NEW LONDON – The city has survived the Great Depression and the worst Covid-19 outbreak since arriving in 1990.
And, despite some reservations about New London’s current direction, entrepreneurs Bladimir and Rosaura Pedroza and CJ’s Peruvian Bar and Restaurant on the corner of Broad Street and Connecticut Avenue aren’t going anywhere.
“I can’t move. I own the building,” Vladimir said in a recent interview at the restaurant as he prepared for another date.
He may consider relocating the restaurant to the downtown area of New London, where he believes businesses are becoming a problem. He is also concerned about what he believes to be rising property prices and rising violent crime.
He said things are different because of the pandemic, although he hopes they will return to the way they were.
“We’re doing OK; not great, but OK,” he said. “It was pretty good before the pandemic.”
Covid-19 restrictions imposed by the state have disrupted the restaurant business for 15 months starting in March 2020. Before that, the Pedrozas opened CJ’s at 10 p.m. every night to accommodate the bar traffic they added to the restaurant during the 2018 expansion. . Their workforce grew to more than ten employees, including bartenders.
“Now nobody comes to drink after 8 or 9 o’clock, that’s why the early hours,” said Vladimir.
CJ’s, which serves lunch and dinner, is open from 11:30 a.m. to noon Tuesday through Sunday and has six employees, none of whom are bartenders.
Born in Peru, the Pedrozas — Vladimir, 58, Rosara, 60 — met in New York City in 1986 and married the following year at Manhattan City Hall. The first time they spoke was when Vladimir picked up a phone call meant for someone else. Rosara was on the other end of the line.
“We talked for about two hours,” Vladimir recalled. I could not meet her for two or three months.
Since then, inseparable, the Pedrozas settled again in New London, where Vladimir had friends. He soon began working at the Benchmark Belt Co. plant in Madison, which is no longer there, and they both got part-time jobs at Foxwoods Resort Casino before going into real estate. In the year In 1991, they bought their first multi-family residence in the city and eventually rented 23 apartments.
Fortunately, Bledimir said, they sold all their rental properties in 2015. Just before the US economy went south in 2007. But now they only own the building that houses their restaurant and the house they bought in Waterford in 2003.
Running a restaurant was Vladimir’s dream, though little did he or Rosaura know what it would entail.
“My mother used to run a small restaurant in Peru,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to bring Peru to the area. When we came here, you had to go to Hartford for Peruvian food.
at 255 Broad St. When the building above was found, the Pedrozas bought it and began a major renovation, replacing the walls, pipes, electrical wiring. Rosaura and Vladimir’s mother, both of whom knew how to cook, were trained to cook for a restaurant at a family-owned establishment in Providence.
In the year The 2018 expansion quadrupled the size of their restaurant, which now seats 105. Before the expansion, it was called Pollos la Brasa, which is Spanish for “grilled chicken.”
For such dishes as long-cooked rotisserie chicken and chicha morada, “purple corn dish”, CJ serves 40% American and 30% Peruvian customers, the rest are “different cultures”. Vladimir
“We bring a little color to the city,” he said.
Vladimir Pedroza’s grown children, Christopher and Jessica, eventually became interested in adopting CJ, moving to Colorado and Tampa, Fla., to pursue other pursuits.
The first to arrive and the last to leave the restaurant every day, Bladimir doesn’t see any retirement in the near future, although the idea is appealing.
“I can’t stay still,” he said.