A round-up of openings, closings, and other news about West Hartford businesses.
By Ronni Newton
I can’t help but start this column off talking about the weather – yet again.
Like a Goldilocks experience the weather has been too warm (for this time of the year, and for some people though not for me) … and then it was too cold. We’ve really had very little “just right” (as in normal seasonal temperatures) over the past several weeks. Saturday and Sunday were downright frigid, and although I was lured outside for a run Saturday morning – and really wasn’t too cold while I was running dressed in three high-tech layers – I did not set foot outside all day after that. Sunday was still bitterly cold.
I’d love to share a photo of my daffodils, which were looking about ready to bloom, but they’re too sad and slumped over right now. I hope, hope, hope they revive once it warms up on Monday!
One more note before getting to all of the really exciting business news this week: Budget season is beginning in earnest. Look to We-Ha.com for stories this coming week about the West Hartford Public Schools budget that will be released on Tuesday, the Town Manager’s budget that will be released on Wednesday, and the conversation at a forum with the West Hartford legislative delegation that is taking place on Thursday.
If you have tips about businesses opening or closing, or doing something worth sharing, please provide that information in the comments or email Ronni Newton at [email protected].
Here’s this week’s Buzz:
- It seems a bit odd to be excited about ice cream when the wind chill is in the single digits, but by the time this place opens ice cream will be a much-desired treat. Especially this ice cream. Milkcraft has announced plans to open this July in West Hartford Center, in the former La Petite France space at 967 Farmington Ave. I actually met Lynn Mainiero, who owns the business with her husband Dave, on a December day when she was scouting out West Hartford locations. She happened to come into La Petite France to check out the space while I was doing an interview about the cafe’s closing, and that’s exactly the space the company ultimately chose for their second Connecticut location! Milkcraft specializes in extremely fresh – “cow-to-cone” – ice cream that is made each day with local milk blended with other local ingredients and then frozen with liquid nitrogen, Mainiero said when we spoke in December. According to Milkcraft’s website, this freezing process creates smaller ice crystals and “the smoothest possible ice cream.” And if that doesn’t sound delicious or decadent enough, Milkcraft serves the ice cream in its house-made Hong Kong-style waffle “bubblecones” or sandwiched in its house-made “creameebuns” (think glazed doughnuts). With plenty of available toppings of course.
- Another new food concept is coming to West Hartford, but this one is more savory than sweet. The Simple Greek, a franchise-based fast casual Greek restaurant, will open in the long-vacant storefront between Trader Joe’s and Verizon in Corbin’s Corner. According to its website, The Simple Greek is an “interactive concept that combines premium ingredients, open kitchens, and Greek atmosphere in a fast casual setting.” The base of each entree begins with a pita or a bowl, to which proteins, toppings, sauces, and finishes are added. There are also some other Greek favorites like dolmades and spanakopita on the menu. The nearest locations are currently Norwalk, CT, and Westborough, MA. No word on the opening date, but it will likely not be for several months.
- Adding to the ice cream and salad news is coffee news. SPoT Coffee President and CEO Anton Ayoub said Friday that the company is planning to open a location in West Hartford sometime within the next six months. SPot is headquartered in Buffalo, and plans to expand in the Albany, Hartford, and New York City corridor. “We are moving fast and would like to finalize our location in the next four to eight weeks,” Ayoub said. According to its website, SPot Coffee specializes in freshly-roasted small batch coffees. There are hot and cold options and Chai, as well as the “SPoTsicle” (a version of a milkshake) and protein shakes that “blur the line between healthy and decadent.”
- Taking a break from food news is news about much-needed physical activity. GOLFTEC (1146 New Britain Ave. in Elmwood) will have its ribbon cutting on Wednesday, March 8, and its grand opening next weekend, March 11 and 12 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. There’s a PDF below that highlights many of the exciting activities, including contests, swing evaluations, and product demonstrations planned for the grand opening. Owner and manager Dave Souza (a West Hartford native and former Hall High School golf team star) has been with GOLFTEC in the Boston area for seven years and is excited to bring the company’s first center to Connecticut. More information to come later this week!
- Back to food. Over the next several weeks and months there will be several more restaurants opening in West Hartford. I’m tracking all of them, and checking with the owners on a regular basis for updates. One of those is Vaughan’s Pies & Pints, which has applied for its liquor permit and should open in the Center within the next month. Scott Miller, COO of DORO Restaurant Group, said Thursday that they are “anticipating an April opening” for Zohara Mediterranean Kitchen at 991 Farmington Ave. in the former Plimpton’s space. I peeked inside a few days ago, and it’s definitely coming along!
- Hungry yet? Plans are well underway for the March 29 Taste of Bishops Corner, and special thanks go to Simon Konover Company and Anytime Fitness in Bishops Corner for sponsoring the this event for its second year! Their sponsorship, joined by the support of Lux Bond & Green, JP Carroll, Oscars Tux, and Argelia Novias Bridal, will make Taste of Bishops Corner possible. Edens will be hosting this year, and watch for more details about the timing and exact location in the heart of Bishops Corner for this “taste of” event! Tickets are already selling quickly, and with the help of the Eat IN Connecticut team these events have been selling out so don’t delay. (Click here to purchase.) Several restaurants have already signed on, and updates will follow in future We-Ha.com newsletters.
- Bluemercury will be celebrating its first anniversary in West Hartford Center on March 10, 11, and 12 with “cupcakes, champagne, and complimentary pro tips and beauty tricks.” According to manager Lauren Orozco, bluemercury’s spa has recently added new services, including dry hair styling, skincare, and waxing treatments. The anniversary celebration will include a DJ, giveaways all day long during each of the three celebration days, and “deluxe gifts” for the first 50 customers each day.
- Whoever said there aren’t perks to being a subscriber to We-Ha.com and West Hartford Magazine? Last week we gave away gift cards to Flemings in Blue Back Square, and this week we have tickets to Cirque du Soleil Toruk in Hartford! Watch for details in Wednesday’s newsletter. It’s just our way of showing you how much we appreciate you and your support!
- Finally, although there have not been any new development plans submitted, “Lexham Arapahoe Road LLC” has purchased the property at 8 Arapahoe Rd., the current location of McKenna Orthodontics. The deed was filed on Feb. 16, and listed a purchase price of $950,000. Lexham made news in September when the company proposed an ordinance amending the allowable FAR (floor area ratio) in the central business district with the hopes of submitting a proposal for a residential/retail/parking development on property it already owns in the Center. The McKenna building, in Lexham’s plans, was to have been turned into parking. That proposal to increase density was rejected by the Town Council, but ongoing discussions have since been taking place with a working group of residents and business owners to come up with a vision for the Center. Lexham has not submitted a new plan, and likely won’t until some further decisions are made about density. According to Director of Community Development Mark McGovern, a report from the working group’s outreach and results from a survey completed by more than 700 residents will be submitted to the Town Council sometime in the next month or so, followed by a proposal. “We’re in the final stretch of this initiative,” McGovern said.
Remember, if you have any business news to share, add it in the comments section below or email Ronni Newton at [email protected].
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