Some Darien diners might be of the mind that the former Backstreet Restaurant was an institution, but the owners of the newest spot at this favorite location hope they'll be carrying on some of its best tradition.

Two brothers are putting the finishing touches on The Third Rail, 22 Center St. -- a bar and restaurant that they hope draws on one local legend and begins to forge in new directions.

"We've been talking a long time about doing something together," said Michael DeAddio, who has opened the new business with his brother, Stuart. While Michael, a longtime Darien resident, is more the silent partner, Stuart will manage the day-to-day operation.

"I literally live half a mile from here," Michael said. "I know the place. I used to take my kids here."

"We look at it as a good opportunity," he said. "We're very picky and choosy, and this one just came up."

The Third Rail hopes to expand the clientele by making more available for everyone. While the bar has been extended during renovations, and Sunday and Monday nights will highlight football on new big-screen TVs, complete with food, they're also hoping to attract more families for casual dining.

"We're going to try and get the families more comfortable here," Michael said, enticing them with coloring and fiddling while waiting for their food. "I have an 8- and a 6-year old," he said. "I know what they like."

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Meanwhile, they talked to the prior owner, with whom Michael said they have a good relationship, and hope to incorporate some of what made Backstreet special into the new place, including some of its dishes.

Keeping it all in the family, Michael's brother-in-law Eric Woytowich, a veteran of the kitchen, will be their executive chef.

"We added some new things to the menu," Michael said. "We're trying to upgrade the menu without changing it too much."

Along with extending the bar, the renovation work has seen a new floor, new chairs and new bathrooms. "We really took the opportunity for the quiet time in August to do as many changes as we could."

Apparently, the results are working.

"This is a creative `update and refresh' of a wonderful and accessible Darien mainstay," said David Wasson, of Darien.

"It's predecessor ... was always known for a simple, delightful dining experience at a real value," he said. "The revitalization, as it were, keeps the same great food and service, and the expanded menu is a plus."

"People are just surprised by what a change," Michael said.

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