Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
Restaurant closes a year after relocating

By Howard French
Journal Inquirer
November 9, 2006

VERNON — Chowdertown Market & Restaurant owner Joseph "Pat" Collin and his wife Susan have closed the restaurant little more than a year after they moved it to 415 Hartford Turnpike from Manchester.

The doors were locked and the dining room dark at the eatery Wednesday. The restaurant sits at the entrance to the Shops at 30 shopping center.

A sign near the road indicates that Udolph Properties in West Hartford is offering the building for lease.

Attempts to contact Collin were unsuccessful. And an unidentified person answering the phone at Udolph Properties took a message, but a request for further information went unanswered.

The leasing company is run by West Hartford businessman Leonard Udolf,

Mayor Ellen L. Marmer said Wednesday that she was sad to see the restaurant close, but added she does not know the reason for its demise.

The restaurant actually started in Vernon in the late 1980s and was moved to Manchester's Plaza at Burr-Corners by the Collins in 1992.

In a Journal Inquirer story in May 2005, Collin said he began to wonder about the long-term viability of the business at the Manchester site, where vacancies continued in the rest of the shopping center near their eatery.

Then the Collins heard about the availability of the former Bickford's Restaurant building in Vernon, and they decided to move the restaurant back to the town of its inception, reopening in April 2005.

At the time of the 2005 JI interview, Pat Collin said the restaurant's size increased from 3,000 to 5,000 square feet and seating capacity rose from just more than 100 seats to 160 seats with the relocation. The restaurant also more than tripled its work force, going from about a dozen employees to about 40 full- and part-time employees, Pat Collin said in the 2005 interview.

The menu was expanded, the building was remodeled, and in 2005 business was good, Susan Collin said in the JI interview. "A lot of our old Vernon customers are back with us," she said.

Udolf, who owns property throughout the state, bought the vacant Bickford's building in the fall of 2004.

"It has all the elements of a successful business location," Udolf said in the 2005 JI story. "It's been a very fine seafood restaurant and I feel there is a great need for this in the area," he added.