SOUTHINGTON – Town officials, local business owners and Chamber leadership toured the downtown area Thursday, stopping into shops and hearing the owners’ stories and future plans.
Prior to the tour’s departure, Town Manager Garry Brumback gave his assessment of the downtown area to the group gathered outside of town hall.
“We are very excited about downtown,” he said. “Since we took this tour last year, we have been working on re-doing a lot of the street furniture and lighting block by block. These fixtures hadn’t been touched since they had been put in so we decided to spruce things up as we get ready for the Italian Festival and Apple Harvest Festival.”
Louis A. Perillo, economic development director, said that the economic environment downtown has been good.
“We have several businesses coming into Factory Square, and there is a good vibe downtown,” he said. “Our concerts on the green have also been a big hit. It is very important to us to keep this momentum going and to continue to spur activity.”
“Factory Square is a big opportunity,” replied Brumback. “We also have a lot of people taking advantage of outdoor dining.”
The tour stopped to visit the Positive Living Center at 132 Main St., Mr. B’s Jerky at 35 N. Main St., Seraphino Pharmacy at 36 N. Main St., Creative Lab at 37 West Center St. and Witch Doctor Brewing Company at 168 Center St.
At the Positive Living Center, Lisa Crofton explained how her space is used by several seasoned holistic practitioners for workshops and classes.
“We’re a little secret in town,” she said. “But we have a good, central location and good landmarks. Once we get people here, they love it. We want to eventually outgrow this space, and we are partnering with a yoga studio in Plantsville to hold some of our classes there.”
Dan Baril said that opening Mr. B’s last year was the “best thing” he ever did.
“I’ve handled over 10,000 pounds of meat in a year,” he said. “I enjoy talking to people as they come in.”
Baril noted that he made Apple Pie Jerky for the last Apple Harvest Festival, which he said was a big hit.
Ron Seraphino, whose pharmacy has been in business for 65 years, said that he aimed to open up a new bistro next door in July. He plans to sell seafood and steaks.
“Your longevity in the community is astounding and commendable,” said councilor Dawn Miceli, who is also a chamber board member.
At Creative Labs, owners Vince Cook and Tolga Caglar explained how they turn concepts for toys, baby products and household products into finished designs. Having worked at Stanley Black & Decker for many years, Cook said he used to come to Southington for food before settling on it as a place to open a business. He lives in Milford while Caglar lives in Avon, so Southington is a central location for them.
Finally, at Witch Doctor Brewing Company, co-owner Daryl Adamaitis explained to town leaders how the bar and seating had been fashioned from original wood from the factory floor. He also offered beer samples for the guests to enjoy and explained how Witch Doctor has been partnering with local businesses.
“Paul Gregory’s uses our beer with their pretzel bites,” he said. “We are just getting our keg collars together, and then we can distribute. Lake Compounce is one place that plans to carry us.”
Following the tour, Brumback remarked that he was pleased to see a positive turnaround for the downtown and hoped to see it continue.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.