Touch of Italy purchases former M&T Bank building in Milford

Touch of Italy co-owner Bob Ciprietti looks into a vault at the former M&T Bank building after purchasing it. He hopes to be open in mid-October. The Chronicle/Jennifer Antonik

Touch of Italy co-owner Bob Ciprietti looks into a vault at the former M&T Bank building after purchasing it. He hopes to be open in mid-October. The Chronicle/Jennifer Antonik

MILFORD — Milford Mayor Bryan Shupe said he saw an opportunity when M&T Bank closed the doors of the historic bank building on the corner of Walnut and Front streets for the last time a year ago.

“Believing that the mayor of Milford should be an active ambassador for the town of Milford, I knew from the day M&T Bank announced the closing of the downtown branch that we had an opportunity to help create a corner in downtown that would both support economic development and historic preservation,” he said.

An opportunity that the mayor took to heart, according to M&T Bank officials who called his involvement in the process “instrumental” during a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

Touch of Italy Co-owner Bob Ciprietti said, “He’s been working on this for two years. Two years he’s been negotiating with my partner Joe [Curzi] and I. And here we are. It’s going to be exciting. This is going to be the funnest one we’ve built.”

“We’re glad that M&T chose Touch of Italy,” he added, saying everything in the company from its community involvement to its food is will be an “upscale” addition to the city of Milford.

In conjunction with the sale of the building, Mayor Shupe said the city of Milford “took the opportunity to address a major concern in downtown” by purchasing a portion of the parking lot behind the Walnut Street building.

“The lot will create between 65-70 public parking spots that will remain under the control and direction of the city of Milford,” he added.

Touch of Italy co-owner Bob Ciprietti points to what formerly was known as the President's Office as he tells Milford Mayor Shupe, M&T Bank officials and others present during a press conference Wednesday afternoons of his plans to turn that space into a private dining area. The Chronicle/Jennifer Antonik

Touch of Italy co-owner Bob Ciprietti points to what formerly was known as the President’s Office as he tells Milford Mayor Shupe, M&T Bank officials and others present during a press conference Wednesday afternoons of his plans to turn that space into a private dining area. The Chronicle/Jennifer Antonik

“The downtown area continues to grow and the city is excited about the future of the revitalization efforts including commercial and residential investments,” said Mayor Shupe. “The city will continue to use the resources within its ability to grow downtown.”

The owners of Touch of Italy said they hope to maintain the historic theme of the building while offering a quality dining experience.

Current plans for the building include private dining inside one of the bank vaults, a bar inside another and the possibility a dining room overlooking the first floor.

A dumbwaiter, or a small elevator used to carry items or food instead of people, and the drive thru tubes also still exist inside the building. Mr. Ciprietti said he would like to see both up and running again when the site nears its completed renovations, which he said will begin tomorrow with hopes of finishing in October of this year.

They may even, he added, sell the safety deposit boxes with yearly fees to those who would like to keep their own libations in the Milford restaurant.

Mr. Ciprietti said the company is also acquiring property in the industrial park on Airport Road in Milford for the manufacturing and distribution of food to Touch of Italy’s locations which include restaurants in Lewes, Rehoboth Beach and Bethany Beach.

City of Milford officials say those details are not yet finalized, but should be complete in mid-July.

Jennifer Antonik can be reached at mc@newszap.com

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