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New Downtown Grocery Store Closes

Operators Say They'll Open Again In Weeks, Not Months

By Jeff Cohen

September 20, 2011

It was only six months ago that Hartford officials celebrated the opening of downtown’s marquis grocery store, and praising the number of jobs it would create. But as WNPR’s Jeff Cohen reports, the Market at Hartford 21 is struggling -- and it’s temporarily closing its doors.

The market is a prize for urban downtown’s trying to make a go of it. It was so essential that the man who built the residential tower Hartford 21 paid about $2 million to build the place out before he had an operator. And the city has chipped in $400,000 to get it off the ground.

But on Monday, the market announced it was closing – for weeks, it says, not months. Revenues are good, but labor expenses are too high. Richard Rochlin is the attorney for the market.

“What we need to do now is to step back, take a deep breath, and look and see if that space is configured properly for downtown Hartford’s needs."

Rochlin says that the market has obligations to the city and to developer -- it has to be a real grocery store. That said…

“But whether we deliver a certain grade of bacon if you will to folks can be changed – if we’re selling something that’s super high-premium, organic, grass-fed pork, we may opt for something that’s not as expensive. “

David Panagore is Hartford’s chief operating officer. He say prepared foods have been popular, but they take too much staff time to get out the door. In the future, customers might package and weigh their own meals. Then there’s the whole idea of the on-site butcher. That didn't work, either. Packaged meats, do.

" There's a whole business model that has to be I think that what has been proven both by the response in the community and by the business is there’s a niche for this, people like it, people want it. Now, it’s just a question of refining it.”

Panagore says the key to making it happen is perseverance.

Reprinted with permission of Jeff Cohen, author of the blog Capital Region Report. To view other stories on this topic, search Capital Region Report at http://capitalregionreport.wordpress.com/.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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