June 2, 2020

Dear friends,

In 2007 the Melville Charitable Trust launched Firebox, a farm-to-table restaurant in the Frog Hollow neighborhood of Hartford. Our vision was to serve extraordinary food and to bring jobs, investment, and opportunity to the community.

It is no exaggeration to say that Firebox succeeded far beyond our expectations. A leader in the farm-to-table movement—earning numerous local awards as well as reviews in Gourmet Magazine and The New York Times—Firebox has always been a convivial gathering spot, with a lively bar, innovative food, unforgettable cocktails and loyal customers. Staff hail from the Frog Hollow neighborhood and beyond, and have always been the heart and soul of Firebox’s unique charm.

Looking back at these achievements, it is with heavy hearts that we share the news of our decision to close Firebox. As a result of the pandemic, and the uncertainty it has brought, it has become clear that we are simply unable to sustain the restaurant in its current form going forward. Small businesses, and particularly restaurants, operate on very slim margins, and the pandemic economy has effectively eliminated those margins, with no real end in sight.

Firebox’s many accomplishments lie squarely with the talent, commitment, and passion of its staff. We are heartbroken about the impact this decision will have on them and their families, and we are committed to helping our staff find new jobs. Any business would be incredibly fortunate to employ members of the Firebox family in the future.

While Firebox is closing, its neighborhood partner, the culinary nonprofit Forge City Works, will resume operations this summer. The Kitchen at Billings Forge is reopening in June, along with the catering business and the weekly farmers market at Billings Forge. The Kitchen at the Public Library is planning to open with outside seating in late June. A new class of trainees will start their journeys then as well.

Along with our partners at Forge City Works, the Melville Trust will be exploring different ways to utilize the Firebox space to create new opportunities for the community in the future. Please stay tuned. In the meantime thank you for 13 years of support! We built a special community of owners, staff, customers, and friends that was joyfully inspiring. That spirit remains and will guide our work going forward.



Susan K. Thomas
President, Melville Charitable Trust

Cary Wheaton
Firebox Owner Representative & Executive Director, Forge City Works


Published on June 2, 2020