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Hartford's Rajun Cajun Restaurant Looking For Buyer

JEFFREY B. COHEN

January 15, 2009

Regulars remember a time when, if you didn't get to the Rajun Cajun by 7:30 a.m. on a weekday, you wouldn't get a seat. Weekends, they say, were worse.

But now, with the economy tanking, people aren't eating out like they used to. And the Rajun Cajun a North End home to food, talk, and weekly meetings of the city's African American Alliance is looking for a buyer.

"Yeah, it's for sale," said chef and owner Thomas Armstrong. "I'm broke, I don't have any money. I'll run it till it runs out of gas, just like anything else."

Known as Hal's Aquarius diner until 2003, the restaurant at 2790 Main St. was eventually bought and reopened by Armstrong, who changed the name.

Armstrong, who the city says owes $15,000 in taxes on the building, blames the city for not investing in the North End. Mayoral spokeswoman Sarah Barr said the city staff has worked with Armstrong for years.

Former city Councilman Steve Harris goes to the restaurant every day and said the restaurant has been the birthplace of political campaigns and North End advocacy.

"I just hope, whatever happens, that somebody comes along and buys it and keeps it open," Harris said. "It's one of the few places where many of us gather in the neighborhood."

But he sees the reality.

"You can hang on, hang on, but it's hard to tell somebody who has to pay a $3,000 gas bill to hang on when you're not making any money," Harris said.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
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