Front Street District
The name, “Front Street” was selected after an enthusiastic response to the concept of tying the development to the nostalgia of the original location, a bustling riverfront thoroughfare from the late 1800s through the 1950s. Front Street not only refers to the new pedestrian-oriented street that will anchor the development but also to the district as a whole that spans from Columbus Boulevard to Arch Street, up to Prospect Street including the old Hartford Times building. H.B. Nitkin, the developer of Front Street of Norwalk, Connecticut is the district developer.
- The Front Street development is a rapidly expanding area just a block from the riverfront. It is the commercial support entity to the Connecticut Convention Center and the Marriott Hartford Downtown Hotel. It is strongly aligned with the revitalization approach of the 1998 Economic and Urban Design Action Strategy authored by urban planner Ken Greenberg.
- Phase I introduced dining and entertainment venues to the District. Spotlight Theatre and Front Street Bistro provide a unique experience for movie-goers while Capital Grille caters to those who prefer refined dining. Infinity Music Hall and Bear’s Smokehouse are Connecticut originals. Enjoy dinner and a live concert at Infinity or some of the best barbeque in the region at Bear’s. Ted’s Montana Grill is a popular chain known for its Bison burgers and other western-style cuisines. El Pollo Guapo rounds out the area with tacos, tapas, rice bowls and other hearty Mexican-style meals.
- Phase II brought housing to the District with the Front Street Lofts, 121 luxury apartments adjacent to Hartford’s City Hall, the Wadsworth Athenaeum and minutes from Bushnell Park and the state capitol.
- Phase III is the new location of the Hartford branch of the University of Connecticut. The campus melds the historical facade of the former Hartford Times building with a contemporary state-of-the-art educational facility. The commuter branch of the state’s flagship school brings approximately 2,700 students and faculty to the greater downtown area.
- Phase IV is the addition of 53 studio, one and bi-level two bedroom apartment units scheduled to open in the spring of 2019.
From a romantic dinner and movie for two or eating out with the family, Front Street offers something for everyone. The Front Street District is located in the heart of Adriaen’s Landing. Its location directly across the street from the Connecticut Convention Center, the Marriott Hotel and the Connecticut Science Center makes it a convenient destination for convention attendees and visitors to the district to enjoy dinner a movie or live entertainment.
Spotlight Theatre, (Spotlight) was the first business to open on Front Street back in November 2012 and is the first movie theatre in downtown Hartford in 40 years. It provides a unique movie-going experience where you have the choice of dining in the Front Street Bistro or taking your food into the theatre with you to enjoy while watching a movie. It’s a concept that has seen success in many cities across the country. The theatre features four digital screens with high-back leather seats with built-in hide-away dining surfaces upon which to rest your dinner trays. Spotlight offers a variety of the latest movies and boasts an in-house chef and catering service. In addition to the restaurant, snack bar and concessions, there is a private room with the capacity to host small meetings, birthday parties and group functions. Individual theatres also offer staging for panel discussions on anything from community forums or lectures. Spotlight Theatre has other locations in Georgia and Pennsylvania.
Capital Grille, (Capital) was introduced to Hartford when it opened on Front Street in September 2013. Capital Grille is a national chain that offers a diverse lunch and dinner menu including its signature cheeseburger, Lobster Mac ‘N’ Cheese and mini tenderloin sandwiches. Capital Grille also offers customized menus for special events, private dining rooms and a lounge area that opens up to a covered outdoor patio.
Infinity Music Hall and Bistro, (Infinity) broke ground in March of 2013, celebrated its grand opening with a ribbon cutting on August 21, 2014, and inaugurated its Hartford stage on August 28, 2014, with a concert by Toad the Wet Sprocket. This is the second Connecticut location for the live music venue, with its first location being in Norfolk. The state provided $1.3 million in bond funding through the Department of Economic Development. Owners have replicated the “acoustically pristine” design of the Norfolk facility creating an intimate feel for guests and the artists who play there. Infinity has a reputation for bringing some of the best live concerts to the State with performers such as Wilson Philips, Jon Anderson, Earl Klugh, Spyro Gyra, Harlem Gospel Choir and Peter White just to name a few. The Bistro opens at 4:00 pm on show nights only and is available for private parties and special events anytime.
With its opening in Hartford on May 12, 2014, Ted’s Montana Grill, (Ted’s) is already a favorite for many in the greater Hartford area with a location at Evergreen Way in South Windsor. American business leader and entrepreneur, Ted Turner is the “Ted” of this popular restaurant chain featuring what he refers to as traditional hearty food. A major feature and popular menu choice of Ted’s menu is bison burgers. The restaurant’s décor, reminiscent of the Big Sky Country, creates a relaxed atmosphere of casual dining and hospitality that defines the Great American West. Ted’s also prides itself on a sustainable and environmentally-friendly business model incorporating recycled materials in building construction, energy-efficient lighting and energy-saving consumption and practices.
“Chicken Fat Potatoes”, “Not Your Mom’s Coleslaw”, and “Handsome Rice” are just a few of the unique “Side Chicks” you can choose from at this Mexican-themed restaurant. Hartford is one of two locations for the eatery that bills itself as a neighborhood rotisserie joint featuring whole roasted chickens, fresh sides, tacos and salads. El Pollo Guapo also makes a great choice for event catering.
Owner and chef, Jamie McDonald brings his expertise in preparing authentic wood-smoked barbeque from his hometown of Kansas City, Missouri to Hartford. With dishes such as “Moink Balls” which are bacon wrapped meatballs and “Crispy Ribs”, batter and deep-fried rack of ribs, It’s no wonder Bear’s has earned awards such as the 2015 Connecticut Restaurant Association’s Casual Restaurant of the Year, CTNOW Best of Hartford 2015 Reader’s Poll first place in Best New Restaurant and Best Ribs and BBQ and second place in Best Soul Food, as well as HYPE’s 2015 Best Start-Up Business Champions Award.
Jamie McDonald’s culinary abilities are not limited to typical barbeque fare. The Blind Pig, located at 89 Arch Street, is an original Hartford dining experience, combining the flavors of barbeque with that of traditional pizza. In addition to classic pizza options, The Blind Pig offers unique region-inspired selections such as ‘The Texas’ with brisket, The Carolina with smoked pork belly and ‘The Kansas City’ with burnt ends, barbeque sauce and horseradish. Established in 2016, The Blind Pig has quickly become a favorite of Connecticut Convention Center visitors, city residents and commuters.
The Arch Street Tavern has been a popular gathering spot since its establishment back in 1978. The bar and restaurant occupy the site of the former Hartford Brick Carriage Factory built back in 1895 at 85 Arch Street. As a mainstay in the Hartford community, the Tavern’s ongoing mission is aimed at cultivating a hub for culinary, performing and visual arts within downtown Hartford. Arch Street Tavern is well known for high-profile live entertainment such as jazz saxophonist, Kim Waters and the Hartford Jazz Orchestra.