Lena’s First & Last Pizzeria Restaurant, a fixture on Park Street in Hartford since the early 1980s, built its reputation on good food, not fancy decor.
But now, the restaurant’s control of its three properties near the Hartford-West Hartford line is in jeopardy, and the future of the restaurant itself is uncertain.
Two of the three properties on one block of Park Street are under foreclosure after years of tens of thousands of dollars in real estate taxes not being paid to the city. The third property also may be headed that way.
Darrell Sullivan, co-owner and manager of the restaurant and a pub housed in one of the properties, told me today that a series of poor decisions, including investing in a restaurant that closed, pushed Lena’s into financial troubles. He declined to name the other restaurant, which was in Hartford.
Sullivan also said the city’s high taxes, which he has fought, squeezed the bottom line.
Sullivan told me he is actively looking for an investor or a potential buyer for the business.
“Several people are interested,” Sullivan said.
Despite the troubles of the parent company, Lena’s Realty Holdings LLC, which owns the properties and is responsible for paying the real estate taxes, the restaurant and public are still doing well, Sullivan told me.
The ownership of Lena’s First & Last is separate from the First & Last Tavern on Maple Avenue in Hartford’s South End.
Two of Lena’s three properties — 2061 Park and 2071-2073 Park– are under foreclosure. The city sold tax liens totaling $58,800 for the properties that were due going back to 2007, according to documents filed in Superior Court in Hartford.
Connecticut Tax Liens 1 LLC, which now owns the liens, is pursing foreclosure and repossession of the properties.
A third property, 2053 Park — the main restaurant building –, is not under foreclosure. But city records show tax liens totaling $38,500 also have been sold, suggesting a foreclosure filing may be on the way for that property as well.
Michael D. Reiner of Greene Law in Farmington, who represents Connecticut Tax Liens, declined to comment today.
The current tax bill for the three properties totals $38,250, city records show.
Dolores Sullivan, who used her mother’s Sicilian recipes in developing the Lena’s menu, declined to comment today, saying she is retired. She referred questions to Darrell Sullivan, her son.
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