The North End’s iconic Connah Store on Hanover Street was suddenly boarded up this week after more than 30 years in business, the owner said, making room for a nearby gelato shop to expand.
A nearly $4,000 rent hike prompted the closure, although owner Mark Petrigno said he had already been contemplating closing the Hanover Street landmark as he neared retirement.
The Connah Store was paying $5,300 in rent each month, but the landlord recently asked for $8,750, Petrigno said.
The Connah Store opened in 1992. Petrigno, a North End native, and his father scoured Hanover Street for a spot before opening at 270 Hanover St.
The store’s last day was New Year’s Day. Petrigno said it was gutted the next day.
“I just took for granted the impact that it had on the neighborhood from the other side of the counter,” he said. “The word got out I was closing, sadness all over. People like, ‘I can’t believe this, where am I gonna go? Where are we gonna go?’
“Nowhere. There’s nowhere that’s still open after 11.”
Gelato shop moving in
Dolce, a gelateria next door, will be expanding from 272 Hanover into 270, according to permits for the construction. The alteration permit says the property plans will “extend existing coffee shop into same address and same property, removing grocery store.”
Dolce is owned by Frank DePasquale’s company Depasquale Ventures, which owns multiple North End restaurants like Bricco, Il Panino Trattoria, Mare Oyster Bar, and Quattro.
Fond memories of ‘mayhem’
Petrigno said he’ll miss the “mayhem” of the store on Hanover and Parmenter. He spent 31 years not just selling cigarettes, lottery tickets, and snacks but creating a safe space and late night community in one of Boston’s iconic neighborhoods.
“Just to conserve the neighborhood. Not so much for me to make a profit, to make a living but to serve the neighborhood that I grew up in,” Petrigno said about opening the Connah Store. “It needed it. It needed the store.”
He remembers chatting with locals, especially to encourage sobriety. His fondest memory was supporting a young neighbor to stay sober for a year.
“We had people hanging out and we talked for hours. I always went in at midnight till two or three in the morning,” Petrigno said, “talking music, talking sobriety, talking everything. Just the great conversations I’ve had with people from all over the world… it was a very interesting store without a doubt.”
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