SHELTON, Conn. — Professional magician Bryan Lizotte has always wanted to run an entertainment venue.
So when Ari’s Luncheon, er, disappeared from its Bridgeport Avenue storefront, Lizotte and his wife, Michele, pounced on the prime location and opened Magic Cafe in October.
“I just enjoy performing and making people happy,” said the Shelton resident who performs regularly at birthday parties and private events. “I’ve always wanted to do something like this.”
The cozy cafe’s menu is straight-forward, featuring bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches and hash browns in the morning and hamburgers, hot dogs and soups and sandwiches in the afternoons.
What sets it apart is its unusual theme. Exterior lights are shaped like magic hats and wands, and the restaurant is ringed by 60 reproductions of vintage posters touting The Mysterious Duval, The Great Raymond, Ben Ali and Miss Helena and others.
Above those are photos of dozens of magicians, from Harry Houdini to Doug Henning. White-tipped magic wands form bouquets on the tables.
When there’s a crowd, Lizotte works the tables, bringing card tricks and a few laughs to diners.
A former medical technician at Griffin Hospital, he first got into magic when he was 12 and attended a magic performance.
“I said, ‘That’s what I want to do,’” he said.
It wasn’t until he was 30 that he began studying the craft in his spare time. It was another decade before he quit his job and became a professional magician.
Though the new cafe is taking up a lot of his time, Lizotte still performs from New York to Boston and points in between. He’s well known for his Friday night table-to-table shows at The Melting Pot in Darien.
Though his restaurant has a magic theme, Lizotte said he and his wife didn’t want the menu to take a backseat.
“I wanted good, fresh food,” he said.
To that end, the restaurant’s four cooks serve up double-egg sandwiches, all Angus beef burgers, homemade soups and handout French fries, which already have a following. The popular Houdini burger hides an egg in its center and is topped with bacon, pepper jack and cheddar cheese on a pretzel roll.
“It takes a little longer, but everything is cooked fresh to order, not frozen,” he said. “I don’t know how many pounds of potatoes we go through every week.”
Magic Cafe is at 99 Bridgeport Ave. in Shelton. Hours are 5:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
The restaurant is currently booking weekend birthday parties — complete with a magic show — and private events for after the doors close to the public at 4 p.m.