GLASTONBURY, Conn. — A South Glastonbury restaurant was on the brink of closing during the pandemic, but kept afloat with the help of some generous donors.
Business was gradually picking up after a rocky start at Cotton Hallow Kitchen, a restaurant offering American comfort food. Community members and a grant received early March from the Connecticut Restauration Association helped keep the doors of Cotton Hallow Kitchen open.
“The atmosphere is really nice in there,” said Glastonbury resident Laura Bassett, who visited for the first time recently. “The service was great. Their calamari dish, I highly recommend and the cocktails are really good too.”
Owner Mark Conley said it was a struggle to survive during the COVID-19 pandemic but community members made it possible.
“With four months of life it’s a difficult beginning,” Conley said.
The restaurant, only open for just five months, had to pause business due to the pandemic. He and his wife reopened last June, but with limited outdoor seating and by the end of the month they started some indoor dining. However, business was still slow and with only receiving one grant from the state they were struggling to make ends meet.
“My wife and I started to fund the short falls every week out of our savings account and we slowly started to see that dwindle and dwindle and dwindle,” Conley said. “It was an emotional rollercoaster.”
He thought of having to close his doors permanently.
That’s when they posted a call for help on Facebook in January and people responded immediately.
“I had people dropping off money, saying put this in your account,” Conley said. “I had people buying gift cards. I had people doing more take out. My dining room was busier than it has been.”
“I’m sure people knew that Mark needed the help and they gave him the support he needed,” Bassett said.
Conley said one day his guardian angel walked into his restaurant.
“They bought $15,000 worth of gift cards,” he said. “I was flabbergasted. My eyes watered. They still water when I tell the story.”
Cotton Hallow Kitchen received a $5,000 grant from the Connecticut Restaurant Association early March.
“There’s definitely places like Cotton Hallow that missed the opportunity to receive more funding,” said Connecticut Restauration Association Executive Director Scott Dolch. “It was one of the criteria why they received funding from our foundation and our Restaurant Relief Fund.”
Door dash gave $500,000 to the Connecticut Restauration Association, which created the restaurant relief fund. About 800 completed applications were submitted.
Dolch said the Connecticut Restaurant Association was looking for new restaurants opened during the pandemic, restaurants unable to receive state and federal dollars, restaurants hit hardest by the pandemic, and minority owned and women owned businesses. Cotton Hallow Kitchen was one of the 92 selected to receive $5,000.
“The community responded in such a way that it was a real true showing of human kindness,” Conley said.
Dolch said the application is closed, but restaurants in need can reach out to Connecticut Restaurant Association at firstname.lastname@example.org and share their story.
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