Fire by Forge to Open Social Enterprise Restaurant in Hartford

Tripleta Cubao: Pork Pernil, ham, Genoa salami, Swiss, mustard, garlic aioli, pickles, griddled hoagie. Photo credit: Winter Caplanson, New England Food & Farm

Forge City Works has announced plans to open Fire by Forge, a Pan-American Inspired restaurant in Hartford’s Frog Hollow neighborhood.

Quesadilla Salvadorena served affogato style with a sesame crunch. Photo credit: Winter Caplanson, New England Food & Farm

By Ronni Newton

Fire by Forge – a Pan-American inspired, chef-driven, upscale casual restaurant, café, and bar – will have its official opening on Tuesday, April 25, bringing new life to a corner of Hartford’s Frog Hollow neighborhood where there has been an empty hole since the closing of Firebox amid the pandemic.

“We are thrilled to welcome guests to Fire by Forge,” said Ben Dubow, executive director of Forge City Works. “Our new restaurant represents a significant expansion of our social enterprise businesses, which will allow us to expand the scope and scale of our job training program while still providing great food and atmosphere to our guests.”

Like its predecessor Firebox, which closed in June 2020, Fire by Forge is a social enterprise. The eatery will support the mission of Forge City Works – which was founded in 2007 as Billings Forge Community Works – and according to Dubow will be “fully integrated with their culinary and customer service job training program, providing transitional employment opportunities, internships, and apprenticeships to people over the age of 18 with barriers to employment.”

Dubow said the rich food cultures of North, Central, and South America are the inspiration for the menu and concept of Fire by Forge. “While a broad palette, these traditions and cultures represent both the backgrounds of many of Forge City Works trainees, as well as those who live in the Frog Hollow neighborhood,” a description of the restaurant states.

Shrimp & Grits: chili garlic “red eye gravy”, creamy Carolina Gold rice grits, green onion. Photo credit: Winter Caplanson, New England Food & Farm

The breakfast menu includes a variety of sandwiches on a choice of breads, including a build-your-own option. There are waffles – including chicken and waffles, oatmeal, and a “good morning banana split.”

Lunch items include an American burger, Nashville hot chicken, and a Cuban sandwich, as well as a vegan “BLT.” There are a variety of soups, salads, and bowls, as well as shareable that include pickled fried green tomatoes.

Initially the restaurant will serve just breakfast and lunch, and will be open from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m., featuring counter service in a café setting at the front of the restaurant. Both counter and table service will be available during lunchtime, and the menu items will be similar to what was offered at the The Kitchen on Broad, which has relocated to Fire by Forge and has been incorporated into the concept.

Cedar-Plank Salmon with soy butter glaze, seasonal succotash, saffron corn sauce. Photo credit: Winter Caplanson, New England Food & Farm

Full dinner service will begin in a few weeks, and brunch will also be added. The dinner menu will expand upon the lunch offerings with dishes such as cedar plank salmon, duck breast mole, jerk chicken, and pan-roasted branzino.

All meals include a robust choice of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free options, and a children’s menu is also offered.

Initial hours will be 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Once dinner is added, it will also be served on Tuesday through Saturday, beginning at 4:30 p.m.

Fire by Forge is committed to helping people improve their lives through the “power of food,” and a service charge that is added to all checks is used exclusively for employee compensation. All menus include the following statement: “We add a 18% “Compensation & Benefits” charge to all orders, which allows us to pay our staff a living wage and provide access to benefits.”

More information about the Fire by Forge mission as well as menus for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, can be found on the website.

Steak & Fries: ancho chili coffee rubbed, chimichurri sauce, fire fries, Prime Certified Angus Pub Steak. Photo credit: Winter Caplanson, New England Food & Farm

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