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The painted train, surrounded by billowing smoke, filled the back wall of the restaurant.

It goes along with the theme because there’s a train that always passes through here,” the 33 year old artist said.

Bateman was helping prepare for the reopening of a Route 44 restaurant that has become a local institution. The former Mansfield Depot Restaurant, closed for about a month for renovations, is scheduled to open for lunch today under new ownership. It will be called Netto’s at the Depot.

Resident Deborah Netto and her longtime friend, Robert Donnell of Avon, bought the restaurant Jan. 3 from Larry Ross, who had owned it for 18 years. The two formed Netto’s Limited Liability Co., and spent about $500,000 to purchase the business and renovate the building.

I’m thrilled. We’ve had dry runs where we invited friends in. They raved about the food,” said Netto, 35. We have a winner. I have no doubt about that.”

Netto, who grew up in Stafford and graduated from the University of Connecticut, is a former insurance executive with CIGNA Corp., and only recently decided to start her own business.

I tried out the corporate world for about 10 years,” she said. After working for so many hours for somebody else, I figured I should work that many hours for myself.”

Her best friend, Depot pastry chef Karen Dodd, told her that the restaurant was for sale. So Netto formed her partnership with Donnell, who owns Donnell Investment Group in Avon and provided most of the financial backing.

During the past month, the team has hired 45 employees including a third of the former Depot staff and made extensive renovations. They added new plumbing, new grills and other kitchen equipment; installed stained glass in the bar area; and refurbished the wood floors and the bathrooms.

The mural is part of the railroad theme that Netto has carried over from the Depot. The restaurant, located near the railroad tracks that cross Route 44, includes a caboose now used as a dining area. Every once in a while, a real train chugs by.

While she kept the railroad theme, Netto changed the menu, adding northern Italian dishes, such as potato gnocchi, rigatoni and mushroom ravioli, to the restaurant’s traditional American fare. Meals will be prepared by chef Ken Jurgensen Jr., formerly of Max a Mia Restaurant in Avon.
rugby polo New Mansfield Restaurant Keeps Railroad Theme