MERIDEN — The Naugatuck-based Nardelli’s Grinder Shoppe is opening its tenth franchise, on East Main Street in the home of a former Dunkin’ Donuts.
“We chose Meriden because we saw the need, we like the town,” said co-owner Anthony Nardelli. “It is close to the highway, so it’s easy on easy off.”
A soft opening at 900 E. Main St, next door to the Comfort Inn and Suites, is expected this spring.
After building a name for itself and its grinders in the Greater Waterbury area, Nardelli’s spun off franchises in Middletown, Cromwell, and most recently in Southington. The grinder, Italian food and catering business keeps its corporate headquarters on Plank Road in Waterbury. The remaining stores are owned by franchisees.
Nardelli’s new location is leased by Batista Companies, doing business as Dunkin’ Donuts. The 1,500-square-foot donut shop moved its location across the street and had time remaining on its lease, said Wayne D’Amico, who brokered the deal.
The building that Nardelli’s will occupy is owned by Shloke Hospitality LLC, of Lexington, Mass. Owner Ashok Patel also bought the Comfort Inn and Suites from Meriden Hotel Partners LLC for $3.1 million in August.
“Ashok was extremely professional and amenable to working something out with Batista’s to sublet,” D’Amico said.
Nardelli’s was founded by three brothers who arrived from Italy in 1914. After working at several jobs, including one at a grocery store, they earned enough money to eventually buy what they called Nardelli’s Grocery Store in Naugatuck in 1920.
On a trip to New York, the brothers saw how popular grinders were and began selling them in the store. “Some days, a line would wind it’s way down South Main Street,” according to Nardelli’s website.
The family business thrived until 1963 when the youngest brother Fred Nardelli died. A nephew Joseph Nardelli took over the business, and with his wife Rina Nardelli and their children relocated it in two sites in Naugatuck and Waterbury. The third generation of Nardellis— Anthony, Marco, and Diana Nardelli-Troiano— have expanded the business into franchise opportunities. Nardelli’s opened stores in a former Dunkin Donuts in Middletown, and at a site in Cromwell, and most recently on Queen Street in Southington.
Before Nardelli’s opens, the East Main Street store is being gutted and remodeled. The franchisee is Kristine Bouchere, who worked at the corporate store in Waterbury for eight years, Anthony Nardelli said.
That’s good news,” said City Economic Development Director Juliet Burdelski. “It’s nice to see more activity on East Main Street. It’s a good addition to the mix down there.”