Pawcatuck revitalization gets good and bad news
Stonington — The revitalization of downtown Pawcatuck got three pieces of news over the past two weeks — two good and one bad.
Two weeks ago, the new Italian restaurant Hoof’s opened in the formerly vacant building at 59 W. Broad St. that previously housed the West Broad Street Bistro, Apizzo and, for many years before that, Shea’s Office Products.
Meanwhile, across the street at 2-4 Mechanic St., renovation and landscaping work by Best Energy owner Jim Lathrop on a long-dilapidated building is almost complete, and Stonington Realty owner Karen Hanson said she has plans to begin working there later this month.
The bad news came next door at the vacant Citizens Bank building at 46 W. Broad St., where a national dental firm has informed the town that it would not be moving forward with plans to open a dental clinic in the building.
Brian Ferraro, who co-owns and operates Hoof’s with several family members, including his brother and mother, said Wednesday the restaurant has been busy since it opened.
“We’ve been doing great. They’re loving the food so far,” he said. “We’re hoping everyone likes our food and has a good time.”
Ferraro said Hoof’s, which now is serving dinner from 4 p.m. to about 10 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, is employing about 25 people. In a month or so, he said the restaurant will begin serving lunch.
“We’re just trying to get dinner straight now,” he said.
The restaurant boasts an extensive menu of appetizers, such as fresh ricotta cheese drizzled with pesto, fig reduction and olive oil; fresh escarole with beans and grilled Italian sausage, and meatballs with homemade meat sauce and a scoop of fresh ricotta. Pastas include white truffle fettuccine, linguini with clams, and rigatoni with homemade meatballs or pork ribs.
Entrees include pork chop Calabrese with sauteed onions, vinegar peppers and fried potatoes, braised veal in Marinara sauce with peas over spaghetti and traditional dishes such as veal and chicken Parmesan.
Hanson said Thursday that the sign went up for her realty business on the front of the building last week and she hopes it will be good advertising. It is located at the busy intersection of Mechanic, West Broad and Liberty streets, where thousands of cars pass by each day. She credited Lathrop, who has renovated another building in the downtown, with going above and beyond with the renovations and the high-quality finishes. She said she has hired a few agents to work in the office, which will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. In addition, she said an attorney also may be moving in to some of the space.
Last week, the town received an email from a representative of Heartland Dental of Effingham, Ill., saying that the national dental firm would not be moving forward with its plan to renovate the bank. Joseph Houston asked for town to withdraw its application for a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals, which had slated a public hearing.
Stonington Director of Planning Jason Vincent responded saying the town was disappointed that Heartland could not find a way to adapt the project to the costly flood plain improvements that are required when substantial improvements are being made to the property. The town recently changed the regulations to allow a developer to invest up to 50 percent of a property value in renovations in one year without triggering costly flood improvements, such as raising the height of the building. Before the change, the time period was five years. Town officials made the change to help spur more downtown investment.