OLD SAYBROOK – Alforno Trattoria owner Ben Zemmel learned that his restaurant will likely share a plaza with Whole Foods on Monday by reading a story in CT Examiner. Zemmel said he is hopeful, but unsure of where his business will end up.
The popular local restaurant opened in 1992 with the goal of bringing New Haven-style pizza to the eastern shoreline. Founders Bob and Linda Zemmel remained at the 1654 Boston Post Road location for 30 years before handing over business operations to their son in April.
“We’re very excited,” Zemmel said. “It’s great to have a place like that as part of your shopping center.”
He said that his family has been waiting for news of redevelopment plans since Carpionato Group purchased the property in 2018. They had heard talks of other businesses moving next door, but no plans were finalized until now.
During initial conversations with the Rhode Island-based company, Alforno Trattoria owners questioned whether or not they would be able to stay at their original location. Zemmel said their future is uncertain, but they plan to stay put.
He explained that his parents renovated the space a few years back to give it a contemporary feel. Since then, Carpionato Group has suggested the possibility of rebuilding the restaurant entirely.
“If it ever came to that, it kind of is what it is,” Zemmel said. “I mean, we renovated and if we stay that renovation will carry us through.”
Zemmel said he believes that Whole Foods will serve as another great option for Alforno Trattoria’s customers and expects the chain to bring welcomed traffic to the plaza.