Five Questions With: Mia Byrnes

A historic tavern, Wilcox Tavern in Charlestown, is listed for sale. Mia Byrnes, the tavern’s owner, explained why the Colonial-era structure is newly listed. Before she purchased it, the tavern had been closed over the winters for 10 years and closed permanently for five years.

She told the Providence Business News one of the business challenges in running the restaurant was effectively spreading the word that it was open year-round. The 200-seat tavern, with a 15-seat bar, closed at the end of November. The property is listed at $1.5 million.

PBN: When did you purchase the tavern?

BYRNES: I took it over in April of 2017, but the official closing was April of 2018.

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PBN: Tell me about the property and why you’re selling it.

BYRNES: I have a restaurant, Mia’s Café, in Pawcatuck, Conn., that’s about 7 miles south of the tavern. A few years ago, I had an interest in doing something else, and still continuing with Mia’s Café. So, I looked into a couple of properties in the area. Somebody mentioned the Wilcox Tavern – it’s  been closed for years.

So, I thought, maybe I’ll take a look up there. I went up and we walked around for a good two hours. And it just kind of spoke to me. It was built in the 1700s, and I grew up in a house from the 1700s. The main house was built in 1739. There were additions in the early 1900s and the later 1900s. It’s just under 3 acres. It also has four apartments on the property in a separate building.

PBN: Are the apartments occupied?

BYRNES: Two of them are occupied and two are vacant. It’s three 2-bedroom apartments and one 1-bedroom.

PBN: What has been the challenge of operating the tavern?

BYRNES: We did great for the first two plus years, and then the challenge was educating … everybody that the tavern was reopened, and that it was reopen year-round.

PBN: Was your attention divided between the café and tavern?

BYRNES: The key was really marketing it. People who knew of it, they would say, I [didn’t] realize it’s open again. [The sale] is bittersweet.

THE WILCOX TAVERN in Charlestown was recently listed for sale. / COURTESY RANDALL REALTORS

Mary MacDonald is a staff writer for the PBN. Contact her at Macdonald@PBN.com.

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