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Milford Commuters Upset Over GotChef Ousting [UPDATED]

Community & Economic Development Director Bob Gregory clarifies some points about GotChef and the Milford Fine Arts Council and the Milford Chamber of Commerce weighs in.

Update at 11:54 a.m. on June 27th:

Speaking about GotChef's departure, President Kathy Alagno had this to say:

"We're very sorry to see GotChef leaving. However, that is a legal leasing situation they have there. Therefore, we have no control over it. I can understand why commuters are upset, I'm upset. The food was great there. GotChef did not come to us and ask us for any help. Nobody's approached us."

Update at 11:34 a.m. on June 27th:

In an email, Milford Development Director Bob Gregory noted:

The city does not control the rr station or the land around it.  It is owned by DOT and leased to the Milford Transit District.  The MFAC had an arrangement with GotChef to use utilities in return for a monthly fee. 

Additional attempts have been made to gain a response from the Milford Fine Arts Council. They've been unsuccessful thus far. Updates will follow accordingly.

Original Story:

It began with one email from a Milford commuter:

The will no longer be at the Milford Train Station. Not sure why. Can you find out for us? Super bummed at this news.

On GotChef's Facebook page, they confirmed: 

Very sad that tomorrow is our last day at the Milford Train Station :( We will miss our awesome customers and enjoyed putting a smile on your faces - even at 8pm after a long commute.....

After two hours, GotChef's post had 17 comments, all of them mentioning that GotChef will be missed, and many wondering why this was happening.

In an email from the co-owner of GotChef, Joe Rubin, he remarked: 

Unfortunately the powers that be aren't allowing us to remain there anymore for their own internal reasons. We are grateful for all of the love and support we have gotten from our amazing customers and friends in Milford. Our phone number will remain the same, 203-490-2433 and we will be delivering out of the restaurant.

On Twitter and in emails, GotChef has remained cagey as to whom the "powers that be" represent, whether Metro-North or the City of Milford have asked them to leave.

Attempts to reach Metro-North and Milford officials were unsuccessful, but updates to this story will be made as that information comes to light.

As of Tuesday night at 7:00 p.m., GotChef's Twitter page still encourages people to "See us at the Milford Train Station." After today, that will no longer be a possibility. 

Pam Landry June 27, 2012 at 10:12 AM
Will the truck be somewhere else?
wendy fletcher June 27, 2012 at 10:52 AM
politics at large
Deb Ray June 27, 2012 at 12:14 PM
It was the Fine Arts Council.
Jim H June 27, 2012 at 12:21 PM
Don't let this die, at least find out who made the decision. My bet is on the City and I bet some of the downtown restaurants killed it.
Deb Ray June 27, 2012 at 12:25 PM
The Fine Arts Council killed it- new regime.
RONALD M GOLDWYN June 27, 2012 at 12:32 PM
Ms Ray, While your posting makes sense, I ask if this is just a guess or are you in possession of certain facts? In most government buildings where there are newspaper stand concessions that sell cigarettes, candy and magazines, there are laws that limit the concession being owned by handicapped veterans. In this partictlar case, the landlord is MTA who owns the land and controls its use.
Alice June 27, 2012 at 12:33 PM
Why would they do this? It seems almost counter productive.
Deb Ray June 27, 2012 at 12:35 PM
Go Chef was using their electric, water and waste, I think we should all call MFAC and complain.
Deb Ray June 27, 2012 at 12:35 PM
MFAC- a fact
JP June 27, 2012 at 12:45 PM
I agree with Jim H -- I bet that some of the restaurants on the Green were complaining to the "Powers That Be" about letting a Stratford restaurant run a franchise there. Which, of course, makes no sense -- unless one of those complaining restaurants are going to open a similar service for commuters right at the train platform. People used GotChef because it was convenient. Now that it's gone doesn't mean those people getting off the train are going to get takeout from one of the restaurants on the Green, they'll probably get pizza or go to Whole Foods rather than go wait in a restaurant for takeout.
arkay June 27, 2012 at 12:47 PM
I also heard it was the MFAC. Super lame. But maybe them parking in the Milford Green would be a better option anyway. There seems to be enough parking spaces to make it happen. Email the mayor and let him know we have to find them a new home!
Angus June 27, 2012 at 02:04 PM
Better yet, time to contact the "new regime" at MFAC and let them know how you feel. They have quite a way of making an entrance.
Ryan Sartor (Editor) June 27, 2012 at 02:10 PM
I spoke with Mayor Blake and he confirmed that his office had nothing to do with GotChef's removal from the train station. I also received an email from Metro North in which Manager Ted Bowen wrote: "vendor leases at rail stations in Connecticut fall under the jurisdiction of either the Connecticut Department of Transportation or the local municipality, and not Metro-North." Attempts have made to reach Milford Fine Arts Council Board of Directors President Dolores Hannon, but they've been unsuccessful thus far.
John June 27, 2012 at 02:18 PM
As a downtown restaurant owner, I would find it highly unlikely it was a restaurant owner who complained. This truck was targeting take out commuters and is little competition to sit down restaurants. Unless you have specific information you should keep your speculating to a minimum. It is tough enough to run a business in this town, the last thing you need is someone messing with your livelihood.
RONALD M GOLDWYN June 27, 2012 at 02:19 PM
Mr Sartor, Thank you for your attempts to learn the true facts. Keep up your good work.
RONALD M GOLDWYN June 27, 2012 at 02:32 PM
John, I agree with your posting. ALL the patrons of the coffee van were commutters using the train. None could drive up and get coffee as their is no standing areas for cars except for taxi's I for one do try to patronize our local establishments, because it is better for our community than an empty "Harrison's ."
JT June 27, 2012 at 02:40 PM
So much for supporting small business and the creation of jobs! It's really threat to the community when young entrepreneurs try to create a jobs and provide a well-received and needed service. We need to put a stop to this. Why isn’t the Chamber of Commerce rallying support?
Deb Ray June 27, 2012 at 02:41 PM
The fact is the MFAC is making them leave, told them they were going to do "facade improvements"... check it out- had NOTHING to do with city or other restaurants...
Ryan Sartor (Editor) June 27, 2012 at 03:58 PM
I've updated the story above with information from Bob Gregory about the relationship between the Milford Fine Arts Council Board of Directors and GotChef and Milford Chamber of Commerce President Kathy Alagno's feelings on the issue. Calls to the MFAC confirmed that the Council itself cannot comment on this issue, and that the Board of Directors' co-presidents, Dolores Hannon and Sandy Morgan, were the best people to contact. An unsuccessful attempt was made to reach Hannon and Morgan is on vacation this week.
Chef Biagio GotChef June 27, 2012 at 04:51 PM
Hi All - I would like to clarify some of the speculation. We didn't say much initially as we didn't think so many people would be making phone calls to the various organizations (thanks for caring!) The local restaurants had nothing to do with our leaving that spot. There are plenty of great places to eat in Milford that we eat at often. Many of the local owners have become our friends (and many stopped by occasionally for a bite :) The Transit Authority, Town, and MTA have always been a pleasure to work with as well. Though we enjoyed being at the MFAC, their new board decided on a new direction to go with the facility, and unfortunately this business decision did not include us. It's business. Businesses make decisions every day. I hold no grudge. They need to do what is best for them, and we wish them the best of luck - Fortunately our business is on Wheels! I'm sure we'll figure something out :). Angry calls and emails to political figures and organizations are not necessary. In the mean time, gift certificates Previously purchased from us or restaurant.com will be redeemable at Biagios Osteria. We love you guys - This is a great town. We loved cooking for you and look forward to doing it again soon! Thank you so much, GotChef
Concerned Parent June 27, 2012 at 05:49 PM
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and from the pic of the trailer parked next to the Milford Fine Arts Center, it paints a picture of GotChef being perceived as aesthetically-challenged in the eyes of those decision makers.
JT June 27, 2012 at 07:10 PM
It's all in the eye of the beholder, looks like a very nice truck to me and I am sure some of their art isn't universally regarded as pleasing. Then again a position as powerful Board of Directors of the Fine Arts Council probably lends itself to plenty of time for micro-managing. If we could only get those trains to stop running next! After that, Poland and Austria then the world is ours!
arkay June 27, 2012 at 08:03 PM
GotChef became a part of my "downtown eating consideration". Meaning even if I didn't go there, I'd go to downtown and make a decision to eat somewhere. The less options I like, the less likely I am to decide to eat somewhere downtown and will just go to New Haven or something. That's why it's silly as a restaurant to complain about competition. We want more people considering downtown and more purchasing, no matter what particular business.
KT June 27, 2012 at 09:52 PM
This is a travesty. That truck was delish and it was perfect for train people/commuters. It was also characteristic - things like that make downtown cool. BRING IT BACK.
arkay June 28, 2012 at 01:52 AM
IMO it's up to the town now to allow it to be parked on/near the green. Seems like a no brainer.
Alice June 28, 2012 at 01:56 AM
As a long standing member of the Milford Fine Arts Council, I feel very torn about these postings. I am sure there is plausible and reasonable justification for the Council's action, but I am disappointed that this information has not appeared here so that the public is informed. The Milford Fine Arts Council is an integral part of our community, and its non-profit purpose is to promote interest and participation in the visual, dramatic, musical, and literary arts of our citizens. I have long hoped that a plurality of city residents would become members of the Arts Council, thus providing a firm financial foundation as well as popular community support for the goals of the Council. The obvious displeasure with the Board's decision to terminate the contract with GotChef hasn't been offset by a reasonable explanation from the Council. I hope to see something tomorrow to restore the trust of the community in an organization many of us have worked long and hard to support.
arkay June 28, 2012 at 03:25 AM
I just wish the Council would have worked with the city to find them a spot to move to, instead of just leaving them with no options. That would've been in the best interests of the city and its people.
Alice June 28, 2012 at 03:30 AM
I know, arkay., I feel the same. That is why I'm disappointed, not so much in the decision, about which I know absolutely nothing and so am in no position to comment, but in the way it was handled.
JE June 28, 2012 at 11:56 AM
Sorry. The explanation I am seeing in a companion article on the topic doesn't sound too reasonable to me, but I do understand a business decision is a business decision. To those suggesting a spot on the green - the need for running water, electric and waste facilities would pose a big stumbling block.
Michael Brown June 29, 2012 at 12:22 PM
Man. Talk about over reacting.

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