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Business Owners Brace for Grand Avenue Bridge Closure

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Ben Tortora had a vision 16 years ago to make Grand Vin in New Haven an experience for people looking fine wine and spirits

“This was a hobby before it became my business,” said Tortora. “So I’m passionate about what I do.”

He is on the east side of the Grand Avenue bridge. He says when it closes next month, the glass may be half empty.

“The flow of traffic will no longer come through this area and, uh, it’s a concern.”

The bridge is set to close for 18 months, leaving area businesses owners unsure if they’ll be able to hold on while they’re cut off. Tortora says the last project seven years ago ended up costing him a lot.  

“I lost 20 percent of my business the first time. I never recouped that business,” said Tortora.

He says customers found other places to shop during those two years. And people from Fairfield County, Hartford, Milford and Orange just never came back. Now he’s unsure what a total closure will do.

Grand Vin Fine Wine Fine Spirits.

“Losing the pedestrians is one thing. Losing the person who can drive to me is even more important,” said Tortora.

On the west side of the bridge is Grand Apizza. Like Tortora, owner George Carranzo has been here 15 years and also counts on area customers who walk and drive across the bridge.

Neither will be possible when it closes.  

“People might not make the trip all the way around. You either got to go to Route 80 or Ferry Street,” said Carranzo. “I just have to see how things go and hope I can stay afloat for a year and a half,” said Carranzo.

A festival is set for Friday evening on the east side of the bridge near Grand Vin. It’s to celebrate the local businesses before the bridge closes. But it’s on Carranzo’s busiest night, on the opposite side.

“That’s probably going to hurt me again,” he said. “Why didn’t they do it when the bridge was closed?”

But Tortora hopes it’s a last call to show off what he has to offer.

“I’m excited about the event for the simple reason it might bring people from other areas that don’t know I exist.”

He says he might try to deliver to customers throughout the city to make up the loss. Carranzo says that’s out of the question for pizza.

Carranzo has a request for the city to help ease his future losses.

“It’s gonna hurt financially. Aside from the fact that our taxes are through the roof right now,” said Carranzo. “I could really use some tax relief.”

The Grand Avenue Bridge Celebration is Friday March 6, 5 to 8 p.m.

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