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June 13, 2023 Deal Watch

Bear's Smokehouse BBQ buys Windsor Locks industrial facility for expansion

PHOTO | CONTRIBUTED Bear’s Smokehouse BBQ’s downtown Hartford location is one of the company’s four Connecticut restaurants.
Contributed 24 King Spring Road, Windsor Locks.

The owners of Bear's Smokehouse BBQ have purchased a Windsor Locks industrial kitchen facility at 24 King Spring Road, to expand their food preparation and distribution operations amid the growing popularity of barbecue.

Cheryl Antoncic and Jamie McDonald, principals of 24 King Spring Road LLC, paid $1.75 million to 24 King Spring WL LLC and principal John S. Barberino of East Granby and Boca Raton, Florida, for the 24,436-square-foot industrial building in a deal recorded June 12. 

The facility was originally a food preparation site for airlines at nearby Bradley International Airport. It was built in 1981 and sits on nearly 3 acres in the Bradley Airport Development Zone.

Most recently, the building was used as an auto dealer service center, but will return to a commercial kitchen operation for the Bear's BBQ crew to prepare foods and their signature sauces, which will then be distributed to restaurants and grocery stores like Big Y and Stop & Shop throughout the northeast. 

Bear's Smokehouse BBQ makes its own signature sauces.

Antoncic said she and McDonald had been looking for a bigger facility for production and distribution as they have outgrown the South Windsor facility. 

The Windsor Locks building already has many of the features they’d need like loading docks, restaurant-grade floor and ceiling finishes and a grease trap, and will require a small amount of renovations to be operational. 

The team is eyeing a fall 2023 opening of the Windsor Locks facility.

Bear's BBQ has four Connecticut restaurants in Hartford, New Haven, Windsor and South Windsor, along with two restaurants in Asheville, North Carolina.

The company is the official barbecue of the UConn Huskies, and has stands at UConn arenas like Rentschler Field, Gampel Pavilion, and the Toscano Family ice rink, as well as Dunkin’ Park, home of the Hartford Yard Goats.

Dan Merrigan, who brokered the sale for Merrigan & LeFebvre Realty, Inc., said his firm saw a lot of interest in the facility from manufacturing and truck storage operations, “but you couldn’t pick a better use in a better location for a growing Connecticut company.”

Bear's is marking its 10th anniversary of the opening of its original Windsor location in June 2013. That location has since closed, but the business has expanded and now includes food trucks, and the industry has seen substantial growth over the past decade, Antoncic said. 

The South Windsor restaurant is currently the site of the company’s corporate offices and commissary kitchen. Both of those functions will be moved to the Windsor Locks facility, leaving just the restaurant in South Windsor.

The Bradley Development Zone offers incentives such as tax abatements that help businesses like Bear's BBQ make building improvements and set up operations, Merrigan said.

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