SPECIAL TO THE HERALD
NEW BRITAIN - When Isaac Silva came to America 16 years ago from Brazil, he did not speak English. Most people he met in Connecticut thought he was Spanish.
“I knew no Spanish either,” Silva said with a smile. “In Brazil, we speak Portuguese.”
Over the years, Silva, who has a green card, has taught himself English and Spanish. More important, he has been able to open one thriving restaurant and a second eatery in a city he has come to love and call his own.
Silva, 32, who opened West Side Tavern in 2015, said he plans to continue running the colorful, West Main Street bistro with its Brazilian cuisine in addition to the new Hardware City Café at 2 Main St. He will be the chef at both places.
Silva is co-owner of the new cafe along with Miriam Geraci and Ellen Cedarfield. Geraci, a member of the Board of Education, said it has “always been my passion to open a cafe in the city.” She will handle public relations and catering events for the cafe and work behind the counter with Silva.
The co-owners have acquired the Hardware City Cafe name (not to be mistaken with the defunct Arch Street establishment of the same name) and opened last week in the highly visible spot once occupied by Cafe Beauregard, which closed in February after four years in business.
Silva has changed the decor from green to the gold, maroon and white of New Britain High School. He has also been preparing the restaurant for outside dining, pleased that the city’s streetscape plan resulted in a wider sidewalk.
Downtown District Executive Director Gerry Amodio said, “The eatery should do well with its new al fresco area. It will bring a new dining experience to a lot of people.”
Property owner James Calciano of Courtside Commons LLC calls Hardware City Cafe “a great venue. We’re happy about them coming in. We’ve had four owners in over 20 years. The last one (Rob Chiovoloni of Beauregard) retired at the top of his game. People keep coming here to eat and no (restaurant manager) leaves in bad debt; so that’s a good thing.”
Silva says he has had no interaction with Chiovoloni and does not plan to display the stool then-President Barack Obama sat on when he visited the cafe after a 2014 appearance at Central Connecticut State University. Calciano said he now owns the stool.
“I want to keep the restaurant free of politics,” Silva said.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony with Mayor Erin Stewart is set for 3 p.m. Tuesday. A special Brazilian barbecue will be prepared that day to showcase the restaurant’s fare, Silva said.
“While West Side opens most days at 4 p.m., we will open Hardware City Cafe at 7 a.m. for breakfast and be open for lunch until 3 p.m. on weekdays,” he said. The cafe will not serve alcohol or be open on weekends.
For more information, call 860-505-7831 or visit the cafe’s Facebook page.