In 1983 Apricots Restaurant became the culmination of a life long passion of food for Ann Howard. It is located on the banks of the Farmington River in historic Farmington Village. Housed in a converted trolley barn, it has two levels. A Pub and Parlor situated on the ground floor offers light fare with a piano bar while the Main Dining Rooms, which overlook the Farmington River, offers white tablecloth service and dining.
Ann Howard is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu and La Varenne, two of France’s leading cooking schools and has studied under the direction of Simone Beck.
In the early seventies Ann opened the Ann Howard Cookery, a food emporium which included a bakery, gourmet to go store and a cooking school. Among the international stars she introduced to the Hartford are Jacques Pepin, Guiliano Bugialli, Martha Stewart and Julia Childs. The Ann Howard Cookery expanded quickly, increasing a demand for its upscale food preparations. This led to the expansion of its business into catering.
The expansion resulted in her husband, Joe Howard Jr. leaving a 23 year career in sales to join his wife in this family business in 1978. In 1980 their son Joe Howard III entered the business after graduating from Hobart College. With the success of these entities, Ann wanted to broaden her horizons with a restaurant. Coincidentally a Farmington landmark, Auberge de Paris, became available. After a 1 1/2 years of renovation the restaurant was opened. The whimsical name of Apricots was chosen to escape the classical French cuisine of Auberge de Paris and Ann’s reputation for French & Northern Italian cuisine.
The concept of the restaurant is two fold: the Pub menu is to serve hearty Pub style fare and the Main Dining Rooms offering a sophisticated selection of “Contemporary American Cuisine” offering the finest regional American products as well as a selection of items from Europe and the Far East.
The retail stores in Farmington and West Hartford were closed in 2000 as catering and retail were becoming too much. Catering under the leadership of Joe Howard Jr. and his mother Ann has moved into the Bond Hotel on Asylum St. in downtown Hartford. The famous Bond Ballroom on the top floor has been renovated and parties, run by catering, started in September of 2001.