MERIDEN — The first commercial tenant in the newly-constructed transit-oriented buildings downtown has opened for business.
N.Y. Deli & Krispy Krunchy Chicken, an 1,800-square-foot eatery on the first floor of Meriden Commons I, contains a deli counter, cafe-style seating, a coffee bar, and a fried chicken operation. Outdoor seating on the patio will be available, once the tables and chairs arrive, said owner Kassim Gahmi.
“We have the umbrellas, we are waiting for the tables,” Gahmi said. “I can see everything from here — the park, the train station.”
Gahmi, from New Britain, found the site at the corner of State and Mill streets about a year and a half ago, and was interested in opening a deli at the intersection. He researched KK Chicken franchises and liked the taste and the company. But the building had to be reconfigured to accommodate the ventilation system through all four floors. The changes pushed the opening day back several months.
“I appreciate that the Meriden Commons owner gave us a break,” Gahmi said.
The grand opening Thursday was busy with customers coming from City Hall, the apartments upstairs and throughout the city. Business picks up for lunch, but Gahmi hopes to start serving breakfast in a few months.
Tina Hovey, a city bus driver with North East Transportation, has made N.Y. Deli her new lunch stop and has been advertising the eatery to her riders.
“I’ve been waiting for them to open,” Hovey said. “The tuna fish is amazing. One of these days I’m going to have to try the chicken, but I’m a stickler with the tuna.”
Downtown business officials are encouraged by the opening of N.Y. Deli & Krispy Krunchy Chicken and The Landmark diner coming soon on West Main Street. Meriden Commons landlord Pennrose Properties has been flexible and accommodating, they said.
“There’s some good wind going on here. I’m really encouraged,” said Lisa Biesak, downtown fellow at Making Meriden Business Center. “People are taking a chance on opening a business down here. The place looks fantastic. I’ve found the people to be extremely nice and helpful.”
The new businesses are providing some momentum and Biesak and others are hoping this is the first round of economic activity in the city’s transit-oriented district.
Given its location near the train station, the Community Health Center across the street, the Meriden Green and the apartments, it is expected to be busy, she said.
“We know that people are thirsty and hungry in the downtown area. We’re thrilled we have something to offer them,” Biesak said.