Owner of live music venue wants to open family-style Colombian restaurant in downtown Danbury

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DANBURY — The owner of a live music venue in the city’s once-thriving downtown entertainment district wants to open a quiet Colombian-style restaurant on Main Street for family outings.

“I have a lot of families who want someplace to go that is quieter,” says Manuel Andrade, the owner of La Canchita Bar and Lounge on Delay Street, speaking on Monday about plans to open Tiesto’s Restaurant in a nearby vacant storefront. “It will be a nice place to go for kids and for seniors where it’s more quiet.”

The proposed restaurant, which shows 62 seats and full bar on its blueprints, would be in the same building as La Canchita, but in a space with a Main Street entrance, where a former Mexican restaurant and bakery was located.

“It didn’t make it out of COVID,” Andrade said of the former restaurant and bakery at 219 Main St.

Andrade, a businessman who emigrated to Danbury from Colombia when he was 15 and raised his two sons here, says he has confidence that the new restaurant will succeed in a sluggish post-COVID economy.

“I’ve been here all my life — my two sons were born here,” said Andrade, who worked in construction before getting into restaurant ownership.

Part of his vision for the new restaurant is to offer a complete menu of cocktails and “fancy drinks.” For that he’ll he will need a café permit from the Zoning Commission in order to serve liquor. The previous restaurant had a beer and wine permit, records show.

A public hearing on the café permit is planned for the end of October.

Andrade’s La Canchita is part of the city’s once-thriving Ives Street entertainment district, where night clubs, bars and eateries drew crowds by the hundreds on weeknights and weekends.

Since the demise of nightclubs such as Tuxedo Junction, the district has gone mostly dark at night, while west side neighborhoods such as Mill Plain Road have become the go-to place for Danbury nightlife.

Recently there have been small signs of life returning to Ives Street. In December, entrepreneurs opened Los Rivera Café at 1 Ives St., for example, and in January, the city cleared the way for a pair of Danbury businessmen to open a café and bar a few buildings away on Ives Street.

On the other hand, some city leaders who held out hope that the defunct Tuxedo Junction might reopen with live entertainment were disappointed in February when the City Council voted to sell the former nightclub to a bank that will demolish it to make room for a larger office building project on Main Street.

The city’s languishing downtown is a major focus of a draft master plan for the next 10 years that will come up for a public hearing in December. Among the solutions proposed by the master plan is for Danbury to adopt zoning to encourage developers to build a mix of apartments and commerce in the Main Street corridor.

Andrade said he was confident in his new restaurant’s prospects.

“It is a very nice place,” he said. “I have a professional artist working on the walls.”

rryser@newstimes.com 203-731-3342