For owner Jim Fitzpatrick, the name "Cuckoo's Nest" is loaded with meaning. A plucky young Irish-American guy from the Bronx, his idea of establishing a Mexican restaurant in a 200-year old cattle barn in what was then a sleepy New England shoreline town was just a little cuckoo to begin with. In what could easily have seemed a bad omen, opening night in August of 1976 coincided with the arrival of Hurricane Belle, as only seven patrons braved the high winds and drenching rains to experience Jim's unusual vision. Over time, Jim's perseverance brought new life to the historical building, once part of Saybrook's Chalker Beach Homestead. Fittingly, the decor of the restaurant is rich with antique, farm-worn New England ephemera alongside colorful artifacts from south of the border, creating a surprisingly comfortable – and somewhat cuckoo – ambience. The restaurant has also built a patronage that is similarly eclectic, serving great food and beverages at reasonable prices to people from all walks of life. As Jim, who once considered a career in psychology puts it, "This place draws a living library of individuals, including carpenters, teachers, clerks, doctors, lawyers and Indian chiefs." What's more, it's a place where families love to bring their kids.
Today, after numerous expansions, the Cuckoo's Nest boasts unique dining areas on two floors, an outdoor patio and an intimate bar area. A dedicated and diverse staff of professionals serves as many as 3,500 meals in any given week, and menu items range from favorite mexican dishes to unique specialties to please any palate. It's not surprising that folks up and down the shoreline, and those just passing through, find the Cuckoo's Nest so worthwhile and lovably cuckoo!