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Colt Goes Culinary

Colt’s Manufacturing Company left Hartford in 1994 and its sprawling factory lay empty for decades, but now the distinctive blue onion dome that tops the building—inspired by Samuel Colt’s 1854 visit to the Russian court of Czar Nicolas I—has become a beacon for new development.

Named a National Historic Landmark in 2008, the Coltsville mixed-use complex includes apartments and businesses, and now a full-on culinary component. Folding-trigger revolvers have given way to orange-ginger scones and freshly-ground hazelnut cocoa coffee at Café Colt, part of the Colt Culinary Project.

“To be part of the rebirth of Coltsville is incredible, it’s an opportunity we wouldn’t pass up,” says Laurie Schwartz, wife of noted guest TV chef and cookbook author Harry Schwartz.

The Schwartzes, who owned the now-closed Heritage Trail Vineyards in Lisbon, have now set their sights on the capital city, adding a flavorful dimension to the 17-acre Coltsville site. Their Colt Culinary Project includes two new endeavors in the south armory—Café Colt, the first restaurant to open in the building, and Loft 628, a 1,200-square-foot catering and party area on the building’s top floor, featuring unobstructed views of the dome and panoramas of the Connecticut River.

“This was an opportunity where you are surrounded by schools, by art, by history and you’ve got a raw slate for development,” Chef Harry says, “there was just so much that was appealing about this.”

“The Coltsville area has come full circle after 150 years,” says David Jorgensen, the vice chair of the Hartford Redevelopment Agency. “There are 1,500 people who live and work and go to school there every day and there’s a need for a local restaurant and a need for an educational component as well. It’s a big step in the right direction.” —Jim Altman

Café Colt, 140 Huyshope Ave., Hartford, 860-222-4299,