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May 25, 2020
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Paul Orsini became an active member of the Clinton business community when he and his wife Jane opened Doc’s Bar and Grill in 2014, and he’s now stepped up his involvement as executive director of the Clinton Chamber of Commerce, which has a summer full of events scheduled. Photo by Eric O’Connell/Harbor News

Paul Orsini became an active member of the Clinton business community when he and his wife Jane opened Doc’s Bar and Grill in 2014, and he’s now stepped up his involvement as executive director of the Clinton Chamber of Commerce, which has a summer full of events scheduled. (Photo by Eric O’Connell/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)

A Town Where Everyone Knows Your Name

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The Clinton Chamber of Commerce is dedicated to enhancing the business community within the town, as well as hosting various events geared toward celebrating and entertaining the town as a whole. As the chamber’s new executive director, Paul Orsini is responsible for making sure the chamber meets those two goals.

“I run the day-to-day stuff, everything from finances to meeting with public officials,” Paul explains.

Paul says he had on-again, off-again involvement with the chamber over the last four years before he became more involved in 2018 as a member of the chamber’s Board of Directors. He took over as executive director on April 1.

“Growing the chamber is always a goal—the bigger you are, the more businesses are helped,” Paul says.

Paul points to regular networking events like business after hours and business before hours as ways the chamber is able to connect with the business community in town, and also communicate with them about their needs.

“I want to make sure I understand how we can help folks and [ask], are we doing the right things?” he says.

By attending some of the networking sessions, Paul says business people can develop personal relationships, share ideas, or discus similar issues that they are facing and what may have worked or didn’t work to fix those issues.

Paul isn’t just talking the talk about wanting to help other business in town, he’s a business owner himself. Paul and his wife Jane own Doc’s Bar and Grill, at 350 East Main Street in Clinton. After Paul retired in 2014, he and his wife bought the restaurant.

“It’s been a great experience. The people I interact with have been great,” says Paul.

When describing the restaurant, Paul can’t help but pay homage to a world-famous bar known for its friendly atmosphere: “We’re the kind of place where everyone really does know your name.”

Besides promoting the local businesses, the chamber and Paul are responsible for running a number of events that place as much or more of an emphasis on local families, as local businesses.

“It’s a busy time of year, we’re starting to do bigger, more town-centric activities,” says Paul.

Starting July 11, the chamber will begin hosting its annual summer concert series, which takes place every Thursday night at the gazebo outside the Pierson School. On Saturday, Aug. 17 the Chamber, along with Shoreline Community Women, Inc., will host the Steward’s Ace Hardware Bluefish 5K Road Race.

Besides the events, Paul says he is hopeful that the town will have a trolley that is free to ride to ferry people between the outlets, the town marina, and the Westbrook town line.

“It’s an old-style trolley with open windows and a bell, not a bus,” Paul notes.

If it happens, the trolley is expected to run on Fridays through Sundays during part of July and August. The official decision on whether the trolley will happen or not is expected to be made in the near future. (See for more on the trolley.)

However, the biggest summer chamber event is truly saved for last.

“On [Saturday,] Aug. 31, we have our biggest event, the Summerfest,” says Paul.

The event takes place during Labor Day Weekend in two separate locations: Town Hall and the Town Beach. Paul says the plan is to have vendors and two live bands playing at the town beach from 3:30 to 9 p.m.. Simultaneously, at Town Hall there will be a kid’s activity area, food trucks, a beer garden, and another band. Around 9 p.m., fireworks will be shot off from the beach, marking the true end of summer.

“It’s a real community event because it’s all based on donations,” Paul says.

He estimates that the event will cost about $50,000 to stage. Anyone interested in helping with the Summerfest can contact the chamber at 860-669-3889.

Paul grew up in Rhode Island and moved to Clinton about 15 years ago after spending time in California.

“I worked at Pfizer in San Diego and they offered me a position in New York and we actually found Clinton on the Internet,” says Paul.

Paul says he was attracted to Clinton because of what he found to be a friendly community “where mostly everyone knows each other.”

“I really like the small-town feel coming from California,” says Paul. “I love walking down Main Street and then also the quiet of the woods.”

Paul says that he still has family in the San Diego area, so when able to, he and Jane travel out there to visit in their spare time. Additionally, Paul has a keen interest in thoroughbred horses, and has owned a horse in the past. In fact, it was one of those horses, Doc, who led to the name of Jane and Paul’s restaurant.

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