WALLINGFORD — While some area businesses have shut down this year as a result of the pandemic, inflation, supply chain disruptions or labor shortages, others have opened up, ready to join the Wallingford community.
“The good thing about Wallingford’s economy is that we do have a good mix of businesses, so when it’s slow in one industry, it’s an increase in another and we’ve been pretty fortunate,” said Joe Mirra, chair of Wallingford’s Economic Development Commission.
Mirra said that between labor shortages and inflation, some businesses that survived the height of the pandemic could no longer “stay afloat.”
“I don’t know the reason for each one of them closing but if I was to take a guess, that’s probably what I would think between the pipeline, the employment issues and the inflation prices coming back from COVID, it was pretty tough,” Mirra said.
While Mirra said he hasn’t seen a big trend in the closings and openings of businesses in 2022, he did say he has seen a decent amount of restaurants that have shut down, such as Duchess, Minervini’s Pizzeria and The Chuckwagon.
“There’s a lot of factors that the public just doesn’t understand when it comes to running a small business today,” Mirra said.
Liz Davis, executive director of Wallingford Center Inc, said that in the downtown area, specifically, “just as many businesses that leave or close, we get those that are interested in opening up.”
“The momentum is there for small businesses to want to partake in trying it out,” Davis said. “... Businesses come and go and have been doing that for as long as I’ve been alive … As we see them go, we have that many that want to start a new business or come in and be part of Wallingford, at least in this downtown area.”
For example, Davis mentioned that Cafe Ra closed and after its closure, two new coffee shops, Cafe Luca Belle and Green Kettle Coffee, have opened and Le Jardin Café is going to open shortly.
“For some reason it works out the way it’s supposed to,” Davis said. “We’re excited for those several businesses and they’ll be a couple more.”
While there have been some retail and cafes open up around town, Mirra also pointed out that there are some professional type businesses that have opened.
One is Bel Lavi Medical Aesthetics, which opened on Center Street in May.
Katelyn Claudomir and Rene Chagnon originally opened their business in Newington, but outgrew that spot, so they moved to Wallingford, which is where Claudomir is from.
Both Claudomir and Chagnon are nurse practitioners and their business offers medical aesthetic treatments such as botox, micro needling, skin care and body contouring.
“We have brought access to cosmetic medical procedures where there wasn’t quite many options before and being right in the center of town is really great too because there’s a lot of great even walking traffic so a lot of our patients walk to the office, especially when the weather is nice,” Claudomir said.
Michael Katuzney opened up his barber shop, 11 Hall Ave, on Jan. 4, 2022. Katuzney worked in shops in both Wallingford and Meriden before getting the opportunity to open up his own at the beginning of this year.
He hopes to “just keep things moving forward and to keep people happy” as his business enters its second year.
Very recently, That’s A Wrap Deli & Cafe, opened in the building that once housed The Chuckwagon.
The deli and cafe opened on Nov. 22, and offers salad, breakfast, paninis, sandwiches and wraps. Terry Vlamis, one of the owners, said they have not had a grand opening yet.
Terry and John Vlamis have many years of experience in the restaurant business and when they wanted to open That’s A Wrap, they thought this location would be a good fit.
“It seemed like a good place to open a business,” Terry Vlamis said. “There’s a lot going on here. It’s kind of like a town but in a city.”
Because of the variety of types of businesses that have closed and opened in 2022, Mirra calls this a “mixed economy.” The businesses that have opened up, Mirra said he thinks are all good additions to Wallingford.
“What it’s going to bring, it’s going to bring new interests in areas in the town that were somewhat dormant. It’s going to increase foot traffic for the businesses that opened downtown and as they grow, it’s going to increase the labor market, the employment,” Mirra said.