Downtown businesses voice challenges, solutions

Ron Serafino welcomes local officials into his long-standing business, Serafino Pharmacy, during the annual downtown walking tour. The store was one of six stops made by town officials and Chamber of Commerce representatives on Thursday, June 22. (Photo by John Goralski)

By JEN CARDINES

STAFF WRITER

Much like the downtown Plantsville walk, Mother Nature provided a warm, sunny day for officials during the downtown Southington last Thursday.

Town officials and Southington Chamber of Commerce members started their tour from Town Hall and made their way down Main and Center streets.

Each year, the Town of Southington and the chamber join forces in hopes of bettering the business community and identifying ways to improve the downtown area.

“Downtown is very important to us,” said economic development coordinator Lou Perillo. “We’ve got to keep that momentum going, and that’s why these meetings are good because we are looking for creative ideas to help spur that activity.”

Last Thursday, the group stopped at some new local businesses, as well as Serafino Pharmacy, which has served locals for 65 years. Ron Serafino owns the store, as well as the building adjacent to it, and said that a new bistro, Nataz, will be coming into the empty space this summer. The restaurant owner has another location in Branford, but is originally from Southington and “fell in love with the space,” Serafino said.

Lisa Crofton offers a tour of the Positive Living Center to town officials. The spa, above Webster Bank, is just one example of the wide variety of downtown businesses.

The tour also visited the Positive Living Center upstairs from Webster Bank, which provides various therapeutic services that help people get their lives on track. Lisa Crofton, PLC director, said her downtown location is almost like a secret.

“People don’t expect it to be like this when they come upstairs, but we actually ended up being a really beautiful centrally located place,” she said.

On the way to Mister B’s Jerky, everyone gathered on the steps of the First Congregational Church to hear an update from church moderator Joanne Kelleher. The church recently approved a project to put solar panels on the roof.

“We’re working with the State of Connecticut and solar experts,” Kelleher said. “It will take care of 70 percent of our energy used in this church because it’s a big roof up there, and the plan is to get it up this summer.”

Town Councilor Dawn Miceli added that for the first time in decades, across-the-street- banners will be hung from a light post on the church property to a large tree on the town green during town festivals.

“We are so excited that Eversource granted us permission,” Miceli said.

Dan Baril talks about the advantages of his opening Mister B’s Jerky in downtown Southington.

Town officials and chamber members piled into Mister B’s Jerky, where they were greeted by owner Dan Baril, who has been making jerky for the last 20 years. In the past year, he handled over 10,000 pounds of meat.

“I took the jump last year on July 30 when I opened up here,” Baril said. “I think it was the best thing I ever did coming here to Southington.” His previous location in Meriden didn’t suit his needs, but he told officials that Southington has been great to him.

The final leg of the tour hit Creative LAB on West Center Street and the Witchdoctor Brewery in Factory Square, both brand new businesses to the downtown area. The group also passed by 75 Center, a new bar that Perillo says is “knocking it out of the park.”

Like Plantsville center, cracked sidewalks continue to be a challenge around the Town Green.

At many points along the tour, town manager Garry Brumback stopped to point out broken sidewalks and fixtures that need to be addressed.

“We’re working on redoing – block by block – some of the street lights and furniture to restore them,” he said. “They hadn’t been touched since they were put in.”

 To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Jen Cardines, email her at JCardines@SouthingtonObserver.com.

 

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