Hard Hat Café set to open in Durham later this month

DURHAM — By the end of the month, a new dining option will be available in town, Hard Hat Café. Located at 100 New Haven Road, business owner John Acanfora said the eatery will be a "middle-of-road, blue-collar type of restaurant for people who don’t want to go out and spend $150 on a dinner."

He added, “What we want to go after is really good food. We want the experience to be something you remember." 

Acanfora also runs Hard Hat Cafés in North Haven and Wallingford, and said he takes pride in serving high-quality food for an affordable price.

He also operates Sam the Clam Grub & Pub in Southington, a seafood restaurant which has been in business since 1991.

Acanfora’s Hard Hat Cafés feature American bar food classics, local beers and specialty drinks. And the restaurants are known for their “Doob” chicken wings, which are seasoned, fried and grilled; a smoky twist on the classic buffalo wing. 

Hard Hat Café's Durham location, which has housed other restaurants over the years, was recently renovated. The local landmark has seating for 160 in its bar and two dining rooms, along with a sizeable outdoor patio area. Also, Acanfora said he is in the process of expanding the parking lot. 

The 4,620 square-foot New Haven Road facility, set on 1.9 acres, was sold to Hard Hat Tavern LLC for $700,000 on Nov. 18, 2022.

“Durham will be slightly different because it's a much bigger location than our other restaurants,” said Acanfora, who hopes to introduce live music suitable for people to listen to while eating. He said Durham currently lacks an entertainment option such as that.

Acanfora said the new Hard Hat Café is already fully-staffed. Now, he waits to see how the community responds to the place.


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