The Conservancy was able to raise generous contributions from the Ethel Donaghue Trust, the State of Connecticut, and the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving to renovate the Pond House in 1996-97. This included a new roof, reorienting the interior, all new handicapped-accessible bathrooms, air conditioning, up-to-date safety equipment, and a front entryway and lobby. At the request of the City, the Conservancy hired the Food Group, LLC, to manage the restaurant; under the direction of Louis Lista and his team, the Pond House Café has become a huge success.
The Pond House Café opened as a public restaurant and banquet center in 1998. The Garden Room hall can hold 200 people for parties, weddings, and fundraisers. Many business and non-profit groups hold their monthly meetings, annual conferences, and events at the Pond House. The Café has indoor and outdoor seating that overlooks the pond. (By the way, it is called the Pond House in honor of Mr. Charles Pond, not because it is near the pond.)
The foundation plantings and general area around the Pond House and pond were very sparse and neglected in 1998. Over the years, the Pond House Café management has replaced perimeter plants, and has added gardens and pathways to create a completely new garden area called the Pond House Gardens. An arched walk straddles a new garden of herbs and vegetables that are used by the café chef and enjoyed by guests. Large raised planters greet visitors with seasonal annuals and bulb plants. With the pond as a backdrop and tall trees as a canopy, the Pond House gardens and grounds are a lovely spot to visit.