Chamber Mourns Loss of Longtime Business Leader

Michael Bellobuono's restaurant, First and Last Tavern, paved the way for the city’s shift from a retail-oriented downtown to a dining and entertainment destination.


It brought me much sadness to attend the wake and funeral services for Michael Bellobuono, a longtime business leader in Middlesex County and beyond. He founded a law firm with M. Patricia McVane and was an outstanding practitioner of criminal law for 45 years in Hartford’s South End.

In Middletown, Mike made his mark on the city as a co-owner of . This restaurant has become a flagship establishment in downtown Middletown since its arrival in 1999 and paved the way — along with the arrival of Theatres and — for the city’s shift from a retail-oriented downtown to a dining and entertainment destination. 

Because of Michael’s long-term vision for downtown Middletown, the city is known across the state today as a destination location for casual and upscale dining. He was a great human being who always gave and never asked; his passing is a loss to us all.

There were some other events last week, though, that show just how strong this county is, in the midst of difficult economic times. Irene Makiaris and her company, Makiaris Media Services, celebrates its 25th year of business in our state.  She founded the company in Bloomfield and it has since moved the operation to Middletown. Chairman Irene works with President John D. Scully to lead the organization, which organizes and executes media programs for its client base.

A business that continues to grow and is poised for many years of operation in our county is The Saybrook at Haddam. This organization is a 74-apartment assisted-living retirement community and recently added to its list of services with the addition of the Safe Harbor Memory Care wing. This wing is a secure living community for those who battle alzheimers and dementia, and these individuals are able to enjoy a homelike setting similar to life in a small village.

Executive Director Kathy Ryan and Director of Marketing/Community Relations David Downey have really moved this business forward since taking it over in 2009. They inherited a facility with an 18 percent occupancy rate and brought it to an outstanding 95 percent occupancy by 2012. 

It was great to tour the new wing of the facility last Thursday with Haddam First Selectman Paul DeStefano, Dave, Kathy and also Matt Fraulino from our chamber.

On Feb. 24, we had an outstanding annual legislative breakfast meeting at the Crowne Plaza in Cromwell. This event is one of the most beneficial events for our members as it provides a forum to hear from each of our county’s state legislators and affords them the opportunity to engage these leaders in a question and answer session. All legislators were invited and thanks to those who attended: state Sens. Paul Doyle and Len Suzio; and state Reps. Jim Crawford, Matt Lesser, Phil Miller and Joe Serra.

Finally, happy birthdays to Ray Klick who recently turned 88 years young, and Joe Vinci Sr., who will turn 100. Ray has been a longtime friend and has been an active chamber member since I started here in 1983. Joe is an outstanding business leader and another man who I am proud to call a friend. He has given his time and commitment to the Middletown community for many years.

A reminder that this Friday at 9:30 a.m., the chamber will hold an Arrigoni Bridge committee meeting and will discuss the status of the second phase of the work and the status of the final completion target date of Nov. 30.

For information, contact Matt Fraulino at (860) 347-6924 or email matthew@middlesexchamber.com.


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