Garden Catering back open on Greenwich’s Hamilton Avenue

By Kaitlyn Krasselt at GREENWICH TIME

GC1024x1024A horde of Hamilton Avenue School teachers converged on Garden Catering Hamilton Avenue for the first time in more than a year Tuesday morning, creating the renovated shop’s first breakfast rush of 2016.

The decades-old, family-run local favorite, known best for its seasoned chicken nuggets served in an insulated bag, celebrated the grand reopening of its Chickahominy location Tuesday after the store was shuttered in 2014 due to a fire.

The excitement surrounding the opening — which was generated with less than 24 hours advance notice — reminded manager Monika Rodriguez what it was like before the store burned down. She said it was like they never left.

“I’m so excited to have all of the Ham Ave teachers back and all of my regulars,” Rodriguez said. “It’s like family coming back and it’s just so great. It’s been a little emotional seeing everyone and the excitement.”

The restaurant, at 177 Hamilton Ave., burned down in December 2014 after an electrical fire broke out. Though Garden Catering maintained its remaining six locations, the loss meant starting from scratch at one of the most frequented establishments.

Owner Frank Carpenteri Jr. said it took 15 months of hard work to get the business back up and running. Located in a residential area of town, the restaurant was a favorite among locals, drawing breakfast, lunch and dinner crowds throughout the year.

“It was extremely unfortunate,” Carpenteri said. “In the days after the fire, all we were trying to figure out was how to get back up and running. But we received tons of support from the community. … The kids at Hamilton Avenue (School) even sent a huge ‘We Miss You’ letter that they all signed.”

Now that the restaurant is officially open for business, Carpenteri said dozens have stopped by for their fried fix, which made the grand reopening feel more like a celebration.

Garden Catering’s flagship location — situated in an old train car on Sound Beach Avenue in Old Greenwich — opened in 1978. Frank Carpenteri Sr. purchased the restaurant and secret fried chicken recipe in 1991 from the family of the original owner, Lou Iandoli, who had died a year earlier. The store has since opened locations in Stamford, Norwalk and Fairfield in Connecticut, and Port Chester and Mamaroneck in New York.

The rebuild of the Hamilton Avenue location allowed the chain to completely update the store with a new logo and color schemes, a branding transition the business had started in the months before the fire. Aside from the updated logos and modernized interior, the bones of the fried food favorite are largely the same. Patrons can still buy their “World Famous Specials” — a half-pound of chicken nuggets and fries, and the restaurant’s signature Hotsy sandwiches six days a week in Chickahominy.

“We have a few new menu items, but we’re not trying to reinvent the wheel,” Carpenteri said. “We know what we do best and that’s chicken nuggets.”

READ MORE

Comments are closed.