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The former Hartford Times Building has its first brick-and-mortar tenant.
On Tuesday, owners Carlos and Arzu Stetzelberg opened Connecticut’s first Rush Bowls, a fast-casual restaurant chain serving smoothies and anytime bowls with blended fruit or vegetables, at 15 Front St.
The Rush Bowls franchise, opposite of Starbucks and based at the entrance of Front Street, is the first retail location in the building, overhauled in 2017 to accommodate UConn’s downtown Hartford Campus.
With the addition of Rush Bowls, the UConn building still has more than 18,400 square feet of vacant retail space between six storefronts, according to Front Street's leasing map provided by Charter Realty, the leasing agent for Greenwich-based landlord and developer HB Nitkin Group.
The vacant area is mostly made up of a 9,350-square-foot location facing Arch Street, the map shows.
Carlos Stetzelberg said he and his wife both had careers in the financial-services sector after immigrating to the U.S. more than two decades ago. But the Farmington couple wanted to open their own business, and set sights on launching three new Rush Bowls in Connecticut, beginning with its first in 1,200 square feet in Hartford’s Front Street district.
The couple began looking at the new and underutilized space when UConn debuted downtown in Aug. 2017, and ultimately chose to lease and renovate the site because they were encouraged by the foot traffic the school generated. Close proximity to downtown’s business district and Connecticut Convention and Science centers also caught their interest, they said.
Becoming a franchise owner of Rush Bowls also supported their interest in healthy eating.
“We wanted to do something different, have our own business, and do something where we are providing a service to the community,” said Carlos Stetzelberg.“It has a good mix of public fare, great students and UConn professionals in the area.”
The owners are unsure where they will open two more locations in Connecticut, but for now, are focused on making Rush Bowls in Hartford a success.
Rush Bowls is open on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on weekends from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The store employs 12 people.
Founded in Boulder, Colo., in 2014, the chain now has 15 locations nationwide and just one on the East Coast in Hartford. Rush Bowls are also in Ohio, Georgia, Texas, Arizona and California, among other locations.
Front Street progress
Rush Bowls is the second new eatery to debut on Front Street in recent months.
In early December, Wethersfield-based El Pollo Guapo unveiled its second location in the retail and shopping district in 2,600 square feet formerly occupied by Qdoba Mexican Grill. Abbuting Infinity Music Hall, the 54-seat restaurant is known for its signature rotisserie chicken bowls, tacos and rice bowls. It also serves beer and wine.
Also nearby on Prospect Street, New Haven seafood restaurant Boiling SOHO told Hartford Business Journal it plans to open in May next to Barnes & Noble, but other details about their expansion into Hartford were not revealed. The seaford spot is expected to occupy 3,650 square feet in the unused space, according to Front Street’s leasing map.
Construction is also nearly completed on more than 50 apartment units and approximately 11,000 square feet of retail space next door to Arch Street Tavern. The complex, expected to be completed early this year, marks the final phase of the Front Street development.
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