Paul Mauk, 75

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Dallas Paul Mauk, better known as Paul, father, artist, restauranteur and tequila connoisseur passed away suddenly on June 13, 2024. He was 75.

Paul Mauk. Credit: Michael Dinan

Paul was born in Denver Colorado on July 13, 1948, the second child of the late Charles Dallas Mauk and Jean C. Winder. He spent his eclectic, fast-pace adolescence in Denver, racing on the 16th street Viaduct, and pushing the limits with the feral friends of his youth. Paul graduated from University of Colorado with a degree in Fine Art. Initially using his degree for graphic design and then eventually becoming an art teacher at Colorado Academy.

Paul married Frances (Fabby) Hillyard in 1968 and the young couple welcomed Sarah Frances Mauk on August 24th 1970. Paul often credited the extended Hillyard family with providing him with guidance in his formative years. Fabby and Paul divorced in 1971 but remained friends until the time of his death.

While teaching at Colorado Academy in Denver, Paul met Anne Sprole. The couple eloped to Aspen in 1983 and eventually moved east to pursue Paul’s dream of becoming an artist in New York City and Anne attended Physician Assistant school. While in New York Paul began work at a mountaineering store; for additional cash he started working as a manager at Gates restaurant in New Canaan, CT.

Anne & Paul settled first in Norwalk and eventually in New Canaan. While in Norwalk Eliza was born in 1984, followed by James in 1987 and finally Maddie joined the gang in 1990. As the family grew, so did the restaurant business.

The partners at Gates first opened the Grouper Café, followed by Tequila Mockingbird in 1993 which became a mainstay on Forest Street under Paul’s ownership for 25 years. Along the way the “Tres Amigos” endeavored to open Bonne Nuit and Mumbo Jumbo, but the passion for Tequila Mockingbird was unmatched. Even in retirement, Paul acted as advisor, confidant and sous chef to his friends on Forest Street who remained in their establishments.

A prolific artist, the restaurant also became a creative outlet, not only in bringing people together over a shared meal, but as a canvas for his latest whims. A dry sense of humor and quick wit complimented his immense knowledge of Mexican cuisine and tequilas. He loved to spar on world issues and could debate at great length with anyone, especially those with opposing views.

He was extremely proud of his children and their accomplishments and gave regular sage advice, at length, to each of them. He often greeted them, and friends, with the iconic “What are you hoodlums up to?”. He loved them deeply. He was astonished at his own success in the restaurant business which provided him with the opportunity to return to his art in his last years. His friendships, many of them lifelong, were strong; full of philosophy, love, compassion and the shared experience of a bygone era.

Paul was preceded in death by his parents. He is survived by his sister, Dalean Janes (Lonny) of Colorado Springs, his beloved children: Sarah Francis Mauk (Todd)of Coronado CA, Eliza Mauk Voss (Ryan) of Aspen CO, James Cella Mauk of San Franciso CA and Madeline Claire Mauk (to wed Dan Janavy in September) of Norwalk CT.  He also leaves his former wives, Frances Hillyard of Evergreen, CO and Anne S Mauk of Norwalk as well as his 5 grandchildren, who were just getting to know their eclectic grandfather: Gabriel and Fiona Davis, and Parker, Scarlett and Blake Voss.

This unexpected loss is heartbreaking but there has been humor and irony alongside the grief, as only Paul would have had it. The family asks that in lieu of flowers you have sit-down dinners with your families, update your will and get a physical.

Memorial services will be held in Colorado in late summer and Connecticut in the fall.

9 thoughts on “Paul Mauk, 75

  1. Paul
    Thank you for all of our very early morning conversations in your resturants kitchen.
    Thank you for your mystical art and automotive memorabilia but most thank you for your friendship!
    You are missed my friend.
    God Speed
    D

  2. Rest my friend, thanks for all the conversation over the years. Your advice was always followed with trust. You will be sorely missed.

  3. So sorry to read this news. Paul was the sage of Forrest Street! He was always ready to share a story, opinions, questions, or converse on any topic of the day. His restaurants were equal parts good food, friendly service, welcoming atmosphere, and wonderful gathering spots. In large part, Paul Mauk is responsible for creating the ‘food scene’ that has brought so many great eateries to town over the years.

    My thoughts and prayers to the entire extended Mauk family. RIP Paul.

  4. Paul graced our community with his many talents. As a restaurateur, he showcased his passion for cuisine and ever evolving decor he created. His other interests of motorcycles and sporty cars sparked many a fun conversation. Always a gentleman and sincere. My heart felt condolence to his family. New Canaan is a better place thanks to Paul Mauk.

  5. Very sorry to hear of Paul’s passing. He was passionate about everything he pursued. A talented artist and restaurateur, challenging, witty with an ever present twinkle in his eye. Sending so much love to his family.

  6. I came to New Canaan, as a twenty-year visitor from Denmark. Working as an Au Pair and absorbing as much of American culture as possible during a year in the states. We thought we would learn most of the American spirit by our frequent visits to New York and the occasional trips to Boston, a football-game or the ever-present idea of hiking. But it was the open and curious conversation with Paul and the time with his lovely family, that truly opened a window to the wonderful sides of what is America. Paul was the embodiment of curiosity, openness, friendly rebellion, love of creation and family. He spoke vividly about how his art and cooking was influenced about Mexican and southern culture, and he was ever curious of the differences between Scandinavian an US culture and living. He taught me to shoot a basketball, why Americans have such huge cars (it’s because Americans have a lot of stuff, Paul Mauk) and how you become a better person, by taking interest in others that are not like you. I had the fortune to come back and visit Paul and Mockingbird, 15+ years after the stint as an Au Pair and was again welcomed with open arms, dry humour and another round of good questions and curiosity. He will be missed. All my love to the family here from Copenhagen, Denmark.

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