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Restaurant Closings Avon/Simsbury/Canton

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First Wasab's sushi closed in Weatogue (Simsbury), CT, then Margarita's Mexican in Canton, then the 99 on Route 44 in Avon, then Boston Market nearby and now Dakota has closed as of the end of May 2011. There are fewer places than ever left to eat on Route 44 thanks to the recession. I remember when you used to have to wait over an hour at Dakota at the bar on a Friday night back in the day....So sad. Margarita's has re-opened as Char Khoon 1800. Not sure if this is any relation to the Char Khoon in Glastonbury, though (does anyone know?). I wish them luck in that location but I fear the worst in this economy.

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99 West Restaurant & Pub
315 W Main St, Avon, CT 06001

Wasab Restaurant
142 Hopmeadow St, Weatogue, CT 06089

Dakota Restaurant
225 W Main St, Avon, CT 06001

Margaritas
144 Albany Tpke, Canton, CT 06019

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  1. A followup - I was just reading that the "Colony Grill" will be opening where 99 was, serving "pizza only". Does anyone know this place? It says they have branches in Fairfield and Stamford. But the real question is why do we need yet ANOTHER pizza restaurant in the area? Isn't there enough pizza already? And pizza only in such a big location? How about some other entrees? Or how about a traditional diner for a change? What an alien concept (this area seems to be devoid of diners). And now there's no steak in a reasonable price range in the area without Dakota or 99. This is very disappointing news.

    12 Replies
    1. re: ntuitive1

      I am not sure you can blame all of them on the economy

      Dakota had not been good for at least 2 years, poor quality food, boring menu, and lazy staff. They would have survived had they were invested in a good product with good service.

      Wasabi has been closed forever and even when they were open, they were never busy. When they first opened, we were there every other week, but they let the building go and didn't do any improvements. I do not want to eat dinner in a building that is falling apart.

      Maragaritas never recovered from their health dept closure. I would bet that they would still be open had that not happened.

      Boston Market is a tough one. I love Boston Market, but I tend not to make it my first choice because it is not grab and go. It involves sitting down and taking the time to eat a full meal and when I have the time and want to do that, I prefer to spend my money at a local restaurant.

      There are still so many great options in the area; while I feel for the folks that were employed at these places, I am not surprised by any of them. Supporting local restaurant owners and chefs is easy enough to do in this area, great for the economy, and darn tasty!

      Colony Pizza is great and I would welcome it up here. There may be a lot of pizza options but few are very good.

      -----
      Colony Pizza
      557 East St, Chicopee, MA 01020

      1. re: Tinkerbelldee

        Dakotas was horrid for the last 3 years. Food not good at all.
        Maragaritas.. had great Maragaritas by the glass but the pitchers.. blech!
        99 smelled dirty when I walked into the restaurant, I turned around and left.

        Meadow in Simsbury.. fabulous! Great sushi, good service, quick lunch if you're in a hurry.

        Elephant Walk (Thai) in Avon.. really good too.

        Plan B in Simsbury.. pricey but quite good. Best meatloaf and I'm not a meatloaf fan.

        Apollos in Simsbury has very good pizza and they now serve thin crust pizza in the building that is attached that was (maybe still is) called Maple Tree Cafe. It's not the dive it used to be. It's become a popular pizza place for thin crust.

        Fabioloas in Avon is pretty good. No atmosphere but good sandwiches, soup, etc. Good for a quick lunch,

        -----
        Maple Tree Cafe
        781 Hopmeadow St, Simsbury, CT 06070

        Plan B
        4 Railroad St, Simsbury, CT 06070

        1. re: Tinkerbelldee

          FYI...The Boston Market in Glastonbury is the ONLY one I've ever seen as a drive through.

        2. re: ntuitive1

          Wish an Olive Garden would open in the Farmington Valley. No.. we surely don't need another pizza place at all. I'm really starting to dislike these specialized type restaurants. How about some good, old-fashioned food.

          1. re: MimiCT

            WAIT! Did you really say Olive Garden and good old fashioned food in the same post. There is nothing good or old fashioned about OG. Pre-cooked food is not good.

            Colony has been a bit of an institution on the Southern end of the state and I will welcome it over any chain any day.

            1. re: Tinkerbelldee

              Yes, I did say OG, lol. I can't help it.. love their salads.. love their eggplant parm.. chicken parm. Not gourmet but comfort food.

              I'm looking forward to trying Colony, i love love love pizza.

              I'm all for having a variety of restaurants that cater to different tastes. I'm all about good service, good food, reasonable prices.

              1. re: MimiCT

                I will not get into a debate about OG, as this board is not for chain discussions, but they do not cook food there. It is the same as heating up a frozen dinner. So many great local places for italian food that is cooked to order.

                1. re: Tinkerbelldee

                  I have no intention of debating anything with you. I like OG.. if you don't, that's fine. I'm not looking for your approval.

                  Yes, there are many restaurants that cook food to order.

                  How old are you anyway? lol. Nuff said by me. :-)

                  1. re: MimiCT

                    Not that my age is of any consequence, but I am comfortably over 40.

          2. re: ntuitive1

            They are already closed. I went in once and picked up two pizzas. They must not travel well because they were horrrible and my family said they tasted like frozen pizza. Very small and $28.00. As Avon is a huge family oriented place, I expressed my belief that this couldn't cut it as there were too many pizza joints all along the strip and they need a bigger menu, especially for kids. So sad!

            1. re: Sascooks

              The Colony Grill closed because hot oil pizza in an area with Luna, Pepe, and Harry is well...ummm...a pathetic excuse for pizza. If you are sticking a shamrock on your front building in Central CT...make it a pub w pubgrub and beer. A lot of people around here aren't fooled by a crappy piece of mediocrity. I'm suprised that place lasted as long as it did. Go back to Fairfield County and wow the mediocre business crowd who dont know any better..

              1. re: veronaraven

                I agree veronaraven.....I told them that it was pretentious to think that a restaurant serving one food item could never make it in this market.

          3. Colony is basically a bar that serves their own unique style of pizza. We really like it (my personal fave is hot oil with pepperoni), with the exception of some of the toppings- i.e., canned mushrooms(blechh), unseasoned "meatball" (they should really just call it ground beef)- and would it really kill their rep to offer a salad?? But really, it is worth a try- the hot oil is addictive!

            1. Dakota was a poorly run chain that got into major financial trouble a few years back when the owners split and some locations spun off. They have closed many locations. Those open suffer from mediocre service and food that is just fair. it is no longer trendy and overpriced.

              99 is a family casual chain that has suffered greatly from the 2007-present recession closing many locations., Hard to justify their prices for ordinary food, uneven service, etc. The bowl of popcorn on the table doesn't make it worth the visit. The same company bought the Bickford's chain, changed many to 99, unsucessfully, and has had to eliminate dinner service at the few remaining locations. This long time regional chain cannot compete with the national chains.

              When gas is $4 per gallon, family chains suffer. If it's a choice of $75 to fill you tank or $80 for an ordinary dinner for wife and 2 kids at 99, you'll buy the gas you need to get to work and visit the dollar menu at McDs.

              Boston Market has lost market share and priced themselves out of the fast food segment. I must tell a quick 'funny' story about Boston Market>>>>>>
              Last night I was in Milford and I stopped at Hong Kong Chinese (take out Joint) to pick up ribs and egg rolls and chicken wings to bring home to my teens. This take out happens to have the best spare ribs in the south central CT area. it is located just off Rt 1, near all the chains. i placed my order and sat down to wait. There are two tables. It was about 8:30pm and the staff was eating supper at one of the table. they had rice in bowls, soup, and a whole chicken from Boston Market on the table.

              -----
              Hong Kong Chinese Restaurant
              16 Red Bush Ln Unit 5, Milford, CT 06461

              2 Replies
              1. re: bagelman01

                Maybe a not-so- funny story about Boston Market in Stratford- went through the drive- thru at a little before 8 one night to be told first, "we're out of chicken"; then, "we're out of turkey, too" (they did still have meatloaf and ham). When it happened a 2nd time, I questioned it, and she said "oh, we run out every day around this time". Me: "How late are you open?" her: "10" !?!?!

                ummmm, it's not rocket science, people, make more chicken! No wonder they are all going out of business!

                1. re: bagelman01

                  "Those open suffer from mediocre service and food that is just fair." Very true.

                  If the food is good, if the service is good, if the prices are reasonable - even in this economy a restaurant will survive. I'm sick to death of the trendy places.

                2. I know everyone blames the restaurants themselves but before 2008 they were all doing well or at least well enough to stay open. I attributed Dakota's decline in quality and service to shrinking business as a result of the recession. A lot of restaurants don't respond well to it. I wonder how many Dakota's that are part of the split-off chain have closed. I haven't kept track. The original non-chain Dakota in Rocky Hill seems to be doing OK. I will agree that the chain Dakota's are inferior to the original, but nowhere near as bad as they had become in the recession. The last time I ate at Dakota in Avon must have been a few weeks before it closed and had the feeling it wouldn't be long before it did.

                  Boston Market in Avon - I do agree that the chain's prices continue to be ridiculous despite the company going through CEOs on a regular basis, all of whom say they're going to do something about the prices (and never do). This isn't so much of an issue in some areas but I do think that the Rt. 44 area in Avon has been especially hard hit by the recession judging from all the vacant stores (not just restaurants).

                  Margarita's probably would have closed anyway, and Wasab's, well I hadn't been there in a few years but it never impressed me all that much or I'd have gone back.

                  Some restaurants can limp along in a great economy even if they aren't doing as well as other businesses but I guess the recession has been either causing their demise or accelerating what would be inevitable anyway.

                  Thanks for cluing us in on the Colony Grill. I wish it luck considering all the pizza in the area already. I just wish someone would open something reasonably priced that serves more than just pizza, though.

                  -----
                  Colony Grill
                  172 Myrtle Ave, Stamford, CT 06902

                  Wasab Restaurant
                  142 Hopmeadow St, Weatogue, CT 06089

                  20 Replies
                  1. re: ntuitive1

                    Sorry to disagree.
                    I had the misfortune to eat at the Rocky Hill Dakota in April (not my choice). Bad service, Friday 8PM restaurant only half full. The salad bar was not filled in, the bread choices were poor and several loaves cold from the freezer.
                    The steak was poor quality, tough, full of gristle. The fish was mushy as if water logged from the freezer.

                    My ex worked for the corporate office as an accountant before the split. The split left all the pieces undercapitalized and with only remnants of management in place. they never recovered. As the economy faltered, they couldn't respond.

                    1. re: bagelman01

                      I think that during this bad economy a lot of restaurants are not doing as well as they used to and unfortunately if you watch Gordon Ramsay enough, you'll know that means they usually start cutting back on things and service and food start to suffer. It's sad. I hate to see that happening. I haven't been to the Rocky Hill Dakota in years so I didn't know about this. I know that some restaurants are doing everything to prevent it. Others don't seem to be able to deal with it and they end up hastening their own demise as a result.

                    2. re: ntuitive1

                      But you can not blame the economy for these closures. With so many great dining options, people will spend there money where the food and service are good.
                      I am a 4th generation Simsbury resident and my famiy and friends prefer to spend outrmoney with local restaurants that have consistent food and service.

                      I will happily have dinner at the Maple Tree or the Crown and Hammer before going to Route 44 to Bertuccis or Chilis. It is not the economy, it is people choosing local and good, in my opinion

                      -----
                      Maple Tree Cafe
                      781 Hopmeadow St, Simsbury, CT 06070

                      1. re: Tinkerbelldee

                        With all the empty storefronts along Rt. 44, many of which were NOT restaurants, you continue to believe that the economy has nothing to do with it? You can believe that if you want to, but even the best restaurants in the area are seeing slower business, just not AS slow as the ones that have closed. Of course more people will continue to go to the better restaurants but they're going out to eat less often and over time it has an effect on business. How could the recession NOT influence restaurant closings? We never had so many closings all over the state within such a small period of time until the recession.

                        In a good economy Rt. 44 can support more restaurants. In a bad economy it separates the wheat from the chaff. With fewer options people will have to choose the restaurants that are still left, which will improve their business by comparison (although it will usually still be slower than in a good economy). It's only logic.

                        Many mediocre restaurants were thriving when the economy was good. Their closing in many cases would not have happened in a good economy. So yes, it is the fault of the recession that many of them closed, not the fact that their food was mediocre. Again, only logic.

                        1. re: ntuitive1

                          I just don't agree with your logic, but that is OK, we don't have to agree.

                          In a good economy crappy restaurants will close. All those that closed were crappy, in my opinion. A Great economy would not have saved them.

                          1. re: Tinkerbelldee

                            If that's so then how do you explain that Dakota was so packed on Friday nights before the recession that you'd often have to wait an hour at the bar to get a table? I know because I remember. I am talking mid 2000s. And there are crappy restaurants still doing good business just because they're in good locations or somehow have a loyal following in spite of it all. I am consistently surprised at how many people think certain chain restaurants are good, like Bertucci's and Chili's, both of which suck, IMO. They remain in business in the area in spite of being typical crappy chain restaurants. Say what you want about Dakota but when they were doing well their salad bar was the best EVER and was largely organic. Try getting that at typical chain restaurants. It's not all black and white.

                            1. re: ntuitive1

                              You know, sometimes I have to laugh - I encounter some of the biggest food snobs in the Hartford area, yet I am originally from Manhattan and grew up eating gourmet food of a quality and kind that is not even known about to this day around here, but even so I don't snob out on restaurants to such an extent. I find it amusing and a little unbelievable that in an area where you can't even find halfway decent Chinese food and people think that G-d awful "Butterfly" is good Chinese that too many people in the Hartford area really know the difference between good and crappy food. Sorry if that sounds snarky, I just had to get that off my chest!

                              1. re: ntuitive1

                                I am hardly a food snob. I just do not like bad food at any restaurant or chain restaurants that compromise quality for profit. After 20+ years in the Farmington Valley Restaurant business, I have a pretty firm grasp on what I like and where I can get it. Nothing to do with being a snob at all. In fact, many here may call my food tastes simple.

                                I prefer to spend my money with local businesses, it has nothing to do with being a food snob, it has everything to do with making a choice where I spend my money.
                                You can talk all you want about Dakota, I worked there. There was nothing organic going on in that salad bar.
                                Actually here is where you can call me a snob, salad bars are gross and I won't eat at one.

                                I am now off to enjoy my Sunday! Cheers!

                                1. re: Tinkerbelldee

                                  I just looked at the reviews of both restaurants you mentioned - The Maple Tree and the Crown and Hammer, and diner reviews for both were underwhelming. I've never been to either but after reading about them I think I'll pass. After watching Kitchen Nightmares for several years I am leery of locally owned restaurants with huge, outdated menus. I'll stick with Metro Bis, Max a Mia and Evergreens.

                                  -----
                                  Max a Mia
                                  70 East Main St., Avon, CT 06001

                                  Maple Tree Cafe
                                  781 Hopmeadow St, Simsbury, CT 06070

                                  Metro Bis Restaurant
                                  928 Hopmeadow St Ste 2, Simsbury, CT 06070

                                  1. re: ntuitive1

                                    Kitchen Nightmares is a TV show that is looking for ratings. They find the worst of the worst to get people to watch.
                                    Just because a locally owned restaurant has been in business for many years with a menu that is consistent, doesn't mean it is a nightmare.
                                    You can be underwhelmed, I said my tastes were simple, just more proof that I am not the snob you think I am!
                                    Cheers!

                                    1. re: Tinkerbelldee

                                      No, perhaps you're not a snob but you certainly act like one, LOL, and that was my point.

                                      1. re: ntuitive1

                                        I am a local business supporter snob, I'll take that!

                                        1. re: Tinkerbelldee

                                          LOL, well I guess someone will come along and call me a NY food snob. Fair enough, LOL.

                        2. re: Tinkerbelldee

                          Agreed, I would rather spend my money in local restaurants than patronize the chains on 44. Ferme, Husk, Feng, LIttle City Pizza, Flaggstead, to name a few favorites.

                          1. re: Meesch70

                            Flaggstead? Where is that?

                            1. re: Tinkerbelldee

                              It's a barbecue place on route 4 in Farmington.

                              1. re: Tinkerbelldee

                                Check it out if you like BBQ, in my opinion, he makes the best brisket around!

                                1. re: Meesch70

                                  It's Texas BBQ...mostly ribs, sausage, and brisket. Goes good with cold Lone Star.

                                2. re: Tinkerbelldee

                                  Farmington Avenue, Farmington.

                              2. re: Tinkerbelldee

                                Agree Tinker. The good restaurants survive the economic downturn. Good food, good service, reasonable prices.. they'll be around for a long time. It's much easier to blame the economy. Look at some of the places that have been around for ages and they all share good service good food, reasonable prices. It's not rocket science; but, apparently for some restaurant owners it sadly seems it is.

                                Dakotas was horrible. Lousy service, poor excuse for "prime rib", tough steak. It was great when it first opened but it sure went downhill the last few years. Very poor management, high prices, poor service.

                            2. I still miss little marks barbeque or rt 44 always stopped in for lunch. I also remember dakotas back in the 90's always being packed. so i would go after 9pm. the fiddlers geen in simsbury as a decent bar/restaurant. the green frog or something like that. they have a great ruben..

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: wildcountry

                                Little Marks was Ok...but when compared to BBQ in more traditional places...I always found them a little short...the place in Vernon is OK...but every time I ate in Avon it seemed likie I was getting leftovers...I ordered Burnt Ends one time...had to send them back.

                                Boston market will never work until they figure out how to get people to see them as something other than a Thanksgiving dinner...in Avon...people eat lite for lunch...who wants chicken and stuffing for lunch...youy have to take a nap..that may not be a fair assessment ...but it it ow they are percieved.

                                Dakota was great ..the first time I ate there we realized it did not have a deep fryer...it made my day...I had a wonderful meal...the place was HQ near Albany and I ate up there a few times...always good...but in house politics seems to have doomed them...

                                Farmington valley prices itself out of the market for most businesses..if you are not gangbusters 24-7...you can't meet the payments...everyone is very greedy ( not sure how else to put it) ...small local businesses need room to absorb slow times...and unfortunately the only ones that can do that are the big chains...well...except for Borders I guess...and 99...which I never liked...decor was way too fake.

                                ...almost all independents struggle...and no one is getting rich...a great example was Fat Cat in Riverdale Farms...too much competition...they made great food...it will be interesting to see if the new patio at Capo's is worth the investment...

                                1. re: jms123

                                  This is an interesting thread. I live in West Hartford, am a hardcore foodie, and thinking about what places bring me over the Mountain. Short answer is in Avon/Canton no where. I will make the short trek to Max a Mia just because of habit. I used to love Lily's a long time ago, a classic which dates me. Forget the chains, they shouldn't even be mentioned in a Chowhound thread. This is suppose to be a place for foodies. What the hell does Boston Market (which is or was owned by MacDonald's) the 99, the Dakota, Bertuccis, have to do with serious food. Come on guys.

                                  Going slightly north, Papacelle is okay, not great, homemade Italian, similar to the relative new Treva in West Hartford Center. Further north in Simsbury center I miss the hell out of One Way Fare, a classic foodie hangout. Right now there is Metro Bis, IMHO, one of the best restaurants in Central Ct. Worth the trip for me. It pains me to go there on a Friday night and see it half full. If it was in the WH center, there would be a line out the door. Which is the problem. I have a lot of aquaintances living over the mountain in Avon and Simsbury. On Friday and Saturday nights I see them at Bricco, Arugula and Max Oyster. West Hartford Center is killing the restaurant business in Avon/Canton/Simsbury, as it is killing the bar scene and restaurant business in Hartford. Good for me, a 5 minute drive, bad if you live over the hill.

                                  -----
                                  Max a Mia
                                  70 East Main St., Avon, CT 06001

                                  Metro Bis Restaurant
                                  928 Hopmeadow St Ste 2, Simsbury, CT 06070

                                  Papacelle
                                  152 Simsbury Road, Avon, CT 06001

                                  1. re: chrism23

                                    That's very true. While there are more restaurants all the time in W. Hartford Center, there are fewer over the hill all the time too.

                                    1. re: ntuitive1

                                      Chrism23 is right about the chains...but the thread sort of migrated over to a spin on nusinesses closing.

                                      West Hartford is a destination...and the downtown actually has a feel to it.

                                      Farmington and Avon lack a true downtown and suffer for it...almost every place is stuck in a glorified strip mall...Avon is itl's own worst enemy...no cetralized area...no intimacy...even the Disney like BB Square makes you feel at least a little comfortable...(but if Cheescake Factory would please just close and go away it would not be a bad thing...)

                                      I go to Bricco's...but had a less than insprationsl meal at the new place in G'bury a few weeks ago...and Max group seems to have all the same food inthe Italians places...I lost my need to go there...

                                      Small independents are still the best...as soon as you open a second place...quality, inspiration and the overall need to be the best become secondary to building thenext McDonalds chain...

                                      A true "restaurant" has a chef and an owner on site almost all the time...anything else is a chain...

                              2. I have seen that as some restaurants close there are still others that open. Bennys on Hopmeadow in Simsbury just opened a couple months ago and they have some very tasty options on the menu. It is nothing fancy, just some solid home-style cooking. I have had a couple soups there that were awsome and the they make the baklava in the restaurant every couple days. This is the kine of place that I would love to see flourish in the valley!

                                1. I miss Japanica in Farmington, across the road from the UCONN Medical Center, but I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised at the VERY high quality food at Murphy and Scarlettis.

                                  1. does anyone know what haooened to gabrielles on route 44,it opened in 95 in the old lilys house,im trying to find the chef al gauthier,an old friend i lost contact with

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: upstar40

                                      Google said he might have had something to do with Cosimo's in New Orleans, but it looks like you already asked on their Facebook page a while back. Try calling and asking? Failing that, maybe call Johnson and Wales and see if they can help get in touch with their alumni?

                                      1. re: ratbuddy

                                        thanks,and yes idid,but they never heard of him,so my search conthank you for trying to help me..

                                    2. I was just thinking of this thread that I started last year because I drove by Colony Grill on Sunday and not surprisingly, it was closed. I don't think Rt. 44 is the right type of location for that type of restaurant. They do better down in Fairfield County where there is a younger/business crowd coming in off the very busy Post Road. Around here, a restaurant like that needs to be family oriented and offer more menu options. Plus, again there was the saturation of pizza in the area at cheaper prices. It was a recipe for failure.

                                      I also know about Char Khoon 1800 in Canton closing in May - Great restaurant but again, wrong location. I don't know why all these businesses think Rt. 44 is a great place to open a restaurant. There really isn't enough traffic to support some of these businesses, and not the right kind of traffic.

                                      Another case is the closing of Carmen Anthony's in Avon and the opening of The Grist Mill, which moved from its former lovely "swan and pond" location. I hate to tell them that if they couldn't make it in that lovely setting, where people might be as likely (if not more) to come for the atmosphere as the food, they're likely not going to do much better on Rt. 44. As a friend said, "When the loyal clientele dies off and new people realize that the food just isn't good enough to justify paying those prices in a less attractive location, the place will suffer." It's sad because similar to what happened with the restaurant at Avon Old Farms Inn (which is now for events), the "Swan and Pond" restaurants are becoming a thing of the past in this area. I know other areas where they still do well.

                                      It bears some looking into why the Avon/Farmington/Simsbury area has become death to so many restaurants that do well elsewhere. It may not be the food that's to blame when the Colony Grill thrives in Fairfield, Char Khoon in Glastonbury, and for better or worse, Dakota in Rocky Hill (although actually it's supposedly the only Dakota still owned by the original owner, so I've read). Char Khoon was getting good reviews in Canton, but there just was not enough business. Colony Grill might not have been living up to the quality in the Fairfield County locations, though.

                                      Another thing a friend of mine (who is from the Avon/Simsbury area) said is that the recession has given people more reasons to be frugal as other costs have risen. So while it may look like the income levels in the area are encouraging for restaurants looking to branch into this area, the figures could be deceptive.

                                      In the end, I think a lot of these restaurants are structured to thrive in high traffic areas, and Rt. 44 is just not high traffic ENOUGH to support them. So then the food starts to suffer and it all goes downhill from there.

                                      6 Replies
                                      1. re: ntuitive1

                                        As a loyal patron of The Grist Mill since the late 70's, I will certainly miss it. There is no way the people from Avon will even understand that type of dining and those prices. What I don't understand is why there are no marketers telling these people that this move spells potential "Fail". As for 44 in Avon, it is a huge commuter drag and you really need a niche to keep people coming back. I think the last restaurant that had that was Copperfields where Dakota's now lays dormant. I guess the restaurant I miss the very most is the original Chart House in Simsbury and Chuck's Steak House from the 80's and 90's in Farmington Center.

                                        1. re: ntuitive1

                                          Traffic counts on 44 in Avon are higher than those in West Hartford center. Can't blame that.

                                          Colony Grill just made a bad business decision. They moved too far from their established base and took on too large a building. Doomed from the start.

                                          Dakota went downhill years before they closed, and frankly, I was surprised they lasted so long. Our last trip for brunch it cost about $80 for the two of us and we only had a single drink each. The food wasn't even very good. Nothing like they were serving in 2005 or so.

                                          Char Koon, well, I never went there, so I can't say.

                                          There are plenty of restaurants doing just fine on 44, enough that we really can't blame traffic counts or demographics. Ones that fail were doing something wrong.

                                          1. re: ratbuddy

                                            Dakota's Brunch was the last meal for my friend and me. I couldn't believe how horrible my favorite brunch spot was. There was no service, it was run by 20 year old, immature kids who didn't give a rat about waiting tables. The buffet was 1/2 the size and foods were inedible. When I got home I wrote them a letter voicing my concerns and telling them they would be closed within a month. They were. So yes, they failed because they did a whole lot wrong.

                                            1. re: Sascooks

                                              What happens to these restaurants is that they run on such a tight margin that if they lose a little business they suffer financially and allow it to affect their quality, which only snowballs them into failure. I believe the recession is partly to blame for the slack off in business overall (it's happened to the successful restaurants too). The difference between the ones that succeed and the ones that fail is the ones that fail are running on a tighter margin and/or allowing the slack off in business to affect the quality of the food and service, which only makes them fail all the more. By the time you visited them it was probably beyond the point of no return for them and they knew it so that was why it had gotten so bad. I went there about a month before they closed myself and knew it was only a matter of time.

                                              1. re: ntuitive1

                                                Whatever possesses a restaurant to have such huge menus is beyone me. That is an indication that pretty much nothing is fresh. To take a chance on carrying so many different meals is just the opposite of what killed Colony Grill. This restaurant next to where I work sells basically large salads, a few sandwiches, soup and a couple daily specials. They are packed to the gills everyday for lunch. Fabiola's!

                                            2. re: ratbuddy

                                              Yeah, but West Hartford is a destination unto itself, while Rt. 44 is more of a commuter highway for locals passing through. You can't easily compare the two locations. If Rt. 44 had a main street or town square shopping area or a large mall to anchor it, perhaps that might help. Plus the populations in W. Hartford versus Avon/Simsbury are different as well. I think even more importantly, Rt. 44 just doesn't attract as many people from other areas because of its relative isolation from them, while West Hartford and even the Buckland Hills area in Manchester do. If they're going to rely just on the local people passing through on Rt. 44 that's not enough to keep a lot of otherwise successful businesses going. They have to be able to attract people from other areas as well. Which only means that restaurants that need that kind of volume to succeed should think twice before opening there. When you consider the successful restaurants on Rt. 44, I think a lot of them have loyal clientele for years that are able to sustain them.

                                          2. Colony Grill in Avon has already closed shop. They're gone. They were ok. Not great.

                                            Somebody here said: "This is suppose to be a place for foodies. What the hell does Boston Market (which is or was owned by MacDonald's) the 99, the Dakota, Bertuccis, have to do with serious food. Come on guys".

                                            Yup... so agree.

                                            Iron Frog in Simsbury is pretty good. Plan D works for us, great burgers and meatloaf.. really comfort food. Pizza Joe.. just so so. Harvest Cafe has a great breakfast; all in all their food is good.

                                            I too miss having a BBQ place in Avon/Simsbury. There is one on Route 4 around Farmington that's pretty good.

                                            Nothing really very exciting for restaurants unless you hit West Hartford.

                                            Has anyone been to Cora Cora? Really outstanding food. West Hartford/Elmwood area.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: MimiCT

                                              I think it was originally about eateries closing in the Valley. Not really snobby foodies but more of a concern about parking lots with weeds growing through the tar.

                                            2. Giant Grinder on Queen St. Southington also gone. I liked their breakfast sandwiches.....they would butter and grill the bulkie roll....that's the key