The owners of Harry’s Pizzeria & Tavern at 39 South Main Street in West Hartford say it will officially close its doors on March 14.
By Ronni Newton
Harry’s Pizzeria & Tavern has had a presence in West Hartford for nearly three decades, but owners Bob and MaryAnn Hagmeier said it is with heavy hearts that they are announcing the business will officially close its doors on March 14,
“We’re really sad too,” MaryAnn Hagmeier said Sunday. “We just couldn’t come to terms with the landlord.”
The lease runs out on March 31, and MaryAnn Hagmeier said they worked hard to negotiate a contract that would work in the current economic climate. When that wasn’t going anywhere they thought they had secured a buyer for the business, but that potential buyer was also unable to come to terms with the landlord.
“We made some very reasonable proposals,” she said, noting that they have continued to pay a very expensive lease in full throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2017, the Hagmeiers bought Harry’s from founder Barbara Lang – who had moved the business from Hartford to 1003 Farmington Ave. in West Hartford in 1992. Harry’s moved to 39 South Main St. 10 years ago, taking with it much of the same decor.
The Hagmeiers did a major remodeling and updating of the space in 2018 – remaining open for takeout throughout the process. The renovations included covering the walls with barn wood, and creation of a 15-seat bar with high-top tables, as well as a tweak of the name to include “Pizzeria & Tavern.”
“We’ve had tremendous support from the community,” Bob Hagmeier said. The COVID-19 pandemic is not the reason they are closing, he said.
“We have had the pleasure of working with an incredibly committed team who have helped us stay afloat during the past year and we thank you all from the bottom of our hearts,” the Hagmeiers said.
The Harry’s name is not going to disappear, however.
One outcome of the pandemic is that they have been challenged to “think outside the box,” and as another revenue stream had already developed a line of individually hand-stretched premium frozen pizzas.
“We use the same high-quality ingredients that we use for our in-house pizza and we are getting rave reviews,” they said.
“Harry’s Pizza” will continue to be in the name, and finalization of the branding is currently underway.
Bob Hagmeier said they are in negotiation to secure commercial kitchen space, and would love to eventually find a new, permanent location to create the new product line in West Hartford.
The frozen pizza is currently available at Geissler’s Supermarket in Bloomfield, Granby, East Windsor, and South Windsor, as well as Highland Park Market in Farmington and Manchester. They plan to approach Crown Market, Hall’s Market, and perhaps Whole Foods as well regarding distribution of the frozen pizza product.
Harry’s Pizza is also available at some Connecticut breweries.
The contents of the South Main Street restaurant – including the bar, lighting fixtures from Connecticut Lighting Center, furnishing, and fixtures, all of which are less than three years old – will be offered for sale prior to the termination of the lease on March 31.
“The West Hartford community has been really supportive,” MaryAnn Hagmeier said. “We are tremendously grateful.”
They said it has been a privilege to serve this community and they hope to continue the relationship through the frozen pizza product.
Updates on the expansion of the frozen line will be posted to their Facebook and Instagram (@Harryspizzaweha) as distribution expands throughout the year.
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