Chipotle and Sonic are exciting additions, but don't forget to support your neighbors and eat local!
Torrington, CT, celebrates the opening of two new chain restaurants in 2021.
Construction is ongoing as preparations continue for a Chipotle Mexican Grill on 1313 East Main Street, next to Pizzeria Marzano. It won't be long before we can line up for our burritos from the looks of things. And Sonic is set to build a full-service drive-thru/gas station/convenience store at the site of the old Scarpelli's Restaurant on Migeon Avenue.
While this is exciting news in a small city, I mourn the restaurants and businesses we lost this year. Many of them may have been nearing retirement or looking to sell anyway. But the pandemic made choices clear for a lot of people.
"I always take the time to eat well and eat locally because it's common sense." --Ellen Page
Local businesses are essential to their communities. For every dollar spent at a local business, about $0.80 stays in the community. This is vital to the health of our community. We want to keep our friends and neighbors working so they can live comfortably. The more money that stays in our community, the more contributing to taxes for schools, roads, and hospitals.
"Small-scale, locally owned businesses create communities that are more prosperous, connected, and generally better-off across a wide range of metrics. When we buy from independent, locally owned businesses, rather than national chains, a significantly greater portion of our money is then cycled back through our local economy — to make purchases from our friends' businesses, to aid our neighbors in need, and to support our local farms — ultimately strengthening the base of our whole community," according to sustainableconnections.org.
Thinking back on the years spent frequenting some of these Torrington establishments, I want to reflect upon some of the memories that these former local businesses have given over the years. They meant a lot to my family, and I'm sure to many others in Torrington and Litchfield County.
My mother always told me how my brother's birth began with a trip to Scarpelli's for one of their famous chili dogs. This was back before they had indoor seating. It was a drive up food stand. Of course, she never got to enjoy that chili dog because my brother decided that was his moment to shine.
Sliders Bar & Grill on Main Street is another fun restaurant that didn't make it through the pandemic. Located right next to the Warner Theater, it was a convenient place to grab a bite before or after a show. Luckily Sasso's Coal Fired Pizza is delicious and is doing well. We still have that as an option.
George's Restaurant is one of my personal favorites for breakfast and lunch. It has remained open throughout the pandemic. You can dine in; they have plexiglass partitions or take-out. The food is consistently excellent, and the owner, Jodi, always has a ready smile.
Tony's Diner is a great family option. Tony's, open since 1949, brings back fond family memories for me, and I'm sure many others because of their affordable family meals. When you eat at Tony's, it's like eating a turkey dinner or meatloaf at your grandma's house. In my family, we ate out on Thursday nights because my mom worked at a bank. Thursday nights, the bank was open late, so my mom didn't cook. Tony's was a frequent choice for our weekly dinners. It's still a great choice!
Toothpick across the street on Main is a new restaurant that opened just as the pandemic reared its ugly head. I haven't had the chance to try it yet, but it has gotten rave reviews. The large windows make it easy to see into the Restaurant when passing by, and the decor is minimalist and on-trend. I will be visiting soon!
The Bad Dog Brewing Company at the Old Firehouse on Water Street is also new and looks super cool from the outside. The downstairs is complete with an antique firetruck, the decor is simple, and the aesthetic pleasing.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention Yia Yia's Greek Kitchen on East Main Street, as well. So delicious! They are pretty new as well and seem to be navigating the pandemic so far.
With the excitement over Sonic and Chipotle opening in town, I hope you keep the local guys in mind.
The people that run these restaurants are your neighbors, friends, relatives. We want to see them when the pandemic is over, in business and doing well financially.
Sustainable Connections reminds us that "local businesses mean a stronger tax base and better use of public services compared to nationally owned stores. This translates into better schools, transportation, and emergency response services for you and your family."
The chains will always be around, even if we have to drive a little further for them. So, when they open, get your Sonic and Chipotle. But the next day, go to George's for some pancakes. Get a grinder from Alfredos' or a pizza from Vinny's or Pizzeria Marzano.
A healthy community needs interaction from all its members. If we support the businesses we love now, we can ensure they will still be around when Life returns to normal. I know I can't wait to return to date nights with my husband, girl's night out with my friends, and family dinners with my parents and in-laws.
I want my favorite restaurants and the restaurant owners I have come to know and love to be there in the future.
*Edit* This post originally stated that Tony's Diner was closed. This statement is incorrect. I apologize for the mistake. Tony's Diner is very much open and an article about the restaurant and its owner will be coming soon.
"As consumers, we have so much power to change the world just by being careful what we buy." --Emma Watson.
"Life in the mid-21st century is going to be about living locally. Be prepared to be good neighbors. Be prepared to find vocations that make you useful to your neighbors and to your fellow citizens." --James Howard Kunstler