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July 9, 2024

Upscale deli coming to Hartford’s Pearl Street, high-end liquor store planned for neighboring space

Google Maps 111 Pearl St. in downtown Hartford.

An upscale deli is targeting an August opening for the first floor of the Spectra Pearl II apartment building in downtown Hartford. The deli owner also aims to open a high-end liquor store in a neighboring space around the turn of the year.

Melissa Lyons, an IT professional currently living just outside Boston, is tapping $187,000 from the city’s HARTLift retail and restaurant incentive grant program to outfit neighboring spaces in the 101-unit apartment building at 111 Pearl St.

Melissa Lyons

Lyons, 36, grew up in Guilford and still has family in Guilford and Madison. Her brother, Dan Lyons, and his wife, Jess, are working to open a bar focused on live entertainment in downtown Hartford’s historic Pratt Street retail district.

Melissa Lyons said Dan and Jess had first cultivated the idea for an upscale liquor and craft beer outlet paired with fine grab-and-go meals. But after welcoming their second child, the couple opted to hand off the concept to Melissa.

Melissa Lyons said she’s excited to be part of the retail and restaurant revival that has gained steam in downtown Hartford over the past two years.

“It was exciting to be part of the businesses that are coming in and trying to accelerate the city,” Melissa Lyons said.

Lyons aims to open Delish 111 in August, offering high-end, take-out sandwiches and meals. Lyons said she plans to source as many ingredients from local bakeries and farms as possible, with some meats coming from her family’s 40-acre farm in Henniker, New Hampshire. There will also be cold brew and other coffee options.

Lyons said she has signed a lease to occupy 1,800 square feet at 111 Pearl St. The businesses will have separate entrances, but operate with a common upscale aesthetic, Lyons said. She expects to hire 10 people for the deli and five more for the liquor store.

Lyons has started building out the deli and will be ready to open following city inspections. She is currently seeking local permits and a liquor license for the liquor store, dubbed “Taste 111.”

She envisions a store offering fine liquor and wines and a rotating selection of local craft beers, with knowledgeable staff able to offer a curated experience to customers.
The city grant goes to the landlord to spend on buildout. Lyons is financing inventory and other startup costs personally.

Lexington Partners Vice President Kevin Kenny, responsible for leasing the space, said the new retail offerings will be an attractive amenity for tenants in 111 Pearl St. and other nearby apartments in which Lexington has invested.

A partnership of Joseph Klaynberg, of Wonder Works Construction and Jeffrey Ravetz, of New York-based Girona Ventures, completed a $16 million renovation of 111 Pearl St. from office to apartments in 2020. Late that year, Ravetz sold his half-interest in the property to a partnership of Lexington Partners and prominent Hartford-based businessman Alan Lazowski .  

Kenny said he is still talking with possible tenants for 4,200 square feet of retail space on the Trumbull Street side of 111 Pearl St., formerly occupied by an Irish pub. 

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