Talk about taking directions to heart! Nixs tag line, “Play Nice” “Have Fun” was the mantra at its new restaurant on Front Street in Hartford Tuesday as the by-invitation-only crowd got its first look at city’s newest eatery in the emerging entertainment/dining district.
“This is so exciting,” said Riverfront Recapture CEO/president Joe Marfuggi, the guy who has helped nurse the Front Street vibe to reality over the years. “Now people can really see all this area is going to be.”
The district has bloomed in the past couple of years with the Spotlight Theatres, restaurants including Capital Grille and Ted’s Montana Grill and the soon-to-open Infinity Music Hall & Bistro.
“Look at it, what’s not to be excited about,” said Hartford’s Dept. of Development Services, EDD director Wayne Benjamin as he surveyed the handsome place, best known for its seafood and its Boston roots. “This is great for Hartford.”
Classic movies played on big screen televisions as guests arrived for red carpet photos, a tantalizing seafood display, and appetizer and cocktail samplings that showed off the best of the restaurant that officially opens Saturday, Aug. 16. Among those welcoming the crowd was Nixs managing partner Abner Kurtin.
“We could not have been more welcome here in Hartford,” said Kurtin about choosing Hartford as one of its locations. Anxious to form a bond with the other new restaurants in the district, Kurtin and the other restaurateurs are already working on an October block party for the area, one aimed at cooperation rather than competition.
“We are all so different and we can all succeed,” he said.
A familiar face that was part of the welcoming committee was former Treva general manager Yaz Sheriff, who has taken over the same job at Nixs.
“I wanted a change, it is an exciting concept and an exciting area of the city to be part of,” said Sheriff.
Marfuggi, with longtime honey Sherry Brown, didn’t miss a trick when it came to taking advantage of the happy crowd to further promote his dear riverfront and its benefit to the city.
“The Big’Mo is Sept. 13,” said Marfuggi, referring to the very popular annual party that celebrates the river and the development around it. “It’s at 777 Main Street this year and it will be a great party.”
When the curtain goes up next month at the anxiously anticipated opening of Hartford’s Infinity Hall & Bistro, it will be the ’80s/’90s alternative group Toad the Wet Sprocket taking center stage.
Infinity Hall founder/owner Dan Hincks announced Thursday that ribbon-cutting will be held on Aug. 21 with the well-known reunited band christening the stage with its performance on Aug. 28.
“It is absolutely a tremendous feeling to see it happening,” said Hincks. ” I have gotten so much support from everybody in the Hartford community. It’s a big project and a real joy to see it come to fruition.”
Celebrating the “new beat” that comes with the announced music hall opening was Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra.
“It’s a good beat for the city,” said Segarra about the music hall opening. “There is a lot of positive energy in Hartford and this is one of those exciting additions.”
Considered a key component to downtown’s Front Street entertainment district development, the $6 million concert hall and bistro project has been one of the main topics of discussion around the city since first proposed as the main jewel in the riverfront development project in 2012. City leaders and business owners have attentively watched as construction on the performance venue progressed over the past year, a project they are banking on as a critical boost the city needs as part of its revitalization efforts.
“I am really excited to see the house lights come on,” said Michael W. Freimuth, executive director of the Capital Region Development Authority. “The music hall is going to generate more foot traffic for the restaurants that have opened, complements the theater and offers another amenity to the overall convention center area.”
Among the artists already booked for the Hartford venue, Hincks said, are John Mayall, Paula Poundstone, Chick Corea and the Vigil, 10,000 Maniacs, Black 47 and Mary Chapin Carpenter.
The music hall seats about 500 people. The venue, funded in part with $1.3 million in state bonding money, includes a 9,800 square feet main level which includes box office, bistro and music hall and a 7,000 square-foot mezzanine with more seating, VIP dining space, kitchen, green room for artists, and a private dining room that is available for rent .
The Hartford location is the second location for Infinity Hall. The original venue, which opened in 2008, is located in a 19th century restored opera house in rural Norfolk. It has become a popular concert site featuring an eclectic mix of live acts ranging from Wilson Phillips, Kevin Bacon and the Bacon Band to Keb Mo, the late Dave Brubeck, Kevin Costner and his band and Tory Amos.
“Without Norfolk, we wouldn’t be in Hartford,” Hincks said Thursday. “The patrons truly appreciate the high quality entertainment Infinity provides,” he said. “It makes senses to expand into Hartford. We’re so excited to join this increasingly vibrant market and thrilled to bring Connecticut and Massachusetts even more music and dining options.”
Toad the Wet Sprocket is best known for its 90s hits including “All I Want” and “Walk on The Ocean.” The band split in the late 90s, reunited years later and now doing concert tours together. In 2013 the group, that includes Glen Phillips, Todd Nichols, Dean Dinning, and Randy Guss, released an album ” New Constellation.”
Asked if he knew anything about the group whose music was also featured in movies including “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” in 1992 and Mike Myers “So I Married An Axe Murder” in 1993, Segarra said his memory of the band was “refreshed” upon learning the official news about the opening performance.
“I absolutely will be at that concert,” he said.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and other dignitaries are expected at the Aug. 21 ribbon-cutting. The bistro will open Aug. 22, Hincks said.
“We will be offering diners a tour of the building and the music hall when they come in,” he said.
Located next to the upscale Capital Grille and across from Ted Turner’s Ted’s Montana Grill, the music hall/bistro also shares the block with the Spotlight Theaters. The Front Street project is being developed by the HB Nitkin Group, with Nixs Hartford restaurant also scheduled to open soon.
Infinity tickets go on sale for some of the Hartford venue July 24. People can visit the website, InfinityHall.com, to purchase concert tickets and make dinner reservations, or call the box office at 866-666-6306.
When Oscar nominees saunter into the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood for the 86th annual Academy Awards festivities on March 2, they will be greeted with coveted swag bag loot including Chocolatine chocolates, personal training session and Le Petit Cirque aerial lessons.
In Hartford, there will also be some award festivities, and some VIP’ers who will also be scooping up the free loot including gourmet chocolates, yoga lesson and movie tickets at AIDS Ct “Red Carpet Experience Hartford.”
And this year’s bash is a special one.
It’s the 20th anniversary of the event and will include a red carpet welcome by Java and WTNH personality Teresa Dufour, viewing of the Oscar show in the theater and on big screen tvs, food, a silent auction and prizes.
This year’s glamorous Oscar night party, the major fundraiser for the non-profit that provides services and support for those impacted by AIDS/HIV, will be held at Hartford’s Front Street Spotlight Theatres.
DISH Restaurant Group, Uncommon Cupcake, The G Stream, Max Restaurant Group, Front Street Bistro, The Pond House, Half Moon Grille, Nora Cupcakes and Peppercorns Grill are providing food. Cash bar available.
For Oscar Experience ticket information go to www.aids-ct.org or call 1-800-838-3006.
Consider this a four-parter. That means keep reading through please. There was just so much to do and write about, Java had to break it down!
Saturday night. Four downtown Hartford events. One pair of high heels.
You couldn’t swing a stiletto shoe without hitting a soiree in Hartford Saturday night and that, combined with it being Halloween party weekend and a concert trifecta at the XL Center, meant parking was at a premium but partying was practically perfect.
And as Java worked the city, it was clear there were some awards to be handed out.
MaryEllen Fillo/Hartford Courant
Getting my “cooking with class while camping” award is Infinity Hall’s executive chef Dan Fortin. Fortin set up a very rudimentary but effective kitchen in under-construction space at the Front Street complex so he could serve gold-star food to the equally top shelf crowd at Riverfront Recapture’s “The Big Mo’” gala held in the anxiously awaited and still under-construction Infinity Hall space.
In the middle of the bash was Infinity Hall’s Dan Hincks, who made Infinity Hall’s Norfolk opera house location a coveted rural jewel, and who now plans to make the Hartford location equally as brilliant.
“We can’t wait to get here,” said a very happy Hincks. “It’s all finally coming together,” added Riverfront Recapture head Joe Marfuggi who has been the waterfront’s biggest promoter over the years.
Not sure if it was my imagination but there seemed to be more “suits” than usual in downtown Hartford Thursday, specifically at the soft opening of The Capital Grille in the Front Street complex along Columbus Boulevard.
A posh dining room and New York-style lounge attracted a who’s who of Hartford’s most well-known, most dressed in their best just days before the city prepares to officially welcome the high-end steakhouse at a ribbon-cutting Monday.
MaryEllen Fillo/Hartford Courant
“Everybody has been waiting for this place to open and it is living up to the expectations,” said well-known attorney and community volunteer Jennifer DiBella, part of the decked out invited crowd that got a sneak peek at the place and enjoyed the dinners that have made the steakhouse famous.
Among those at the soft opening were a crowd from the nearby Connecticut Science Center including CEO Matt Fleury, his wife WFSB anchor Irene O’Connor and WFSB meteorologist Mark Dixon.
“We were lucky,” explained Fleury. “We were having a gala committee meeting and were invited over,” he explained as the group sampled an assortment of the Capital Grille’s most popular appetizers. The science center gala has its outer space themed-Green Gala on Sept. 28.
MaryEllen Fillo/Hartford Courant
Diners were very impressed with the venue and more importantly, what the opening of the long-awaited restaurant means when it comes to the vision of the Front Street restaurant and entertainment complex taking form.
“I think it’s just the tip of the iceberg,” said local businessman Tony Costanzo about the increasing activity at the downtown complex that will also welcome Infinity Hall and Ted’s Montana Grill in the spring. “Great things are happening.”
Get ready Hartford, dry-aged steak, premium seafood and a “cellar” full of fine wines served with top shelf service begins Monday.
That’s when the tony, long awaited Capital Grille restaurant opens, the newest tenant in Hartford’s Front Street entertainment and dining district.
And the place is ready from its main dining room with lush banquettes and fine linens to its spacious bar complete with a floor to ceiling display of top shelf liquors and impeccable decor.
“We are ready and excited,” said Joe Butler, the 28-year-old managing partner who, with staff, were putting the finishing touches on the place that has its soft opening later this week. “We are bringing great food and professional service and our unique dining experience to Hartford,” said an enthusiastic Butler.
MaryEllen Fillo/Hartford Courant
Butler began working for the well-known steakhouse chain, part of the Darden Restaurants group, about nine years ago as a server when he was a student at Johnson & Wales in Rhode Island. Recently engaged, Butler has moved to the area.
“Everyone has been great,” he said about the experience so far in Hartford. “Warm and welcoming.”
MaryEllen Fillo/Hartford Courant
The 8,000-square-foot space has a spacious, modern feel and includes some private and small party dining area as well as the main dining area that seats 150 people. The bar also includes granite topped communal tables as well as traditional dining tables. The impressive wine “cellar” is a floor-to-ceiling, 12- foot-long, glass, temperature-controlled case with hundreds of bottles of wines including Jordan, Insignia Opus One and Far Niente. A collection of individual wine bins for those with their own discriminating tastes have already begun to be marked with customer names.
MaryEllen Fillo/Hartford Courant
The restaurant will employ about 85 people.
The Hartford location is The Capital Grille’s second in Connecticut. There is also a restaurant in Stamford.
The Hartford location also offers al fresco dining on a small patio that faces Columbus Boulevard and the Connecticut Convention Center.
On Tuesday, chefs were busy “practicing” the menu that includes entrees like steak au poivre with Courvoisier cream and dry-aged porterhouse, as well as seafood dishes and house made desserts.
The Capital Grille will serve lunch and dinner, Butler notes. The grand opening and ribbon cutting is Monday at 11:15 a.m.
The Capital Grille will be open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., dinner from 5 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 5 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 4 to 9 p.m. on Sunday.
Seems like Hartford has been waiting for this opening for a while and finally, it’s official. That top -shelf steak house will open its doors on Front Street next month.
This is the announcement about the award-winning restaurant and its arrival in Hartford.
“The Capital Grille, known nationally for its dry aged, hand-carved steaks and extensive, award-winning wine list, will open in Hartford, CT on September 9. Located on Front Street, The Capital Grille, which prides itself on professional, attentive service in an atmosphere of relaxed elegance, will be open seven days a week.
“Front Street is the perfect location to introduce The Capital Grille to Hartford,” said Joseph Butler, Managing Partner, The Capital Grille Hartford. “We believe The Capital Grille will complement the existing entertainment options on Front Street, and we eagerly await the restaurant’s opening and the opportunity to provide guests with our unique dining experience.”
The restaurant features a diverse dinner menu offering perennial favorites including;• Bone-In Kona Crusted Dry Aged Sirloin with Shallot Butter,Porcini Rubbed Delmonico with 15-Year Aged Balsamic, Lobster Mac ‘N’ Cheese, Seared Citrus Glazed Salmon and Pan-Fried Calamari with Hot Cherry Peppers
Additionally, The Capital Grille offers a well-rounded lunch menu with offerings such as The Grille’s Signature Cheeseburger with Parmesan Truffle Fries. The ‘Plates’ lunch menu, which allows guests a choice of soup or salad, entrée and a side for $18, draws inspiration from seasonal cues and allows lunchtime guests a fine dining experience that fits within their busy schedules.
Lunch “Plates” highlights for this season include;• Porcini Bisque with Chive Oil, Roasted Butternut Squash with Cranberry Chutney, Dry Aged Sirloin Hash with Crispy Onions and Mini Tenderloin Sandwiches
The Capital Grille wine list features over 350 selections. The offerings, which are hand selected by Master Sommelier, George Miliotes (@TheWineExpert), one of only 207 Master Sommeliers worldwide, include wines under $30 to prized vintages from small, limited production vineyards around the world. For those with an especially discerning taste in wine, The Capital Grille offers a private wine locker membership. Wine enthusiasts have the option to lease a wine locker, personalized with an inscribed brass nameplate. The Capital Grille is pleased to acquire desired bottles for guests, ensuring that they will always have their favorite vintages available.
The Capital Grille of Hartford will have a seating capacity of 239 guests between the main dining room and three private dining rooms. The restaurant will also feature a generous lounge area that opens up to a covered outdoor patio to provide comfort from the elements. Executive Chef Partner Sebastiao Pignaton is delighted to create a customized menu for special events.
The Capital Grille will be open seven days a week, serving lunch Monday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., and dinner Monday through Thursday, 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.; Friday through Saturday, 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.; and Sunday, 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. The lounge is open daily. Reservations are recommended, but not required. Call 860-244-0075 or visit www.TheCapitalGrille.com to make a reservation.”
Chalk up another newcomer to Hartford’s Front Street Entertainment District.
The Capital Grille has officially announced it will open its second Connecticut steakhouse as part of the Front Street complex.
It has been rumored for months that the well-known steakhouse was eyeing Hartford and company president, John Martin has finally confirmed the plans.
“We are absolutely delighted to bring The Capital Grille experience to guests in Hartford,” Martin said. “Our convenient location adjacent to the Connecticut Convention Center offers us an amazing opportunity to be part of a bustling destination for shopping, business and entertainment.”
Big news in Hartford this week is Friday’s official opening of the brand, spanking new Spotlight Theatres on downtown’s Front Street.
But on Saturday, it was red carpet time at the four-screen entertainment venue where an elite group were welcomed to the red carpet for a sneak peek of the theaters and the fun it will bring when it comes to downtown down time.
“We can’t wait,” said general manager Steve Menschell who with house manager Mark Whitten, worked the crowd that turned out for the private party. “We’ll be announcing our first movie on Monday.”
Those attending were welcomed by Joan Rivers impersonator, Elaine Chez, who had something kindly catty to say to almost everyone. Spotlight Theatres send a cadre of top execs from Atlanta to the party including Mike Spaeth, Spotlight president and CEO Joe Paletta with his wife, Dawn Paletta and Lisa Jackson. Libations flowed and snack choices included hamburgers and movie food, as well as a buffet featuring an ice sculpture of Bushnell Park’s Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch.
Already enthused over the new venue, developed by The HB Nitkin Group, was Mandell Jewish Community Center public relations head Harriet Dobin, who noted its 2013 film festival will be held in the new theater.