With its low self-esteem and high urban blight, Hartford is the ultimate underdog city. Sad City Hartford documents the joys, sorrows and eccentricities of New England's Rising Star.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Russian Lady Set To Return

A few weeks ago we visited the former and future site of The Russian Lady, an iconic Hartford bar that closed in 1997. When we visited we were told that they were shooting for a September opening, which given the amount of work that needed to be done, seemed ambitious. Well they didn't make September but they didn't miss it by much. The Russian Lady will officially return to Hartford with a special opening night for Hartford residents on Wednesday October 12. All you need is an ID with a Hartford address (and to be 21) and you can get a first look at the impressive inside of The Russian Lady Wednesday.

There will be a friends and family night Thursday the 13th, and then The Russian Lady will be fully re-opened on Friday the 14th (phew, cutting it close for the superstitious types).

When we visited The Russian Lady we were pretty much in awe of the interior and the decor. See the bar in the picture above? Those are 900 year old doors from China. And that is just the start. Some of the antiques from the original Russian Lady will be in the new version. The statute of Catherine The Great will not. 

“We can’t wait to bring The Russian Lady back to life for the residents of Hartford,” said Jerry Fonarelli, owner and operator of The Russian Lady. “It’s been a lot of hard work by a lot of loyal and dedicated craftsmen and contractors.  It’s been a labor love, and we’re excited to finally be able to showcase our Lady and bring back to life one of Hartford’s most storied franchises for a new generation to enjoy.”

The new Russian Lady features three levels of exciting nightlife entertainment in one place. The first floor offers a wide range of imported and domestic beers on tap at the bar built from the doors of the former Hartford Public High School. Meanwhile, the second level features a unique Vodka Lounge with 100 different types of vodka, while the upper level reveals a rooftop Cigar Lounge for guests to savor a wide variety of Connecticut grown and wrapped cigars and unique selection of international tobacco flavors. Here, customers will also be able to rent their own humidor in order to secure their finest cigars for every visit.

The original Russian Lady first emerged in 1976 after then-owner, John Rimscha, purchased a 16-foot-tall bronze statue of Catherine the Great at an auction in Hartford.  From here, the former owner would go on to dress The Russian Lady in various other antiques and treasures from the Hartford area.  Other notable collectibles included stained glass from a Russian Orthodox church and chandeliers from the old St. Joseph’s Cathedral, which had been destroyed by fire 40 years earlier.


  1. Are the Morgan's returning to the Russian Lady?

  2. Not sure. We are actually too young to have visited the prior incarnation so we don't even know what it looked like. Have heard stories that it was a hell of a good time though.....

  3. I'll be there on Wednesday for Hartford resident night.

  4. This isn't so sad. Reusing antiques from Hartford's past. Don't forget to invite the mummies from the Wadsworth Atheneum. I think Thirman Milner is still around as well. And I will be sure to pass the word along to the members of the Amelia Earhart Memorial Men's Club.

  5. That was a place that was wild in the late 70's when CBT, Aetna, Travelers and so many others had huge employment base. This was for the first 5 yrs post college the place to meet the opposite sex and with most people in thier first apartments a lot of what is now "hooking up". Funny thing was being near there on Sunday morning and always a dozen people pickup up thier cars that were left behind the night before

  6. Thank for shearing information about Russian Ladies.