SOUTHINGTON — Fireside on Main, a wood fire restaurant in downtown Plantsville, will be closing its doors on Feb. 28, just shy of a year after opening.
Co-owner Mike Mingolello made the announcement on Facebook, citing struggles to pay rent and utilities on the buildings as the primary factors in the decision to close.
The eatery took the place of Tavern 42 and opened in early March of last year.
“We have made so many friends and absolutely love seeing our regulars, unfortunately with a restaurant that size comes a big monthly rent and utilities which are just not feasible anymore,” said Mingolello on Facebook.
Mingolello was previously the owner of Wise Guys Pizza in Meriden before moving to Plantsville to open Fireside on Main with the support of landlord Dean Michanczyk, owner of Dean’s Stove and Spa adjacent to the property, which provided the ovens for Fireside. At the time Mingolello and Michanczyk were optimistic about the restaurant’s future in Plantsville. Mingolello in his Facebook post wrote that Michanczyk was allowing Fireside to end its lease early.
Neither could be reached for comment on the closing.
Located along West Main Street, Fireside on Main is the second restaurant in Plantsville center to announce it will be closing this month. Zingarella Pizzeria & Ice Cream Cafe, which is located across the street from Fireside on Main, is shutting down on Feb. 14 after 11 years of operation.
Zingarella owner Mark Zommer cited rising costs, with food prices having tripled over the past year, along with staffing shortages which made it difficult to stay in business. Inflation not only does it make it difficult to buy food and supplies, but residents are less likely to go out to eat, making it difficult to sustain revenue. Zommer noted how he’d been losing money running Zingarella every year since the start of the pandemic.
With the closure of two tentpole restaurants, town officials worry about the outlook of Plantsville’s many eateries in the coming months — which are staples of the downtown area and support local events such as Halloween and Christmas in the Village.
“Times are tough. I really feel for private business owners, especially the smaller businesses that are struggling just they keep their head above water,” said Town Councilor Mike DelSanto, chairman of the town’s Economic Strike Committee. “I know there are staffing issues, and I know that inflation has been so bad, the rising costs of product, and it's just too much to bear. They've got to turn those high prices over to the customer and a customer can only take so much. Boy, I'll tell you, that's bad news. That's another big hit for downtown Plantsville. I'm hoping they can land on their feet.”
DelSanto said in light of the same economic pressures, the town can do little to offer financial support for struggling small businesses. He hoped the central location in the heart of Plantsville village means the two restaurants won’t be vacant for long.
“It's just bad news. Seems like once or twice a week there's another business that's closing their doors. It's disheartening to say the least,” DelSanto said.
Robert Hammersley, chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission, said the addition of a new municipal parking lot and overall infrastructure improvements should make Plantsville attractive to local residents and prospective business owners.
“It's unfortunate that they're closing. I'm hopeful that another business comes in and is able to put themselves there. I think that there's an overall effort to improve the infrastructure in downtown Plantsville. I fully support that,” Hammersley said.
He added he thinks Southington remains attractive to businesses, but that a unique set of circumstances has hit the food industry the hardest.
“But with regards to the overall business climate of the town, I think it's pretty strong,” said Hammersley. “Take a ride down Main Street and Queen Street, you see a couple of structures going up actively right now. And I think that's a reflection on us, or our efforts on planning and zoning.”
Local residents expressed sadness over the latest restaurant closure posting over a hundred comments on the Facebook announcement.
“We truly appreciate the opportunity that was given to us, the new people we have met, all of our vendors, but with the economic climate it’s best this way for now. Thank you,” Mingolello said in the post.
The restaurant plans to continue honoring gift certificates until it closes Feb. 28, according to the post.