Max Restaurant Group currently consists of 8 successful, distinct and independent restaurants as well as a respected catering company, all based in the Greater Hartford, CT/Springfield, MA region. They include Max A Mia Ristorante in Avon, CT; Max Amore Ristorante and Max Fish, both in Glastonbury, CT; Max Downtown and Trumbull Kitchen in Hartford, CT; Max’s Oyster Bar and Max Burger in West Hartford, CT, and Max’s Tavern in Springfield, MA.
In the early 1980’s, Max Restaurant Group Founder and President Richard Rosenthal had a vision to create a new kind of dining experience in his native city of Hartford, CT. After working assorted jobs and moving up the ranks of noted restaurants in New York City and Newport, RI, he finally realized his dream in 1986, when Max on Main, an innovative bistro-style restaurant, opened its doors and immediately became the talk of the town and the most popular restaurant in the capital city. Chic and relaxed, it featured “an eclectic repertoire with flavors borrowed from around America and the world”, including the innovative “stone pies” (cooked on a stone [or brick] so it stays crisp), shellfish appetizers, “Max A Penne” (penne pasta with grilled chicken and tomato sauce), and much more “fashionable fare”.
As his success grew over the years, he wanted to expand his business and, driven by his love for Italian food, decided to open up an authentic “ristorante” in the quaint suburb of Avon, CT. Max a Mia opened its doors in 1991 and was yet another hit with the local food connoisseurs. The following year, it was named “Best New Restaurant” by Connecticut Magazine. Due to this success, Mr. Rosenthal and managing partner Brad Karsky soon doubled its size and still to this day garner many awards and accolades from both local and national publications, including the Zagat Survey, Hartford Magazine, Hartford Advocate, and Restaurant Hospitality. Today, Executive Chef Ben Slogesky continues the tradition of creating new and exciting stone pies, pastas, and seafood dishes for their many loyal guests in the Farmington Valley.
Burgeoned by the success of Max A Mia, Richard thought about his next venture and decided that he wanted to open another Italian restaurant and found the ideal location in the town of Glastonbury, CT. He and managing partner Mark Conley opened Max Amore in The Shops at Somerset Square in 1995. Featuring classic Northern Italian cuisine similar to Max a Mia, Max Amore carved out its own identity, thanks to Executive Chef Ted Burnett and his team of talented chefs. The décor by famed interior designer Peter Niemitz features a “serpentine” kitchen that allows guests to view the chefs at work and showcases a brick oven which gives food unique flavors that dazzles the senses.
In 1996, an opportunity arose in Hartford’s CityPlace building, so Mr. Rosenthal jumped at the chance to move Max on Main to a prime location in the bustling business district in the downtown area. Since the restaurant was obviously no longer located on Main Street, Max Downtown was born. Known as “the crown jewel in the Max group”, Max Downtown instantly became the showplace for fine dining in Hartford. Richard and partner Steven Abrams created an atmosphere that provides diners with outstanding service, beautiful décor, and first-class cuisine. Max Downtown has won numerous “Best Of” awards for its fantastic food and wine, including Zagat, Hartford Magazine (winning 10 awards), Wine Spectator, and others. Executive Chef Chris Sheehan brings an unparalleled passion for food to his guests with his creative take on all-natural steaks, sustainable seafood, and other trend-setting dishes.
Three years later, Richard realized a long-awaited dream of opening a restaurant in his hometown of West Hartford. Combining his love of fresh seafood and passion for excellence, Max’s Oyster Bar, located in West Hartford Center, fulfilled his and partner Bob Cooke’s vision for something new and different for the Max restaurants. Featuring modern renditions of classic American seafood, Max’s Oyster Bar menu has something for everyone. While seafood is the focal point, there are selections for even the most ardent landlubber. Executive Chef Hunter Morton fuses ethnic influences throughout “an extraordinary” menu filled with new interpretations on traditional fare. The raw bar offers an extensive variety of bi-coastal oysters and shellfish and the master mixologists are always creating new and exciting cocktails. In its freshman year, the Oyster Bar was voted “Best New Restaurant” by Connecticut Magazine and continues to win awards to this day, including “Best Seafood” (Hartford Magazine).
Contemporary, cool, and inventive, Trumbull Kitchen became the 5th restaurant in the Group. Richard and “TK” Executive Chef and partner Chris Torla created a restaurant like no other in Hartford. Chef Torla brought his vast experiences working with some of California’s best known chefs to Connecticut and the dining community has never been the same. The eclectic menu showcases progressive cross-cultural dishes and variations of familiar food from around the world, including a collection of tasters and tapas as well as larger plates and entrées. Items range from TK’s version of macaroni & cheese to sushi rolls, sliders and even a Chinese chicken salad
Looking to expand beyond the Hartford area, Mr. Rosenthal was offered an incredible opportunity in 2002 to open a restaurant in the birthplace of one of his favorite sports: basketball. Upon learning that the Basketball Hall of Fame was building a new home in Springfield, Massachusetts, Richard jumped at the chance to be a part of it. Max’s Tavern delivers the same dining experience that its Connecticut customers have known and loved for years. The innovative menu features a wide variety of dishes and “chop house classics”, such as St. Louis Ribs, filet mignon and NY Strip steaks, fresh seafood, and more. General Manager John Thomas, Executive Chef Paul Roberge and his team are proud to have quickly gained and sustained a following of local, loyal Massachusetts guests who’ve come to love the Max dining experience, just as they have in Connecticut.
A few years later, an opportunity arose to open another restaurant in Glastonbury. During that time, Mr. Rosenthal had the idea to create an environmentally-friendly fish house, so in the fall of 2007, Max Fish opened its doors, featuring the latest in “green technology”, the freshest, sustainable, and highest quality seafood. It also features a magnificent raw bar showcasing a variety of oysters from around the country, and the more up-tempo Shark Bar, with its lighter fare and casual atmosphere. Managing Partner Brian Costa and Executive Chef Bob Peterson have helped turn Max Fish into one of the best seafood restaurants in the state with a loyal following that continues to come back for its unparalleled food and drinks.
Due to the struggling economy of the past few years, savvy restaurateurs began sensing a shift in the business. For years, Richard thought about opening a more casual restaurant, and so in 2009 he decided to capitalize on the growing trend of upscale burger joints and created Max Burger, also located in the shopping district of West Hartford Center. With its “refined rustic” décor, Max Burger features American-style comfort food such as all-natural gourmet burgers and sandwiches, craft beers, and decadent desserts, as well as an array of tantalizing appetizers and entrees, all perfectly executed by Executive Chef David Sudol and his team. Richard and managing partner Doug Kelly envisioned a more laid-back restaurant compared to the other Max locations and has won many rave reviews and an extremely loyal following.
In addition to these eight very successful restaurants, Max Restaurant Group also operates Max’s Catering, which is the exclusive catering company at The Bushnell, Connecticut’s premier performing arts center in Hartford and the previously mentioned Basketball Hall of Fame. Max’s Catering also handles a wide variety of special events, most notably the widely popular Max’s Chef to Farm summer dinner series at Rosedale Farms in Simsbury, CT and the annual Induction Ceremony at the Hall of Fame, where its food has been enjoyed by many legendary ball players, coaches, and sports fans from around the world.
Max Restaurant Group is proud to be a part of the Southern New England community and enjoys giving back whenever possible. Through innovative partnerships, programs, and special events, the Max Cares Foundation embraces the opportunity to help those in need. Events like the annual Max Classic Golf Tournaments have raised millions of dollars over the years for local charities. Whether its sponsoring a fundraising event, writing a check, or donating items such as wine dinners or a Max Dining Card, The Max Cares Foundation will continue to support the community and strive to make a lasting impact on the lives of many.
The Company has developed such a rabid fan base over the years that it wanted to reward its loyal guests for showing their devotion. In 2009, the Max Vantage program debuted, offering members points for every dollar they spend at a Max restaurant. Points may be redeemed for a variety of items, such as dining cards, gift baskets, jewelry from Lux, Bond, and Green, and even a vacation in Mexico. People join the program on a daily basis and are truly enjoying the rewards of being a member of the Max family.
The Max Restaurant Group has evolved into a dynamic organization which prides itself on its customer service and innovative approach in delivering its guests the best dining experience possible. Richard Rosenthal and his partners will always put forth their uncompromising commitment to quality, service, style, and cuisine.