After recent improvements to the exterior of Criollisimo Restaurant, 340 Arch Street, Mayor Erin E. Stewart presented the owner the city’s next “Beautification” award on Wednesday.

Criollisimo is an award-winning restaurant that has been serving Puerto Rican cuisine on Arch Street—recently designated “Barrio Latino”—since 1992. The owner, Brenda Torres, also offers catering services.

“Brenda did an amazing job with the front of that building. She put a lot of planning and a lot of heart into really redoing the frontage. She is a prime example of what we are looking for more property owners to do – especially in the downtown area – to beautify frontage and to make restaurants and business more appealing,” said Mayor Stewart. “She spent a lot of money on the renovations, but it is well worth it. The Arch Street community will benefit from her having a much more attractive building.”

Torres recently added a new façade, signage, awning, improved exterior lighting, and an enclosed outside dining. The restaurant has seating for around 60 people.

“In New Britain we need something better for this town. I put in the new lights, new signs, new tables and new chairs.” said Torres. “I think now people can see us at night. A lot of people didn’t know where we were. I get people from Bristol and Meriden. We get people all over the State. I want people to come and enjoy our food. We are one of the best Puerto Rican food restaurants in the State.”

“Criollisimo’s renovations have added a new flair to the neighborhood and are contributing to a resurgence in our Barrio Latino,” Mayor Stewart added. “The restaurant has a strong and dedicated following and is a true destination point in our city. We are fortunate and proud to have them in New Britain.”

Mayor Stewart announced in January 2015 the “Beautify New Britain” initiative as a way to recognize New Britain property owners who have beautified or significantly improved their property. Previous recipients have included Riley’s Hot Dog and Burger Gourmet, Polamer Precision, the Simon Konover Company for their work in transforming the Pinnacle Heights housing complex into the modern Brytania Square community, Atlantic Restoration on Woodlawn Street, and Frisbie’s Dairy Barn.

A new business or residence will be selected on an on-going basis. The recipient is determined through feedback from the public, as well as through input from city personnel who have direct knowledge of the properties.

If you are aware of any property owner that you consider deserving of the award and wish to recommend them, please contact Bill Carroll at 860-229-1665 or .

This story originally appeared in the New Britain City Journal.