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Lions Den Coffee Shop opens second CT location in Simsbury

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Lions Den Coffee Shop, an Italian-style coffee shop in Southington with a nod to law enforcement, opened its second Connecticut location Monday in Simsbury.

The cafe offers paninis, European and American pastries, smoothies and coffee drinks representing flavors from different countries, including Caramel Biscotti Latte and Mexican Mocha Latte.

Owners Vincenzo Infante, a retired Bristol police officer, and his wife Anisa Infante, whom he met at a coffee shop where she worked, opened Lions Den in November 2020.

Vincenzo Infante’s family is Sicilian. His wife moved from Albania when she was 12. Infante said he wanted to open a business centered around one of the backbones of southern Italian culture: good espresso. But he couldn’t find a shop nearby that had the same quality or style of espresso that he would find in Italy. He said opening a cafe was a potential retirement plan.

“It’s just one of those things that brings the community closer,” he said. “In the Italian culture, and also in the Albanian culture, you go out for the night life, you sit down in the café, talk to friends, family and enjoy the night.”

The store quickly gained traction and they decided to expand to more locations.

“It’s just time for growth,” he said. “I’ve always had a very aggressive business plan from the beginning.”

The Infante’s held an open house Friday at the Simsbury location, where a black-and-white lion portrait hangs on the back wall above four armchairs, symbolizing the cafe’s name. Another lion head, stylized as a police badge in the store’s logo, appears on mugs and merchandise. The two locations have identical menus and a similar atmosphere with Italian music playing in the background, Infante said. He added that a grand opening is planned for February.

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The owners also plan to franchise the Lions Den Coffee brand to ensure their coffee is available to more customers. Infante’s Wood Stove, Saccuzzo Coffee Co. in Newington, is also run by an Italian family.

“They just have the mentality of ‘We’re in this together and we’re a family,'” Vincenzo Infante said of the roaster. “Even though I’m not family to them, they still treat me like one.”

As a retired member of the Bristol Police Department, Infante uses the coffee shop to express his appreciation for his former colleagues.

For National Police Week in May 2022, the owners pledged to donate a portion of the “Back the Blue” Lions Blend coffee bag sales to the Southington Police Department’s K-9 unit. Each site has a memorial to Sgt. Alex Hamzy and Lt. Dustin DeMonte, two Bristol officers killed in the line of duty in October 2022.

Each Lion’s Den Coffee Shop has a memorial to Bristol police officers, Sgt. Alex Hamzy and Lt. Dustin DeMonte, who were killed in October 2022.

Contributed photo/Vincenzo Infante

“Whether it’s people coming in or working there, or friends or family coming to hang out. That’s what we’re here for. We’re here for the community.”