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April 3, 2024

Doro Restaurant Group plans aggressive expansion with new restaurants, commercial kitchens

PHOTO | CONTRIBUTED DORO Marketplace, Doro Restaurant Group’s European-style bakery and cafe, currently has locations in Wethersfield, Windsor Locks and West Hartford (shown above). Another is planned for Glastonbury, and up to 12 are possible.
Doro Restaurant Group's existing restaurants
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Doro Restaurant Group is planning an aggressive expansion in Greater Hartford, opening new restaurants in Wethersfield, Glastonbury and Newington, along with a centralized bakery and a commercial kitchen for its catering business.

Doro Restaurant Group, led by business partners Dorjan Puka and Scott Miller, owns and operates seven restaurants, including Zohara Mediterranean Kitchen, A'vert Brasserie (French) and Treva Restaurant & Bar (Italian), all in West Hartford Center, along with ABC Artisanal Burger Co. in Manchester. 

Dorjan Puka

They opened their first restaurant, Treva, 14 years ago.

Since then, Doro has grown to 400 employees. The new projects are expected to add about 200 more people, Miller said. 

Miller declined to say how much money the company is investing in its expansion, but said the investment is self-funded.

Scott Miller

The fastest-growing piece of the business is DORO Marketplace, a European-style bakery and cafe, which currently has three locations, in Wethersfield, Windsor Locks and West Hartford. 

“We currently run three DORO Marketplaces, but the infrastructure will be in place to open up nine more,” said Miller, chief operating officer of the restaurant group, in an interview with the Hartford Business Journal.

The DORO Marketplace in Wethersfield is at 1301 Silas Deane Highway, the former Chip’s Family Restaurant. Half a mile up the road, the company is embarking on a new project.

Mexican cuisine

Doro recently received zoning approval to convert the vacant Pasta Vita and BevMax package store in a commercial complex at 1142 Silas Deane Highway into a 2,450-square-foot restaurant, 2,500-square-foot commercial bakery and 5,400-square-foot commercial kitchen.

The restaurant will feature authentic Mexican food, and Doro has already selected the chef. The current chef at A'vert, Ryan Van Grouw, worked for years at top restaurants in Tulum, Mexico, and will move from the French restaurant to the new one when it opens this fall, Miller said.

“His heart and soul is with Mexican cuisine,” Miller said. “He has a really established palette in regards to their cuisine.”

With restaurants in the Mediterranean, French and Italian genres already open, Doro’s expansion will add a new style of ethnic cuisine.

“Myself and my partner Dorjan are chefs by trade,” Miller said. “We've always thought about where we're going to go next with our culinary concepts, and our restaurant concepts, and we've just been enamored with Mexican food.” 

Miller said the restaurant will offer an elevated Mexican dining experience, using high-quality ingredients, some of which will be imported from Mexico, at about the same price point as any other Mexican restaurant. He believes it will fill a need in the area.

“The flavors and authenticity of some of these dishes have been around for a long time, but we’re going to be making them approachable to Hartford County,” Miller said. “The keyword is approachable – it's knowing your market and I think we understand the dining culture of Hartford County.”

'Good location'

The commercial bakery will serve as a centralized baking facility for the restaurant group’s pastry chefs and breadmakers. Most of the pastry chefs and bread makers are currently based in West Hartford, in a space Miller said they’ve outgrown.

The commercial bakery will be designed to support as many as 12 DORO Marketplace cafes.

“We think Wethersfield is a very good location for us to grow because of its proximity to both I-84 and I-91, and it’s a central market of Hartford,” Miller said.

The commercial kitchen will house Doro Catering and Events, another rapidly growing part of the business, which has its own dedicated staff. The new facility will put the bread- and pastry-making chefs, along with the catering staff, under one roof.

Doro is also expanding in Glastonbury, where it has secured a site for a new Zohara restaurant and DORO Marketplace. They will share a building at 2343 and 2345 Main St., in a commercial space previously occupied by a cycling store. Both restaurants should open in the first quarter of 2025, Miller said.

Also, Doro is converting a former Bertucci’s at 2929 Berlin Turnpike in Newington into an Italian restaurant. He said construction should begin soon and the restaurant is expected to open in late fall.

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