A good helping of music

STRATFORD – Musical instruments displayed in the big front window and classic record album covers and 45 speed records mounted on the walls surrounding the dining room aren’t exactly what one expects to see in a small-town, main street restaurant, but that’s the way it is at Patsy’s Place, the newest business in Stratford.

Oh, the building has long been a hometown restaurant, but now along with a full menu Patsy’s Place offers up a good helping of music.

“The whole idea of this is the music,” said owner Gil McNaughton. He named the new business for his wife, Patsy. Together, the couple has performed at numerous wineries around the state, with Patsy singing and Gil playing the bass. Last fall, the couple decided to look for a permanent place to share their music and came across the available restaurant in Stratford. After a small stage was added to the adjoining party room, the vision was a reality for the couple, who live in Roland.

Patsy’s Place has been open for six weeks now, according to McNaughton.

Although he has never owned or operated a restaurant, McNaughton, who is retired, brings with him a long and varied background In music that started with piano lessons at age 3. As he got older, he added others instruments. In his 20s he was a chorus dancer mainly in summer stock theatre around the country. Framed photos on one wall of the restaurant picture him dancing on stage in productions with stars like Gene Kelly, Van Johnson, and Ginger Rogers.

“I even performed as Mickey Mouse at Disney,” noted the Dallas native. “I was Minnie, too. It doesn’t really matter who’s inside the costume.

“The dance door closed in 2008, and the music door opened,” he commented about his career path. After earning both a BFA and an MFA in dance and music history from Texas universities, he taught at Sam Houston State University there. Then the couple relocated to Iowa, where they raised their three children in the Cedar Rapids area while McNaughton taught at Coe College. There he formed a performing arts company and a dance school that he estimates had close to 400 students.

The couple, married 35 years, has performed together several Friday evenings now at the Stratford restaurant. “It depends on what people want,” McNaughton said of the type of music they do. “We do classic country and rock and some jazz. Last week we did some crossover tunes like Norah Jones and Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt. We like a wide variety of music and will do what anyone wants.”

He said they would like to have more musicians come and play with them. “We hope to see a full band on Friday nights and switch to Saturday nights when football starts up, and then maybe on Sundays have a little more easy-listening type of music.”

That would be during the Sunday brunch time, when Patsy’s Place is open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“We started Sunday brunch recently, and that’s going well,” he said.

Other hours at the restaurant are 10:30 a.m.-8:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday and Friday 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturdays open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. There is a full menu, including specials several evenings each week. Backcountry Winery wines, along with house wines and beer, are served at the restaurant.

“We’ve been very well received in Stratford,” McNaughton said about what it’s been like so far being a business owner. “It was the people here who made a difference, being so supportive and helpful. I’m enjoying this immensely.

“If people want a full family restaurant with wine and beer and music, we’re here,” he said. “We’ll take your suggestions. Most of what we do so far is because of those ideas.”