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Dough Alert–’Aiming Too High’ Two Boots Downtown Closes, Owes Taxes

March 17th, 2016 · 36 Comments · Development and Zoning, News and Events

Two Boots

UPDATE: The owners of Two Boots Downtown, one of the original tenants in Phil Kuchma’s Bijou Square redevelopment that cleaned up a couple of city blocks on Fairfield Avenue, have announced the business has closed after eight years, according to the pizza specialty website. According to city tax records Two Boots has shut its doors owing the city tens of thousands of dollars in personal property taxes. See here.

From Two Boots website:

Now, after 8+ years, our lease is coming to an end, and we’ve decided we must close down–more suddenly than we would have liked, with our hands full with new store construction projects around the country.

We’re enormously grateful to all those who supported us over the years–our devoted customers, our loyal staff, and all the talented performers who’ve graced our stage!

In retrospect, we might’ve aimed too high, and harbor the hope that one day we can return to the community with a scaled-down, pizzeria version of Two Boots. But either way, we’ll be rooting for the revival of downtown to continue, and hoping for all the dreams to come true for Bridgeport.

BILL # NAME/ADDRESS PROPERTY/VEHICLE PAID OUTSTANDING OPTIONS PAY
2009-02-0044915
P–2116965 
W   
(PERSONALPROPERTY )
TWO BOOTS OF BRIDGEPORT 
277  FAIRFIELD AVE 
UNCLE LEO LLC
$15,018.23       
2010-02-0044915
P–2116965 
W   
(PERSONALPROPERTY )
TWO BOOTS OF BRIDGEPORT 
277  FAIRFIELD AVE 
UNCLE LEO LLC
$12,142.68       
2011-02-0044489
P–2116965 
W   
(PERSONALPROPERTY )
TWO BOOTS OF BRIDGEPORT 
277  FAIRFIELD AVE 
UNCLE LEO LLC
$9,931.29       
2012-02-0003503
P–2116965 
W   
(PERSONALPROPERTY )
TWO BOOTS OF BRIDGEPORT 
277  FAIRFIELD AVE 
UNCLE LEO LLC
$7,700.91       
2013-02-0003503
P–2116965 
W   
(PERSONALPROPERTY )
TWO BOOTS OF BRIDGEPORT 
277  FAIRFIELD AVE 
UNCLE LEO LLC
$5,693.41       
2014-02-0002879
P–2116965 
W   
(PERSONALPROPERTY )
TWO BOOTS OF BRIDGEPORT 
277  FAIRFIELD AVE 
UNCLE LEO LLC
$3,921.58          


 

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36 Comments so far ↓

  • BptPorter

    This is so damned frustrating. Attention Bridgeport mayors past, present, and future. Stop these damned ribbon cuttings every time a new restaurant opens up downtown. All they do is open and close like a jack in the box. GANIM, what are you going to do about downtown being a ghost town? We want results and not promises like Finch.

    • canobeano

      Two Boots was here for almost a decade. Joseph’s, Ralph & Rich’s and a handful of others are able to weather the storm. It’s difficult when landlords are constantly trying to raise the rent and sales are hard to come by. Especially on the weekends.

    • BptPorter

      The problem people don’t understand is for all Bridgeport keep doing all the surrounding towns are doing the same thing so Bridgeport isn’t catching up. Fairfield keeps attracting restaurants and businesses and development. So what can Bridgeport offer that is unique, creative, and an added value? That’s the question. If Bridgeport can’t figure that out then Bpt is done. but with incompetent and self-serving leadership (in general) we can’t expect much.

    • Andrew C Fardy

      BptPorter, we need to have one more ribbon cutting. It seems the mayor’s former FBI agent is partners in a newly opened restaurant out near the Fairfield border. There was a restaurant there before. I can’t wait for Meyers & Ganim to open up a Dairy Queen.

  • Grin Ripper

    You can’t shoehorn in these restaurants without any real parking. People aren’t going to use shoe leather express to get there.

    • canobeano

      Two Boots is across the street from a parking garage. Parking is only an excuse used by suburbanites who think they should be able to pull up to the front door AND park for free–and on-street parking IS free after “5:00PM” (more like 3:00PM here).

      • BptPorter

        It’s not an excuse, it’s the reality. Why should a suburbanite pay for parking when they could pull up to a parking lot and go to a better restaurant? And if they don’t come to Bridgeport often then they won’t want to even come down here because people will ask for money on the walk to Two Boots. Downtown as a special services district. There is nothing special and no services. Bridgeport will now have a downtown where you can’t eve get a slice of pizza. Even McDonald’s is closing.

  • Harvey Weintraub

    Other than the occasional event at the arena, there isn’t a reason to go downtown after 5:00. And no matter what is said, people don’t feel safe walking at night down there. Major issue.

  • Zena Lu

    The most oppressive issue is the parking. It hangs like a dark cloud over downtown. There are enough empty buildings, why not invest in a few public parking lots?

    • canobeano

      See my comment above. Downtown has TOO much parking; people just have the completely wrong understanding of how to use it.

      • Zena Lu

        The parking is not user friendly, it’s expensive, and some of the garages are not staffed nor well enough lit. Ground level parking lots. Cheaper, well lit, attended ones.

        • canobeano

          That’s called a Walmart, not a Downtown.

          • Zena Lu

            Okay. You win. We educate the public regarding the appropriate parking etiquette for a proper Downtown.

            I vote we try to alter the vehicle to fit reality instead of attempting to alter reality to fit the vehicle.

        • Lisa Parziale

          Zena Lu, you are absolutely correct. Just the thought of finding safe parking where you don’t have to walk five minutes back to the restaurant, then back to your car is a rarity. And I repeat, the cost to park is a deal-breaker for some.

  • Bob Walsh

    And Bob Walsh and Senator Gomes are in the photo array.

  • Jeff Kohut

    This is unfortunate news. While I have to agree with Grin Ripper and Zena Lu about the insufficient parking, that is certainly not the deciding factor in the failure of downtown businesses. More, convenient parking would add a few customers, but the type of crowd that is attracted to venues such as Two Boots isn’t going to be averse to walking a couple of blocks, absent the foreboding atmosphere that still permeates downtown Bridgeport after dark.

    Yes; more lighting, more security (human and cyber), as well as a shuttle system from the train and bus stations and selected areas downtown where there is usually more parking available at night (than congested Fairfield Avenue) should fully address the parking factor in the success/failure of downtown venues.

    But also remember Bridgeport itself is still a very depressed place, in a socioeconomic sense. If the populace of Bridgeport were fully employed at living-wage jobs and had some “disposable” income, they would be much more likely to patronize downtown Bridgeport’s offerings en masse, as they did when our factories were humming.

    Obviously, the paradigm of utilizing the massive creation of downtown (“transit oriented”) housing to serve as the foundation for the re-creation of a viable downtown hasn’t worked as planned. Something more is needed. The residents of downtown obviously aren’t spending that much money patronizing the offerings of their neighborhood. They are going elsewhere, probably downtown Fairfield and beyond, where there is a much richer variety of dining and entertainment offerings, as well as high-end retail attractions that keep that beautiful, friendly downtown vibrant at all hours of the day and night, seven days a week, with shoppers, diners and strollers of all ages and descriptions (including young families). (And parking is big problem in Fairfield.)

    Bridgeport needs, before any additional housing, employment-intensive, high-value development to create disposable income within our populace and a tax base that can nurture necessary improvements to downtown security and infrastructure to attract viable business venues and brisk commerce to that part of our city. (Which will then be capable of serving as the center of social and business activity Bridgeport–and all municipalities–requires for economic growth and sustained viability. Cities grow and decay from the downtown outward.)

    Let’s examine a successful city with a vibrant downtown such as Fairfield to develop a picture of what a great downtown looks like and a plan for creating one in Bridgeport. The first thing is to have a local population with the economic wherewithal to create and sustain a strong downtown commercial/recreation aspect on which to build upon.

    So to revive our downtown, we might have to start outside the downtown by reviving our industrial core and putting money in the pockets of gainfully employed Bridgeporters. We should note in our current presidential race we have two viable candidates (among the others) who are politically polar opposites who believe the key to reviving our country’s flagging fortunes is by the reindustrialization of places like Bridgeport, and Flint, and Detroit. The other candidates don’t have any plan except to tell us essentially we have to either “stay the course” because everything is just peachy and getting peachier or we have to become more conservative and get back to economic and social basics. Most of the country is not buying those latter non-solutions for our problems. Neither should we. We have hemorrhaged jobs under every president since Nixon. We obviously need something different. Hillary isn’t different, and Trump can only bring us trouble. (Think of his role in catalyzing the corruption of an up-and-coming Bridgeport administration in the ’90s. Trump and sleaze are synonyms.)

    So. Two Boots’ leaving is sad, but certainly not unexpected, considering downtown’s track record. Obviously we haven’t found the right paradigm for reviving our downtown or the rest of the city. It’s time to take a fresh look at Bridgeport’s failure to thrive. Since not so long ago we were thriving, we should probably take a look at how we might retrace our steps back to that situation.

    • Gary Tobin

      The key to improvement as you mentioned, “when our factories were humming.” With employment, decent employment that is, comes responsibility, respect and a host of other benefits such as community pride. Retail jobs do not help Bridgeport and will not help America’s economy. Retail businesses only help the government. Retail businesses help the Government spend more on government dependent programs.

  • Mojo

    *** Too bad. It was a cool place with nice vibes in general. Also, a great place for city workers to get a bit tipsy and drive home without any hassle from the “MAN!” Why you may wonder, because many of those customers leaving at night, especially on the nights they had a good band playing that attracted the ladies, were city firefighters or police, just to name a few! *** WHOOP ***

  • Grin Ripper

    If you look at Ralph ‘n’ Rich’s and Joseph’s, they both have dedicated parking. The private garage across from Two Boots doesn’t always have access.

  • Quentin Dreher

    Jeff, you could have saved a lot of space by just admitting the failed policies; of spend, borrow, tax, of the Democrat party have led to the economic failure of Bridgeport and cities like it.

  • Godiva2011

    It’s rather depressing to see another empty business in Bridgeport. The only businesses on that particular block that thrive are Murphy’s Law and Bagel King. It amazes me the wine store is still open (assuming it is) because I’ve stopped there on a couple of occasions when I was in that area, and I was the only customer in the store.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    Another company that owes Bridgeport taxes, why? Am I the only one who pays his taxes on time?

  • Jimfox

    Damned Boomtown.

  • Steven Auerbach

    Sad, very sad. Very disappointed.

  • DougDavidoff

    I’ve lived and worked in Downtown Bridgeport for nearly six months now, walking the streets day and night with few real concerns for my safety. I like my new home a lot.

    Since moving away from Fairfield County for college 40 years ago, I’ve lived, worked, and been involved in the planning process for downtown areas in Durham and Raleigh, N.C.; Indianapolis; the South Loop area of Chicago; and in an inner-ring suburb of Boston. I returned to Fairfield County last year and, having become adjusted to city life over suburban life, gravitated to Bridgeport’s downtown. I’m so glad I did.

    The Two Boots announcement is a shocker, but even more shocking: the tone of the analysis here. Some of you have lived in the area a very long time, but it’s clear you don’t know downtown intimately–like day and night, every day, months at a time. And you don’t know how downtowns work–here, or anywhere.

    So let’s take up the news at hand: Two Boots closed. Restaurants come. Restaurants go. They had a good run. They were were the wrong size. The block they are on has six dining establishments by my count, from Leisha’s Bakeria on Lafayette Circle at Fairfield Avenue to Fruta Juice, the new French-Vietnamese Can Tiin, ‘A Vucchella, Bagel King and the venerable Murphy’s. Three are relatively recent additions by local entrepreneurs.

    Restaurants are often the precursor to more retail development in reviving downtowns. Restaurants come. Restaurants go. McDonalds closed on Main Street. A few doors down, the new owners of the Dunkin’ Donuts franchise invested thousands in redecoration and modernization at the same time.

    Sweet Treats opened. Funchal has two locations. Tiago’s is great. Tony’s too. Barnum. Metric. Amici Miei. Moe’s More. Some will go. More will come. Some will stay a long time, like Joseph’s and Ralph ‘n’ Rich’s. We count on them, like institutions.

    A new retail establishment, not a restaurant, is the Bridgeport Community Pharmacy on Fairfield. It’s owned by Dawn, a 45-year-old pharmacist who always dreamed of owning her own pharmacy. I’m now patronizing it. So long, CVS in Fairfield.

    Downtowns revive block by block. To really understand a downtown, you have to walk each and every block. Watch what’s happening. Consider the possibilities. Mourn for the past. Dream for the future. Plan for the possible.

    Let’s now look at what’s been said here with respect to Two Boots and downtown in general:

    – A “ghost town?” Well, compared to a more glorious past, that’s an understandable perception or guess but it’s also incorrect. According to the Downtown Special Services District, downtown has about 10,000 workers during the day and about 2,500 residents at night in about a half-dozen major developments. With the Security Building opening this spring, the Forstone development on the south side of McLevy Green about to begin, Kuchma’s new block about to begin, and the announcement of 250 new units going in this year next door at Steelpointe, we’re looking at having 3,000 to 3,500 residents of the combined downtown and Steelpointe areas on both sides of the Pequonnock within just a year or so. That’s a small town. (In rural New England, that’s a big town.)

    – What can downtown Bridgeport offer? Density. Cool architecture. Civic spaces. History. HCC. Major offices. Proximity to Seaside Park and UB as well as SHU, Fairfield, SCSU and other colleges and universities. A transportation center. A sports and entertainment venue. Lodging in TWO hotels (don’t forget the Hampton Inn coming into Steelpointe, as well as the Holiday Inn). The center of a fine local bus system that works. The library. Local, state, and federal offices. Courts. Arts. Increasingly: small creative businesses and hints of the digital and creative economy. Funk. Spirit. Verve. Jazz. Real streets, sidewalks, and streetscapes. No cookie-cutter stuff to speak of. The promise of a waterfront that might work again. (Okay, that’s a stretch. Or is it? The study to plan for it has already begun.)

    – Parking? Crowded on the 200 and 300 block of Fairfield, yes. Sometimes crowded on other blocks. Antiquated meters that aren’t internet-app enabled like in New Haven and Norwalk. But we’re working on the meters and we actually have plenty of street parking though I can quibble about the design of it on this block or that–like the way it works against 24/7 residents in the vicinity of the buildings were residents live. But that’s because the policies didn’t anticipate the residents and no one has yet advocated for adjustments. Generally, parking is a concern but not the critical problem people here seem to think it is. I live with it day and night. It’s not my Number One or even my Number Two concern. My relatives come to visit or dine downtown and never complain either. They are here often.

    – Panhandling? A deterrent? There’s precious little of it. Those of us who live here know you can count the regular panhandlers on the fingers of one hand. If they frighten you, check your stereotypes and irrational fears but don’t blame the reality.

    – The DSSD not “special” and not “services?” I see its service offerings daily. I see its meetings and its staff. “Special?” Yes, it offers services and programming unavailable elsewhere in the city and paid for by local property owners in the DSSD “teardrop” territory. That’s what special. As in, not ordinary.

    – Slices of pizza at Amici Miei, among other places. So, there. (Harumph. You judge your downtown by availability of pizza slices; I relish in Starbucks and Dunkin and Fruta Juice and Sweet Treats. To each their own food vice, and each vice can be served right now downtown. Yes, we lost McDonald’s and we’ve gained lots of local brands and other chains. Overall, we’re winning. As noted, on the same block, Dunkin invested. The Chinese food place and Subway and Moe’s are there, too, in the same vicinity, several of those with nearly round-the-clock hours.)

    – People don’t FEEL safe, you wrote. But the reality is they CAN feel safe. The reality is the downtown is indeed safe and has constant public safety patrols. FEELING safe is a marketing perception that can be changed. But the ability to reasonably be safe is today’s reality, day and night and weekends. Try it!

    – The cost to park is a deal-breaker? Give me a break. $2 for two hours at a meter. Less than the price of a cup of coffee. Even if you’re on the next block, you’re not far away. Feeling unsafe walking one block? Read the previous paragraph. And rejoice that you’re being healthy by walking a few hundred steps both ways to and from your car.

    – A quick thought: Downtown is supposedly “a ghost town” but we’re also “shoehorning in these restaurants.” Those two criticisms are diametrically opposed. It can’t be both. Clearly, this is a perception problem … downtown is a ghost town because too much is going on? The confusion is in your perception.

    – “Other than the occasional event?” Let’s talk about “occasional.” Arena and ballpark events are “frequent.” Live music is “frequent” in several venues. Talks at the library and elsewhere are frequent. Summertime, the Farmers Market and live music on McLevy Green are both weekly. What’s “occasional” about this? I know what’s “occasional!” It’s the description of how frequently you choose to entertain yourself in the center of your own city because your fears block you, which is the perception (but not the reality) we have to address. Make better choices and enjoy both the frequency and variety of activities available right now.

    – “Foreboding atmosphere?” Yes, on some blocks. But on many blocks, activity. Look around. Not as much as in other cities, and that’s a problem. But the seeds are there and they’re sprouting. It’s a block-by-block thing. The only way to appreciate it is to park your car and walk each block. Which means feeling safe. You ARE safe but you don’t feel safe. Hence, foreboding in general. In reality? In the downtown core? Not super active on every block, but foreboding? Some of that is perception. Some of it is lack of investment activity. It’s a very strong word. What’re the elements contributing to your dread?

    – A shuttle system? Like trolleys? It’s an idea whose time has not yet come. Or consider this: city buses. They crisscross downtown. You talked of a shuttle system to get to the train and bus station. Why replace the bus with … a bus??

    – More lighting? A good idea, in spots. Not my biggest concern, and I’m walking day and night. More security? On top of the cops I see all the time? I have better security than you do.

    – Jeff Kohut and I are just going to have to keep disagreeing. He’s just in a different place than I am. He wants downtown fed by organically grown local industrial jobs, not outsiders visiting or moving in from the suburbs, specifically Fairfield. Industry is hard, ask Paul Timpanelli or read local history (I know Jeff is aware of this, so I am being a bit snide here). He criticizes a planning concept that brings mixed uses and mixed incomes to urban environments with new investment, and then he extols Fairfield for having essentially the same results. He wants Bridgeport to be more like Fairfield, except he doesn’t want Bridgeport to be more like Fairfield. He wants to do development a hard way, when another way is already working. What Jeff is correct about, in my opinion, is we need to agree on the right paradigm for our city. It was recommendation #1 by the Economic Development & Small Business Committee of the Mayoral Transition Task Force, I think.

    – Retail doesn’t help downtown, or people? Because buying everything from big boxes and online is better? When did retail become a pariah? Especially in a downtown intrinsically built for street-level retail commerce?

    Losing Two Boots hurts. We move on. Go have coffee, a salad, and one of the excellent made-in-the-store oatmeal cookies at Fruta Juice or a slice of quiche at Leisha’s Bakeria. Music at Tiago’s and elsewhere. It’s a loss. It’s hardly fatal. Meanwhile, come visit downtown more often and look around. It’s coming along and it’s better than you fear it is.

    • DougDavidoff

      I forgot to mention one other great thing about Downtown Bridgeport. On a certain day in March, literately minutes after you click “send” on your positive spin on downtown, God rewards you by suddenly kicking off a parade right outside your apartment. Ninety minutes of bands, bagpipes, flags, kids, floats, uniforms, green, orange, and strange people from another world called “the Irish.”

  • Lisa Parziale

    Doug, that was a positive, realistic, comprehensive commentary. I feel stupid for taking such a myopic view of downtown. Everything you talked about is true and doable. Did you ever consider interviewing for the position of Economic Development? I’m not kidding, it will be available shortly.

  • Jeff Kohut

    Quentin, you say: “Jeff, you could have saved a lot of space by just admitting the failed policies; of spend, borrow, tax, of the Democrat party having led to the economic failure of Bridgeport and cities like it.”

    Surely, knowing how Reagan Administration militaristic and greed-based foreign and domestic policy catapulted the US and the world into political and economic chaos and how the G. W. Bush administration continuation/intensification of those polices damned near destroyed our economy and cost the lives of millions of innocent people, all under the Republican banner, I am amazed any intelligent, reasonable person could make a statement such as the one quoted above. If you represent the “Republican” mentality pursuing occupation of the White House, all I have to say is “God Bless America!”

  • Andrew C Fardy

    Hey Jeff, try the following instead of ripping every Republican: here are wars started with Democrats in office:
    1. WWII Franklin Roosevelt
    2. Korea Harry Truman
    3. Vietnam John Kennedy
    4. Iraq Republican
    You see Jeff, it’s really all these assholes in Washington, they do nothing and get paid well.

  • Jeff Kohut

    Andy: Franklin Roosevelt attacked Japan and Germany prior to Dec. 7, 1941??!!

    Truman is responsible for Korea, but on a background of irrational Russo-phobia/Red-baiting, which culminated in full-blown McCarthyism. Korea is certainly traceable to the same type of Republicanism that caused the Great Depression and fed into the irrational foreign and domestic policy that has evolved, over eight decades, into Trumpism.

    Eisenhower–REPUBLICAN–sent the first “advisers” into Vietnam. Kennedy felt his way through that situation, at first continuing Eisenhower’s policies and then deciding to get us out of that mess, but he was murdered by right-wing hawks before he could work toward that goal. Johnson–Republicrat–was an enigmatic anomaly of the times and straddled the fence separating Democrats and Republicans, with his civil rights agenda embracing the Democratic mainstream and his foreign policy embracing the Republicanism/McCarthyism that still lingers in the Republican mindset of this country. (Hence the opposition to Bernie Sanders regarding his association with “the word that dare not be spoken.”)

    NIXON–REPUBLICAN–escalated the air and ground war in Vietnam under the absurd contention he wanted to bring peace to the region and honor to the US. His invasion/bombing of neutral Cambodia toward that end, and Dresden-like bombing of Haiphong and Hanoi toward that “peaceful, honorable” end resulted in perhaps 5-6 million deaths in Vietnam and Cambodia via the protracted route to “peace” taken by Republican Nixon. (Nixon’s actions created the fertile ground needed by Pol Pot to accomplish his bloodbath and the destruction of Cambodia.)

    You got the Iraq responsibility–Republican–right. But you could have mentioned it took the help of “REPUBLICRATS” in Congress, such as HILLARY CLINTON AND JOE LIEBERMAN (as well as Bridgeport’s own Christopher Shays) to accomplish that on-going, evolving global catastrophe.

    No, Andy; we don’t need any Republicans or Republicrats in the White House at this juncture! (Go away Donald! Go away Hillary!) The world needs time to heal.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    No, Roosevelt did not attack Germany or Japan but there is absolute proof he knew the Japs planned to attack the USA somewhere. You can rationalize Truman any way you want but he owns the Korean war and he owned using two atom bombs to end WWII.
    Eisenhower sent a few advisers and Kennedy sent a shitload. The US military was actively looking for volunteers in ’62-’63, I know, I was there and wasn’t chosen for Vietnam thankfully.

  • Mojo

    *** Of course Two Boots owns back taxes, just like most of the businesses in downtown BPT, no? ***

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