New businesses at former Tower Ridge Country Club offer experiences for the Whole Family
By Ted Glanzer
In a word, the entertainment portion of the new development at the former Tower Ridge Country Club on Nod Road is about the experience.
Thirty acres of the shuttered golf course now plays host an 18-hole disc golf course, an entertainment venue with food, beer, music and games; and a nonprofit.
Tyler Ronald, an investor in the entertainment venue the Talcott Mountain Collective, said he and his fellow investors were looking for several years for something unique to bring to people.
Talcott Mountain Collective
There are plenty of good restaurants and breweries in Connecticut, Ronald said.
“We didn’t just want to build a bar,” he said in a telephone interview. “We didn’t want it where the event was drinking. We wanted to genuinely open the doors and the world to experiences that are augmented and enhanced by great food and by great beverage, alcoholic and nonalcoholic. A place where families can come. Plenty of people have money but plenty of people don’t. Not everyone has the option to go to a private club and have their kids run around there.”
After surveying the bucolic property, the investors formed the Talcott Mountain Collective, which which is targeted to open in mid-November, will feature craft beer from multiple local producers, food prepared on site, a rotating lineup of food trucks, live bands and games.
We wanted to borrow the best of what’s out there in the local community,” Ronald said. “
“This COVID area reinforced the need and desires to have four-season outlets where they can go have fun experiences, engaging in nature, being active, playing games matched with food and fare and fire pits and having unique local experiences,” he said. “We saw the puzzle pieces come together how this property with its expansive grounds could lend itself.”
The collective has about 6 acres of land and 4,500 square feet of interior space. The plan is to have food trucks on most nights of the week, with the space will accommodate “one to a few” trucks, Ronald said.
“The number will be reflected on what’s going on at the venue,” Ronald said. “We don’t want to dilute the pie for any truck, either. Part of the interest is we’re an outlet for them and we want them to sell out of their food.”
Ronald drew a loose comparison to Gastropark in West Hartford, which posts its weekly schedule. He said it could be a situation where one food truck is there Saturday afternoon, with a different one Saturday evening.
The collective will have its own menu of “simple fare,” Ronald said, including large German pretzels, brats and sausage and grilled pizzas.
The bar will have 28 draft offerings from all over “Hartford County, Connecticut, the country and the globe,” Ronald said. “It won’t be just beer. We’ll have ciders, we’ll have seltzers, wine and spirited drinks. But we’re not going to have a huge wine list or 60 different bottles of spirits. It’s going to be simplified to ease timely service.”
Tower Ridge Disc Golf
The collective dovetails with Tower Ridge Disc Golf, an 18-hole, par 62 course that is owned by David Tolk, Ozzy Nunez, Brett Hollander and the collective also maintaining an interest.
First things first with disc golf: players refer to disc golf as “golf,” and what’s commonly known as golf as “ball golf.”
No matter what you call disc golf, it’s popularity is exploding throughout the country.
“Huge popularity - they call it the COVID boom,” Nunez, a former ball golfer who tried disc golf a about 14 years ago and got hooked, said. “It’s one of those outdoor sports that you can distance yourself. It’s hiking with a purpose.”
The course, which is the first of its kind in the Farmington Valley, had a soft opening two weeks ago that was attended by YouTube star Simon Lizotte.
Like ball golf, there three layouts per hole - red (beginner), blue (intermediate) and gold (low-level pro) — that have different distances and challenges. The goal, Nunez said, is to have a championship level as well for tournaments. Nunez said there is also a plan to have kids leagues and women’s leagues.
The group is still tweaking the course, including looking to fill in the ball golf course’s sand traps with grass and other plantings for pollinators.
“A sand pit, in my opinion, is not an actual hazard,” Nunez said. “Disc golf you need visual hazard, so we’re looking to plant tall grass.”
There is also a small shop for people to buy discs. (Just as ball golf has specialized clubs for varying distances and shots, disc golf has different discs for the length, curve, etc. of a throw. Unlike ball golf, which limits the number of clubs a player can have in his or her bag, a disc golf player can carry as many discs that will fit in their bag.)
Rounds cost $5 until spring, with memberships available: $50 per month or $500 per year.
Since the soft opening, the response from players has been overwhelmingly positive, Nunez said.
On a recent sunny afternoon, Matt Bunko and Torrie Sarnecki were spotted coming up the ninth hole. They said the course was definitely worth the trip and the price of admission.
“It’s fantastic,” Sarnecki said. “Wide open holes, challenging distance and beautiful scenery.”
“This is awesome,” Bunko added. “Just playing the front nine, it’s great. A great mix.”
The disc golf course and, when it opens, the collective will enjoy the synergy of people playing a round, then kicking back and enjoying a meal or beverage. Alternatively, people may come for the collective and decide to play a round, Ronald said.
The final piece to the property is Healing Meals, a nonprofit that prepares and delivers healthy meals to people in a health crisis, which occupies the former clubhouse. See more at https://healingmealsproject.org/