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The Market At Hartford 21? Still Closed

Owners Originally said it would be weeks, not months. It's now two months.

By Jeff Cohen

December 01, 2011

For years, residents of downtown Hartford wanted a grocery store. This Spring, they got it. And then, after six months, it closed. Now, as WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, it's been two months -- and the market shows no sign of reopening.

The Market at Hartford 21 opened with excited operators, a built-out space, and a city loan. Then, six months later, the store closed -- revenues were good, but labor was expensive. And the business model didn't work.

That was in September. Now, after an audit of the market's books, city officials say they're looking at a new business model for the grocer. And next week, they're meeting to talk with its operators -- husband and wife partners Ryan and Kelleanne Jones.

"To talk about where we go from here, what their relative interest is."

That's David Panagore, the city's chief operating officer.

"What we tie up, because there's still some product that's still in the store that probably needs to be donated, disposed of. So there's some loose ends."

Loose ends. Stuff the operators left behind. It all sounded kind of familiar. I asked Panagore if the city and the Joneses were officially breaking up.

"Well, we're trying to assess what their level of interest is."

Uh oh.

"The answer is we have not broken up."

That's Richard Rochlin, the attorney for the Joneses.

"I wouldn't even call it a separation. It was more of a we're living together but we're not operational."

Rochlin says his clients still want to operate the market, provided they can figure out a business model that works.

"We're all in this together, we want to make this work, we just need to figure out how."

That, he said, is the purpose of next week's meeting. Which means it may well be 2012 by the time downtown Hartford's market reopens.

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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