August 26 - September 2, 1998

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Big Changes for Two of City's Landmark Businesses

By Andy Hart

After 20 years at the same location, Gordon Bonetti Florist will be moving from the corner of Vernon and Washington Streets to 476 Franklin Avenue, currently the home of LiVecchi's Pastry Shop. Both businesses have been operating in the city since the early part of this century.

John Tornatore, owner of Bonetti's said he plans to close up shop at his current location today, August 26, and open at the new location on Tuesday, September 8.

On Monday, Maria Santoro, Co-Owner of LiVecchi's, said she and her associates have not yet decided if or where the popular bakery will re-open.

The building in which Bonetti's is currently located is slated for demolition to make way for the Learning Corridor, an educational complex being built by SINA (Southside Institutions Neighborhood Alliance) on the block bounded by Vernon, Washington and Broad Streets and Brownell Avenue.

Tornatore said he has been told the building will be demolished sometime in mid-September. "I wish they'd tell us a definite date because we'd really like to come and take pictures. For the scrapbook, you know," he said.

LiVecchi's first opened in Winsted in 1910 but moved to Hartford's Front Street neighborhood in 1912. When that neighborhood was slated for demolition to make way for Constitution Plaza, the bakery became one of the first businesses from the East Side to relocate to the South End, opening up at 458 Franklin Avenue in 1958. The business moved to 476 Franklin Avenue in 1986.

Gordon Bonetti Florist has also been through a few changes since first opening its doors in 1909. Tornatore said the shop was originally located on Anawam Street but moved to Wethersfield Avenue when the city took over the property. After 56 years on Wethersfield Avenue, the city bought that property as well and the florist moved to its current location at 353 Washington Street.

Although more than half of Bonetti's business comes from outside the city, Tornatore said he didn't seriously consider moving out of Hartford when he heard that his present location was slated for demolition. He added that he looked at several sites on Franklin Avenue as well as the former Friendly Restaurant locations on Maple and Farmington Avenues before deciding to move into the LiVecchi's site.

"We decided that moving out of Hartford might hurt us. We've been associated with the city so long, if people saw we weren't in Hartford anymore they might think we'd disappeared altogether."

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