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Wilson’s by High Watch is now open on Main Street, Thursday through Monday for breakfast and lunch. Photo by Lans Christensen

Breakfast and lunch options continue to grow in Kent

KENT — A dark secret of the restaurant industry is that the long hours and high stress can take a toll on workers, leaving some with addiction issues.

Jason Perillo has seen evidence of this often in his years as vice president of communications and chief marketing officer for High Watch Recovery Center in Kent.  

Therefore it’s not surprising, and it’s actually very logical, that High Watch has opened a restaurant in the village, staffed in part by alumni and clients of that facility’s program, and called Wilson’s by High Watch.

“All of our staff are individuals who are in recovery themselves, and the vast majority of them come from a culinary background,” Perillo said.

It’s a lemons into lemon cake situation. Thanks to the large number of restaurant workers (front of house and in the kitchen) who have successfully returned to work, High Watch has been able to get advice and guidance “from our alumni network, with so many individuals who are incredibly talented and have helped us develop a well-rounded menu.”

A similar program has had great success in Falls Village, where the Mountainside Café on Route 7 is run and staffed by people in recovery at Mountainside in North Canaan.

It’s been helpful for clients to get slowly back into the work world, while in a safe and supported environment. Working at a restaurant can be stressful; clients can be rude and the ebb and flow of diners is unpredictable. It helps people in recovery if they can get some practice working their way through the strains before they are back on their own in the world.

“The staff is a great mix of well- trained, established culinary talents who will have the opportunity to train individuals who don’t yet have all the skills they need but are eager to acquire them,” Perillo said.

Wilson’s by High Watch had a slow opening early in August. It is in the renovated space that was formerly home to Kent Coffee and Chocolate (which is now up the road a piece, on Main Street). 

Its name comes from Bill Wilson, “who was the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous and one of the founders of High Watch back in 1939,” Perillo said. “He stepped on the property in the fall of that year and immediately knew there was something special about it.”

High Watch continues to expand and innovate. Wilson’s is the newest addition to the roster of the center’s offerings — and it’s one with immediate benefits to the town of Kent and its visitors as well as to the center’s clients and alumni.

There’s an extensive menu (with scrumptious online photos) of dishes and drinks that can be ordered in person or online for pickup.

“We wanted to offer not just coffee and baked goods but really put on the menu a full array of breakfast and lunch options, everything from a build-your-own-breakfast sandwich option to a wide array of sandwich and salad options for lunch,” Perillo said.

The cafe had really only been open for one weekend when Perillo was interviewed, but at that point, he said, “Our two big sellers have been the build-your-own-breakfast, which is available all day, and the fried chicken biscuit for lunch.”

There are plenty of light and healthy options as well, with lots of vegetable dishes.

Although there are now several excellent small eateries in the center of Kent, Perillo said that the intention is not to compete with them. 

“Restaurants do well generally when they’re surrounded by other restaurants,” he said. “We are one more addition to what is already a wonderful offering of eateries in downtown Kent and we want every single one of them to succeed.”

To see menu items and prices (and to order online), go to  https://wilsonsbyhighwatch.com/. The restaurant is at 10 N. Main St. and the phone number is 959-300-0080. The cafe is open Thursday through Monday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

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