The jour­ney con­tin­ues

Bladimir and Rosaura Pe­droza have ex­panded their Broad Street restau­rant in New Lon­don

The Day - - BUSINESS - By ERICA MOSER

ANew Lon­don fter be­ing closed for ren­o­va­tions since early Au­gust, the Peru­vian restau­rant Pol­los a la Brasa re­opened this past week, now roughly four times the size and with a bar.

Own­ers Bladimir and Rosaura Pe­droza have also re­named the restau­rant, which means ro­tis­serie chicken, as CJ Peru­vian Bar & Restau­rant. The name is in honor of their adult chil­dren Christo­pher and Jes­sica, who both work there.

Jes­sica said the restau­rant’s aim is all about main­tain­ing the au­then­tic­ity of the food.

“We have a lot of peo­ple here from Peru, from other cul­tures, that kind of miss that, miss home,” Jes­sica said. She added, “I’m all for keep­ing the moun­tain Peru­vian roots. We lit­er­ally have Machu Pic­chu on the wall.”

She ges­tured to a large print of the citadel, which hangs near the bar in the part of the restau­rant that for­merly was Whal­ing City Spir­its.

The Pe­drozas own the build­ing at 255 Broad St., and when the pack­age store was lo­cated there, they opted to make their restau­rant a BYOB out of a de­sire not to com­pete with Whal­ing City Spir­its.

But then the pack­age store changed hands and moved to a new lo­ca­tion, Rosaura said. Pol­los a la Brasa had grown a lot since open­ing July 5, 2008, and so the Pe­drozas saw an op­por­tu­nity.

For now, the new bar serves only wine and beer, but the own­ers are work­ing on get­ting a full liquor li­cense. They will then serve Peru­vian bev­er­ages like the pisco sour, a cock­tail made with Peru­vian brandy and topped with egg whites, and the Machu Pic­chu, which beau­ti­fully fades from red to yel­low to green.

Fur­ther in the fu­ture, they hope to start hold­ing dance par­ties.

The menu has re­mained the same, with op­tions like ce­viche, yucca, plan­tains, Peru­vian-style Chi­nese fried rice, paella, steak, fried fish and, of course, plenty of chicken.

Bladimir cred­its for­mer state Rep. Chris Soto, a friend, with help­ing him and his wife through the process of get­ting a small busi­ness loan and grant from the state for their ren­o­va­tion.

From Peru to Con­necti­cut, decades of hard work

It was a long jour­ney for Bladimir and Rosaura Pe­droza to get to this point, they said in a con­ver­sa­tion in late Septem­ber in their Water­ford home.

She came from Peru to the United States in 1981, and he in 1985. Af­ter meet­ing at a party in New York in

1986, they would go to a cof­fee shop on Lib­erty Av­enue in Queens and talk for hours. Three months af­ter meet­ing, they were mar­ried.

“Ev­ery­body thought we were crazy,” Bladimir said. There were “a lot of bets” on how long they would last.

“Life wasn’t easy for a cou­ple that weren’t pro­fes­sion­als,” Rosaura said. “We had to start from the bot­tom.”

She was work­ing as a seam­stress, and he at a pock­et­book man­u­fac­turer and then as a cab driver. Bladimir said that “crime was aw­ful at that time” in Queens, and he had friends from Peru liv­ing in Con­necti­cut, so the cou­ple moved to New Lon­don in 1990.

Bladimir has spent more than 27 years work­ing at Bench­mark Belt Com­pany in Madi­son, al­ways hold­ing down at least a sec­ond job: first at the casi­nos, then as a land­lord, and fi­nally at the restau­rant.

The Pe­drozas used to own 23 apart­ments around New Lon­don that they rented out, but Bladimir said he was stressed be­cause it was a lot of work, so he de­cided to sell the prop­erty. The tim­ing couldn’t have been more for­tu­itous: He sold the prop­erty about six months be­fore the Great Re­ces­sion hit.

When Bladimir brought up the idea of hav­ing a restau­rant, Rosaura was hes­i­tant. She knew how hard the in­dus­try is, and she had no idea how to run a restau­rant. But she agreed.

“Ev­ery­thing was like a chal­lenge for me, and I was cry­ing the first two weeks,” she said.

For the first few years of the restau­rant, Bladimir would wake up at 4:30 a.m. to go to the belt com­pany and then be at the restau­rant un­til 10 or 10:30 p.m. He took a step back from the restau­rant for a while and would go home af­ter work­ing at the fac­tory, but he has since re­turned to the long hours.

DANA JENSEN/THE DAY

Owner Rosaura Pe­droza, left, man­ager Ed­uardo Ti­neo, cen­ter, and bar­tender Paula Var­gas, right, or­ga­nize take­out or­ders in the kitchen at CJ Peru­vian Bar and Restau­rant.

DANA JENSEN/THE DAY

Jes­sica Pe­droza, cen­ter, and Jorge Pau­car, right, serve the Corderao fam­ily of Gro­ton in the new bar area of CJ Peru­vian Bar and Restau­rant. The restau­rant re­cently re­opened af­ter ex­ten­sive ren­o­va­tions that in­creased the size and added a bar.

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