Smokin’ With Chris restaurant owner Chris Conlon gives back to Southington community

Smokin’ With Chris restaurant owner Chris Conlon gives back to Southington community


SOUTHINGTON — Chris Conlon had trays of chicken to prepare Friday afternoon, grilling the first batch over red oak coals outside his West Center Street barbecue restaurant.

Conlon had a full weekend coming up with three weddings, a Best Buddies fundraiser banquet and an appreciation dinner for the town’s first responders and their families. Since establishing Smokin’ with Chris 12 years ago, Conlon has cooked for a host of charities and non-profits.

“I love doing stuff like this,” he said.

It’s the second year Conlon has held a dinner for emergency responders.

“Everyone at the police department appreciates what Chris is doing for us,” said Police Sgt. Jeffrey Dobratz. “Everyone that attended last year had a great time and appreciated his efforts. It grew bigger this year.”

There are more than 100 people coming from the police department alone. The dinner is also a good opportunity to mingle with other emergency responders, Dobratz said.

Conlon only had a few months of restaurant experience when he started Smokin’ with Chris. His restaurant beat the odds and lasted more than two years, during which most fail, according to Conlon. How has he established himself?

“We have really good food,” he said. “There’s nothing from here that’s not from scratch.”

Conlon was a volunteer and career firefighter in town and then worked at the West Hartford Fire Department for 20 years. The Southington community has been good to him and he wants to give back by working with charitable groups.

In high school, Conlon worked at a summer camp for Down syndrome children and during the school year was part of a group that took special needs children bowling. That experience led him to work with Best Buddies.

“It’s always been in my heart to do that,” Conlon said.

He’s also donated to the Southington Care Center for the past four years. That contribution has helped support the nail salon, the dining room and a planned patio expansion.

“Chris’s dedication towards Southington Care Center has been steadfast over the years and we value our relationship. His generosity has resulted in improvements greatly appreciated by residents, families and staff alike,” said William Kowalewski, the center’s executive director

Accolades are a bit embarrassing, Conlon said. “I don’t do this for awards,” he said. 203-317-2230 Twitter: @JBuchananRJ

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