In the heart of Torrington lies a secret hiding in plain sight. Those who are acquainted with it have been enjoying its bounty for years. Those who walk on by have no idea the gem they’ve overlooked. Today, I hope to illuminate you all, because sometimes secrets just aren’t meant to be kept.
Remember When is no longer solely an antique store.
Shocking, I know. Especially since they try so hard to get you to notice that there’s more than the shop I grew up with behind those double doors. (How did I not see all the signs pointing to what’s been missing in my life?)
In fact, it was six years ago that the speakeasy portion of Remember When–the Ritz Crystal Room–first welcomed guests in its intimate, 24-seat dining room.
You’ll find no television sets here–just the beauty of days past, and the perfect setting for getting to know each other better. Diners can enjoy this space by reservation only on Saturday nights, or by attending an event hosted there. For instance, coming up on Friday is The Desultory Theatre Club‘s Taste of Burlesque–a SOLD OUT event!!–and on Saturday, June 18th, there will be a tribute to Sinatra, with a 3-course dinner and dancing. The Ritz Crystal Room is also available for private parties! What a lovely location for an engagement party, rehearsal dinner, or a fun Gatsby-themed shindig!
What will you find on your plate? A menu made up of the best ingredients sourced, including organic, when possible, and seasonal selections. Karen O’Donnell–co-owner and chef–says she doesn’t even print the menu until she’s shopped. She just never knows what she’ll find to inspire her. Entrées average $16-$29 for these delightful dishes.
The Ritz Café joined in on the fun just three years ago. The Café, which is located on the ground floor of Remember When, offers a more casual experience–if you can call being seated beneath a sparkling sky of chandeliers, among case after case after case of heirlooms, casual. Here, Thursday-Saturday, noon-8PM, and Sunday, noon-6PM, you can grab a sandwich or salad and elevate your afternoon. Personally? I love their ice cream shoppe menu, which includes adult sundaes and fountain treats. How can you say no to a chocolate milkshake that is dosed with a shot of Godiva liqueur?
And guess what? All those antiquities surrounding you, capturing the eye and heart alike, are for sale, as Remember When still operates as a consignment store and antique shop. Grab a cocktail, gab with your friends, browse the cases…this is about the best way to window shop that I can think of!
I admire Rit and Karen O’Donnell’s tenacity. They opened Remember When 27 years ago in downtown Torrington as an antique shop. I remember browsing their store as a teenager, enchanted by their wares, searching for escape in decades long gone. One could easily fall into that trap. Luckily, the O’Donnells knew that, in order to survive changing interests and shopping habits, they would have to move with the times. With Karen’s background as a personal chef, it was only natural that the Ritz Crystal Room and Ritz Café develop. What a perfect way to take what they already had–a beautiful location with great visibility–and transform it into something new. “This ship ain’t going down,” Karen promised me during a recent chat over Hemingways in the Café. She may have to don a dozen hats to make it all happen, but she’s not giving up without a fight. We need more people like her in downtown Torrington. It’s going to take that to make it flourish, once more.