January 14, 2019
By: Larry McHugh
2019 is off and running, and the calendar is hopping with events and activity.
This week is highlighted by two major chamber events, our Fourth Annual Taste of Middlesex County, and the 2019 Legislative Breakfast.
Taste of Middlesex County, brought to you by Comcast Business, is scheduled from January 14 through January 20 at many of the delicious dining locations in the Middlesex region. From the beautiful shores of Westbrook to the home of the Travelers Championship in Cromwell, there is something for everyone. Restaurants offer a pre-fixed menu to give diners the opportunity to experience the area’s fine dining landscape without breaking the bank. This year, there will be two dining options both with a prix fixe 3-course meal, one for $20.19, and the other for $30.19 (does not include beverages, tax or gratuity). I want to once again thank Comcast Business for its strong support of Taste of Middlesex County which is an exciting week for our chamber and for our region. Please be sure to visit one or more of our many wonderful participating restaurants. That list includes: Amici Italian Grill in Middletown, Angelico's Lakehouse Restaurant in East Hampton, Artie's Bar & Grill in Durham, Baci Grill in Cromwell, Brizo Fish in Rocky Hill, Conspiracy in Middletown, Eli Cannon's Tap Room in Middletown, El Pulpo & Tapas Bar in Middletown, Esca Wine Bar & Restaurant in Middletown, First & Last Tavern in Middletown, Fire at the Ridge Restaurant & Lodge in Middlefield, The Griswold Inn in Essex, grown in Middletown, Herd Restaurant in Middletown, Inn at Middletown Tavern At The Armory in Middletown, La Boca Mexican Restaurant in Middletown, Lan Chi's Vietnamese Restaurant in Middletown, Los Charros Cantina in Centerbook, Mizzu Asian Bistro & Hibachi in Cromwell, Red House in Deep River, Scotch Plains Tavern in Essex, The Essex in Centerbrook, Tuscany Grill in Middletown and Water's Edge Resort & Spa, Westbrook. The Taste of Middlesex County tab on the chamber’s website has all of the information on participating restaurants and their excellent menu options. Bon Appetit!
On the legislative front, it is hard to believe, but the 2019 Regular Session of the Connecticut General Assembly has begun in the capital city of Hartford. The chamber looks to once again be active and engaged in the legislative process this year. A key part of that effort is our annual Legislative Breakfast, sponsored by Comcast. This year’s event is scheduled for this Friday, January 18, 2019 at the Courtyard by Marriott in Cromwell. Sponsored by Comcast, the Legislative Breakfast will feature legislators that represent the 15 Middlesex County towns in the State Senate and in the House of Representatives. The Legislative Breakfast represents a great opportunity, on an annual basis, for our members to network with these important elected leaders that represent our region. We have a number of new legislators in our delegation this year so this breakfast is even more important than ever. The following legislators have been invited to attend: State Senator Matt Lessor, State Senator Christine Cohen, State Senator Mary Daugherty Abrams, State Senator Paul Formica, State Senator Norm Needleman, State Senator Len Fasano, State Representative Devin Carney, State Representative Christie Carpino, State Representative Joseph Serra, State Representative Irene Haines, State Representative Jesse MacLachlan, State Representative Christine Palm, State Representative Emil “Buddy” Altobello, State Representative Vin Candelora, State Representative Quentin Phipps, and State Representative Noreen Kokoruda. I want to again thank Comcast for its great support of this important chamber event.
This week also features a series of other important meetings in addition to Taste and the Legislative Breakfast.
Thursday morning includes a visit to New Haven for the January meeting of the Workforce Alliance Executive Committee. Workforce Alliance works to improve the delivery of workforce services in close collaboration with business, education and training providers, and local elected officials. The chamber continues to enjoy a very strong working relationship with Workforce Alliance, and will continue to focus on workforce development in 2019.
Later on Thursday, the chamber’s Board of Directors will hold its January meeting at Baci Grill in Cromwell from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. This board luncheon is sponsored by Eversource. Our Board of Directors is made up of outstanding business people from a variety of different industry sectors and from throughout Middlesex County. I continue to appreciate all of their support. Chairman Jay Polke will lead what will certainly be a very productive meeting on Thursday afternoon.
Two exciting Grand Opening celebrations are also scheduled in the coming week. This Tuesday, I look forward to joining a number of officials from the Town of Cromwell for the Grand Opening of Café Luna on Berlin Road. This family run café and lounge is an excellent addition to Cromwell and to the local dining scene. We look forward to working with Lorenzo Cecunjanin and his team and wish them great success as we move forward. We also look forward to Sunday when we officially welcome Joe's Filling Station, also on Berlin Road in Cromwell, to the Middlesex business community. Joe’s offers a broad and deep variety of world class and craft beers, along with a great food and wine selection. We also look forward to working with Joseph Moon and his team, and wish them all the best as they kick off this exciting new venture. As I have noted many times, one of the most rewarding aspects of this job is participating in Grand Opening celebrations throughout Middlesex County.
Before closing, I want to remind everyone about a terrific chamber Member Breakfast Meeting that is scheduled for next Friday, January 25. This event, sponsored by Webster Bank, will feature Boston Red Sox President and CEO Sam Kennedy as keynote speaker. According to his official biography on the Boston Red Sox website, Kennedy, 44, is a native of Brookline, MA who grew up within walking distance of Fenway Park. He joined the Red Sox as Vice President of Corporate Partnerships in 2002. He was among the first wave of executives the current ownership group brought to Boston from the San Diego Padres, where Kennedy had worked the previous six years. Kennedy immediately distinguished himself, playing a key role in the revitalization of the Red Sox brand and the dramatic growth of the team's financial base through the creation of new revenue streams. Kennedy was also intimately involved in the preservation and transformation of Fenway Park and the transformation of the ballpark experience. He is also a 1995 graduate of Trinity College who has strong Connecticut ties. I appreciate Sam’s willingness to come to Middlesex County to visit with our group and we certainly look forward to a terrific event. We also received some very exciting news last week that Sam will be bringing the 2018 World Series trophy with him to the event. This is a great opportunity for members and their guests to pose for a picture with the trophy, and to continue to celebrate another championship for the club. This Member Breakfast Meeting would not be possible without the support of Webster Bank. Not only are they sponsoring the event, but Executive Vice President of Commercial Real Estate Bill Wrang and Senior Vice President of Commercial Real Estate James Lane were instrumental in getting Sam Kennedy to come. I thank them once again for their longtime friendship and support of our chamber.
Finally, I must unfortunately close this week’s column on a sad note after the recent passing of John M. “Jack” Biancamano. Jack had a terrific career in the health care field which included leadership positions at Mount Sinai Hospital, Hartford Hospital and UConn Health. He was a UConn graduate who maintained a lifelong dedication to the school and supported it in a variety of important ways. He also supported a number of youth and community initiatives along the way. I had the pleasure of working with Jack for eight years during my tenure as Chairman of the UConn Board of Trustees. He was a professional, a gentlemen, and most importantly, a family man. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Shelley and their entire family at this difficult time. Jack Biancamano will be missed by many.