The first major foray into the grocery store business in downtown Hartford ended in failure, but it appears other potential operators are willing to at least consider trying again.
Thomas Deller, the city’s director of development, told me two groups are evaluating sites in the central business district — one of them in the former Market at Hartford 21 space on Asylum Street.
Deller declined to identify the groups, but said the one looking at the Hartford 21 site is trying to secure financing.
The Market at Hartford 21 opened to much fanfare in early 2011, but closed after just six months. Owners Kelleanne and Ryan Jones had hoped to bring a successful market to the city. But the store’s mix of mostly upscale, customized sandwiches, deli items and entrees, along with produce and dry goods, did not mesh well the downtown market and proved too costly to maintain.
Deller said the second group is looking at other “undetermined” sites in the downtown area and is still in a very preliminary stage.
It’s unclear whether either proposal will come to fruition.
Any future grocer will have to evaluate the customer mix, split between office workers and downtown dwellers. The number of downtown residents is still modest. But nearly 1,000 apartment units may become available in the next several years.
In addition, operators will have to consider price and the mix of items that are offered.
Meanwhile, the partners in Al’s Market & Deli on Asylum Street, opened in 2010, have expanded to a second location on Trumbull Street.