Two downtown Hartford institutions, the sports bar Coach’s and the restaurant Tapas On Ann, will be opening new locations by the end of the year.
Tapas On Ann, which offers Mediterranean cuisine, is poised to more than double its space by expanding into the former home of the clothing store Tuesday’s on Asylum Street.
Coach’s, which closed its Allyn Street location in the spring, is set to reopen at the former Sally’s Fish Camp site at 201 Ann St., a block away from Tapas.
The expansion plans for Tapas were put in motion several months ago when Tuesday’s merged with Stackpole Moore Tryon. The two clothing stores now occupy the Stackpole location on Trumbull Street.
Tuesday’s departure left an empty space at the corner of Ann and Asylum streets, immediately next door to Tapas On Ann.
“With (Tuesday’s owner) Ron Mornault’s move to Stackpole’s, it was really a no-brainer,” said Tapas owner Ted Vetter. “Is it the best time to invest money in Hartford? Only time will tell. Me and my partner, Fred Dressler, are committed to Hartford and the Tapas brand.”
Vetter and Dressler operate two other Tapas locations, one in Bloomfield and one in West Hartford. Tapas On Ann opened nine years ago.
Vetter said the downtown menu has been a shortened version of the offerings at the other two Tapas restaurant. That will change now.
“We’ve always been tight for space for the volume we do,” Vetter said. “The kitchen will be expanded in order to do the entire menu and we will step up daily blackboard specials and ‘little plate’ tapas offerings.”
He added that more catering and delivery options will become available once the expansion is complete.
The city approved the expansion plan in mid-September after Vetter and Dressler reduced the size of the project as a result of economic pressures.
“I was going to fill the new space with a substantial bar, but I’ve decided to incorporate the old bar in the original space,” Vetter said. “We still need approval for the bar changes but don’t anticipate any problems reducing the scope of the job.”
The demolition at the old Tuesday’s site is complete and the tentative opening of the expanded Tapas is set for mid-November.
To connect the two spaces, there will be two steps that lead down from the new space to the old space. The current Tapas On Ann restaurant has only 875 square feet. The restaurant will more than double its size to 1,875 square feet when renovations are complete.
It will seat about 65, Vetter said, but there are plans for additional outdoor seating that would increase that number by springtime.
“Fred and I have been through a number of economic peaks and valleys since we opened our first Tapas,” Vetter said. “Tapas has always been known to be a great value in good times and bad.”
The return of Coach's to downtown Hartford may come as a surprise to some after the sports bar and restaurant closed its doors in April after its site at 187 Ally St. was acquired by Post Road Entertainment for the opening of a Black Bear Saloon.
Coach’s had been in Hartford for roughly 15 years. It opened to much fanfare in 1993, backed by a group that included University of Connecticut men’s basketball coach Jim Calhoun.
But facing financial pressure, the group sold Coach’s in 2006 to 22 Nightlife, a Connecticut production and entertainment company that owns more than a dozen bars and clubs in the state.
However, the former Sally’s Fish Camp location now has signs in the window promoting the return of a revamped Coach’s. That reopening is set for later this year, but no firm date has been announced. Messages left with 22 Nightlife for comment were not returned.