Crowd celebrate at Norwich’s first Cape Verdean Festival

NORWICH BULLETIN (May 26, 2019) — A large and happy filled Franklin Street on Sunday afternoon to celebrate at the first Cape Verdean Festival.

Tents selling a wide variety of food and other goods and others staffed by local nonprofit organizations filled the block in front the building where organizer Global City Norwich is headquartered.

A stage was set up in a parking lot at Franklin and Bath streets, and children and their parents flocked to a pair of bounce houses in another parking lot.

“I think it’s great, it’s awesome,” said Cheyenne Campbell of Norwich, who came with her three children as well as other relatives. “It’s definitely a good turnout for the first time, that’s for sure.”

Members of Cape Verdeans United, a Norwich-based charity, had a tent at the festival, where they were selling Cape Verdean food, including bacalhau — salted cod — rice and beans, and pastel de peixe, which is a pastry containing fish.

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Bicycle shop owner finds better deal in Norwich

NORWICH BULLETIN (May 23, 2019) — Apollo Ziembroski opened his first bicycle shop, in Danielson, for $200. He is moving to downtown Norwich – and says he got a better deal.

Apollo Cycles is expected to open at 56 Broadway in June. Ziembrowski was at the shop on Thursday, and said electrical work, drywall and inventory are the big things on his list before opening. The artificial turf on the first-floor outdoor walls of the building will be removed.

Ziembroski, 26, is going all-in for Norwich. He will live in an apartment just above his store.

He said the Norwich Community Development Corporation reached out to him to come to Norwich.

“I had no intention of moving,” said Ziembroski, who closed his shop on Furnace Street in Danielson last month.

NCDC’s package for him to move included, he said, a grant for outdoor signage, a low-interest loan and partial lease reimbursement for seven years.

Ziembroski says Norwich is a great cycling area. He says Camp Moween in Lebanon has about 15 miles of trails.

“It’s a good place,” he said. “It’s really well thought-out.”

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New development commissioner visits Norwich, New London, Groton

THE DAY (May 21, 2019) — In a two-day tour of southeastern Connecticut, the state’s newest Department of Economic and Community Development commissioner focused on growing cities, capitalizing on the state’s natural assets and leveraging Opportunity Zone status.

David Lehman, a former Goldman Sachs executive the state Senate confirmed as commissioner in March, visited New London and Norwich on Monday, and Norwich and Groton on Tuesday.

His second day included a meeting with the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments at its Norwich office, meetings at Electric Boat and the University of Connecticut’s Avery Point campus, and a tour of the Naval Submarine Base.

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Haitian heritage, history fill Norwich’s streets

NORWICH BULLETIN (May 18, 2019) — Revelers outfitted in red and blue packed several downtown sidewalks and streets Saturday as the city’s first official Haitian Flag Day event roared to life.

Along Bath and Franklin streets, that flag, with its parallel red-and-blue bars, was waved in hands, draped over shoulders and tied into bandanas by residents who danced, hugged and laughed to a soundtrack pumped out from nearby speakers.

Under a tent overhang, Mirlande Daniel, owner of Norwich-based Mommy’s Delicious Food restaurant, set up serving trays filled with black rice, fried plantains and jerk chicken. Daniel, a Haitian emigrate, said she hoped the street festival would give attendees a better sense of her native country.

“Not a lot of people know about Haiti or even where it is,” she said. “We have a beautiful history.”

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Hotel developer purchases former Norwich Elks Club on Main Street

THE DAY (May 15, 2019) — A Cromwell hotel developer purchased the former Elks Club building, more recently the Majestic Rose restaurant, at 352 Main St. on Wednesday and plans to complete renovations aborted several years ago to create a boutique hotel.

RCN Capital LLC, which took over ownership in 2016 of the vacant 1843 former mansion home of mill mogul John F. Slater, sold the building Wednesday to Ganesha Hospitality LLC for $400,000, according to land transaction records filed in the Norwich city clerk’s office.

Developers Amit Maran and his uncle, Harry Patel, have been looking at the building for several months after they saw it listed on a website featuring business properties for sale, Maran said.

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Norwich receives top Chinese artwork as appreciation gifts

THE DAY (May 2, 2019) — A welcoming gesture to help a new downtown business owner open a new Chinese market and tea café sent ripples across the globe, and on Wednesday, 14 top professional artists in China stopped by to donate artworks to city leaders in a cultural exchange and act of appreciation.

The artists are in the Northeast touring and hosting art seminars at Yale and Harvard universities, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an exhibit in Manhattan.

The Norwich stop was added when Sharon Chu, executive director of the North American Chinese Culture Foundation, based in Mansfield, learned how Norwich officials and volunteers with Global City Norwich assisted business owner Mei He, also of Mansfield, in her plan to open A&S Marketplace, a Chinese market in the Thayer Building at 16 Franklin St. The market will open in mid-May.

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A Sit Down with Claire Marchand

Q: What do you love most about Norwich?

Claire: I love the energy in Norwich. My studio is Downtown in Foundry 66, so I feel as if I am in the heartbeat of [the City’s] rejuvenation. I can feel it when I walk into businesses here and I can feel it in speaking with the owners. I love being able to talk about the various places and movements in Norwich, like Global City Norwich, with my out-of-town clients, who can’t wait to come back. Even when there are disagreements or slightly different visions, we are all working towards the same goal of revitalization. There’s definitely an energy here and I think everyone can feel it.

Q: If you had to give someone advice about freelancing, what would you tell them?
Claire: Charge your worth. At the same time, you should always, always be striving to improve what you do and what you offer. You are your business’s charismatic leader, so no matter where you are or who you’re with, you are your brand and you have to carry it well.

Q: What are you currently passionate about right now? 
Claire: I’m really passionate about my job. I think it ties into what I love about Norwich and why I want to be a part of what’s going on here – when I walk down the street, I’m passionate about the things I’m seeing and the people I’m seeing. I love being able to provide a unique experience for my clients while simultaneously providing them with the highest level of service that I can.

Rose Arts Festival is also coming up on June 29 and I’m looking forward to coordinating the photography coverage and marketing the event!

Q: What are you most looking forward to within the next year?
Claire: Being able to continue photographing a wide range of people, with a focus on headshots and branding. It’s amazing the kinds of people I’ve had an opportunity to work with, the things I’ve learned, and the challenges I’ve faced. I want to continue to be challenged!

See Claire’s work


Long-vacant downtown Norwich building on track to get occupants

NORWICH BULLETIN (March 10, 2019) — A long-vacant downtown office building is being renovated and will be returned to use after being sold on March 1.

Gregory Page, a psychotherapist, bought 60 Main St. for $115,000 from its previous owner, Chelsea Properties LLC.

Page said he is renovating the 4,650-square-foot three-floor building built in 1900 to contain five offices. “Our goal is to be open by May,” he said.

Page will occupy one of the first-floor offices himself for the practice he has with his mother called Mind Management Services Inc.

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Parade gives Norwich a chance to shine

NORWICH BULLETIN (March 3, 2019) — There’s always been a way to get a beer on Broadway during the St. Patrick’s Day parade. Green Budweiser bottles and shots of Jameson at Billy Wilson’s Ageing Still are already as essential a part of the 6-year-old event as the bagpipes and politicians.

But as Norwich’s empty storefronts slowly fill in with businesses, the crowd filling downtown streets Sunday had a few other options.

Beverly Jones stood close to the door of Craftsman Cliff Roasters Coffee & Cacao, clutching a hazelnut latte that owner Matthew DuTrumble made for her. The coffee shop, not usually open on Sundays, was packed for its first St. Patrick’s Day parade after it opened last spring.

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A Sit Down with Jeff Blayman

Q: Tell us a little about yourself.
Jeff: I’m a life long Norwich resident with a passion for skateboarding that has encompassed so
many aspects of my life. I started skating when I was just a boy and after 32 years of sidewalk
surfing I still find it a thrill.
Q: How long have you been in business?
Jeff: I have had many jobs within the skateboard industry ranging from Summer camp instructor,
freelance videographer and at one point I had the pleasure of running an indoor skateboard park
franchise. This is what led to my current business of running my small national brand Worship
Skateboards, which started in 2003 and led to my opening the Ideal Skate Shop here in my
hometown of Norwich in 2004.
Q: What inspired you to open a skate shop?
Jeff: Oddly enough, it was never my plan to have a store. I was merely trying to help local kids
get their hands on my American made product and unfortunately there was no outlet in the
immediate area. The inspiration for the board brand however was more of a passion project that
grew out of not liking the trend of other companies writing their name on boards as if it were a
soda can. I just wanted to see the art of skateboard graphics return to being subtle messages and
dramatic art instead of corporate branding. Happily, my brand sells to almost 80 skate shops
around the country. What I love about Worship skateboards is that you can hang these
skateboards on your wall or destroy them having fun as they were intended and its absolutely
beautiful either way. I love seeing people admire the boards in art galleries as well as out in the
Q: What has been your proudest accomplishment?  
Jeff: It was again just a happy accident that became another passion project. About 5 years ago
we did a single skateboard lesson for a child on the Autism spectrum. Now years later, we have
partnered a local Non profit and created the Success on Skateboards (SOS) program. Our focus
is offering skate lessons to children on the Spectrum and those with sensory disabilities. Besides
the unbridled joy you see in the children’s faces, we find the added benefits are improved
communication, balance, trust, and independence. The same passion for the program is exuded
by the many volunteers for whom we are eternally grateful.
Q: What do you love most about Norwich?
Jeff:  Simply put, Norwich is a blank canvas. For as much as it has a glorious past, it also has a
bright future that we are constantly creating. You may have noticed that the current level of
economic development is overflowing. From civic work projects, to beautification, to multitudes
of small business’ eager to contribute to this Rose city renaissance.

Q: If someone was trying to start up their own business, what advice would you give them?
Jeff: Take the leap. The fear and trepidation that you have is normal and is truly a motivating
factor. If you translate that feeling into excitement rather than anxiety you’ll experience many a
sleepless night grinding out details and looking forward to the ideas coming to fruition. Nothing
happens when you stand still and thus momentum should be your goal.
Q: What are you most looking forward to within the next year?
Jeff: I am looking forward to seeing Norwich grow as a community and also as a destination
location that people want to travel to from abroad. I love the idea that Global City Norwich with
the help of NCDC has been exploring the international traditions and cultures through street
festivals. It’s these type of events that bring thousands of people to the city to celebrate Norwich
Thereby exposing people to all of these fascinating changes that are happening currently. There’s
no better marketing or exposure than a festival or parade putting real feet to pavement and
casting all eyes on our city center.
And as organizations in town are able to put on more events to create more reasons to celebrate
Norwich… we will continue to advance our city and celebrate it’s diversity. WE are Norwich
The Ideal Skate Shop is located at 175 Central Ave, Norwich, CT 06360. 860-334-5277 for info.