A Hartford staple is closing its doors this weekend. Maple Giant Grinders is picking up from the south end and heading out to the suburbs.
The grinder shop has been part of the south end since 1984. Many things have changed in the South End and the cornerstones of the community are now leaving.
Rick Donovan and Steve Naczkowski are at Maple Giant Grinders placing their last orders on Friday afternoon at the South End shop.
“Now to see Maple, people moving out, it's a shame,” Donovan said.
Donovan and Naczkowski said they have fond memories of the many times they'd swing in for their famous beef cutlets after their shifts at ups.
“I like the cutlet grinders,” Naczkowski said.
“The beef cutlet grinders are awesome,” Donovan said. “They had a nice pasta and broccoli.”
But, on Friday, the Lavoie family is slicing the last grinder, topping off the last meatball and saying goodbye to their loyal clientele.
“It's mostly financial,” Maple Giant Grinders owner Richard Lavoie said. “We're just not making what we need to say in business in Hartford, basically.”
Lavoie said recently it's been tough to do business in the South End.
“This area is in such transition,” Lavoie said. “We see different people all the time.”
Because of that, Lavoie said it's tough to continue to build on the loyal following. He's not the only South End staple to leave. D&D Market on Franklin Avenue is now doing business in Wethersfield.
While Maple Giant Grinders’ Hartford story is coming to an end, it's not the end of the line for the grinder shop. Lavoie said he's looking to go to the suburbs too because that's where his customers now live.
“If you noticed that's where everybody is going, so that's where we want to go,” Lavoie said.
While times are changing, Channel 3 news did find others that are doing well in the South End. Channel 3 spoke with the owner of Mozzicatos who said they're still thriving. Channel 3 news spoke checked in with Gino Denovellis, who is the owner of Franklin Avenue Grinders where they go non-stop until closing.
“The old timers do come in here and that's where I build and hopefully their offspring and kids come down here, to enjoy what their parents and grandparents have enjoyed for 50 years,” Denovellis said.
While long-timers here are happy to still have hometown spots to turn to they're sad whenever one leaves.
“I went to school with a lot of these people who own these businesses,” Donovan said. “That's exactly what it is, it's a lot tougher, a whole new clientele.”
The Lavoies are in talks with other locations. They said they're close to finding a place in Berlin and could open at the end of the year.
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