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July 18, 2023

Couple plans to resurrect The Melting Pot in Connecticut 

PHOTO | COURTESY THE MELTING POT The Melting Pot franchise offers appetizers, main courses and desserts via fondue.

When fondue-themed eatery The Melting Pot shuttered its sole Connecticut location in Darien early this year, a Fairfield couple with fond memories of dining there vowed to bring the franchise back to the state. 

Daina Senatore and Jonathan Reeve, an engaged couple, signed a franchise agreement in May to open their own restaurant.

They plan to open in downtown New Haven in the spring of 2024, and they anticipate finalizing the exact location in about a month.

“We started as patrons, and when the Darien location closed, we thought it was a huge loss for Connecticut to lose the brand,” Senatore said. “We personally as a family would take our kids there for celebrations. If you ask the kids where they want to go for their birthday - that’s where it would be. We saw this as a great opportunity for our family.”

The pair has five children between them, and called The Melting Pot their “go-to place for celebratory meals.”

They started researching ownership with the brand the same day they heard of plans to close the Darien location. 

Entrepreneurs Jonathan Reeve and Daina Senatore are targeting a spring 2024 opening for The Melting Pot in New Haven.

Senatore’s background is in consulting, and Reeve is in the financial services industry. Reeve’s son Joshua is currently pursuing a degree in culinary and restaurant management at Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island.

“For us, we used to work together in finance and made a good team,” Reeve said. “ It is a chance to be a strong business team with a brand that we love. There is a support team at The Melting Pot, so while it is a new venture, you don’t feel alone.”

Joshua also will work at the business full time. According to the couple, between Joshua’s know-how and their combined executive corporate skills, they are confident they can make The Melting Pot a successful family business. 

“We both have a business background and are problem solvers,” Senatore said. “The Melting Pot has perfected the recipes, so you don’t need as much restaurant experience. You need an entrepreneurial attitude and you can be successful.”

While they currently have signed for a single New Haven location, they hope to expand in the future, either with an additional Connecticut location or one in Rhode Island, according to Senatore.

The Melting Pot restaurants feature special tables with burners for fondue, including larger tables for family celebrations and small ones for date nights. 

For appetizers, visitors can dip food such as bread in cheese. The main course includes meats, fish, chicken and seafood for fondue. For dessert, guests dip treats such as fruit and baked good into chocolate.

“It is a fun activity - having a family meal while talking,” Reeve said.

Collin Benyo, franchise growth strategist for The Melting Pot, said the 94-unit franchise hopes to grow in Connecticut. It currently is in 30 states and Canada.

“The market indicated there was an area of untapped guests who were willing to travel far to visit our other locations, like our White Plains, N.Y. franchise,” Benyo said.

In addition to New Haven, the business is focusing on potentially expanding into the Hartford market also, according to Benyo.

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