A Gathering Spot with a Philanthropic Bent is Coming to East Haven

The restaurant will occupy the Main Street location of the former DeMir's.

Credit: Courtesy of Monique Turner-Lopez
Credit: Courtesy of Monique Turner-Lopez
By freelance writer Nancy Barnes.

A restaurant named G.P.'s Gathering Spot is expected to open on Main Street in late June, and it will donate part of its proceeds to charities and other worthwhile causes.  

Monique Turner-Lopez, who will open the restaurant with her husband Frank Lopez, was good enough to take questions from Patch on the venture. 

Patch: What does "G.P.'s" stand for?  
Lopez-Turner: "G.P." are the initials of a good friend of the family for many, many years. She passed away two years ago. She was so influential in our lives.  We decided to dedicate the name of the restaurant to her honor. 

Patch: Have either you or your husband a background in the restaurant industry?
Lopez-Turner: Yes, my husband has over 30 years experience in the food service industry. He has owned three restaurants prior to this one, including the famous Wings Express — famous for its numerous styles and wing flavors — in West Haven, located on the Boston Post Road. Wings Express closed in the early 2000's. My husband's professional experience also includes 15 years as director of food services for several assisted living,  independent living and skilled nursing facilities located across the state of Connecticut. 

Patch: Please describe the restaurant. What will it offer as its cuisine?
Lopez-Turner: G.P.'s Gathering Spot is a family-friendly restaurant that my husband and I are launching in East Haven at 190 Main St. in the old location of DeMir's Restaurant next to the East Haven Fire Department. G.P.'s will serve American comfort food with gluten-free and vegan options. 

Patch: In addition to nourishing the body, do you plan to nourish the soul? If so, how?
Lopez-Turner: Well, when you eat good, you feel good. When you feel good, you do good for your family, your friends and your community. In addition, we plan to nourish the soul by donating part of our proceeds to charities, individuals, our staff  and others in the Greater New Haven and East Haven area — individuals who are  committed to achieving their dreams, whatever their dreams are. This is the philanthropic arm of our restaurant.  

Patch: What is the impetus for your philanthropic bent?
Lopez-Turner: The idea of having a philanthropic component is just part of the nature of who Frank and I are.  I was in the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic back in the early  1990's, so giving is a way of life for me and for him, as Frank has often volunteered in the communities where he has lived. We always give back in our personal lives and have taught our children to live the same way. As a family, we have sponsored art scholarships for local residents, mentored urban youth and taken our mentees on vacations with us. We have donated to various non-profits in Connecticut, including ones that focus on the homeless, re-entry services and positive youth development. Frank knew three years, when he decided to get back in the restaurant business, that he wanted to give back into the commu and , equally as important, give back to his staff — staff that quite often struggle to make their dreams come true because of the rising cost of education, homeownership and other life expenses. We knew that we wanted to present a new type of leadership to the industry, a leadership that inspires, coaches and supports front line staff toward being all they can be and realizing their greatest hearts' desires. 

Patch: Do you live in East Haven.  If not, where?
Turner-Lopez: We live in Guilford, but we have numerous friends who live in East Haven. We will also do our best to partner with our fellow businessmen and businesswomen in East Haven. We would also love to donate to local PTA's in East Haven. Right now, we are offering a $250 summer scholarship to any young person, ages five to 18, for [such purposes as] summer camp or summer coursework. Nominations should be emailed togpsgatheringspot@gmail.com by June 15. Candidates should explain why they need the scholarship how they plan to use the funding, if awarded, and why they feel they deserve this opportunity. 

Turner-Lopez, who presently holds the position of chief program officer at the YWCA of Hartford, asked that the East Haven community remain on the lookout for the restaurant's website as well as Facebook, Yelp and twitter links, which, she said, are coming soon.   

"This is indeed a community restaurant, where everyone is welcome," Turner-Lopez said.


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