SOUTHINGTON — Hidden Valley Miniature Golf owner Paul Rossi said the timing was good but unintentional as he opened for the season last weekend with a renovated putting course and expanded outdoor dining.
The rebuilt mini golf course allowed for a 30-table patio overlooking the water and waterfall, replacing the first and second hole of the original course. Rossi said the two-acre course is perfect for people looking for outdoor activities.
“We went from 1990s mini golf holes to the latest 2020 where we have rough grass, the sand grass,” he said. “It’s given it a whole new dimension.”
Hidden Valley on West Street removed its batting cages late last year. Rossi is still considering a go-cart track, but further expansion has been put on hold.
Ice cream and food is a bigger focus for Rossi following the renovations. There’s now also more space so that tables can be far enough apart to comply with pandemic restrictions.
The decision to expand the patio, partially under an awning and partially under large trees, was made well before coronavirus hit, Rossi said.
“Our small little deck with five tables just wasn’t enough,” he said. “We thought, if you could sit right on the water by the waterfall and have your burger and ice cream, that’d be really appealing.”
Barbara Coleman-Hekeler, president of the Southington Chamber of Commerce, said Hidden Valley is in a good position to draw people who want to keep their distance from others but desire entertainment.
“We go there as a family too. It’s a great little recreational draw,” she said. “They’ve been here a long time. We’re always happy when businesses thrive and sustain throughout the years.”
Coleman-Hekeler said outdoor dining has been a success in Southington and expects Hidden Valley, with both dining and a renovated course, to attract customers who are increasingly confident about going out.
Rossi said guests so far have fallen into two camps. Some are equipped with masks, gloves and are clearly concerned about staying far away from others. Some are completely unconcerned.
“We’re doing our part to make sure no one’s uncomfortable,” he said. Golf clubs are sanitized between use and golfing parties are kept away from each other.
“We’re lucky. Our golf course is on two acres of land. We’ve got a lot of space between holes,” Rossi said.
Hidden Valley provides a chance for nearby entertainment, according to Rossi.
“People just want to get out. They want to do things,” he said. “They’re tired of sitting in the house.”