CHESTER, CT (WFSB) -- In the 20 Towns in 20 Days series, Channel 3 is taking viewers somewhere near the Connecticut river, not far from the sound, and tucked away from a busy highway.
Manufacturing dominated Chester for years, but it went away and gave birth to a new scene.
Main Street in Chester is the picture definition of a quintessential small New England town.
First Selectwoman Lauren Gister said she believes there’s no denying its charm.
“It’s one of the things that I love about the town is we have all this new stuff, but it’s built on what was always here,” Gister said.
What was once there was a mill town.
Waterways made it a perfect location for manufacturers, but when companies went away, it came the arts and commerce.
Skip Hubbard, president of the Chester Historical Society, said the town’s reinvention came on the heels for a newer, modern identity proving to be successful.
“I think it’s certainly been good. Very positive of the town and it has become a destination for foodies and people who just like to shop or just wander around,” Hubbard said.
Wander from downtown, and you’ll find a historic ferry crossing the Connecticut River.
Or stumble upon the meeting house, a former church, now theater and concert hall.
It’s a town with much to explore.
“You’ve got little shops, lots of artisans, kind of handcrafted gifts and stuff like that, great eating, decent beer,” said Carlisle Schaeffer, co-owner of Little House Brewing Co.
With about 4,000 people, Chester is home to nearly a dozen versatile restaurants, somehow becoming a mecca for foodies.
If you don’t know what you’re in the mood for, don’t worry. If it’s Thai, Italian, American, Chester has it.
For this reason, owner Johnathan Rapp at River Tavern placed his restaurant in Chester 18 years ago.
“Chester had always been, since I was a kid, sort of a restaurant destination,” Rapp said.
The restaurant serves up a tribute to a simpler dining experience.
Art work replaces big screen televisions, and the menu is farm to table, with influences from cuisines around the world.
Across the street, a new business moved to town.
Little House Brewing Co. crafts eight beers on-site for tap, and is offered at a small handful of nearby places.
Guests will find anything from sour ales to porters.
“We wanted to be on a Main Street in a downtown. We wanted to feel like we were a part of the community from the get-go,” Schaeffer said.
A restaurant community made possible thanks to a now-closed French spot where an antique store sits today.
“I think a lot of it goes back to ‘restaurant du village.’ Growing up here, I remember my parents always going there for fancy occasions and stuff,” Schaeffer said.
“They were the first ones here and they developed a statewide and even multi-state reputation,” Rapp added.
In its absence, it’s left a growing appetite for this food scene surpassing the town’s population.
Also during 20 Towns in 20 Days, Channel 3 gave a $1,000 check to Camp Hazen YMCA.
More information on the camp can be found here.