La Paloma Space Getting New Tenant?

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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.

Shahzaib Bukhari plans a Middle Eastern-themed deli in the former La Paloma Sabanera space on Capitol Avenue. Photo by Kenneth R. Gosselin/

Shahzaib Bukhari plans a Middle Eastern-themed deli in the former La Paloma Sabanera space on Capitol Avenue. Photo by Kenneth R. Gosselin/

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.





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7 thoughts on “La Paloma Space Getting New Tenant?

    1. Patrick

      Annie, don’t you think it’s better than an empty building? Just because a deli opens up doesn’t mean another coffee shop can’t open up in the future nearby.

  1. Mariana Evica

    While I am heartbroken at La Paloma’s closing, we should be heralding with appreciation a local small business, especially one that offers International Cuisine. This is not “just another deli”, it’s more than that, if we are to believe the article.

    I’m surprised at the knee-jerk reaction.

    The ALTERNATIVES to a Middle Eastern lunch place ARE AWFUL:

    a chain restaurant or convenience store
    a liquor store
    a bodega
    a nail salon

    I would MUCH MUCH rather a local food business than ANY of the above.

    Being a patron of, and having a deep appreciation for La Paloma Sabanera, does NOT mean we are the automatic enemy of this new business. I am well aware of the frustrations Virginia I. faced with the landlord and the issues regarding the surrounding businesses and neighborhood.

    How this man’s business could be viewed as automatically problematic, with people’s hostility not even veiled in the least, is a bit disconcerting.

    It’s not easy going into business in Hartford, and everyone deserves a fair shake. I know I feel as if La Paloma DID NOT get a fair shake, but giving this new business owner a hard time is hardly the way to remedy that.

  2. Jim Condren

    Thanks for putting things in perspective. A beloved community space/business is hard to let go of, especially when it appears that if the landlord had been willing to negotiate, we’d still have La Paloma. I hope the new restaurant is a positive addition to the neighborhood.

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