The Frog Hollow neighborhood has barely bid farewell to the La Paloma Sabanera coffeehouse, and there is already a new prospect for the space.
Shahzaib Bukhari of West Hartford told me today he intends to sign a lease for the space in the next few days and open a Middle Eastern-themed deli serving breakfast and lunch. Bukhari hopes to open the restaurant, at the corner of Capitol and Babcock streets, in early August.
Although Bukhari hasn’t signed the lease yet, he has keys to the La Paloma space.
Bukhari’s brother, Syed, has operated the Capitol Grocery two doors away for the past two years. Bukhari said his brother will be helping with the opening but won’t be a partner in the restaurant.
Capitol Grocery will remain open, Bukhari said.
Bukhari told me he was recently laid off from a job as a software tester and will use $20,000 in severance to open the restaurant. He said he brings experience to the venture — he managed a Dunkin’ Donuts in West Hartford eight years ago — and the food business suits him well.
“I love to cook,” he said. “It’s my passion.”
Bukhari said the menu will offer traditional items but also Middle Eastern dishes such as chicken and rice and lamb and rice.
La Paloma officially closed June 27. The coffeehouse’s owner, Virginia Iacobucci, could not reach a new lease agreement with the building’s Boston-based landlord, with whom she often battled over the past five years.