In the Suburbs / New stores, new eateries, a few farewells
Published 4:35 pm, Wednesday, December 28, 2011
This is not a boring recap of what happened nationally and internationally in 2011. In Fairfield, it has been a heck of a year for new businesses -- including big boxes -- new restaurants and restaurant casualties.
The opening of the Kings Crossing shopping center near Home Depot in June brought us not only the very different appeal of Whole Foods Market, but a new Five Guys burger restaurant, a Chipotle Mexican Grill, a new Petco pet-supply store and another CVS pharmacy.
I remember when the whole area was dirt and rocks, and suddenly in 2011, we had a retail wonderland.
On Black Rock Turnpike, a ShopRite Supermarket opened in September in the old Shaw's plaza, where all stores received a makeover. And just down the street in Tunxis Hill Plaza, Chip's Family Restaurant opened, bringing its reputation for great pancakes from its flagship location in Orange.
While we still were lamenting last spring's closing of Border's bookstore downtown, Fairfield University stepped in to announce it would move its bookstore into the spot. It opened in early November and should be fully operational in January.
Throughout Fairfield, especially along the Post Road, new eateries popped up or took over locations where others had long stood.
For instance, Liquid Lunch has opened in The Brick Walk. It is the third in a chain of three soup and -- in it's own words -- "Sammi" places, the others being in Shelton and Milford. It's on our list to try in 2012.
The Bodega Taco Bar arrived in Heritage Square in the fall and also is on my "to try" list. Old Post Tavern replaced Bravo, which closed back in February amid allegations of serving alcohol to minors. Just around the corner, the Fairfield Spot -- which replaced the Greenhouse Grille (we liked the Grille) -- lasted just about long enough for some early publicity and then was gone in a flash.
On a warm summer night, we joined lots of believers for dessert at the new Pinkberry on the Post Road. Our friends from New York told us we were in for an incredible frozen treat. They weren't kidding.
As fall arrived, Mesa Fresh Mexican Grill transformed the old Mackenzie's Grill & Tap Room on Black Rock Turnpike -- which didn't make the long-term cut -- into a popular destination for south-of-the-border fare.
A short distance away in the refurbished Swanson's Fish Market plaza, Chili Bomb, a firecracker chili place (lots of fun and oh so good), opened in late summer. Matsuri, an intimate Asian restaurant opened about the same time but didn't survive to the end of the year.
This year was a sad one for several arts and entertainment spots. We lost a favorite haunt when the Community Theatre closed its doors, and the jury is still out about whether it ever will reopen. We loved that theater and remember days when it was packed on Saturday evenings.
I was deeply saddened to hear about Fairfield Arts Council having to close this January and wish we could find the organization a new home. My good friend Ellen was able to help another arts group -- Art Place -- find a new home under her roof at Fairfield Interiors. But I'm afraid the Arts Council needs a much larger space and much deeper pockets to continue giving its cultural gift to the community.
I was really disappointed to arrive at the Brick Walk area one Saturday to discover that Fairfield Stationers had closed its doors to concentrate on web sales. I loved that store, especially since it carried my favorite retro pens and plenty of refills. The store had relocated to make room for Colony Grill in 2010 and had been a Post Road institution for a lot of years.
Adding to the domino effect, soon after Chip's settled into the Tunxis Hill Shopping Center, Adam's Bakery -- which has the most wonderful onion rye breads, among other breads and pastries -- was moving across the street to the spot where a nail place had been for years and years.
This has been a very busy year for development in Fairfield, capped just a few weeks ago by the opening of the new Fairfield Metro train station.
As my wife and I begin our 30th year in the community in 2012, I can't wait to see what's in store. From what I hear, more businesses are planned near the train station. I see that Trader Joe's is expanding again.
I'll just have to keep my eyes and ears open to learn what else is planned for our growing community.
Steven Gaynes is a Fairfield writer, and his "In the Suburbs" appears each Friday. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.