Greenwich Time (Sunday)

Longtime Connecticu­t restaurant­s closed their doors this year

A few shuttered after a half-century or more in business

- STAFF WRITERS — Leeanne Griffin — Leeanne Griffin — Leeanne Griffin

By Leeanne Griffin, Mark Zaretsky, Jarrod Wardwell, Ciara Hooks and Susan Danseyar

Connecticu­t has already seen the departure of several notable restaurant­s in 2024, with a few shuttering after a halfcentur­y or more in business. Here’s a look at some of the restaurant­s that have closed around the state after 15 or more years in business.

Whole Donut Enfield

Years in business: 69 (The Whole Donut chain was founded in 1955)

The last remaining Whole Donut shop, part of what was once about 40 locations in New England and New York, closed its Enfield location in March and has been replaced by a King Donuts.

“As of today, we say goodbye to the Whole Donut brand,” the company wrote on a social media post. Founded in 1955, the Whole Donut operated across Connecticu­t, southern Massachuse­tts, northern Vermont, and parts of New York.

The Whole Donuts location on Enfield Street became the last one in Connecticu­t after a Canton shop closed in March 2023. Enfield once had two Whole Donut shops, one on Enfield Street and at 309 Hazard Ave.

Grand Apizza New Haven

— Susan Danseyar

Years in business: 69 Grand Apizza, one of the great neighborho­od names in New Haven pizza history, is gone — closed in January after 69 years in business. Its Fair Haven building was sold on Feb. 7, and by late May or early June, it will be a pharmacy owned by nearby Fair Haven Community Health.

“Grand Apizza’s closing is the end of an era for Fair Haven and it really marks a wave of change that the neighborho­od has seen over the last 50 years,” said New Haven pizza historian Colin Caplan.

“It’s totally acceptable that any business that lasts 50 years eventually closes and moves out,” said Caplan, one of the three co-producers of the

“Pizza: A Love Story” documentar­y film

on New Haven pizza. “But

there is no doubt that we are losing an icon of New Haven pizza, and for many of us it’s an emotional change.”

— Mark Zaretsky

Mike’s Pizza Fairfield

Years in business:

50 Fifty years after opening on Post Road, Mike’s Pizza has shut down, soon to be replaced by a dine-in chicken restaurant.

Members of Post Road Hospitalit­y, a restaurant management group that operates a handful of local brands and a California­based Vietnamese restaurant chain, said they bought the Mike’s Pizza property late last month and hope to open a restaurant called Rye Bird by May. The space of the long-time institutio­n in Fairfield, is now gutted, signaling the end of an era.

Eleftherio­s Jordanopou­los had opened the pizza parlor in 1974, handing it down to his nephew Bobby Giagkos in the early 2000s. Since then, the ownership has changed three times in the last five years, Rye Bird’s owners said. Still cognizant of the role Mike’s Pizza has played downtown for decades, they hope to emulate a similar brand with high quality, low prices and a welcoming culture that keeps customers coming back, they said.

— Jarrod Wardwell

Chowder Pot III Branford

Years in business: 43+ Chowder Pot III, a landmark for four decades on Branford’s East Main St., closed abruptly March 3 and left staff and customers

wondering what happened.

“With a heavy heart I have to announce the closing of our doors today,” Chef-owner John Bencivengo Jr. announced on Facebook. “I want to say thank you for all the love and support you have shown myself and Chowder Pot III throughout the years. I could not have done it without all of you, my staff and my family.

Customers who hold unused gift cards can now get 100 percent of their money back or use them at one local restaurant, according to an attorney who is representi­ng Bencivengo, Jr.

— Sarah Page Kyrcz

City Steam Brewery


Years in business: 26+ as City Steam; 44+ as a restaurant and venue

City Steam Brewery is closing after 26 years in downtown Hartford, the business’s owner announced in an email to customers March 21. The landmark restaurant, brewpub and comedy venue ended operations March 31.

In the email to customers, owner Jay DuMond said the business “could not recover from the after effects” of the flood that caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage and closed the venue for four months last year. Disaster hit City Steam in February 2023, when an outdoor panel collapsed on part of the sprinkler system, resulting in a burst pipe that sent hundreds of gallons of water into the main restaurant area.

City Steam had already been struggling since the COVID-19 pandemic, since the move to remote work had emptied many Hartford office buildings, DuMond said in June when the restaurant reopened after repairs. The bar and restaurant stayed closed for lunch due to a lack of demand, he said.

City Steam, which was Brown Thomson & Co. in the Main Street space for 17 years, reopened as a brewery in 1997 in the historic Cheney building, once home to the Brown Thomson department store. It was the second brewery pub in Connecticu­t, according to the email.

Rita’s Italian Ice and Frozen Custard


Years in business: 20 After 20 years on Queen Street in Southingto­n, Rita’s Italian Ice & Frozen Custard will not reopen for the season, according to franchise owners Ashley Fulton and Casandra Schmidt.

They could not reach an agreement on a new lease with the owner of the property, which is now for sale.

Fulton and Schmidt, who have owned the business since 2013, said they’re disappoint­ed by the situation, but are focusing on opening their other Rita’s location in West Hartford for the season, before looking for a new location for the Southingto­n store.

116 Crown New Haven

Years in business: 17+

116 Crown, a high-end cocktail bar in New Haven’s Ninth Square, announced its closing March 4 after 17 years in business.

Owner John Ginnetti opened the Crown Street bar and lounge, named for its street address, in 2007. The menu specialize­d in unique and intricate cocktails, with food options like raw bar items, cheese and charcuteri­e, grilled pizzettes, truffle fries and a burger with dry-aged beef. A New York Times reviewer deemed the restaurant and bar “excellent” in a 2013 writeup, and Connecticu­t Magazine named 116 Crown one of the state’s best bars in 2018.

— Leeanne Griffin

Pizzetta Mystic

— Ciara Hooks

Years in business: 15+ Pizzetta, a popular pizzeria on Mystic’s Water Street, announced

its sudden closure in early January.

“To our valued customers and friends who have become family: Today will be Pizzetta’s last day. We cannot thank you enough for the love and support you have continued to show over the years,” the post read.

The post did not explain the reason for the sudden closing, and Pizzetta representa­tives did not immediatel­y respond to request for comment.

The space will soon be home to a new restaurant. Moses Laboy and Lauren Wells will open COAST provisions + tipples restaurant at 7 Water Street, describing its menu as “locally sourced, approachab­le and innovative New American cuisine with touches of New England seafood.” The couple plans to make full use of the former Pizzetta’s multiple dining rooms and outdoor patio spaces, Laboy said in January.

Ballou’s Wine Bar Guilford

Years in business:

15 Ballou’s Restaurant & Wine Bar in Guilford announced its closing March 17, after 15 years serving Mediterran­ean-influenced cuisine, cocktails and dozens of wines by the glass.

“It is with great sadness that we announce the closing of Ballou’s Restaurant effective immediatel­y. We truly appreciate everyone’s support over the past 15 years,” the Facebook post read. “We would like to thank our crew past and present for their hard work.”

Owners Steve Kaye and Deb Ballou were inspired to open the wine bar after a wedding anniversar­y trip to Europe in 2008, according to Ballou’s website. When they returned home, they decided to open a restaurant and bar similar to those they enjoyed in England and France: “a place where people could enjoy and appreciate wine in a fun, comfortabl­e environmen­t.”

The menu featured a selection of Mediterran­ean tapas, cheese and charcuteri­e boards, salads, panini, flatbread pizzas and cheese and dessert fondues, along with larger plates like macaroni and cheese, seafood risotto and beef brisket. Its expansive wine menu offered white, red, sparkling and rosé by the glass, as well as specialty bottles and sampling flights.

 ?? Eric Cotton / Hearst Connecticu­t Media ?? A for sale sign in front of Rita’s Italian Ice and Frozen Custard, 279 Queen St., in Southingto­n on March 1. The franchise owners and landlord could not reach an agreement on a new lease for the business.
Eric Cotton / Hearst Connecticu­t Media A for sale sign in front of Rita’s Italian Ice and Frozen Custard, 279 Queen St., in Southingto­n on March 1. The franchise owners and landlord could not reach an agreement on a new lease for the business.
 ?? Laura Benys/ For Hearst Connecticu­t Media ?? Ballou’s Restaurant & Wine Bar in Guilford.
Laura Benys/ For Hearst Connecticu­t Media Ballou’s Restaurant & Wine Bar in Guilford.
 ?? File photo ?? The iconic lobster on the roof of the now-shuttered U.S.S. Chowder Pot III in Branford.
File photo The iconic lobster on the roof of the now-shuttered U.S.S. Chowder Pot III in Branford.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States