- Associated Press - Sunday, May 17, 2015

WEST HAVEN, Conn. (AP) - The former Central Pub across Campbell Avenue from City Hall is closed. A new owner plans to open up a new restaurant and bar, Stevie B’s, that he says will “provide a safe, fun, clean atmosphere”- and far less trouble.

“There’s a huge (difference) between what was there and what will be there,” said owner Steve Boddie, who took over May 1 and is renovating the space with plans to open Steve B’s July 3.

“Our goal mainly is to provide a safe, fun, clean atmosphere for people to come and enjoy themselves on a daily basis,” Boddie said. “We want downtown West Haven to become more vibrant and more of a destination for people.”

Among other things, Boddie hopes to recapture the City Hall lunch business that the old Center Pub, which preceded the Lager House and Central Pub incarnations, once enjoyed.

That business was scared away over the years, in part by the Oct. 4, 2014, shooting outside Central Pub and the Dec. 29, 2013, fatal shooting outside the Lager House.

The two previous establishments had different management- including Boddie for about three months at Central Pub -but common ownership.

Now, former owner Adam Rylski is out of the picture, Boddie said.

“We’re 100 percent unaffiliated,” Boddie said. “I bought this from Adam.

“Adam- his own words -he’s done with the bar business,” Boddie said. “He was kind of an absentee owner at that point and he kind of let the patients run the asylum.”

While Boddie was manager of Central Pub for three months at one point, “I really didn’t have any say-so” in what went on, he said.

Boddie runs an entertainment business, Amped Entertainment, in New Haven, which provides bands, DJs, comedians and magicians, he said. He also owns Amped IT, an information technology firm that builds and repairs tech infrastructure, he said.

When he walked a reporter through the place Wednesday, the floors were ripped up, the bar in the back room was gone and it looked as if much work was in the process of being done.

In the weeks to come, “We’ll be doing some subtle changes,” Boddie said. “We’ll be building a better stage. It’s going to feel aesthetically way different than the last three establishments that have been there.”

Steve B’s will serve burgers, fries, nachos and other bar food, he said. While it won’t be a fancy “white tablecloth” restaurant, “It’s certainly going to be a place where you can come and get great food.”

First, Boddie needs to go before the Planning and Zoning Commission for a special permit on June 9, he said.

He said he understands why people might be a little touchy about the place, given its history.

“I understand the skepticism. I understand the reason for the apprehension,” Boddie said. “I went to the Police Commission, fire marshal, fire chief” and has tried twice to get in to talk to Mayor Ed O’Brien.

“I’ve done everything I can in the beginning to get off on the right foot,” Boddie said. “I’m not wasting my money to repeat Lager House or Central Pub.”

While he has yet to meet with the mayor, O’Brien is aware of the steps Boddie has taken.

“I heard that Adam sold it and (Boddie) went to the Police Commission and is opening up more of a bar and restaurant,” O’Brien said.

“I’m glad to see Central Pub is closed,” he said. “I’m cautiously optimistic that this time there is going to be a change. The city will be watching it very closely.”

Board of Police Commissioners Chairman Ray Collins III said Boddie came to meet with the police commission before the sale went through.

“We welcome any new business to the city, especially one that’s aiming to run a business with no problems or issues,” Collins said. “You’ve got a great location there” that could really be successful if done right, he said.

“He came before us- he didn’t have to -and I respected the fact that he’s looking to work with us,” Collins said. “He wants to break the mold, or get rid of the reputation that it has.”

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