The message on The Hawthorne’s answering machine beckons diners with no indication they can no longer come inside.
“We start serving Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m., and Sunday brunch from 11 to 2,” a man’s voice says, though the doors to the restaurant are now locked. Operations suddenly ceased.
Michael Hayward, the owner of a dance-coordinating company, stopped by the Berlin Turnpike restaurant, banquet hall and lounge to investigate.
“What brings me down here is I’m trying to figure out why they’re not returning my calls because I want to book the banquet hall to do my dances I do here “For Singles Only.” I do dances here a couple times a month,” said Hayward.
A sign on the front doors says the restaurant is closed for renovations. A banner on the website says the same thing.
But in an email obtained by Fox CT to Tim Stewart, president of the Greater New Britain Chamber of Commerce, a general manager at The Hawthorne named Ali wrote“We are closing our doors effective immediately…I am just as devastated as I imagine you will be to hear this news.”
James Mahoney, Berlin’s economic development director, said Hawthorne employees received a letter telling them their last paycheck will come on July 14.
Fox CT tried asking managers what’s going on by phone and at the facility. We did not hear back by news time, though a woman who identified herself as a former manager called Fox CT around 10:40 p.m. on Wednesday and said the restaurant is definitely closed and that she found out the news on Tuesday morning.
Longtime customers came by looking for answers, too.
“Is it due to financial purposes? Or whatever the case may be, maybe they should at least give us a date of when they expect to reopen and if they’re not going to reopen, just let us know that they will not reopen at this time,” said Robert Secondi, who estimates he’s been coming to The Hawthorne for more than 30 years. He stopped at restaurant on Wednesday night to see why he wasn’t hearing back about a dinner he wanted to plan for a friend’s retirement.
As for Hayward, he isn’t sure what he’s going to do about upcoming dances.
“They never said anything about doing any future renovations to me, just four or five weeks ago,” he said. “Now we got [sic] to scurry around and look for another place.”
Mahoney from the town of Berlin said he has not been contacted by anyone from The Hawthorne.
Speaking generally, he said his department could assist with selling a business or with layoffs, if needed. Mahoney said he hasn’t heard why The Hawthorne is closed, or if it’s temporary or permanent.