Monthly Archives: February 2013

La Renaissance In Foreclosure

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There are some apparently pretty upset banquet planners in the East Windsor area these days now that East Windsor’s La Renaissance is in foreclosure.

The popular banquet and wedding facility, with its famed multi-tiered ballroom,  is in foreclosure. One non-profit contacted Java concerned that its upcoming party may be left in a lurch.

An earlier version of this post was incorrect concerning the status of the facility.

Pat’s Kountry Kitchen “Kloses” In Old Saybrook

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patsIt was the “must stop”place each summer when you were traveling back and forth to the beach, the kitschy, family- friendly restaurant in Old Saybrook known for its clam hash and  a “down home” charm that was just plain “kute.”

After nearly 40 years, owner Pat Brink and her family have closed the doors on the landmark shoreline eatery.

“I don’t think we have had five weeks vacation in 30 years,” said Brink’s son, Gary, who with his sister, Laurie, have been doing the heavy lifting at the place since their mom retired a few years ago. “It is bittersweet, the closing, and it’s been a long, wonderful run,” he said Thursday. “My mom is the most broken-hearted because it’s been our life but  we are ready for a change.”

Brink said the building is leased to a Florida restaurateur who plans to reopen it as a different kind of eatery soon.

Bare Faces, Baryshnikov, Suess, Sisters and Spring On Tap This Weekend

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calendar_clip_art-1.29213820_std[1] The thought of going without any make-up is a scary one for many women, but a gallery full of bold ladies have done just that .

“Revealed, Images of Women Who Bared to Make Change” opens tonight at 6 p.m.  at the Charter Oak Cultural Center. This exhibition, part of the March Girlcott campaign, presents the images of the women leaders from the Hartford area who have dared to bare it all, make-up wise  for the camera. Photographs of over thirty women leaders from the Greater Hartford community will be revealed without their make-up, as photographed by Nilofer Haider, Lena Stein and Nicolette Theriault. This exhibition is sponsored by Connecticut Humanities.

dr.seuss[1]If you notice a lot more reading than usual going on in schools Friday it’s because it is 2013 “Read Across America” week in the United States, and Friday is the day many, many schools are choosing to celebrate.

Read Across America is an annual reading motivation and awareness program that
calls for every child in every community to celebrate reading on or near March
2, the birthday of beloved children’s author Dr. Seuss. This year the theme is  “Grab Your Hat and Read with the Cat” and Java will be doing just that at the Northwest Village School on Friday! Can’t wait!

My Sisters’ Place, a non-profit that provides assistance to women and children in need, will  host the “Changing Lives Gala” on Friday March 1 at the Downtown Hartford Marriott Hartford. The celebration features dinner, dancing to the music of The Groove Junkies and fabulous live and silent auctions.

mbFriday is opening night at Hartford Stage production of  “The Man In A Case” starring Mikhail Baryshnikov. And that means a pre-party and opening night post-party to celebrate the show that is in Hartford until March 24.knoxheadermain_02[1]

Also on Friday night, “75* An Urban Greenhouse Party”  will be hosted by the Knox  Foundation from 7 to 11 p.m. at the Knox Greenhouse on Laurel Street. The tropical themed party will include food, dancing, auctions, music with proceeds  benefiting the environmental preservation organization.

stephanpFor those that are fans of the Courant comic strip “Pearls Before Swine” there’s a weekend treat in store for you . Creator Stephan Pastis has just written his first children’s book titled “Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made” and will be meeting fans and talking about this book Saturday March 2 at RJ Julia in Madison. Go to for information. for an interview with Pastis go here.







“Pearls Before Swine” Pastis Coming to CT With New Book

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stephanpStephan_Pastis_2_photobySusanYoungStephan Pastis is the #1 New York Times best-selling creator of the offbeat “Pearls Before Swine,” a comic strip that appears each day in the Hartford Courant. The California native who began drawing when he was child, has just written his first children’s book, “Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made,” and yes, it includes characters and drawings sure to make any young reader smile. The lawyer-turned comic strip creator –turned author will be at RJ Julia Booksellers Saturday.  But before he arrives in Connecticut, where he hopes to visit the Mark Twain House & Museum as well, he Spilled the Beans with Java, sharing what inspired the funny book featuring Timmy, the child detective,  and a story that is full of the trials and tribulations of childhood and the imagination they inspire.



Q: My experience is that when someone writes a children’s book, there is some of their own experiences in there somewhere. What childhood events of your own did you includes in Timmy Failure? And are you Timmy?

A: When I write it there is no intent to put any of my own childhood in there. I don’t write that way. I write in a strange odd way, the way I have done the strip for years and years. I put music on really loud at the computer and I do my best to think as little as possible. But I guess there are things from my childhood in the book. When I was a little kid I was obsessed with my grades, I always had to have good grades. I had an ulcer in fourth grade. So I share that with the character Rollo. I was essentially an only child like Timmy because my sisters were much older than me. So I lived mostly in my own head like Timmy. And when I was in school all of the smart kids were girls so that would be the character Corinna Corinna.  And I already wrote a second book and after I wrote it realized that one of the characters’ is a lot like my grandmother.

Q: What components do you think a children’s book needs these days to prompt a child to put down the video games and read instead?

A: Most reluctant readers are boys and I think you can compete but you need a few things. If a page is dense with a lot of words and nothing else, it is boring. A page needs to be more sparse and in my genre funny with some kind of illustrations. One of the best pieces I got was from Jeff Kinney(who wrote “Diary of A Wimpy Kid”) who told me to just be funny. He writes his books by starting with jokes and then builds the plot around those jokes.

Q: Somehow it seems so discouraging, a kid named Timmy Failure…maybe I am not seeing it but there is something a little sad about him, I think?

A: the name, I thought, was funny. Timmy strikes me as one of those 1950’s era kids and that combined with the last name was funny, an attention grabber for the reader. It’s not your average name. It’s not discouraging because Timmy is the relentless optimist. He believes so much in his abilities as a detective. He is the last person to get discouraged.  If he can make it, any kid reading the book will think they are in a better place.

Q: Do you have children and do they have any say in the book storylines?

A: I have a 15-year-old Thomas and 11-year-old Julia. And they do have input, especially Thomas. When I wrote the first book I had him read out loud in front of me and every time he laughed I stopped him to ask why. I am sure he found that annoying and probably kept from  laughing by the end so he could get through the book. I’ve always considered him my editor.

Q: What authors were your favorites when you were at that 8 to 12-year-old reading range?

A: There was a book called “ A Wrinkle In Time” and “How To Eat Fried Worms, the whole C.S.  Lewis series, those were huge. When I was a little older, the author I read was Kurt Vonnegut. He wrote those real simple sentences, he had an impact. He had a book called “Breakfast of Champions” where he actually drew drawings that are part of the narrative. The drawings in my book are not as clean as the ones in my comic strip but it’s because they are supposed to be drawings by Timmy. Sometimes the drawings become part of the sentence in “Timmy Failure.”

Q: Why did you make Timmy a detective in the book?

A: I think it’s every kid’s dream to be a detective. As a child I loved the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series and “Encyclopedia Jones.” They all share ridiculously clever characters. They are timeless. I just turned it on its head and had the detective least likely person to solve a mystery but he believes he is the best detective ever.

Q: Have you ever been to Ct?

A: Once, to take a deposition. But I am a huge Twain fan and just finished Ken Burns documentary so I want to find some time to get to Hartford and the Twain House while I am there.

Q: Something no one knows about you?

A: I will sit for four hours on a Saturday night and play Star Wars Battlefront with my son.

Pastis will be at RJ Julia, 768 Boston Post Road, Madison at 4 p.m. on March 2. For ticket information go to

CCSU/Stefanik Make “Leno” Monologue

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mikesAre you a Connecticut race car fan? Did you happen to catch Jay Leno’s monologue last Friday on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno?” Connecticut track regular Mike Stefanik was one of the stars.

Stefanik  missed winning the Whelan Modified Tour “Battle At the Beach” race in Daytona Beach Thursday, after being pushed out of the lead in the white-flag lap by eventual winner Steve Park. Stefanik was, well, less than happy and minced no words in a nasty, very well-publicized tv interview with Fox Sports after the disappointing race.

Leno, a car fan, jumped on the news clips of the seething, stone-faced Stefanik and turned it into a comical bit portraying him as a guy you definitely would not want to be with at light-hearted events including a birthday party or a wedding.

And in the same monologue, Central Connecticut State University got a shout out for its recent survey on the most illiterate cities in the United States. For the second year in a row,  Bakersfield, California was the worst and Leno, of course, couldn’t help but comment.

To see the clip with both go to

Irish Celebrate Upcoming Parade Honorees

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grazIt was one very happy Irish crowd at the Irish American Home Society Sunday, even if they weren’t Irish.

It was the Central Connecticut Celtic Cultural Committee’s annual reception for the Greater Hartford St. Patrick’s Day Parade honorees and as the Guinness and the speeches flowed, so did the enthusiasm.

“Top hat and tails, that’s what I’ll be be wearing when I lead the parade,” said a very happy 2013 Parade Grand Marshal Jim Mulcahy. “That’s tradition.”

“I can’t explain how excited I am,” said Mulcahy, characterized as “the embodiment of the Irish spirit” by a host of speakers who lauded him for his work on behalf of others.

And that oversized “I’m a leprechaun” button he sports each year at the parade? He will be a’wearin it for sure at the March 9 parade, he promised.

The last name of the committee’s Person of the Year winner may not sound Irish but he is. Rich Graziano, publisher, president and CEO of the Hartford Courant and general manager of FOX CT/WCCT-TV advised the sold-out crowd that he is indeed one of the them.

“My mother was Irish,” he explained, emphasizing his Boston roots and his education that included Boston College.

“I have never been in a parade before,” admitted Graziano after all the speeches and awards were presented. “It’s exciting to be chosen for the award and exciting to look forward to being in the parade.”

Deputy Marshals honored at the reception were Sheila Dupuis-Green of Glastonbury, Kathy Saimininkas of East Hartford, Todd Barry of Marlborough and Dan O’Connell of East Hartford.

The Greater Hartford St. Patrick’s Day Parade will be televised live on FOX CT on March 9 beginning at 11 a.m.

The Greater Hartford St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which begins at 11 a.m. March 9, will be televised live on FOX CT.


OscarExperience A CT Bash

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oscar1oscar2There were colored tights (think makeup artist Julie Dartnell) and kilts ( think “Brave” director Mark Andrews) and it wasn’t even the red carpet at the Kodak Theater. It was the one at the Mark Twain House & Museum!

Yep, when it came to fashion Sunday night, Hartford’s OscarExperience party was about as near to the real thing as Connecticut could get Hollywood.

Sunday’s bash, hosted for the first time by the new, merged AIDS CT organization, was the state’s only Oscar sanctioned Academy Award party. And it had it all, lights, action, and a welcoming red carpet… with a good dose of swag, gossip, and good old Hollywood glam thrown in for good measure.

“This is too fun,” said “after 5” clad Marilee James, who won tickets to the event in a silent auction at another non-profit fundraiser several months ago.

“There was just something fun about pulling out a gown and spending some extra time getting your hair and makeup ready,” said the 29-year-old, ice blue glitter-gowned New Haven student who came with girlfriends. “I didn’t see any of the Oscar movies nominated and really don’t care who wins,” she said as she prepared for her sashay down the red carpet. “I just want to have some fun.”

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And fun it was with some of the fashion closely mimicking what was being worn on stage a couple of thousand miles away. Hartford fashion plate Jennifer DeBella rocked brightly colored tights with her evening wear as did Dartnell when she picked up her Oscar early in that awards show. West Hartford salon owner and artist Rick Bach, dressed in a lilt, must have unknowingly channeled some award-winning Andrews, who also showed up on the other coast dressed in similar wear.

Swag anyone? While the swag bags at the Oscars were valued at a cool $48,000 each, AIDS CT put together some pretty sweet freebies that for some lucky recipients included a key to a Mercedes Benz for a weekend.

While pastels and brights ruled the West coast red carpet, over here on the East Coast the trends were tieless, vintage or sequins.

Among those decked out in sequins was Java’s red carpet co-hostess, WTNH traffic reporter Teresa LaBarbera in slinky gold sequins.

And in between interviewing a red carpet of eclectic guests, she had time to buzz about her upcoming nuptials to fiancée Brandon Dufour.

“We’re going to take the chance and have our wedding on New Year’s Eve,” explained LaBarbera. After the church ceremony, the black and white themed party will move to the Palace Theater. Her one wish…no bad weather that night.

Among the tieless chaps was AIDS CT executive director John Merz, sporting a tux with a Lauren striped dress shirt.

“It’s a new style for me,” he explained not long before the guests started arriving and many other men were sporting the same kind of look.

And then there were those who took advantage of the “dress up in a costume” option for the evening.

Among them, Hartford resident Maggie Clapis, a professional New York City costume designer who spent 70 hours one Marie Antoinette costume.

“I know there is no Marie Antoinette movie but I wanted to do something grand,” she explained, twirling in her voluminous pink moire satin corseted gown and powdered wig. “This just seemed like the kind of occasion to wear something like this.”

Foodie Middleton Schmoozes In Farmington

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faith1The WNPR personality was the reason for the elegant dinner at Farmington Gardens Thursday and not just any old dinner.

It was her 4th annual “Heart to Heart Champagne and Romance Dinner Dance,” a lush fundraising affair that had all February is known for, champagne, an intimate dinner, dancing and of course, romance.

“We love her,” said Lauren Shelto, who came with husband Geoff Boughton, and her sister and brother-in-law Jayne and Jim Bishop. And on a night when she admitted she would probably be happily slipping into pajamas as the end of another work week loomed, Shelto said it was a treat to be out on the town instead of cooking at home. So would there be dancing with her date as well?

faith3“It depends on how much we drink,” she laughed, as the four sipped champagne.

Doing the heavy lifting in the kitchen was a who’s who of area chefs including Chip Miller from The Society Room, Stefan Drago from Belle Terrace, Yale Woodson from Plan B Burger Bar and Katrina Chabot from Farmington Gardens.

“Yummy, just yummy,” was the food review from self-proclaimed amateur critic Mary Carlisle, a West Hartford resident who said she was the “fill-in” date for a friend who could not attend. “Definitely better than what I would have been eating if I were home,” she said. “By Thursday all the energy I have when it comes to making dinner is a bowl of cereal.”

Camp Courant Happy Hour Draws A Crowd

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courant2 - CopyThere should have been a campfire at the Arch Street Tavern Happy Hour Thursday, given all the camp tales being told at Camp Courant’s “Send A Kid To Camp” fundraiser.

“We had a camp, we called it Boys Athletic Beach,” quipped the always entertaining Congressman John Larson. The longtime politico and East Hartford guy explained how he and friends had a favorite place is  where they set up their own makeshift camp as kids, nicknaming it, well,  let’s just say it has something to do with swimwear or the lack of it. “It was great,” smiled Larson recalling his “younger years.” “I mean I was a boy from the projects, what can I say?”

courant1 - CopyAnd while the beer and the tales flowed, there was a good reason for cutting out of work early to head over to the tavern, raising money so that as many children in need as possible will enjoy a camping vacation this summer at the Farmington facility.

“We believe in the benefits of a camping experience for youths,” said Dan Moore, government affairs manager at Northeast Utilities, a major sponsor of the event. “This was our opportunity to help out.”

And while the mood was light as business leaders wound down to enjoy the get-together, the business of the day was money.

“this event raised over $10,000,” said Camp Courant board chair Gene Sheehan of Hartford’s Sullivan & LeShane. “And more importantly, it has renewed the momentum and the commitment of the people of Hartford to nurture Hartford’s children.”