one diner, but maintains New Milford location
Published 12:13 pm, Tuesday, January 12, 2016
After more than 40 years of serving up turkey club sandwiches, pancakes and fried eggs, the landmark Windmill Diner on Mill Plain Road in Danbury has changed ownership.
Jim Rountos, 65, who co-owned the restaurant at 14 Mill Plain Road with siblings John Rountos, Zoy Bertis and Peter Rountos, said he plans to retire.
“It’s been an amazing experience, but there comes a time in your life when you have to say ‘enough is enough,’ ” said Rountos, whose father, Stavros Rountos, bought the business — then called the State Line Diner — in 1971. “The restaurant business is very tough and demanding. Nobody in the family wanted to continue the operation, so we decided to sell.”
The sale of the Danbury Windmill doesn’t affect the Windmill Diner on Danbury Road in New Milford, which is operated by Angelo Rountos, the oldest of Stavros Rountos’ seven children.
George Marnelakis, the second generation to own the iconic Blue Colony Diner in Newtown, purchased the Windmill for an undisclosed amount and has renamed the business the Mill Plain Diner, which opened last week.
Marnelakis said he bought the Danbury diner in an expansion effort as his children grow up.
“Right now they are going to college, but they’ve already expressed an interest in staying in the family business,” he said.
Rountos said he is happy that the business was sold to Marnelakis, who has a reputation for quality food and home-baked specialities.
“We had several offers, but I’m really glad the diner went to George,” Rountos said. “George and his family have been in the business a long time. The Windmill Diner was also a family place, and that’s a tradition that I believe George will continue.”
Rountos said what he loved most about the diner was meeting the second and third generations of regular customers.
Rountos said he also enjoyed hearing about the work ethic they helped to instill in the many youngsters who worked part time for the diner over the years.
“I love when they come back into town after they’ve started their careers and tell us about how they learned their work ethic at the diner,” he said. “We may not have always been the easiest people to work for, but at least we helped area children learn the kind of work ethic that will make them successful in their own enterprises.”
Marnelakis said not much will change at the Mill Plain Diner, including the employees, who are staying on with the new owner, and chef Peter Rountos, who sold his piece of the business but will remain the cook during the transition.
“People really liked the food at the Windmill, and they are accustomed to getting certain things,” he said. “We aren’t going to change that. We may at some point add some items to the menu.”
Sue Tuz contributed reporting; dperrefort@ newstimes.com