HARTFORD — Theater and indoor restaurant dining have, for many, been casualties of the pandemic. With a long winter ahead, Chef Tyler Anderson of Hartford’s historic Goodwin Hotel is hoping to provide a respite.
“We have a hotel that’s slow because of COVID and a restaurant that’s slow for the same reason,” Anderson said. “I’ve seen other hotel restaurants turn guest rooms into private dining rooms as a way for people to have a COVID-safe meal indoors. We just wanted to take it to the next level.”
Starting on January 8, guests can visit the Goodwin for an immersive mystery dining experience, eating a three-course meal while solving a mystery related to J.P. Morgan — the Gilded Age banker and Hartford native who lived at the hotel when he was staying in town.
An “escape room meets dinner theater,” the experience will take place in private hotel rooms turned into dining rooms with beds removed. Drinks and meals will be left outside the hotel room on carts, and there will be only one seating per room per night, with reservations staggered throughout the evening to minimize interactions between guests entering and leaving the hotel.
There is one masked actor involved in the production, but guests can request a completely contactless experience and Anderson said the story has been constructed so guests will not miss out if they choose not to have the actor enter their room.
Clues will be dropped at the door, and the menu will tie into the mystery, too. Anderson said he researched old menus from the hotel restaurant, looking in particular into J.P. Morgan’s favorites.
“It’s classic food from the 1800s, like a take on a wedge salad and a beef wellington,” Anderson said.
Anderson and the Goodwin Hotel partnered with Lumi Hospitality/WeHartford and TheatreWorks to create the production.
Dinner is $124 per person, including service and tax, with additional drink packages available for purchase. The hotel will also be offering overnight stays with the meal at a $120 discounted room rate. A portion of the proceeds will go to Hands On Hartford, a nonprofit providing basic services to those in need in the Hartford area.