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Blue Back Square Business

Rizzuto’s West Hartford Location Closes, New Italian Restaurant Slated to Open in Space

Rizzuto's in Blue Back Square. Photo credit: Ronni Newton (we-ha.com file photo)

Rizzuto’s announced Monday that the restaurant has permanently closed its West Hartford location in Blue Back Square, but a Ridgefield-based restaurant group has already leased the space and Gran Gusto will be opening soon.

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By Ronni Newton

Rizzuto’s has closed and reopened multiple times since the COVID-19 pandemic began more than two years ago, but this time the closing is final.

The Blue Back Square restaurant, which has been located at 111 Memorial Road for the past 14 years, will not be reopening. According to a message posted on the Rizzuto’s website on Monday, the Westport location is not impacted by the closing.

About 18 months ago the nephew of founder Bill Rizzuto – Sam Parkinson, and his wife, Stacy – took over operation of the West Hartford location. Rizzuto, who moved back to Fairfield County, maintained control of the Westport location.

Rizzuto’s reopened in September 2021 after completing a few minor interior renovation projects. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Most recently, Rizzuto’s closed in September 2021 for some minor renovations, but reopened within a few weeks. The restaurant remained open throughout the winter, with greenhouses along the sidewalk a popular option for diners.

Winter outdoor dining transformation at Rizzuto’s. Photo credit: Ronni Newton (we-ha.com file photo)

On March 17, 2022, Rizzuto’s General Manager Lynn Armington died suddenly while on vacation.

Stacy Parkinson provided the following statement Tuesday regarding the closing:

“Rizzuto’s West Hartford has had a great run over the last 14 years. Hundreds of thousands of customers have spent time with us and we know we created great experiences and hopefully some terrific memories for most of them. But, after 14 years, it’s time to say goodbye. Our main thanks is to the employees, past and current. Restaurant workers are underpaid, overworked and underappreciated. Our team’s work, particularly during the pandemic, has been incredible. The current team, led by our General Manager Lynn Armington, has been remarkable. Lynn died suddenly last month and her death has hit us hard, but we take great pride in what she and her team did at Rizzuto’s. We hope that many on the team will stay with the new operator. We thank the Town of West Hartford for its help over the years. Its flexibility during the pandemic has been helpful. And we thank the current owners and management of Blue Back Square. Their help during the pandemic allowed us to stay open for the last two years. Now they have found a new tenant, and provided us the opportunity to move on. Rizzuto’s Westport continues to be among the most popular restaurants in Fairfield County. Bill Rizzuto left the West Hartford location to us back in 2020 and will continue to operate Rizzuto’s in his hometown Westport location for a long time to come. For any of you who need a Rizzuto’s fix, head down to Westport where Bill will warmly greet you!”

Blue Back Square management announced Tuesday that the space at 111 Memorial Road has already been leased – to another Italian restaurant. Although a specific date has not been set, Gallo Restaurant Group, which currently operates Gallo Ristorante in Ridgefield, will be opening Gran Gusto.

The new concept will “feature traditional Italian classics in an upscale format,” Blue Back square management said, and will complement the area’s other offerings.

“It is bittersweet to see Rizzuto’s move on, but we are equally as excited to welcome a brand new restaurant concept to Blue Back Square,” Paul Brandes of Blue Back Capital Partners said in a statement. “We are confident that the West Hartford community will welcome the new restaurant, as we continue to diversify our lineup of unique dining, retail, and entertainment offerings.”

Anyone with unused gift cards should reach out directly to [email protected] for information about refunds.

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