Firebox, the Hartford restaurant that closed in 2020 as a result of the pandemic, will open again with a new name — Fire by Forge — and newly owned by Forge City Works, if fundraising goes as planned, Forge City Works Executive Director Ben Dubow announced.
Forge City Works is a social enterprise initiative that provides culinary industry job training and food access to people in vulnerable populations in the city.
Dubow said Fire by Forge will become part of Forge City Works’ culinary and customer service jobs-training program, and will offer transitional employment, internships and apprenticeships.
“We’re working hard to build equity and diversity and inclusion and belonging into our model in all respects, in compensation, in hiring and promotion. That is the culture we will create within the restaurant,” he said.
On forgecityworks.com, Fire by Forge, which will be at 539 Broad St., is described as “an upscale casual, chef-driven Pan-American inspired cafe, restaurant and bar.”
Firebox was owned by Melville Charitable Trust and was operated as a separate entity from Billings Forge Community Works, which has been renamed Forge City Works.
“The Melville Charitable Trust is our primary funder and strategic partner … but Forge City Works is its own 501(c)3 non-profit organization,” Dubow said
An event will be held on Aug. 3 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at the restaurant in hopes of completing fundraising for renovations, build-out and prep budget.
Dubow said Forge City Works already has raised $60,000. When the fundraising gets to $75,000, Fire by Forge will qualify for a $150,000 matching grant from Hart Lift, the city program to revitalize shuttered storefronts.
Dubow said the total fundraising goal is $380,000.
“The build-out and renovations, which we hope to start by September or October, will be covered by Hart Lift and the match,” Dubow said. “The rest will go into pre-revenue operations, such as hiring and training management and staff, building up an inventory.”
To attend the Aug. 3 fundraiser, register at forgecityworks.org/event/finish-the-lift.
Forge City Works used to run the cafe on the ground floor of the main branch of Hartford Public Library. It closed in August 2021. The cafe’s closure was a result of the emptying of the downtown area as a result of the pandemic, as well as the end of funding from the Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act, which helped to underwrite the cafe.
Forge City Works currently operates The Kitchen at 558 Broad St., which sells breakfast and lunch as well as dinner kits.
Susan Dunne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.