A round-up of openings, closings, and other news about West Hartford businesses.
By Ronni Newton
If you know me well, you know that I have kind of a fake smile as I say that because I love summer. Although I really do enjoy the colorful leaves/pumpkins/flannel and sweater side of fall, and I love fall sports, I’m not a fan of winter and that’s what comes after autumn. I’m still in a bit of denial that summer is over. The lighthouse flag is still flying on our house, and pumpkin spice coffee has not yet passed through my lips this season.
I know that people like reading the business buzz part of this column, but I don’t think I ever realized how much attention people pay to this introduction. I met a few people at events this week – as in met for the first time ever – who asked me about my trip to Seattle! “Strangers” have asked me how my kids are enjoying UConn. (The trip was fantastic, and my kids love UConn although my son, the freshman, hasn’t been getting enough sleep and has a bad cold and I was very close to bringing him a pot of chicken soup once I found out. He told me he was feeling better, but I’m not sure I believe him.)
I’m happy that all of you read this part, because I enjoy writing it although sometimes it take me longer to write than the news part! I didn’t really set out to make Business Buzz more than just bullet points about business happenings, but I’ve loved writing columns for decades and it’s kind of evolved in that direction. I write these kinds of columns in my head all the time, usually while I am running or driving.
The first column I ever “wrote” that ended up being published was about coffee. It was written during the summer between my freshman and sophomore year of college when I was working as an office temporary. I lived in Stamford, and because I could type pretty well and use those “new-fangled” word processors, I got some pretty cushy assignments in some pretty fancy corporate headquarters offices. Every time I started a new assignment, before I met my boss or was shown my desk or the ladies room, the person who greeted me showed me where the ubiquitous coffee pot was. (Long, long before Keurig machines, and long before most people on the east coast had heard of Starbuck’s.) One day, while driving along the back roads of Greenwich in my “trusty red Toyota” on the way to a new job, I wrote a column in my head that I actually took the time to write down. I worked as a reporter and on the editorial page of the Duke Chronicle, and they published my “caffeine rules the office” column when I got back to school that fall. I still have a copy of the clip somewhere, and maybe even my original draft that was typed on an IBM Selectric typewriter …
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:
- The lead story in this column is usually about a new business opening, but today it’s about a good deed by a local family-owned business. Major props to Larsen Ace Hardware for distributing free biodegradable yard waste bags to nearly 600 property owners in West Hartford! Someone posted a photo of a the bags (there were five in each packet!) on Facebook, with the caption “Class move, Larsen Ace Hardware. Well done,” and I knew I had to find out more. Co-owner Fred Larsen Jr. and Store Manager Dan Hinman responded to my questions via email: “The idea to distribute the bags was a result of just driving down the streets in West Hartford during the fall and spring. Everyone uses them and the streets are full of them! And everyone sells them – from Stop & Shop to The Home Depot, and Costco, among others. Selfishly, we were thinking how great it would be if the streets were full of Ace bags. So that wish, coupled with the fact that we wanted to reach out to the residents in the immediate area of the store in a more personal way to re-introduce ourselves just lent itself to a short note (see PDF below) and the bags.” Larsen and Hinman said that approximately 600 packets of bags – nearly two full pallets – were distributed to properties between Brace Road and Fern Street. The price of bags has been lowered for Ace Rewards customers who need more, and after the nearly 270 Likes the post got on Facebook, and other positive feedback, Larsen’s will probably see some more customers. The sale of Pfau’s to Larsen Ace Hardware took place in May 2015, and the new owners did some upgrading to store fixtures, while striving to maintain the atmosphere customers loved. Larsen and Hinman said they are now focusing on each section of the store “to incorporate new items, as well as, many of the products previously carried that didn’t have a shelf spot. We’ve also started renting rug cleaners and expanded our work shop and paint department capabilities which have both had a great response from customers.” Store hours are now 8 a.m. through 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and Sunday hours (year round) are 8 a.m. through 4 p.m. Future additions will be Amy Howard Chalk Paints, and a key machine that will allow them to create special side-cut auto keys otherwise only available at a dealership. Look for expansion of the grill department’s selection of Weber, Big Green Egg, and Traeger grills next spring, they said. “There are always new ideas being discussed. Our goal is to be as helpful and stocked as possible, making it easy for our customers to get the right product and advice without having to wait or wander very far,” Larsen and Hinman said.
- Orangetheory of West Hartford has officially announced its opening date of Oct. 10, 2016. The Bishops Corner fitness studio first announced its plans to open at 345 North Main St. back in January, and has been signing up members in a temporary location elsewhere in the shopping center since then. Studio Manager Nate Gibson told me back in January that Orangetheory provides “the best one-hour workout in the country.” The one-hour workout, which changes every day (yes, 365 different workouts are created every year) and is designed to burn between 500 and 1,000 calories, includes training in five different heart rate zones which are projected on a screen so you can keep track. The workouts are monitored by professionals to ensure that clients get the most out of their training, Gibson said. Workouts incorporate a water rower, state-of-the-art treadmills, Keiser bikes and striders, and free weights According to Orangetheory’s Facebook page, founding members and their friends and family members are welcome to a VIP reception on Oct. 6.
- The We-Ha Vineyard Vines store is now open! There are six really cute (sorry guys, I guess we shouldn’t call the tie “cute”) items available through Oct. 12, and minimums must be met for orders to be fulfilled, which is why there are a limited number of items. Click here for more details. Vineyard Vines doesn’t do custom merchandise for just anyone, and we are all hoping that this first order will lead to more opportunities in the future. It will be great to see some West Hartford pride combined with that iconic Vineyard Vines style. (And for the record, we did ask about spelling out “West Hartford” but were told it was too long to accompany the whale in the design.)
- Goldberg’s Gourmet has now solved a problem for those who are craving one of their menu items but cannot (or don’t want to) park and walk to their new Blue Back Square location. Seriously – in the days when I was a toddler-toting mom or on crutches, this would have been a life-saver. Goldberg’s Gourmet is now part of Tapingo. Download the Tapingo app, and your food will be delivered curbside “as long as it is safe … we need our employees to stay healthy so they can continue ‘bageling,'” Goldberg’s Gourmet owner Chad Kirby said in a Facebook post.
- ICYMI tickets are on sale and are selling fast for the 4th Annual WeHa Whiskey Festival, which will be held at Hartford Golf Club this year on Saturday, Oct. 15. In addition to the opportunity to sample 200-plus types of whiskey and other spirits (we won’t dare anyone to try all of them), a cigar bar, restaurant battle, and raffle are part of the evening’s festivities. There’s also a VIP tasting that precedes the event. Click here for all of the details.
- Also ICYMI, David Borselle, most recently of Àvert Brasserie, will be opening Park & Oak Restaurant at 14-16 Oakwood Ave. this November. The menu is still being finalized, but Borselle said it will be American casual prepared from locally-sourced ingredients, and will feature some of the food he really likes to eat. Shrimp and grits and lobster carbonara are two dishes Borselle definitely plans to serve. Prices will be moderate, and there will be happy hour seven days a week! Click here for the complete story.
- I’m a mustard fan so I will definitely have to check this out! Connecticut’s first Dijon mustard boutique, aka “La Maisson Maille Westfarms” opened on Saturday at Westfarms on the lower level near the center court. According to Maille’s website, the boutique will be open through Jan. 31, 2017: “Experience the food lover’s best-kept secret: mustard on tap! Filled to order in reusable stoneware jars and served from an authentic French ceramic pump, this Maille exclusive is available now for the first time in Connecticut. Two varieties are offered: Original White Wine Mustard and perfect-for-fall Chablis white wine and Black Truffle Mustard. Once purchased, the beautifully crafted jars can be refilled at any Maille boutique worldwide.”
- We got a note from Arugula announcing that seasonal dinners will return on Sundays beginning Oct. 2. Dinner will be served on Sundays from 5 – 9 p.m.
- Mira Law Firm LLC has announced that they are now doing business as Keily Mira Law, and the offices have moved to 968 Farmington Ave., Suite 208. (Phone and fax numbers have not changed.) Access is next to Center Framing & Art in West Hartford Center. For more information, visit their website www.kmlegalct.com.
- Congratulations to West Hartford resident Jason Giulietti, vice president of Business Recruitment for the Connecticut Economic Resource Center, Inc. (CERC), who has been selected to serve as Board Vice President and member of the Executive Committee of The World Affairs Council of Connecticut. According to a news release, the Council is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization founded in 1924, with a mission to promote public understanding of global affairs and world issues by sponsoring programs, discussion series and seminars on international politics, business, and culture.
Remember, if you have any business news to share, remember to add it in the comments section below or email Ronni Newton at [email protected].
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