North Haven’s Hard Hat Cafe expanding into Wallingford

North Haven’s Hard Hat Cafe expanding into Wallingford


WALLINGFORD — A North Haven-based restaurant is expanding its business by opening a second location at the former Cafe 181.

Hard Hat Cafe, 65 Old Broadway St., North Haven, will open its second location at 181 N. Colony Road, according to owner John Acanfora. Cafe 181, formerly known as Sabbatical’s Cafe, opened in January after two months of renovations. It recently closed.

The Wallingford location is expected to open in two weeks, Acanfora said, during the first weekend in September.

“This one went very well,” Acanfora said of the North Haven location. “A lot of people we know in Wallingford talked to us and said it’d be nice if we moved to Wallingford.”

Acanfora, a North Haven resident, has owned Hard Hat Cafe for 11 years. He said the Wallingford location is far enough away from the North Haven location and the future train station will benefit the business.

Economic Development Commission Chairman Joe Mirra said he was glad to see Hard Hat Cafe expanding into town to “refill that location.”

“It’s a good location and I look forward to welcoming another restaurant to the community,” Mirra said.

When it opens, Wallingford’s Hard Hat Cafe will be similar to the North Haven restaurant, Acanfora said. It’ll have 12 big screen televisions and a football package for fans to come down and watch a game. The only difference between the two locations, he added, was that the Wallingford site doesn’t have an outdoor pavilion.

The menu will stay the same and that it’ll feature Hard Hat Cafe’s wings, which the restaurant is well known for, Acanfora said.

In the future, Acanfora said he would be open to opening more Hard Hat Cafe locations around the state — not just the New Haven area.

“We’ve been approached by people who want to have a good solid sports bar in the town,” he said. “We wouldn’t be opposed to going anywhere in the state.”

While Hard Hat Cafe has the big screen televisions, Acanfora said he doesn’t want it to be known as just a sports bar and enjoys seeing families visit the restaurant.

“We want to have an establishment where people feel comfortable coming in — if they wanted to bring their kids, they can,” he said. “We don’t want to be a rough and tumble bar. We want to be a more family neighborhood bar.” (203) 317-2235 Twitter: @EricVoRJ

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