By TAYLOR HARTZ
Each year, town officials, local business owners, and representatives from the Southington Chamber of Commerce take a stroll through downtown Southington.
On their walk, they have an opportunity to exchange ideas for enhancing the area, suggest improvements, speak with local business owners and employees, and to see how things are progressing downtown.
In 2015, the walk included a long list of issues to address, questions to ask, concerns to look into, and empty storefronts on Center Street. This year, however, there were many new businesses to stop into, familiar favorites sharing their success, and a list of incoming shops.
“This is an opportunity for us to hear from businesses,” said Town Manager Garry Brumback of the walk. He said he hoped this year’s walk thru was less about weeds in the sidewalk, and more about business and economic development in town.
Approaching the anniversary of her first year as Director of the Chamber, Liz Hyatt led the walk, providing input from the chamber and many local businesses owners.
“We have gotten some very positive feedback from businesses in the town about partnership with the chamber,” said Hyatt.
Hyatt and Brumback were joined by Town Attorney Mark Sciota, Economic Development Director Lou Perillo, Town Engineer Keith Hayden, town councilors Dawn Miceli and Victoria Triano, state Representative David Zoni, Southington-Cheshire YMCA executive director John Myers, and a few others. Representatives from the new Smashburger, which opened on June 22 on Queen Street, – next to other newcomer Noodles and Company – also joined the tour.
Overall, Hyatt said the chamber’s goal is to generate support between businesses downtown. Miceli commented that “two steadies” – businesses Pralines Ice Cream Café and Rose to the Occasion on Center Street – often offer support to each others’ businesses, selling each others’ products in their stores.
“So many businesses are willing to work with other businesses to support each other,” said Hyatt.
“It’s a cooperative rather than competitive environment,” added Brumback.
As they walked down Center Street, Hyatt discussed new breweries planned along the Rails to Trails area, from Witchdoctor Brewing Co., Southington, and Kilted Kinsmen Brewing Co., Milldale.
The group stopped into what will soon be “Ideal Tavern”, opening next month at 142 Center St. While finishing up interior renovations, owner Joe Lucci said he has been working to secure a kitchen, serving, and bartending staff that he hopes will get the restaurant national attention.
The tour also included a sneak peak into the Gura Building, the new home to Southington Community Cultural Arts. The newly renovated building will offer a place where local artists will have opportunities to host performances, rent studio spaces, and display galleries.
Other new additions include the incoming, “Simply Gorgeous by Erin” salon, and Mr. B’s All Natural Jerky store, moving into the current location of Christina’s Gourmet Cookies spot on 35 North Main St.
Christina’s, which offers cooking classes, parties, and special event custom orders, will move to South Main St. in Plantsville, near the Posh Pear, a consignment boutique that offers women’s fashion, furniture, and home décor.