Tragedy couldn’t stop a Hamden business owner from opening a bar

HAMDEN — Inside, the floors and countertops shine.

Tavern by the Hall, a new pub in the center of Hamden, has a bar so bright it reflects the TV above.

It’s a different world than six months ago, when the bar floor was covered in sawdust and ladders were perched against the wall.

At the time, Steven Boddie was unsure how he would ever open the doors to his new business after tragedy upended his plans.

Three men had been assigned to help him renovate the building, which once housed Dunn’s Pub. Of the three, one died suddenly, another had a motorcycle accident and a third fell ill.

The men, who knew Boddie from previous jobs, had agreed to renovate the bar at a fixed cost, according to Boddie, who said he had not budgeted for a new contractor.

Lost, he was ready to leave in early January and shared the news on social networks.

That’s when her story took another turn, with Scott Manville of Manville Construction reaching out to offer free labor to help renovate Tavern by the Hall.

Boddie then launched a crowdfunding campaign through the Kickstarter platform, which he hoped would raise enough money to buy the rest of the gear he needed and bring it to a grand opening.

Although the campaign was unsuccessful — it raised about $4,440 of the $23,487 goal and all donations were returned to donors — Boddie still received more help from the community.

Since the New Haven Register published an article about his trip, Boddie said, two other people have offered to help.

One was Jay Kaye of Jay Kaye Painting, who painted the pub for free.

Kaye saw a Facebook post about Boddie’s plight and reached out to offer help, Kaye said.

After starting his own painting business, he befriends Boddie.

“I was in the same boat as him” with a new venture, Kaye said. ” You’re nervous. You need support. You need help.”

Kaye thought it was a win-win – he could help a fellow entrepreneur get started while raising awareness of his own business.

Further help came from Michael Angus of Handover Electric, a company based in Meriden, who learned that Boddie was having trouble opening the tavern. Wanting to help, Angus provided free electrical work, he said.

Meanwhile, Boddie and his girlfriend managed to scrape together enough money from their paychecks to do the rest of the work, Boddie said.

On June 17, the doors of Tavern by the Hall opened to the public.

For Boddie, who thought that day might never come, seeing the positive feedback from customers proved it was worth it.

“I’m so thankful and thankful to everyone who has reached out,” Boddie said. “It meant the world to me, and it’s just proof that there are such good people in the world.”

By Tuesday, three bands had already performed at Tavern near the Hall’s ground floor stage, according to Boddie. The space offers karaoke nights and a DJ at weekends when the pub doesn’t have live music, he said.

In addition to a variety of drinks and draft beers, the menu includes empanadas, personal pizzas, salads, and loaded nachos. Thanks to a grill on the patio, the tavern has started serving burgers, Boddie said.

A pork roast is scheduled for July 30 and bar trivia may be in the works for the new hangout.

“I’m so happy to be the person that’s fostering this experience,” Boddie said.

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