It’s getting real in the city of Hartford. The new COVID way of life is hitting our capital city particularly hard. Corporations have many of their employees working from home, the theaters are closed, there are no basketball or hockey games, the Yard Goats didn’t have a season, there are fewer students attending in person classes, there are no parades or concerts.
The thousands of regular customers who helped support city businesses are gone, and many of those merchants who depend on a lively city may soon be gone, too. Some already are.
Max Bibo’s was my go to sandwich place when I was downtown. I always ordered a hot chicken cutlet with pickles and cheese wrap and it was awesome. Bob Colangelo relied on customers who came down from their offices in the skyscrapers and the UConn fans, but with them gone, he had no choice but to close. This saddened me and his loyal customers deeply.
One of Connecticut’s oldest merchants, Stackpole, Moore and Tryon, which has outfitted people for more than 100 years, is also struggling. Owner Jody Morneault told me store owners and restaurateurs desperately need people to come to the city.
On Friday night, Kara and two friends of ours and I had dinner at Black Eyed Sally’s, another downtown landmark that has been around since the 1990s. James Varano closed it temporarily during the pandemic and reopened it during the summer when the COVID numbers fell and some of the restrictions were lifted. With cold weather coming and the days of outdoor dining dwindling there is concern some of these restaurants are heading into a very difficult period.
There are so many unique small businesses in Hartford and across Connecticut that help make our capital city and state so great. If we all help a little, we will get through this together and hopefully these longtime shops and restaurants will be a part of our post-COVID renaissance.