Long time city eatery and gathering place Hot Tomato’s has closed. The sign on the door says “closed for renovations,” but sources told Eyewitness News the restaurant known for garlic cheese bread simply shut down suddenly for no reason. I am waiting for owner Melissa Altman to return my telephone messages to get her side of the story.
Hot Tomato’s has been a downtown mainstay for nearly 30 years, and in all the times I have eaten there it was busy. That’s why I doubt the closing is related to the economy. The renovations story sounds a little hard to believe for a few reasons:
1. A high ranking Hot Tomato’s employee told me he has been told not to talk to reporters for “legal reasons.” What would be harmful about answering my question about when the renovations will begin, and when the restaurant will re-open?
2. A source who works at another downtown restaurant told me Hot Tomato’s employees have been calling looking for work.
3. That source also told me the owner of Hot Tomato’s is looking to sell items from the restaurant, including wine.
4. Hot Tomato’s just unveiled a brand new wine room on Valentine’s Day. Why would they close for more renovations a month later?
5. The spring is the worst time to renovate a restaurant because it is a busy season. Rehearsal dinners, bridal showers, graduation parties, etc., not to mention the weather starts to get nice and Hot Tomato’s has an outdoor patio overlooking the State Capitol and Bushnell Park.
We do know that former Hot Tomato’s general manager Jimmy Cosgrove recently opened a new restaurant on the other end of side of Bushnell Park. “Salute” is off to a great start, and several former Hot Tomato workers are now there. Many Hot Tomato’s customers have also become regulars at Salute. We should also mention that the Tavern restaurant on Allyn Street will honor the Hot Tomato’s “Better Connecticut” deals that were issued not long ago.
If you have a Hot Tomato’s gift certificate you may want to contact the Attorney General’s office of Department of Consumer Protection.
We’ll keep you posted.