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Lament For The Muni

January 30, 2006
Courant Editorial

Ah, the pain. The Main Street building in Hartford that housed the fabled Municipal Cafeteria is now home to a Dunkin' Donuts.

The tin roof, wooden booths and classic photographs of Hartford have been replaced by a standard, off-white box with the chain's orange and red trimmings. The feeling of openness, history, warmth - all gone.

It's no one's fault, really. Developer Carlos Mouta, who's done outstanding work elsewhere in the city, bought the building more than a year ago. He tried to get an independent coffee house or restaurant, but could not. Parking is a problem in that part of downtown. The building needed work. He said he was having trouble renting upstairs office space.

Eventually, Mr. Mouta said, he had to take the deal he could get and pay his bills. He said a Subway restaurant and a Japanese-Thai restaurant are also going into the "Muni" building, and that he will do some restoration work on the exterior.

By Hartford standards, we should be pleased that the beige brick building wasn't demolished. And we have nothing against Dunkin' Donuts - great coffee - or the other tenants.

Still, it's a shame to lose such a wonderful, funky, 1940s space, where everyone from federal judges to Leon the Poet would stop for lunch. Hartford has lost too many of its storied places.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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