by Terry Rogers
After many delays related to legal issues regarding the company, Bob Ciprietti says that Touch of Italy has applied for their interior remodeling permits with the City of Milford. A plumbing permit has already been issued and he expects the additional permits to be issued within 7 to 10 days. Once the permits are issued, remodeling will begin inside the former M&T Bank building on the corner of Northwest Front and Walnut Streets.
“As soon as they give me the permits, construction will begin,” Ciprietti said. “After all the noise that went on, everything was halted. Last week, I bought back Touch of Italy during the bidding process. It is a new company and we are moving forward.”
Touch of Italy purchased the former M&T Bank Building in 2016 with plans to create a restaurant inside the historic building. The Milford location will be Touch of Italy’s fifth site and would include the company’s trademark bakery and commissary areas. In January 2017, Touch of Italy was awarded a $50,000 State grant to offset the cost of the renovation as part of the Downtown Development District grant program . This was one of three projects awarded in Milford in 2017. Under the rules of the Downtown Development District grant program, no grant funds are awarded until the projects are completed, so Ciprietti has not received funding as part of the DDD program for those projects.
From the beginning, Ciprietti has said that the company plans to keep as much of the character of the original bank building as possible. The plan is to put the bar in the vault which led to a few challenges, and the deli and bakery will be located where the teller windows stood. The goal is to retain the art-deco feel of the bank while turning it into an attractive restaurant and retail location.
In February, court documents filed regarding Touch of Italy indicated a dispute over a proposed merger which two of the company shareholders opposed. Since the company’s operating agreements required unanimous consent of the shareholders to move forward, the merger could not go through. This led the two shareholders, Michael Berardinelli and Delmarva Tennis Packages LLC, to file a petition to appoint a receiver. The receiver would have been permitted to liquidate all Touch of Italy assets and divide the proceeds. This petition was denied, requiring the restaurants to go out for bid. According to Ciprietti, although there were multiple bidders as the bid process was open to anyone, he was the successful bidder and is now the owner of Touch of Italy.
“I had to protect everybody, my employees, my customers,” Ciprietti said. “It was a long process but now we can move forward. I can’t wait to get this location open. We are excited to be part of the Milford community.”
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