Business was slow on Monday at many of the 14 SoNo eating establishments marking “SoNo Restaurant Week”—which celebrates the onset of the summer season with prix fixe menus—because of a freak snowstorm on Washington Street.
"The Big C," a Showtime Channel television program, on Washington Street and snow-making machines chewed up ice to create some cinema verite. Snow piled up on the sidewalks and the street was closed to motorists. Police cars with flashing lights and crime-scene tape blocked vehicular entry.
One restaurateur was irate that a loud snow-making machine was spewing snow with near-cannon force at his restaurant.
“When are you leaving?” he demanded of a film crew member he had summoned.
“In 10 minutes,” was the apologetic response.
“That’s not soon enough!” snapped the restaurateur, who did not want his name used for this article.
“You gotta get it out of here! I don’t want any of my customers pelted with snow!”
But restaurant proprietors up and down the block generally assumed a c’est la vie attitude, grateful that the shooting was taking place on a Monday, a slow day.
It probably didn't hurt that television and film production companies generally pay a pretty penny to retail establishments whose business they disrupt during filming, according to one City Hall official. Past film shoots have earned disrupted businesses thousands of dollars each, the official said.
Although many had had difficulty finding a spot to park and they assumed they were losing customers because of the street closure, they took the inconvenience in stride and waxed philosophical.
“Snow is kind of cool,” remarked Chris Raucci, a manager of . “If anything, I think it drew people down to see what was going on.”
“It’s fun to see snow in June,” echoed Marcos Silva, general manager of . “And the publicity is probably good for the town.”
“Half the businesses are closed on Monday anyway,” noted Baird Van Beever, general manager of rakish Red Lulu, referring to , and others.
“Everyone would be annoyed if it were Thursday or Friday,” he added.
Although the film crew took all the available parking, said Adnan Khan, assistant manager of , the Indian bistro, he, too, recognized that business is usually slow on Mondays.
He might have been displeased if the film crew had settled in on a Friday, when Coromandel features a belly dancer dressed in classic Indian attire as evening entertainment.
“We’re fully booked for the night,” said Susan McConnell, a manager at trendy . “The shooting won’t affect anyone here too much.”
Viinikka Henna (originally from Finland) and Juan Vivo (a native of Spain), an East Norwalk couple, occupied a front table at Bacchus, enjoying a midday repast as dozens of crew members lined both sides of Washington Street and actors dressed for harsh weather conditions wandered in and out of doorways.
“It’s really entertaining!” Henna said.
“This neighborhood always has something going on,” said Ellen Peck, a consultant to non-profits, as she lunched at Strada 18. “We’re sort of not fazed by it.”
Jamar Alcena, 6, took it all in stride as well.
He was clutching a handmade snowball while his mother and two sisters accompanied him down Washington Street. As he posed to have his picture taken for Patch, it was rapidly melting.
“Restaurant Week,” which continues through June 17, is chance to sample the varied fare in Norwalk’s lively SoNo district at a discount. Lunches and dinners include choice of appetizer, entrée and dessert.
At Coromandel, a dinner of Tawa Ruyyali (curried fresh crabmeat and shrimp), followed by Ghustaba (New Zealand lamb chops) and Garam Thanda (Indian carrot pudding) would usually run $42. This week the prix fixe is $29.99.
Dinners at participating restaurants are either $29.99 or $19.99. Lunches are $9.99 and $14.99.
Participating restaurants are , Match, , , The Ginger Man, , Red Lulu, Bacchus, Coromandel, Chocopologie, , , and . Call for reservations.
Editor's note: David Gurliacci contributed to this story.