These days it’s hard to find a complimentary story line about a businessperson. If they’re in a big company they’re greedy and heartless, always looking for new ways to cheat or steal. If they’re in a small business they’re forever battling or being abused by someone.
Our vantage point is a little different. But the rule rather than the exception in this region’s small-business community are folks like Joseph (Chick) Celantano, owner of Chick’s Drive In of West Haven, and the recently deceased Louis Stone of New Haven’s Chapel Construction.
Celentano’s father opened a small drive-in on Beach Street in West Haven in 1950, and the family has been serving hot dogs and seafood now for more than six decades. Chick’s Drive In and its owner have become a fixture and part of the fabric of West Haven. On May 5, the University of New Haven officially dedicated its $40 million, 402-room dormitory, renaming the five-year-old Soundview dorm Joseph E. Celantano Hall.
According to UNH President Steven Kaplan, Celantano donated land adjacent to the existing campus valued at some $2 million to the school.
Thanks, Chick — and can we get a foot-long dog with mustard and kraut?
We first recognized Louis Stone of Chapel Construction in 2007 as BNH’s Corporate Citizen of the Year for his then more than 30 years of generosity to an array of non-profit organizations. Stone put his shoulder to the wheel for organizations such as New Haven Probus, which helps disabled and special-needs clients, the Connecticut Food Bank and most recently as board president of the Clifford Beers Clinic.
Stone died in an accident on December 2, 2013 while on vacation. His legacy will be commemorated with a June 30 dinner and the Louis Stone Memorial Golf Tournament at the New Haven Country Club, proceeds from which will benefit Clifford Beers Clinic.
From the modest perch of a 20-employee construction company, Stone made a big impact on New Haven by his work and his passion for helping. Here’s your chance to keep Louis swinging for New Haven: register at cliffordbeersclinic.wix.com/loustonememorial.
The state of Connecticut and the federal government are paying big bucks to bring back New Haven-to-Springfield, Mass. commuter rail service. Amtrak does provide limited service now with about 1,000 passengers daily for the 100-minute trip and will be a bidder to operate the commuter line.
Officials hope that the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield (NHHS) transit corridor may reduce highway traffic and boost economic activity in Connecticut.
One likely outcome, however, is likely to be an exodus of Connecticut gamblers from Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun.
MGM Grand is expected to win approval from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to build a nearly billion-dollar casino destination in downtown Springfield at the terminus of the NHHS line. The casino developer has already offered to pour millions into Springfield’s Union Station, which has been mostly dormant for more than 50 years.
MGM had a branding partnership at Foxwoods in a $700 million hotel and casino opened in 2008 — just as the economy and gambling revenues began to crater.
Today, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun revenues have been on a steady decline — and with it Connecticut’s share of slot revenues (25 percent of the take).
As the trains roll, making it very easy for Connecticut gamblers to get to the new Bay State casino, we should expect that revenue decline to accelerate.