The former La Paloma Sabanera storefront in Hartford’s Frog Hollow has a new tenant, but it isn’t a Middle Eastern-themed deli.
The Capitol Grocery, which has operated in a smaller space two doors away since 2011, has moved into the storefront. (The grocery hasn’t officially opened yet, pending city approvals; but the old space has been emptied out.)
Shahzaib Bukhari told Property Line in July that he intended to open a Middle-Eastern themed deli in La Paloma space, at the corner of Capitol and Babcock streets.
But this morning Shahzaib Bukhari’s brother, Syed, who owns Capitol Grocery, said Shahzaib Bukhari backed off on those plans, blaming the decision on a petition drive launched by former La Paloma owner Virginia Iacobucci after she closed the coffee house.
The petition drive was against the building landlord and his business practices. Iacobucci had a long-running dispute with her Boston-based landlord. The petition focused on lack of building repair and tenant selection.
“She scared him,” Syed Bukhari said, of his brother.
Iacobucci told me this afternoon that the petition is part of a larger push to make landlords in the city more accountable for what goes on in their buildings. Iacobucci said the petition has about 300 signatures.
“The petition and the work we’re doing with landlords has nothing to do with Capitol Grocery” or the restaurant proposal, Iacobucci said. “We haven’t even done anything with it yet.”
After his Shahzaib Bukhari dropped the restaurant plan, Syed Bukhari said he took over the space because his brother had already signed the lease. Syed Bukhari said he had been looking for a larger space for his store.
Syed Bukhari said he is expanding his offerings to include coffee, pastries, doughnuts and deli sandwiches.