Monthly Archives: May 2013

Time For Heat Hartford! It’s The Weekend!

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calendar_clip_art-1.29213820_std[1]So it’s the first heat wave of the season but that shouldn’t stop anyone from enjoying the weekend, a weekend full of choices.

On Thursday, head over to Trinity College for Camp Courant’s “Cartoons For Camp,” a fundraising evening with Courant editorial cartoonist Bob Englehart from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the Center for Urban & Global Studies.

Englehart will tell stories and show previously unseen cartoons. This exhibit of original cartoon art is for one night only. Tickets are $75. Information:

alecxanderAlso on Thursday, civil rights lawyer, advocate and author Michelle Alexander will be awarded the 2013 Stowe Prize at the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center in Hartford. The evening includes a reception and dinner, book signing and dessert under a tent on the grounds. Information:

On Friday East Hartford’s Goodwin College will holds its “Magical Night Under the Big Top” gala to benefit its student scholarships. Honorary chairs are Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and his wife, Cathy Malloy. The evening includes a cocktail hour, dinner and performers. Information:

komenSaturday, get your sneakers on and run or walk in Hartford’s 20th annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. There are 5K races, walks, a kid’s race and more at Bushnell Park. You can register for the race Friday at the park, or on Saturday beginning at 7 a.m. Opening ceremonies begin at 8:15 followed by races and walks. The survivor’s breakfast is at 8 a.m.

Also on Saturday and Sunday, St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Hartford holds its Greek Festival 2013. The festival, held at the cathedral at 433 Fairfield Ave. includes Greek food, pastries, imports, music and dancing. The festival is open Saturday from 11 a.m. to midnight and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.

parade (2)Sunday is Parade Day. The Greater Hartford Puerto Rican Day Parade and Festival del Coqui will be held at the Bushnell Pavilion in Hartford. The parade starts at noon and the festival, from 2 to 6 p.m. There will be food and live performances . Information:

Also on Sunday, head over to Plainville’s Robertson Airport from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. for its annual “Wings and Wheels” fundraiser benfitting The Petit Foundation and the Plainville Community Pantry. Classic cars, airplanes, ride, food and entertainment will be featured. Admission is $5 for adults, $2 for children from five to 11.

NBMAA, Mariella’s Some D.C. and TLC Exposure

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murphy (2)New Britain Museum of American Art executive director Douglas Hyland is a man of patience.

It took him several years to convince art collector Robert Lesser that the New Britain museum would be the perfect home for his extensive pulp fiction collection and in April the deal was sealed.

Then there was the time four years ago, when Hyland offered to loan some of the museum’s pieces to then U. S. Rep. and now U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy for display in his office. Now that deal has been sealed, too.

The senator has chosen about 25 contemporary art pieces that he will display, pending museum board of director’s approval, in his office in Washington, D.C.

Hyland said he offered to loan works to the then-Congressman a while ago but that Murphy just recently said he would like to take advantage of the offer and showcase CT artists in his larger and well-secured office in the nation’s capital.

“I am delighted more Connecticut artists will be featured in our nation’s capital and more of our amazing collection will inspire visitors to his office,” said Hyland, who helped Murphy with the selection.

Speaking of showcasing Connecticut…

Did you happen to catch Friday night’s “I Found the Gown” on the TLC channel?

Featured were dresses from Rocky Hill’s Mariella Creations.

Show hosts Rick and Leslie DeAngelo, who stock off-price designer gowns at their Watertown, Massachusetts store, “Vows” traveled to Rocky Hill store where they met with owner Mariella Perna. After some haggling, the couple bought $28,000 worth of gowns from the Mariella “Attic” including a Vera Wang creation that retailed for $10,000.

As the episode unfolded, the Vera Wang was the exact dress one bride-to-be was looking for and she purchased it at the Boston store for 75 percent off.

The episode was filmed in Rocky Hill in December, 2012. To view the segment go to


Keller/Carbone To Open Another Hartford Restaurant

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dishGoodbye  “Zula” and Ciao  “Sorella!”

Many months after the mysterious, quick closing of the former Zula Bar and  Restaurant,  a couple of well-known Hartford restaurateurs are taking over the space.

DISH (in Hartford)  and Dish ‘n Dat (in Canton)  owners, Billy Carbone and Dan Keller will be opening ” Sorella” at 901 Main St. this summer, a new dining venture that will be all Italian.

“We have wanted to open a third restaurant and have been looking at different locations,”said Keller. “The Zula space is perfect because it is the perfect size and across the street  from DISH so we can easily watch over both,” he said. ” But Sorella (which translates to “sister”) will be a totally different restaurant with a totally different menu.

Carbone said the two have already ordered a wood-fired pizza over from Italy for the stone pies that will be part of the Sorella menu. The bulk of the menu will be based on the homemade pastas and sauces that will be made at the new place. Salads and a very extensive selection  of antipasto items will round out the lunch and  dinner menu.

“We want it to be the kind of menu that is meant to be shared,” said Keller, noting that the price point will also be very affordable.

 Keller and Carbone plan an Aug. 1 opening,  as work progresses on a renovation of the space. While the bar area will remain, the stage in the rear of the dining room is being removed. Besides the large main dining room, there will also be a private dining room located downstairs. Gone will be the harsh blue and silver interior and instead a soft, natural-toned decor, said Keller.The two also plan to pursue a rooftop lounge in the future.

 Keller said the new restaurant comes at a perfect time for the business partners. DISH is celebrating its sixth anniversary and Dish ‘n Dat its fourth anniversary this year.

“Sorella will be something new to downtown Hartford,” said Keller. “We can’t wait.”

Salvation Army Celebrates ‘Beyond the Bells’

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sa10Think of the Salvation Army and you often think of its signature bells, the ones that enthusiastically clang each holiday season as the selfless organization raises money to help others.

And on Thursday, those bells played a key role at the Greater Hartford Salvation Army’s annual awards luncheon.

Titled “Beyond the Bells,” the event also featured keynote speaker Matt Bevin, president of East Hampton’s Bevin Brothers Mfg. Co, the famed factory that provides the Salvation Army with its signature bells.

The historic factory, known for the array of bells it produces, was destroyed by fire last year, but is in the midst of regrouping and getting the business back to normal.

“We are a lot like the Salvation Army,” said Bevin, who lives in Kentucky and is considering a run for U.S. Senate there. “We both go back a long way and we are very determined.”sa30

The event also included the presentation of two awards. Receiving its “Others” Award was Aetna, a longtime supporter of Salvation Army efforts.

“It is all about community support,” said Aetna’s Mark Robitaille who is also a member of the Salvation Army’s advisory board. “Our company has a culture of giving.”

Receiving the Salvation Army’s “Doing The Most Good” award was Canton businessman and entrepreneur Henry Bahre, who for many years has helped with the annual “Holiday Store” drive.

 sa11 “When I was young, my father, who served in World War I, told me how the Salvation Army provided toiletries and other necessities to the soldiers,” said Bahre who received his award from fellow Holiday Store supporter, WTIC personality Ray Dunaway.  “He told me if I ever could do anything for the Salvation Army, to do it,” Bahre continued. “So that’s what I do each year, get donations for the Holiday Store,” he said. “My donors know I am coming and they are ready for me.”






Hartford’s Kendra Johnson Stars On New OWN Show

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kendraYou might want to tune in to the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) Wednesday evening. Those in the Hartford/Bloomfield/South Windsor area will surely see a familiar face. Hartford native, actress Kendra C. Johnson will star  in the new writer/director/actor Tyler Perry TV comedy, “Love Thy Neighbor” which premieres at 9 p.m. (EST) Best known for her starring role in the independent feature “Phat Girls” and her recurring role in the hit BET television series “The Game,” Johnson is also an editor for PLUS Model Magazine and a passionate advocate for breast cancer research and awareness. Often in Connecticut to visit family and friends, Johnson was excited about the new show and about updating her home state of Connecticut by Spilling the Beans with Java.

Q: I can’t imagine anything more fun than working with Tyler Perry. How did you get the role?

A: I did a film with him and then was asked to audition for two shows he is doing, one the comedy and another called “The Haves and Have Nots” that is a drama. I was at my grandmother’s in Windsor when I got the call to audition, did that the week before Christmas, and we were on the set filming by Feb. 14. He works fast.

Q: I hear you are a Connecticut gal. Good times?

A: It was great. I was born in Hartford and lived there until I was 12 and then we moved to South Windsor where I did middle school and most of high school. My Uncle John was one of the first black fire chiefs in Hartford and my dad, Thomas, was director of public works. My mom was one of the first black principals at Washington Elementary School. And I have to say something about Artists Collective. It is where I took my very first drama, tap and voice lessons. My creative spirit was born in Hartford.  I still have a lot of family in the Hartford area so I visit often.

kendra2Q: Your new show is set in a neighborhood diner called “Love’s Diner.” Did you have a diner or restaurant you liked when you were growing up in Hartford?

A: I do remember a place on Main Street, I think it was called Hal’s Diner. And I remember it because the family would all go there for breakfast on Saturdays. We knew we would all run into each other there. Hal’s had the best pancakes but I hated the pancake syrup because it was real syrup, not sweet like the bottled stuff.

Q: In your new series, you play Linda, the mother of a son and daughter of diner owner Hattie, played by Patrice Lovely. How are you and Linda similar?

A: I love the fact that one of the first descriptions in the script was that Linda was beautiful. Who doesn’t want to be cast as “beautiful?” Actually, who Linda is changed a bit after I was cast. Now she is younger than originally planned and her son Danny isn’t 30 anymore. He is fresh out of college and looking for a job. There are so many “best” parts to this role. I so wanted to work with Mr. Perry and always wanted to be a regular on a TV series. And I wanted to meet Oprah and now it is all happening at once. And I am part of history. This is the first sitcom on her network and one of the first two projects that were a collaboration between Mr. Perry and Oprah.

Q: Have you met Oprah?

A: I have and she was great. She surprised us all by showing up on the set one day. She is very warm and very down to earth. She felt very familiar.

Q: I know you have many other interests and talents including empowerment editor for PLUS Model magazine. As the battle continues over skinny vs. not so skinny, weigh in on the Abercrombie Fitch firestorm.

A: As far as Abercrombie, from an economic standpoint, it is not a very smart business move and publicity wise, not very bright. If they are all about the smart cool hip folks and had done their homework, they would have realized they are missing out on some great profit. Unfortunately that is why our magazine has been trying to lead a movement to help society kind of shift what has been a traditional view of what beautiful is. I don’t know if we are ever going to get beyond the super-skinny thing, I hope so. I’d like to think society is progressive enough to get there. On a positive note, l live in Los Angeles where most of the time I would audition was because the script called for a plus-size woman. But this time, there was no mention of body style but rather characteristics for the role. I wasn’t chosen because I was the best plus-size actor but because I was the best for the role.

Q: When you visit the Hartford area, what is your one “must stop?”

A: The Jamaican bakery on Main Street. It is a staple of my youth. My grandmother used to live on Tower Street and we were always at the bakery. When I fly back to the coast, I have to stop for chicken and beef patties and coco bread. It is non-negotiable.

Q: What are the nicest and naughtiest things you did while living here?

A: The nicest would be my fondest memories of Thanksgiving at Shiloh Baptist Church and helping to serve dinner to those in need. We would put on the TV so the men could watch the football games. It was a wonderful holiday tradition for us. The naughtiest? Oh, Jesus. When I lived in South Windsor, the school had Project Concern students, students of color from Hartford who would be bused to our school and then be taken back to Hartford at the end of the day. I wanted to go into Hartford and I wasn’t supposed to be on those buses but because of my color I just walked on and no one said anything. I was maybe 14. I ended up getting stranded in Hartford and my mother was looking everywhere for me.

Q: If you were producing a show about Hartford what would you call it?

A: “Hartbeat” and the story line would be centered on family.


(OWN photos)



Let “Unofficial” Summer Begin Hartford!

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calendar_clip_art-1.29213820_std[1]We all know real summer doesn’t really begin until June, but for many of us, Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial launch of the most wonderful time of the year for the winter-weary.

And so we welcome this three-day holiday weekend, a time for picnics and parades and sunshine and a renewed spirit, a time to honor our nation’s veterans, take time for family and welcome the best that warm weather can offer.

sabellsToday the Salvation Army of Greater Hartford will hold its “Beyond the Bells” luncheon at the Hartford Marriott Downtown, where it will present the “Others Award” to an organization or individual exemplifying exceptional service to others. This year’s honoree will be Aetna. Its “Doing the Most Good” award will be presented to Henry Bahre at the luncheon  that this year will features Bevin Brothers Mfg. President Matt Bevin. The East Hampton bell factory, that manufactured the Salvation Army’s trademark  bells as well as other lines,  was destroyed by fire last year and is rebuilding the business.

Proceeds from the luncheon that begins at 11:30 a.m. benefit Salvation Army programs.   For information go to

Thurday evening, Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington will hold its “Monet in May” annual dinner auction. Dinner and auctions will be held under a tent on the museum’s West Lawn. Proceeds support the preservation of the National Historic Landmark, as well as it  paintings, sculpture, decorative arts, architecture, landscape and gardens.


What’s a Memorial Day weekend without lobster?

lobstersMystic Seaports kicks off the unofficial summer season with its three-day  28th annual  Lobster Days festival beginning Saturday.

Members of the Mystic Rotary Club will serve lobsters-in-the-rough from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day at the seaport’s waterfront open-air boat shed . More than 3,000 lobsters will be cooked for the festival that includes its annual “Decoration Day” ceremony on Monday.

A special combination tickets that includes museum admission and a single lobster dinner and dinner only tickets are available.Proceeds benefit the Mystic Rotary.


Also this weekend, one of New England’s largest arts festivals takes place in Northampton, Mass.

paradise The 19th annual Paradise City Arts Festival opens Saturday at the Three County Fairgrounds and continues through Monday. The weekend includes exhibitions by 260 artists, including many from Connecticut, a gourmet dining, jazz by Giacomo Gates on Sunday and Charles Neville on Monday. Information:

And what better way to welcome the arrival of summer than a trip to the drive-in. Yes, you can still do that here in CT beginning this weekend!  Both the Mansfield Drive-In and the Pleasant Valley Drive-In on the New Hartford-Winsted line are open this holiday weekend. Information: and

flagAnd finally, as the daughter, niece, widow and friend  of men and women who served in the U.S. Armed Forces, take a moment Monday to remember those who gave their lives and acknowledge those who stepped up and served to protect our country.



South Glastonbury Woman Headed To Miss USA Contest

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usaIt’s Miss USA pageant time again and representing Connecticut this year is South Glastonbury resident Erin Brady. The 25-year-old didn’t get into the pageant business until last year but has done well, coming in first-runner up in last year’s state competition and this year, winning the contest that means she goes onto the nationals that take place on June 16 in Las Vegas. A Central Connecticut State University graduate who is a finance accountant for Prudential insurance in Hartford, the 5’8 113-pound contender was enthused and focused on bringing Connecticut some fame as she Spilled the Beans with Java.

 Q: What prompted you to get into beauty pageant competition?

A: I was always interested in modeling and being in pageants is a great gateway. I first entered last year and was older than a lot of women who get involved in pageants but I did the research and the USA organization seemed to be the one that was the best fit.

Q: Last year, your first time, you were first runner-up and this year a winner. What did you learn about the business in a year’s time?

A: When I entered last year I had no expectations and was not sure of what to expect because I had never competed so I was really blindsided. After participating in that, I learned about the physical preparation like exercising and eating well that needs to be part of getting ready to compete, as well as choosing outfits and getting mentally ready. You are in it as soon as you register, long before you are ever on a stage. Most of the girls who compete have been doing it since they were teenagers. This time I have more sponsors and have done a lot more to get ready. I am in it to pick up the crown.   

Q: It is my understanding that you have a back story that is different than many young ladies who compete. Share?

A: I lived in Portland and when I graduated from high school moved out on my own and worked fulltime and went to college full time, eventually getting my diploma in finance and criminal justice. I couldn’t even think about being in beauty pageants. I had no free time and didn’t have any extra money and was not mentally in the right state of mind. It’s been a struggle but it shaped who I am. Sometimes I feel like a 35-year-old in a 25-year-old body but the struggles helped me be better. Being older now I think works to my advantage. I think I have more poise, more life experience, and more maturity.  

Q: Your hobbies?

A: I love to cook and if there were a talent portion to the competition in Las Vegas, I would make my turkey meatballs with homemade tomato sauce. The USA pageant though, just has a swimsuit and evening gown competition as well as the interviews.

Q: One of the standards in these competitions is that contestants have a favorite cause. What’s yours?

A: It would be to establish a Connecticut branch of Children of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse. The nearest one to us is in Boston. I hope to get something started here. It stems from my personal life.

Q: What’s your counter-argument to those who downplay any value to beauty competitions?

A: It’s not about just being pretty. When you look at those women on stage you are seeing well-spoken, professional, intelligent women who are role models. The experience is an honor and I am looking forward to meeting all of them.

Q: If we tune in on June 16, how will we know which one is you?

A: I will be the one and only Miss USA from Connecticut.


The pageant is scheduled to air on June 16 at 9 p.m. on NBC

*And she DID win!

What Is CT’s “Fan Favorite” “Town?”

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tourism3Looking for “the” place to go this summer as you cruise around the state?

Head to Niantic!

The coastline community was named  the first  “Fan Favorite” at  the Connecticut Conference on Tourism  Industry Forum Tuesday at the Connecticut Convention Center.  

“We have it all,” said  a beaming Niantic/East Lyme first selectman Paul Formica. “Tourism is huge for us and Niantic is the gateway to the area.”

Niantic (a village in the town of East Lyme) was chosen based on on-line votes in the competition that is part of the state’s tourism push.  With a population of about 4,000, the place garnered about 10,000 online votes with its Inn at Harbor Hill Marina chosen as the favorite destination within Niantic.


Nearly 2,000 destinations and attractions around the state were named “favorites” by those participating in the online contest, part of Connecticut’s “Still Revolutionary” tourism and branding campaign,

The nine runner-up towns include Mystic, New Haven, Putnam, Old Saybrook, Essex, Wethersfield, Hartford, New London and Wallingford.

About 200 people were at a breakfast featuring Gov. Dannel P. Malloy  who presented the “fan favorite” award.


Pineapple Awards, honors in a variety of categories including excellence in tourism service and hospitality, volunteer of the year and tourism ambassador were slated to be given out later Tuesday.

Also honored at the forum were Mystic Seaport’s Peter Glankoff  who received the Lifetime Achievement Award and former Connecticut  Magazine publisher Charles Monaghan, who was tapped for a special commitment award recognizing his years of service and dedication to promoting tourism in Connecticut.

Silo’s Santorso Opens New Restaurant

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silo7silo3They weren’t gone for long.

The Santorso family, best known for their longtime landmark restaurant in Farmington, The Silo, can be found in new digs beginning this week.

But this time it is son, Gary Santorso, who heads up the eatery known as 150, An American Restaurant & Bar, at 150 Central St., Forestville.

silo10 The space, that most recently housed Garnish restaurant, has received a makeover that includes a larger bar and a menu that features American classics.

Aurora Hands Out Awards

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aurora1The Aurora Women and Girls Foundation recently held its “Women Who Make A Difference” reception at the Governor’s Residence in Hartford. With Gov. Dannel P. Malloy are the 2013 honorees, Estela Lopez, left, Janet Bailey and Thea Montanez.