Once upon a time, Foxwoods was ready to add four new dining options from four dynamic chefs. Cat Cora, Sugar Factory, and “Fast N’ Loud” star Richard Rawlings, were supposed to have three of four new spots at the casino, the fourth going to Guy Fieri, from “Diners, Drivins and Dives” fame.
Restaurants from “Iron Chef” Cat Cora and “Fast N’ Loud” star Richard Rawlings just didn’t happen. Fieri, a star on Food Network, introduced New England to Guy Fieri’s Kitchen + Bar, and Sugar Factory were the only two of four to open. What happened?
Rawlings was to open the Garage Bar & Grill, serving Texas roadhouse-style barbecue, burgers and local beer.
But, a Norwich contractor hired to build two celebrity-themed restaurants at Foxwoods Resort Casino was awaiting payment of more than $1.6 million from a third party involved in the projects.
“We don’t have any legal issues with anyone,” Felix Rappaport, the Foxwoods president and chief executive officer, stressed in a phone interview this week. “Both of the restaurants were going to be owned and managed by a third party. The projects stalled with that third party, so we, in essence, canceled our agreement.”
G. Schnip Construction Inc., however, does have legal issues with the third party, Mitchell Brands LLC of Key Largo, Fla. According to Haalebeck at the Day, “In a lawsuit filed this spring in U.S. District Court in New Haven, Schnip claimed Mitchell had awarded the company a $3.5 million contract to build the Garage restaurant, which was to bear the brand of Rawlings, star of “Fast N’ Loud,” a popular reality show that airs on the Discovery Channel. Schnip “undertook the performance of its obligations” under the contract, completing nearly $1.6 million worth of work, according to the suit.”
The Rawlings and Cora restaurants were part of the casino’s push to become a “full-service resort destination” offering much more than gaming.
The other two restaurants named at the time — Guy Fieri’s Foxwoods Kitchen + Bar and The Sugar Factory — have since opened.
“When I got here, 80 percent of the restaurants were owned by Foxwoods,” said Rappaport, who arrived in 2014. “We wanted to freshen our offerings. We’ve brought in some very robust, vibrant brands. … Sometimes, when you go down the path of third-party partners, things happen. It’s just part of the business.”
Rappaport said Foxwoods plans to open a new restaurant called Caputo Trattoria in the winter. It’s to be owned by the Craveable Hospitality Group, which owns the casino’s David Burke Prime restaurant, and will fill the space formerly occupied by Al Dente, he said.
NETG was ready to attend Rawlings opening, but it never occurred. So, cross these two new restaurants off the list.