NEW BRITAIN - After a devastating fire and a temporary move across the street, The Farm grocery store is back in its original location at 66 Broad St.
“I consider myself half Polish now, since I’ve been here so many years,” said owner Sebastian “Sebby” Fontana. “Of course I wanted to come back.”
The Farm Store was on the first floor of one of the three multi-family houses that caught fire in March 2015 just as Little Poland was preparing for Easter – one of its busiest times of the year. Thirty-five residents were left homeless and four pets were killed in the blaze. The cause of the fire remains unknown.
Fontana’s store, which for years sold an array of Polish foods, from imported candies and chocolates to produce and dairy,as wells fresh, locally grown honey, syrups, fruits and vegetables, was a total loss.
But after being in Little Poland for more than 30 years, Fontana, who is of Italian descent, vowed he would be back. He reopened The Farm across the street from the original location and ran the store from there for eight months until the original building was renovated.
He was happy to find an alternate spot since locating an open storefront on Broad Street is difficult, he said. “We were very lucky to be able to find something,” he added.
As work progressed, Fontana and his wife Lisa were able to design a new store that features more windows and more rooms, he said.
“The owner was very nice and we were able to make some suggestions,” he said.
Fontana opened the store in 1982, when he was 19 years old. He thought it would be a temporary job but he came to love the neighborhood and being a grocer, he said.
“I love coming to work every day,” he said. “I love working with the Polish community.”
Through it all, he knew he wanted to reopen at his old location if the building could be repaired, he said.
The Farm reopened at the newly refurbished location the week after Easter. It is still carrying a large varietyof fresh fruit and vegetables, potatoes, eggs, cheese, chocolates and a nice selection of imported Polish food.
“It’s a pretty neat little store,” Fontana said.
Staff writer Christopher Fortier contributed to this story.