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.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Local Business: Freed McKeen LLC

It was only a matter of time before Sad City landed us in a lawyers' office. While spending time with lawyers isn't as scintillating as portrayed on television, we gladly accepted the invite from Ryan McKeen to visit his practice recently opened with partner Meghan Freed.

Beyond a cursory curiosity as to what lawyers were like and what they actually do all day, we were intrigued by the idea of checking out the space. Located street level in The Linden at 491 Main Street, Freed McKeen isn't the office building, industrial carpeted, fluorescent lit spot one would expect from a law firm. Instead it gives off the cozy feel of a Pier One catalog.

While the firm has a contemporary cool look, the building is quite old, and the space, if not historical, is at the very least infamous, and certainly quite entertaining. In a bizarre life cycle, the law office has been a restaurant, and a high end nightclub complete with a throne and beds before Ryan and Meghan brought a slightly more sane and dignified business to the space. A brief and sordid history from Mr. McKeen;

"The restaurant was Spencer's. Spencer's had a great run. It's the kind of place that any Hartfordite over 50 spent time at. Political folk, business people and such. Spencers closes in the early to mid 90s.

The place gets bought and briefly becomes Corny T's. Corney T was a UConn basketball player

Athlete owns bar - bar closes. (Ed. Note: Shock of shocks!)

The place then falls into the hands of Don King. Don King does nothing with the property except pay taxes and fees. Don King owns it for years.

Don then sells to Sean Eddy. Sean opens the Emperor at the Linden. The Emperor is both a high end restaurant complete with thrones and a bed filled night club. (Ed. Note: Emphasis added) 

It turns out Hartford can't support the prices on the bottle list. 

Litigation ensues for years. The bar at the Emperor was once owned by Al Capone. The Emperor doesn't pay its bills and their lawyer sends marshals out to execute on the bar. It's now in his home. Evidently there are news stories about the bar coming to Hartford.

The Emperor closes. The place sits empty. We buy what was the chef's private dining room and make it our office."

Meghan and Ryan have done a great job remodeling the place and it is really remarkable. Both are undoubtedly talented attorneys and we wish them the best of luck in their endeavors  No doubt Sad City will be retaining their services on our way to world domination! (Wait!! Does that form a contract?!?!?!)

Here is a tour of Freed McKeen

Here are some photos from The Emperor, which was, clearly, quite the party spot. 

This is the chef's private dining room that is now the meeting room at Freed McKeen.

Who doesn't want to be in a room full of beds in Hartford?
The Emperor was regarded as the classiest club in Hartford.

And years later an embarrassing pic will randomly resurface on the magical place known as the internet. 


  1. Much of the credit for the design of our office goes to our associate, Kristen Marcroft. Thanks for stopping by, Hakaan!

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  3. I played piano at Spencer's five nights a week, from it's opening in spring of '83 to fall of '84 when I moved back to Virginia. It was a great restaurant, good people, good food, and one block from my apartment. I liked Hartford a lot, it reminded me of Richmond. I'd like to go back sometime. Cheers.