As a longtime community partner of Forge City Works (formerly Billings Forge Community Works), Trinity College recently joined in celebrating FCW’s progress toward opening a new restaurant on Broad Street—tentatively named Fire by Forge—that will be part of the social enterprise organization’s culinary and customer service job training program.

Forge City WorksOn Wednesday, August 3, significant progress toward FCW’s planned new restaurant was announced at a “Finish the Lift” barbecue event attended by FCW supporters. Forge City Works has surpassed its initial fundraising goal of $75,000, the amount needed to qualify for the Hart Lift match program through the Hartford Chamber of Commerce. The gathering was held at 539 Broad Street, the future home of the new restaurant and former site of the Firebox restaurant, which closed in 2020 due to the pandemic. Attendees enjoyed a tailgate-inspired menu created by Executive Chef Andy Perri and prepared by culinary program trainees, toured the space, and learned about the life-changing experiences trainees acquire through the program.

Located less than a mile from Trinity’s campus, FCW’s mission is “Making lives better through the power of food.” One of its programs, The Kitchen café and catering business at 559 Broad Street, is a favorite among Trinity College students, employees, alumni, and visitors. But not all who stop by for a meal or the famous chocolate chip cookies are familiar with FCW’s on-the-job training for adults with barriers to employment such as poverty, a criminal record, or homelessness.

Forge City Works
Jason Rojas and Ben Dubow, Forge City Works executive director. Photo by Molly Shanahan, Watermark Inc.

“We continue to be overwhelmed by the level of positive community support for this project, from partners like Trinity College and other major stakeholders in the community, to individuals who love our mission and have a history of supporting our work. Fire by Forge will not just be another excellent restaurant in Hartford, but represents a major step forward in our commitment to our core mission of providing life-changing job training and support for people facing serious barriers to employment,” said Ben Dubow, executive director of Forge City Works.

In addition to culinary and customer service job training, and running successful and sustainable social enterprises such as its cafes and catering businesses, FCW increases access to healthy, locally grown food through its farmers market.

Farm to Forge
Forge City Works board member Carlos Espinosa, Trinity’s director of community relations and director of Trinfo.Cafe, with fellow board member Whitney Bundy of Hartford HealthCare at the annual ‘Farm to Forge’ event.

Over the years, several Trinity students and alumni have worked with FCW as interns, volunteers, or staff. Trinity’s Center for Hartford Engagement and Research (CHER) counts FCW among the local community partners with whom it has collaborated on Community Learning Program projects and courses, including an American Studies Department class in “Food and American Culture.”

Carlos Espinosa ’96, M’98, Trinity’s director of community relations and Trinfo.Café, is a current member of the FCW board and Jason Rojas M’12, Trinity chief of staff and associate vice president for external relations, is a past board member.

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