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New Ownership Looks to Bring Bonterra to New Heights

The restaurant is remaining in the family, but Bonterra is looking to step out of the shadow of Anthony Jack's to create a defining face of its own.

It’s not a complete makeover, but if you haven’t stopped in at lately then it might be time to give it a second try – or even a first.

The downtown restaurant is under new ownership and with a menu that now includes family-friendly pricing and a dozen happy hour deals, the corner bistro is looking to shake any image that they are upscale only and pull out of the shadow of it’s sister restaurant .

“I’ve been in the business most of my life and we saw a transition in ownership as a way for the family to help grow this location,” said owner Sue DePaolo, who with her husband Billy DePaolo took over the restaurant late last year. “We will still be a sister restaurant (to Anthony Jack’s), but we want to break that image that we are just a second restaurant. We want our own image.”

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Autumn Capurso, restaurant manager said the restaurant is looking to broaden its customer base by taking advantage of the downtown atmosphere.

Changes began with items on the menu, including a new happy hour Tuesday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. that features $2 appetizer options, $2.50 drafts, $3 glasses of wine and $5 martinis. Patrons will now receive a free slice of pizza when they buy $5 in drinks, she said. And you can get all this at the comfort of the bar, where a new cell phone charging station will allow you to recharge your smartphones for free.

The everyday menu will still feature classic Italian and American foods, but many of the dishes are tailored to fit more of a family-friendly price range as well.

But it’s not just the menu that is seeing changes either. The restaurant has tweaked its physical appearance, brightening up the lighting, improving the outdoor dining area and enhancing the signage outside the restaurant in an effort to create a more inviting, family-friendly atmosphere.

“We don’t want to copy other restaurants – we want to really stand out,” Capurso said. “We want to build on everything that is happening and continues to happen downtown and be a destination that people want to visit.”

If the early response from regulars at the restaurant serves as any indication, some of the changes made within the last several months are already paying off.

Jeff Hyde and Rick Rossi, both Southington residents who said they come to the restaurant a couple time per week after work, said late last week that the changes and the personable staff have helped make the restaurant their favorite in the community.

“It’s not one thing, it’s the combination,” Rossi said. “It’s the personality of the employees, the friends you make here and the food. It’s that true Italian combination and that’s what brings me back.”

The restaurant itself has been in operation for more than half a decade, operating under the ownership of Anthony Jack’s owners Barry DePaolo and Cheryl Moran. The two spent years going back and forth between the two restaurants, working as general managers and owners of each.

When Billy and Sue DePaolo sought to take on a challenge of their own last November, they decided that they wanted to buy Bonterra. Sue DePaolo said it was an opportunity to keep the restaurant in the family while also allowing to transition into the ownership role.

As Bonterra looks to grow into the future, both DePaolo and Capurso said they would continue to grow the menu and look to find new ways to bring in new patrons. Regardless of the changes, however, Capurso said the customers would always remain the top priority.

“We have always tried to please the customer, whether it’s knocking down prices or finding unique theme nights to provide something different,” Capurso said. “This is something we will never stop doing.”

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