NEW BRITAIN - After less than two years in business, Grand Pizza & Restaurant has closed, but the business has been sold to the owner of Mofongo Restaurant and will reopen under a new name.
According to Gerry Amodio, executive director of the Downtown District, Gerry Amodio, the owner of Grand Pizza, Resmi “Tommy” Qoku, has been looking to sell his business for some time.
“Tommy wants to focus his interests on his restaurant in New York,” said Amodio. “He left his family there and his wife wants to go back.”
Grand Pizza opened in March 2016 in the 113-year-old Andrews Building, owned by Jasko Developers, at 136 Main St.
It offered about 150 lunch and dinner items - from hot and cold sandwiches, gyros, paninis, wraps and burgers to specialty pastas, chicken, seafood and 15 specialty pizzas.
Four years before, Qoku opened Lenny’s Pizza in Sunnyside, New York, and was still operating it when he came to New Britain.
“Business was doing fine, but he was still running restaurants in New York and it was wearing thin on him,” Amodio said.
He added that Qoku’s wife also recently added a third child to their family, and both she and her husband wanted to move back to New York to be closer to family.
Vincent Placeres, owner of Mofongo Restaurant, plans to open The Kitchen, a sit-down Italian restaurant featuring artisan pizzas, at the location.
“Vincent has had extraordinary success in Mofongo, he’s been interested in expanding downtown. I’m happy to hear negotiations are going on as we speak,” said Amodio.
He said the transition should be seamless. Placeres will make a few updates to the space before opening it again. Amodio hopes that, within a few months, it will be ready to go.
According to Amodio, Placeres plans to redesign the bar and offer specialty cocktails, and will use downstairs to push his catering business as well as to have a “club setting” for live entertainment in addition to having the restaurant on the main floor.