A world that combined robotic gorillas, jungle rainstorms, waterfalls, and Tracy the Talking Tree is now silent in Connecticut.
The recent abrupt closure of the Rainforest Café in the West Farms Mall in Farmington, the only one in Connecticut, means that if you want to visit this wild place that combines adventure, food, a bar, and retail, you will have to drive to Burlington Mall in Burlington, Mass. or Menlo Park Mall in Edison, N.J.
There are no other Rainforest Café’s in New England except for the lone Burlington restaurant which was featured in the comedy Paul Blart: Mall Cop .
I have been to the West Farms Rainforest Café several times and have always enjoyed browsing their gift shop, enjoying their unique atmosphere, and having their delicious food.
In fact, on my last visit to Rainforest Cafe, I bought some colorful dishwasher and microwave safe mugs that I use almost everyday.
It was a unique restaurant and something that distinguished West Farms from any other mall in Connecticut.
According to Hartford Business , the restaurant failed to renew its lease with Taubman Company, owner of West Farms Mall, for its 12-to-13-year-old 16,000-square-foot space on the lower level near Macy’s.
The former eatery will soon be renovated to accommodate a relocated and expanded Forever 21.
The average size of a Rainforest Cafe is 12,000 to 18,000 square feet and there are plenty of opportunities for them to open in Eastern Connecticut.
One suggested location for such a restaurant is in the former Steinbach Department Store in the Waterfall Shopping Center in Waterford. There is plenty of room in this space which was more recently the former home of a Save-A-Lot grocery store, a laser tag center, and a pizza shop.
A second possibility is next to Waterford’s Ocean State Job Lot in the former Big Y Supermarket .
A third possibility is the redeveloped Norwichtown Commons in Norwich. The best spot would be next to Big Lots in a space marked “health club, deal pending”. If the developer wants to give Norwich something unique that Lisbon doesn’t have, this is it!
A fourth possibility is developing an empty parcel of commercial land, hopefully here in Montville . The town should continue to work hard in growing its commercial tax base to decrease the tax burden on residents.
It would be great to bring in some unique chain restaurants rather than more locations of the same chain restaurant.
While they are all good restaurants, Eastern Connecticut certainly has enough 99 Restaurant’s (Groton, Norwich, and Killingly), Ruby Tuesday’s (Waterford, Lisbon, and North Windham), Chili’s (Montville and New London), Applebee’s (Groton and Mansfield) and Five Guys Burgers and Fries (Norwich, East Lyme, Groton, and Mystic).