July 6 - 12, 2006
Column By MIKE McGARRY, The Hartford News Staff Writer
About five years ago, a sensible decision was made to take the space around the Pump House in Bushnell Park and turn it into a summer restaurant/gathering place. It was a real challenge to move the project along, through city if, ands and buts. However, a unique venue was established and we all have enjoyed many nights under the stars.
It has not been easy for any of the operators over these years. Weather always seems to be the catch: too hot, too chilly...rain, wind … so, finally, the defunct art gallery space (victim of budget cuts) has been added and large tents keep the space dry and relatively cool. Additional ventilation is needed in the gallery for it to reach its full potential.
The sensibilities of using city property to create commerce and additions to our lifestyle rises above all the bothersome details involved in such a project. The Mayor and Council should look at other similar opportunities. A good example is Batterson Park - what a waste - it just begs for privatization, or at least a pond commission with neighboring towns. Just look at the success of Winding Trails right up the road.
Back to the Pump House Grill. Can it finally work out for the city and the operator? The key seems to be in group use - a World Cup, soccer of course, set up seems to have worked well, in Europe such outdoor venues are commonplace with high tech screens reaching up to satellites. This kind of creative thinking might just be the key.
Marty Pushcarewicz, in his second year at the grill, has a long history in Hartford. Working with Councilman John Bazzano, he was able to convince the city (one more time) to take this asset forward. The road has been rocky, but having a council person with experience and common sense on your side still makes a difference.
To do our part, your servant has arranged a special affair at the Pump House on September 14, 15 and 16th. “The Boys of Wexford” will hold a mini festival called: Bringing you halfway to St. Patrick’s Day! (The actual halfway day is September 17th, but that’s a Sunday). Those three days coincide with a shriners convention with 6,000 - 8,000 partiers in town. We’ll try to serve them well.
So, our advice to you, dear reader, is to call the Grill, 728-6730. Pick out your entertainment choice and, yes, come on down, it’s safe, parking is free after six , food and drink are modestly priced and you might just fall under the spell that has attracted your author. The hours are Monday through Saturday, 11 am to 11 pm, rain or shine unless it really pours. Music most nights until 10 pm, 11 pm on weekend.