Tag Archives: Max Downtown

“New” Faces On/In Hartford TV, Movies, Restaurants

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There are some “new” faces around town if you have been tuned into tv or taking advantage of summer dining or entertainment.

Erin Brady poses at a news conference after being crowned Miss USA 2013 in Las VegasNBC Connecticut has brought royalty, so to speak, to its traffic report the pastHeidi-Voight[1] couple weeks. Former Miss Connecticut Heidi Voight and former Miss USA Erin Brady have been taking turns guiding motorists through the Connecticut streets and highways until a replacement is named for former traffic reporter, Kayla James.

That decision is expected shortly, according to vice president of news Matt Piacente,  but in the meantime, he has another staffing announcement as the political season heats up.

Max Reiss has been named the new political beat reporter and contributor to the “Decision 2014,” the station’s Sunday political program.

Reiss  has covered politics for the past four years at WSFA, and Raycom Media, in Montgomery, Alabama., Piacente reports. Reiss is also a New York native, and a graduate of the University of Missouri.

He starts August 25th

If you stopped by Max Downtown recently, you will notice a new, and really happy, face when you walk in the door.

max Rachel Lenda has been tapped as the new manager, replacing Duncan Hunter.

Smart, sassy and a really nice dresser,  (‘I have to keep up with Steverachel Abrams,’she notes) Lenda comes from  S&P Oyster Company in Mystic where she was the Director of Sales and Marketing. Prior to that, she was the Sales and Marketing manager for Hard Rock Cafe Foxwoods.

And over at Grants there is a familiar face taking over general management duties there, as well.

Jim Kehoe, of Feng fame, has moved on to take over those duties at Billy Grant’s  place, while  Michelle Mc Mahon has returned as director of catering  and Joyce Raicik has been hired as director of operations.

And in the “famous and formerly of Connecticut” category, Kensington native Annemarie Griggs has received an Emmy nomination for her work as the visual effects producer on the Starz series, “Black Sales.” The Primetime Creative Arts Emmy ceremony will be held on Aug. 16.

And if you happen to be headed to the opening of the James Brown biopic, ‘Get On Up,’ watchgreer carefully, there’s a well-known former Hartford guy on the screen.

Well-known arts supporter and performer David Greer, has  a part in the movie that opens Friday about the “Godfather of Soul.”

“I appear in a scene with actor Jill Scott in the movie, ” Greer informed Java. ” I’m her character’s date to a JB performance at the Apollo theater in 1962. She dumps me for the “Godfather of Soul!”

CT Restaurants Make Wine Spectator Annual Award List

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griswoldConnecticut has been honored as part of  Wine Spectator’sesca newly released 2014 Restaurant Awards list, with several well-known area restaurants making the grade when it comes to their wine selections.

Among the CT restaurants included on the magazine’s list are Capital Grille, Viva Seasonal Trattoria , Max Downtown and the Restaurant On20, all in Hartford; Cava in Southington, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in Newington, 2 Hopewell in South Glastonbury, Flemings Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar in West Hartford, Kensington’s at The Spa at Norwich Inn, David Burke Prime Steakhouse at Foxwoods and Esca in Middletown.

Wine Spectator began its program to recognize and honor the world’s best wine lists in 1981. The 3,748 award winners for 2014 represent  50 U.S. states and over 80 other countries and territories.


The complete list of award winners is featured in the Aug 31 issue of the magazine, available on newsstands July 22.


Greater Hartford Arts Council Dines For Education

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ars22Farm-to-table dinner season got a head start in Hartford as the Greater Hartford Arts Council held its annual “Farm to Table” fundraising dinner at Max Downtown Sunday.

“These are the stars of the show, this is who you should be talking to,” said Gov. Dannel P. Malloy proudly promoting college students Brandon Couloute from Central Connecticut State University and Gina Salvatore, a student at University of Connecticut, who both benefited from Neighborhood Studios program.

The dinner, which this year included wine paired courses including March Farm’s tomato salad, Secchiaroli Farm’s pork presse, Marwin Farm’s stuffed duck beast and Pell Farm’s strawberry semifreddo, raises money for the council’s art programs offered in cooperation with institutions including The Amistad center for Art & Culture, the Mark Twain House 7 Museum and Real Art ways.

arts11And while the reason was arts, there was talk of the big topics of the week, a minor league ball club being wooed from New Britain to  Hartford.

And while the governor has taken a “hands off” attitude when it comes to the controversial negotiating  being crafted with current New Britain Rock Cats owner, Josh Solomon, there were guests who don’t care about the politics of the deal, they just want it to happen.

“I am very happy about a baseball team coming to Hartford, said Rebecca Dalessio who came to the fundraising dinner with husband, Harry Dalessio.  “I think it will be great.”

Hartford Area Non-Profits Celebrate WFSB’s Haney

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scottyscot1The estimate is that since he arrived on the Connecticut scene in 1998, WFSB meteorologist and show host Scot Haney has either emceed and/or served as auctioneer at over 1,500 non-profit fundraisers, golf tournaments and galas.

His celebrity presence is a sure draw and the dozens of non-profits that have him on the program know it and are grateful. On Tuesday, the organizations joined together to surprise Haney onscot2 his 50th birthday and to say thank-you for his volunteer efforts.

“I am in shock, I don’t even know what to say,” said Haney as his eyes filled tears when he realized the luncheon was not the business meeting he had expected, but rather a room full of agency and organization heads who wanted to fete the guy who has helped them raise money for the past 15 years.

Nearly every major non-profit from the area from Nutmeg Big Brother Big Sisters, Fidelco Guide scot3Dog Foundation and the Bridge, to Foodshare, The Intensive Education Academy and the Petit Family Foundation was represented at the luncheon held at Max Downtown.

“He never asks for anything,” said St. Patrick-St. Anthony Church pastor Father Tom Gallagher, who explained Haney serves each year as the auctioneer for the annual church golf tournament. “He comes in quietly, he gets loud and gets the job done and then leaves quietly.”

“He knows the need out there,” said Sister Helen Dowd of the Intensive Education Academy. “And he steps up to help.”

Besides an interesting assortment ofmugs and tee shirts form the agencies and organizations, Haney was also presented proclamations from Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and U.S. Sen. Dick Blumenthal.

HSO’s ‘Playing With Food’ Time Again!

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hso8The concert date is set, April 26,  and so are the restaurants and the chefs that participating in the Hartford Symphony Orchestra’s 2nd annual “Playing with Music” program.

You might remember it from last year. Hartford-area restaurants interpreted pieces of music with food and HSO conductor Carolyn Kuan chose music to go with menu dishes. The event climaxed with a symphony playing the music while the restaurants featured the foods.

This year’s restaurants and chefs  have been announced and they are:

Apricots Restaurant and Pub- Chef and Owner Ann Howard, Grants Restaurant and Bar / Restaurant Bricco- Chef and Owner Billy Grant, Max Downtown- Pastry Chef Warren Hardman,Treva Restaurant / A Vert- Chef and Owner Dorjan Puka and Trumbull Kitchen Executive Chef Chris Torla

A Party On Every Corner In Hartford, Including One For House

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house (3)There was no doubt it was the holiday season in Hartford Wednesday night.

Company parties were as popular as candy canes and tinsel at downtown restaurants.

Various organizations including NBC Connecticut and CT1 Media were celebrating the season at places including The Society Room  and Capital Grille, while the group from public relations company McDowell Jewett,  partied at Max Downtown.

And among the parties, there was one very private but noteworthy one over at Salute where WFSB anchor Dennis House and his immediate family, including mom (who coincidently, is also named Mary Ellen) were celebrating his 50th birthday.

“It’s been a good day,” said House who also dined with wife and co-worker Kara Sundlun and their two children.

House, who by the way, shares a natal day and a Dec. 18, 1963 birthday with a host of celebrities including Brad Pitt, will  be celebrating his half-century birthday  again at a bigger bash in the weeks ahead.

Happy Birthday!



Restaurant Awards and New Restaurant in Hartford!

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Maryellen Fillo/Hartford Courant


Always so politically correct that Olympic coach Bela Karolyi.

The celeb coach was in town last week as part of the 2013 P & G Gymnastics Championships and as part of the event, participating in a “Capital City’s Taste of the Championships,” dine-around.

Karolyi, along with 1984 Olympic speed skating gold-medalist Johann Olav Koss, Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra, 2004 Olympic all-around champion Carly Patterson, 1984 Olympic gold-medalist, USA Gymnastics Board Chairman Peter Vidmar and USA Gymnastics President Steve Penny dined at the restaurants over a three-day period, with the intent of handing out gold, silver and bronze awards.

But everything was so good that this year everyone was a winner. Presented the “Nutrition Award” was Max Downtown while the “Most Creative Dish” award winner was Agave Grill. The “Carly Patterson Award” went to City Steam Brewery Café and honored for “Best Comfort Food” was Salute. The prestigious “ Bela Karolyi Award” went to Feng Asian Bistro while the “Mayor’s Award” went to DISH Bar & Grill.

Abillings1 (2)nd speaking of restaurants, another one is opening in Hartford and not where you would expect.

On August 28 “The Kitchen at Hartford Public Library” will open its doors at the Main Street main branch of the library. The new farm-to-table café, collaboration between Billings Forge Community Works and Hartford Public Library, will offer job training and permanent job placement services (through the library’s CT Works program) for Hartford residents.

Billings Forge also has a café at its complex on Broad Street in Hartford.

Ribbon cutting for the second location is at 10:15 a.m.

The restaurant will be serving breakfast, lunch and “to go” food Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Catering will also be available.  


Olympic Coach Bela Karolyi Brings Food Critic Game To Town

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MaryEllen Fillo/Hartford Courant


Celebrity Olympics coach Bela Karolyi is in town doing what he does best, coaching some of the 2013 P&G Gymnastics Championship gymnasts who are in Hartford. And then there is that other thing, judging food.

Once again the celebrity coach has been tapped to dine around the city and hand out the gold to the place he feels is the best when it comes to good food.

“It’s going to be tough but I think they will all be scored between 7 and 10,” laughed Karolyi, who, along with “Right to Play” founder and CEO, former Olympic speed skater Johann Olav Koss, stopped at Max Downtown Thursday as part of the contest. There, where executive chef Hunter Morton served the two a Garlic Farm native tomato tart with Wala Wala onions and a side of parmesan ice cream.


MaryEllen Fillo/Hartford Courant

“The stakes are high,” he joked as he tried the glorified appetizer, also being fair and praising the Mexican food he had also tried at nearby Agave as the competition got underway. “Like gymnastics, we are looking for quality.”

Other participating restaurants include Feng Asian Bistro, DISH, Salute and City Steam Brewery. Juding will be completed Saturday.

Karolyi judged a similar restaurant showdown three years ago, the last time the championship was in Hartford. And Karolyi clearly enjoyed being back.

For Koss, who heads up the non-profit that provides sports and play opportunities to children in need, this week marks his first visit to Hartford and he already likes what he sees.

“The people are all so friendly,” he said. “It’s a beautiful city and it’s good to be welcomed.”

CT Restaurant Assn. Announces 2012 Winners

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Hartford’s own Steve Abrams from Max Downtown fame has been tapped as “Restaurateur of the Year” by the CT Restaurant Association. He is among several winners who will be honored at the association’s annual “Excellence Awards Dinner” on Nov. 27 at Mohegan Sun.Others being honored include :  Sysco Connecticut — Vendor of the Year,  State senator Paul Doyle, Friend of the Industry,  The Mill River Group (Mill on the River, Abigail’s, Republic and Market   Grille) — Connecticut Hospitality Hall of Fame and   Lenny & Joe’s Fish Tale– Connecticut Hospitality Hall of FameThere are also some honorees yet to be determined by online voting. Competing for “