Tag Archives: Farmington

Lyme Art’s Ballack New CEO At Hill-Stead

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Susan BallekThe buzz at Hill-Stead Museum’s annual ‘Dinner on the Hill’ fundraiser Sunday was that there would soon be a new director/CEO named.

It was good buzz!

The Farmington museum’s Board of Governors has named Susan Ballek as its new director and CEO.

Ballek, currently executive director at the Lyme Art Association, succeeds Susan Sturtevant who stepped down earlier this year.

 Prior to joining Lyme Art Association, Ballek worked at the  Lyman Allyn Art Museum and the Connecticut River Museum.  She holds a B.A. in Fine Art from the University of Oregon and her art work has been exhibited in both Connecticut and Oregon. She is active in community organizations including  High Hopes Therapeutic Riding, Lyme Land Conservation Trust and Old Lyme’s Midsummer Festival. 

 “Susan’s collaborative and results-oriented style, plus comprehensive development, customer, volunteer, and program experiences within the arts community make her an ideal leader for Hill-Stead,” said Tim Corbett, president of Hill-Stead’s Board of Governors. “Her energy and focus are infectious and have been demonstrated throughout her career by her professional and volunteer accomplishments.”

“I am honored to have been selected as the new leader of Hill-Stead Museum, and look forward to meeting the loyal members and friends in the coming months,” Ballek said.  “Residents of the Greater Hartford area are so fortunate to have this breathtaking estate and art collection right in their backyard, and I can’t wait to re-engage the community with new excerpts from the life of Theodate Pope Riddle.”

Hill-Stead Celebrates The Season On ‘The Hill’

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MaryEllen Fillo/Hartford Courant

If you have to say goodbye to summer there was no better way to do it then heading up to Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington Sunday for its annual “Dinner on the Hill.”

The annual al fresco fundraiser not only marked the near-end of summer, but also the start of the annual Farm-to-Chef statewide celebration of Connecticut grown ingredients.

“We could not have ordered a better day,” said Debra Pasquale, the museum’s interim director. “This is an occasion where we raise money for our Farmers market and its companion programs and we are thrilled to celebrate the fifth anniversary of our dinner.”


MaryEllen Fillo/Hartford Courant

Long communal tables swathed in eggplant and gold colored linens, fresh flowers and cutting boards full of artisan breads welcomed the 125 guests who sipped on wine and sampled appetizers on the museum grounds overlooking the Farmington Valley.

Doing the heavy lifting, cooking wise, was Russell Pryzbek of Russell’s Creative Global Cuisine. His goal? A meal that would live up to the week, the location and a foodie’s passion.

“We have a great dinner tonight,” he said as he gave Java the “cooks tour” of what was going on in the cook tent. And impressive it was as he showed off pork dumplings, carpaccio of sword fish, curried roasted cauliflower bisque, beef stew with meat from Ox Hollow Farm, grilled eggplant steak and warm blueberry buckle.

“I am totally impressed,” said volunteer president Linda Ericson-Ebel as the crowd began to arrive.  “I knew it was going to be great.”

Fornarelli Takes Over Farmington’s Murphy and Scarletti’s Space

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fornarelliJerry Fornarelli, who boasts the trio of well-known Hartford nightspots, Up or On the Rocks, The Tavern Downtown and The Russian Lady, is expanding to the suburbs.

Fornarelli  is opening a new restaurant/entertainment venue, the Tavern at the Exchange, in the space vacated last year by Murphy and Scarletti’s.

The new restaurant will serve lunch and dinner by day, and at night feature entertainment , music and dancing at the place located in Farmington’s Exchange complex on Farmington Avenue near the University of Connecticut Health Center.

Fornarelli’s Up Or On The Rocks location has been in the news lately. Earlier this month two people, in separate incidents, were killed outside the Union Place nightspot following fights that began inside and spilled onto the street after the club closed. Fornarelli temporarily closed the  club while he worked with police on a better security plan.

According to Kami Slattery, sales and events manager for the Farmington venue, the former Murphy and Scarletti’s space is undergoing a renovation that includes taking down walls and redecorating to give it a “new feel.”

“There will be a more extensive menu than Downtown Tavern,” she said, explaining that the feel of place will most replicate Fornarelli’s The Tavern Downtown. “And there will still be a private dining room for small parties or meetings.

The new place is scheduled to open in late September, she said.


CT Expert Hits The Road For A “Small Town” Road Trip

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Bart anf Rorie RussellFarmington resident and West Hartford businessman Bart Russell loves America’s small towns, all 34,000 of them. So much so that he spent 36 years as one of the nation’s most prominent spokesmen and advocate for “little towns,” those with populations of less than 30,000. He worked as CEO of the National Association of Towns, president of its National Center for Small Communities and was former head of the CT Council of Small Towns. But now he has a new project. He has established “Everything Small Town” a kind of online, one-stop center for everything and anything to do with small towns across the nation. And as part of that, he and his wife, Rorie, are heading out Sunday for their first “Discover Small Town American Tour.” The couple invited people across the nation to share what is best in their small towns- super sights, interesting residents, places to eat, attractions and more, and have put together an unusual and unexpected road trip itinerary that will take them to the best of some of the nation’s small towns between California and back again. But before the two hit the road, Bart Spilled the Beans with small-town girl, Java.

Q: What is it about small towns that intrigue you so?

A: I spent 36 years advocating for small towns, advocating, lobbying speaking at state organizations about federal issues, legislative areas and those sorts of things. I always had a passion for these places and the people who lives in these places. Once I stepped down from those positions, I was free to roam about the country. I am fascinated by people who give it a go in these small towns. It’s a chance to spend new found time in the trenches in these places, get to know the younger generation of people who are ready to rock and roll and want to make stuff happen in their towns. I want to spotlight then so other people will come.

Q: So what was the impetus for your “Discover Small Town America” tour?

A: I really wanted to launch a platform “Everything Small Town,” a virtual place for people and government who have a stake in these 34,000 communities. It occurred to me one of the best ways was to make it real would be to actually get out of Connecticut and go to these places. The idea led to just an amazing amount of interest in the countryside by people who have heard about the tour and wanted to showcase their community, business and stories. USA Today travel division talked to us about collaboration. Now we see this trip as a free-standing event that could be an annual tour and a way in which we get down to grass roots, meet people and see their communities up and close and personal. What better way to make it real?

Q: When do you leave and where will the trip take you?

A: We leave June 16 and will be on road for six or seven weeks. We are heading east to west using I-40 as the main corridor and I-70 coming back. We don’t have a lot of structure. We are going to start by going to Gettysburg because of its 150th anniversary and its historical significance. It’s a good way to start.

Q: Where are some of the places that invited you to stop there?

A: A small town in Logonier, Indiana with a highly-rated B&B located in the middle of a cornfield, Greenville, Ohio where locals argue has the best homemade bagels and the 230-person community of of Cuba, Kansas called by one big city newspaper “a town of doers.” We also plan to stop in Moore, Oklahoma which was just devastated by the tornado and do what we can to help them out. We are going to Plainville, Kansas to meet Chuck Comeau, owner of Dessin Fournir Companies, the luxury furniture maker “of the stars” including Oprah, Elton John and Janet Jackson, and Siloam Springs, Arkansas, with a downtown built up along the meandering banks of spring-fed Sager Creek, and listed on the Smithsonian’s “20 Best Small Towns in America”. And then there’s Lucas, Kansas which has what folks there call the “blingiest public restroom ever.


Q: Were you surprised to receive so many small town invitations?

A: I was surprised by the remoteness of some of the places and the energy and enthusiasm of the places that heard about our trip. There is a lot of down-home pride out there. They are excited about their communities. I believe these places are wonderful. I remember flying to the West Coast and you look down and you see these little dots and farms carved out of the landscape. We have a patchwork quilt of a country made up of thousands of those little dots.

Q: So is this a trip about seeing or eating?

A: A little of both.

Q: And in what grand car will be you be doing this road trip, and how many miles do you expect to rack up?

A: We will be traveling in a spacious limo, a Toyota Prius. We’ll be traveling about 8,000 miles but I like to drive. It will be like a scavenger hunt of cool places no one has ever heard of. “It’s not your grandmother’s cross country trip! We’ll be blogging during the trip at discoversmalltownamerica.com Come along!

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.

Murphy & Scarletti’s Closes

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murphOwners Bill McDougall and Bryan Moffett insisted  their Murphy & Scarletti’s would finish out the 2012 holiday season but apparently the plans changed.

Farmington’s popular place for food, partying and live music closed Saturday night, ending a long run at the Farmington Exchange.

A crowd of fans who ventured out in Saturday’s snow to make one last visit turned to hit Twitter and Facebook to mark the closing.

No word on what may move into the space.

Farmington’s Murphy and Scarletti’s To Close?

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Murphy and Scarletti’s, the famed Farmington restaurant that served up as much late night fun and dancing delight as it did pasta, is apparently closing in January.

Facebook and Twitter postings began last week about the anticipated closure. Staff referred calls to the manager, explaining the restaurant was not taking bookings beyond the beginning of the year because it could be closing. Owners, however, declined to discuss the reports until after the holiday season.

“There is no comment right now,”  said co-owner Bill McDougall, who, with Bryan Moffett, owns the popular pasta grill and bar located in the Farmington Exchange across from UConn Medical Center.

Known best for its wide range of live music from blues to rock, an always lively Happy Hour, and its reputation as the place to go on Friday and Saturday nights, the restaurant also serves up a noteworthy  menu that included its pizzas,” build-your-own- burgers and pasta dishes for those who came to dine.