.

Fans Flock to West Hartford's 'Crown' Jewel

A look at the familiar faces of a West Hartford institution in its final days of business.

Shoppers young and old are welcome at Crown Market in West Hartford, Conn. Credit: Gary Jeanfaivre
Shoppers young and old are welcome at Crown Market in West Hartford, Conn. Credit: Gary Jeanfaivre
One customer called Wednesday while on vacation in Turks and Caicos, to place an order for some of her favorites.

A Hamden man drove about 35 miles Thursday just to score some corn beef.

And countless others are coming from near and far for a final visit to Crown Market as the West Hartford institution prepares to close its door after 74 years in business.

They're coming to a market that has been woven into the fabric of the community, to a place where their parents and grandparents shopped, to a special place. Or, as one customer calls it, "heaven."

While the food has always been the draw — especially the kosher products that have become a staple for the large Jewish population in the area, and that you just can't find anywhere else — the heart of Crown Market may be its dedicated employees.

To some customers, they are more like family. And after Tuesday's announcement that Crown is closing once its existing inventory is sold, a sense of sadness has set in amidst the many farewells being exchanged in aisles, over counters, and at registers.

"Nice knowing you," Chris Dombek said fondly to a couple he had just helped in the bakery section.

A Crown employee for four years, he added, "That's the sad part. I'm going to miss a lot of the customers."

One elderly woman came just to give Mike Hanson a hug. Hanson has worked at Crown for 15 years.

Fred Kaplan came for a final visit Thursday, too. A Crown employee gave him a baseball hat with the store's logo on it. Kaplan, of Hamden, held it up proudly.

"I drove all the way up for that killer corn beef," he said.

"It's a shame," said Robert Lesser.

Lesser has been a regular Crown customer since he moved to West Hartford in 1964. He said the market's many kosher prepared meals were a godsend, particularly for Jewish families in which both the husband and wife work.

"This was a heaven," he said. "A gift from God."

Craig Hahn, a Crown employee of 34 years, said, "I think the community needs it."
lsadinsky February 21, 2014 at 05:50 PM
Suggesting Big Y or a car wash as a replacement for a generations-old "mom and pop" market, which is truly one of the hearts of the local Jewish community, may be economics 101, but it isn't real estate 101. Real Estate 101: a) "boutique/mom and pop" establishments differentiate communities from one another and provide local personality the way chain stores like Big Y never will. One reason people buy homes in West Hartford is precisely because this Town has a high number and wide variety of high quality boutique style shops; b) the Town recently redeveloped a parcel of land that had previously been devoted to auto sales/maintenance and turned it into Blue Back Square. Property values surrounding this redevelopment increased significantly, even during the worst of the housing bust. THAT's good economics.
Michelle Reagan February 21, 2014 at 06:04 PM
Weak sauce. Trolling a Patch article with cracks about car washes and Big Y. Just ignore the troll, he is just looking to get a rise out of people.
m114230 February 23, 2014 at 07:55 PM
Isadinsky, I was very much in agreement with your post until I got to point b). Blue Back Square is almost entirely made up of chain stores and not "mom and pop" stores like Crown. If you want to point to BBS as a stellar example, then we should not be concerned with the closing of Crown, as it will likely go the same way as BBS - likely being replaced with a chain store, perhaps one of the same ones. Perhaps I didn't understand your points correctly, but it seems to me that your point a) contradicts your point b).
Hank the Bank February 24, 2014 at 07:31 AM
Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.........
David Flynn February 24, 2014 at 07:46 AM
It's blatently obvious that The Crown isn't that cherished by the community or else 'the community' would shop there more and it would be able to pay it's bills.

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »