Sonja Morgan has entertained Bravo viewers as a fun-loving party girl on the "Real Housewives of New York City" reality show for several seasons now, and next, she'll be behind a new restaurant and nightlife venture in Hartford.
Morgan and business partner Peter Guimaraes, who have teamed up to launch a "Tipsy Girl" brand of restaurants and Italian prosecco, plan to open a Tipsy Girl restaurant and lounge at 2074 Park Street. The space most recently housed Majorca, and before that, O'Porto.
Guimaraes, a New York-area restaurateur and Hartford native, described Tipsy Girl's concept as a "lounge atmosphere," with shareable plates like wings, tacos, scallops and sliders to pair with wines and cocktails. Tipsy Girl will offer a robust weekday happy hour with food and drink specials, and DJ entertainment on weekends.
"I want to have a comfortable New York City vibe with a lounge, nice music…people to watch, sparklers with champagne, where people go in there for their birthday parties, bachelorette parties, to celebrate their promotions at work," he said.
The restaurant's planned opening date is contingent on approval of its liquor-permit application, Guimaraes said, but renovations to the space are on schedule and he's hoping for a debut around late January. He hopes to capture Hartford-area partygoers looking for elevated nightlife, particularly those who may travel regularly to New York for the city club experience.
Guimaraes says he is also planning other Tipsy Girls in Miami, Chicago and Las Vegas. A Tipsy Girl restaurant was planned for New York City, but the liquor license was denied due to "some legalities on the books" in New York State and he said they would reapply for the license at a future date.
He denied reports that the license was rejected due to an an ongoing battle between Morgan and fellow "Real Housewives" star Bethenny Frankel, involving trademark disputes over the Tipsy Girl brand and Frankel's Skinnygirl line of calorie-conscious beverages and food products. (Tipsy Girl Prosecco's label is not yet approved for Connecticut, Guimaraes said, but he hopes to serve it in Hartford once it is.)
In recent years, Guimaraes was involved with the former Cuvee restaurant and lounge in West Hartford's Blue Back Square, and intended to open the Tipsy Girl concept there, but later refocused his plans to the Park Street location.
"I love the space, it's huge, over 5,000 square feet," he said, and cited its proximity to the West Hartford line and several local colleges, as well as its large parking lot. "It just seems like it was a good fit for me."
The new Hartford restaurant may appear on an upcoming season of "Real Housewives." Guimaraes said Morgan would be present at Tipsy Girl's grand opening in Hartford, and he expects Bravo cameras will be rolling.
"The show films around the housewives' lives and businesses," he said. "This is a part of Sonja."