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photographs of Hartford have been replaced by a standard, off-white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
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.
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