‘This is my home’: Valley hoops icon, former UConn player Maria Conlon opens Shelton business

Photo of Brian Gioiele
Maria Conlon

Maria Conlon

John Vorhees / Hearst Connecticut Media

SHELTON — Connecticut basketball legend Maria Conlon will be bringing some star power to the downtown business scene.

Conlon, who played on the University of Connecticut’s women’s basketball team that won three national titles during her four years from 2000-04, plans to open her latest venture, Steady Habits, a high-end tasting lounge, in April in space in Cedar Village at Carroll’s.

“I wanted to create something unique and different. And downtown Shelton, with its beautiful views of the rivers, its revitalized downtown, was the perfect spot to start,” said Conlon, who also is a champion high school basketball and AAU coach and financial advisor at Maffe Financial Group on nearby Bridge Street.

Steady Habits will be a spot for people to stop, enjoy some wine and spirits, all from wineries or distilleries based in Connecticut, as well as fresh foods from area farms.

“I really want to keep this casual, with a lounge type feel,” Conlon said. “It’s important for me to foster this market.”

She said weekends will feature these tastings — with selections rotated regularly — but the weekdays will offer opportunities for seminars, luncheons and small business gatherings, plus a podcast she plans to hold featuring all things Connecticut, from business to entertainment to sports.

“I look at this as a great addition to the growing restaurant offerings downtown,” Conlon said, adding that Steady Habits will not have a full menu. “This will be a place to stop by to enjoy some fine wine and other products from distilleries or breweries in the state, then go out to dinner in downtown.”

Conlon, head coach of the Notre Dame-Fairfield girls basketball team, said sports — for which is best known in the Valley — will also be part of the menu. She plans to one day host high school players and coaches for collegiate athletic letter-signings.

“I envision this as a great place to bring clients, to hold those real estate closings, for financial meetings,” Conlon said.

The idea was born two years ago, Conlon said, when she was participating in the state’s winery passport program — designed to promote the Connecticut Wine Trail and the state’s farm wineries.

“There are so many cool wineries and distilleries,” Conlon, a Derby native who starred on the Seymour High girls basketball team before committing to UConn, said. “I started to wonder how I could give people the chance to enjoy them all. I needed a place where people could come and be able to sample several options in a sitting.

“All these great spots are tucked away in different areas of the state. Here I can bring them all in one spot,” she said.

Once she had the concept, the name was next. After some research she learned that Connecticut has for centuries been tabbed the Land of Steady Habits. Thus, the name was born.

She has also established a relationship with Cheshire-based Norton Brothers Fruit Farm, which will provide cheeses, fruits and jams to start. But she also hopes to partner with other farms and rotate those offerings too.

“My teammates in college would tease me because I would brag about being from the Valley, but I love it here. This is my home,” Conlon said. “I am excited about bringing something different to the area.”

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com