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West Hartford Business Buzz: April 1, 2024

Chip City is opening April 5, 2024 a 67 Memorial Road in West Hartford's Blue Back Square. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

A round-up of openings, closings, and other news about West Hartford businesses. 

Business Buzz is sponsored by NBT Bank, and we are very thankful for their support! 

By Ronni Newton

I hope all who celebrate had a Happy Easter on Sunday, and Ramadan Mubarak to all who observe.

I planned to write this column on Saturday, but it was more important to plan my day around watching two basketball games – both of which thankfully ended up as wins for UConn! I was initially torn but decided to root for the UConn women over Duke women. I was definitely rooting for my Duke Blue Devils over NC State, but just finished watching the sad ending to that game. At least it eliminates the possibility of my having to choose sides for a Duke vs. UConn mens basketball game.

Because of the basketball doubleheader on Saturday we decided to go out to dinner on Friday night instead, and I although I had eaten at Wabi Sabi by myself on Wednesday night I wanted to try a few more dishes and get some more food photos for my story so Ted and I walked over there. A few photos of Saturday’s dinner are below, but check out the full story for the details and many more photos! I am already planning my next visit …

Bacon momo skewers at Wabi Sabi. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Fried rice at Wabi Sabi. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Hand rolls, including salmon (left) and tuna, are among the specialties at Wabi Sabi, now open at 135 South Main Street in West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The Ika Ink combine Farmer’s organic gin, use, lemon oleo citrate, brucato amaro chaparral, and club soda. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The Hazelnut Old Fashioned at Wabi Sabi combines Four Roses Bourbon, Frangelico, Angostura, and orange. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

I stopped by a friend’s house over the weekend to pick something up and was happy to meet some of her chickens! (Don’t worry, the chickens live just over the border in Farmington … but I just had to take a few photos.

I stopped by to pick something up from a friend in Farmington over the weekend, and was introduced to her brood of chickens. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

We-Ha.com was once again a media sponsor of the Go Red for Women luncheon, in support of the American Heart Association, and I attended the extremely powerful and inspiring event on Wednesday. There’s a bullet point below with more details and photos of the speakers.

From left: Ronni Newton, Adria Giordano, Shannon Miller. Go Red for Women Luncheon. March 27, 2024.

From left: Ronni Newton, Shari Cantor, Kara Sundlun. Go Red for Women Luncheon. March 27, 2024.

If you have information to share about local businesses, please provide details in the comments or email Ronni Newton at [email protected].


Here’s this week’s Buzz:

Chip City is opening April 5, 2024 in West Hartford’s Blue Back Square. Photo courtesy of Chip City

  • Chip City will have a ribbon cutting with the Chamber of Commerce and town leaders and will then be officially opening its doors on Friday, April 5, at 10:30 a.m. in the former Oath Pizza space at 67 Memorial Road in Blue Back Square – perfect timing for me because I had given up sweets for Lent and am very excited to welcome cookies back to my diet. I sampled a few of Chip City’s creations last fall when they had a pop-up at the Blue Back Burger Bash, and they were delicious – gigantic, thick, and gooey! The West Hartford location will be Chip City’s third location in Connecticut, and first in the area (the others, both of which have opened within the past year, are in Darien and Fairfield). Chip City previously provided We-Ha.com with the following details about their business: “Chip City was born in Queens, New York in July of 2017 as a hobby between two childhood friends who sought to recreate the simple taste of their childhood. What began as a fun challenge to see who could create the best cookie turned into the Chip City we know and love today. They rotate more than forty unique flavors every year, such as Peanut Butter & Jelly, the Everything Cookie, Oatmeal Apple Pie, Blueberry Cheesecake, S’mores, Lemon Berry, the Cannoli Cookie and more. Each week, the menu changes to offer classic flavors and seasonal varieties.” Chip City now has 35 locations in seven states along the east coast. Paul Brandes, Principal of Blue Back Square owner Brand Street Properties, said, “We are very excited to welcome Chip City to Blue Back Square. We know our customers and the community here in West Hartford will truly enjoy these delicious cookies and their offerings. Chip City is a great addition to our amazing lineup of restaurants and eateries here at Blue Back.” The menu for the first week in West Hartford, according to Chip City management, will include Chocolate Chip, S’Mores, Frootie Crunch, Cookies N’ Cream, Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter, Banana Cream Pie, White Chocolate Macadamia, Brookie (brown sugar cookie mixed with dark chocolate chips swirled with a fudgy brownie base), and on April 5 and 6 they will have the New Cocoa Krispies Cookie. Chip City will be open seven days a week, from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. More details are available online at www.chipcitycookies.com. Oh, and they also ship the cookies nationwide and offer catering. Those aren’t my hands in the photos of the cookies below – but I will likely be taking some similar photos later this week!

Chip City is opening April 5, 2024 in West Hartford’s Blue Back Square. Photo courtesy of Chip City

Chip City is opening April 5, 2024 in West Hartford’s Blue Back Square. Photo courtesy of Chip City

S’more cookie. Chip City is opening April 5, 2024 in West Hartford’s Blue Back Square. Photo courtesy of Chip City

Chip City is opening April 5, 2024 in West Hartford’s Blue Back Square. Photo by ET Schindler, courtesy of Chip City

Chip City is opening April 5, 2024 in West Hartford’s Blue Back Square. Photo by ET Schindler, courtesy of Chip City

Chip City is opening April 5, 2024 a 67 Memorial Road in West Hartford’s Blue Back Square. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • April 1 is the official first day of outdoor dining season in West Hartford, and although the weather for the rest of the week doesn’t sound very nice, look for patios to be once again welcoming diners with umbrella-covered tables and chairs. Expanded outdoor dining WILL be back this season as well, and look for the “gardens of eating” to return next month in the Center and Blue Back Square. Restaurants that are eligible for on-street outdoor dining received an email from Economic Development Coordinator Kristen Gorski late last week notifying them that applications should be available this week for completion by those establishments that plan to take advantage of outdoor dining. Enclosures will be deployed by the town on or around May 6, she said. Gorski’s email also included the following information: “As some of you may be aware, the Town administration contemplated charging for the use of on-street parking spaces for outdoor dining purposes to offset the impacts to the parking fund. However, given that we currently anticipate the Center Infrastructure Master Plan to be underway and in construction next year, the Town has made the decision to offer the use of these spaces free of charge.”

LaSalle Road will soon look very different, with the return of outdoor dining. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Expanded outdoor dining corrals line LaSalle Road in July 2023. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • West Hartford resident Kate Cocuzzo has recent launched the business New Mornings, which offers child sleep consulting services to families for children 6 and under. Prompted by her own experience when she had her first child, Cocuzzo became a child sleep consultant, certified by the Family Sleep Institute, and her website states: “At New Mornings, I understand that days can feel like a true struggle following sleepless nights. It’s hard to bring your best self to parenting when you’re exhausted. That’s why I’m passionate about helping parents get their children into a healthier sleep routine to benefit the whole family. I provide individualized support to address the specific needs of each child and family. My ultimate goal is for you and your little ones to have happier, more restful days.” Her approach and recommendations align with American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) guidelines. You can reach Cocuzzo by email at [email protected].For more information, visit her website www.new-mornings.com.

Kate Cocuzzo. Courtesy photo

  • Last week’s column included my photos of some of the construction projects taking place throughout town, but I don’t have a drone and wasn’t able to find a way to capture any photos of the work at 950 Trout Brook Drive, where the Children’s Museum was formerly located. Many thanks to Mike Mahoney of RLM Co. who provided aerial photos of that site as well as The Byline at 920-924 Farmington Avenue and the work on The Camelot taking place at 900 Farmington Avenue.

Drone view of 950 Trout Brook Drive. Photo credit: Mike Mahoney

Drone view of 950 Trout Brook Drive. Photo credit: Mike Mahoney

Drone view of 920-924 Farmington Avenue. Photo credit: Mike Mahoney

Drone view of 920-924 Farmington Avenue. Photo credit: Mike Mahoney

Drone view of 900 Farmington Avenue. Photo credit: Mike Mahoney

Drone view of 900 Farmington Avenue. Photo credit: Mike Mahoney

  • The 1,666-square-foot former Muse Paintbar space at 59 Memorial Road is in the process of being turned into the the Loft Gym, which will be the fitness area for residents of the LOFT Residences at 15 Dinah Road. The apartment units have been in the process of receiving facelifts/updates as leases turn over, and I’ll share some photos of the new look in a column soon.

The former Muse Paintbar location is being turned into a fitness space for residents of the LOFTS apartments in Blue Back Square. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Recently updated signage at the LOFT Residences at 15 Dinah Road. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • The Go Red for Women luncheon was held last Wednesday at the Connecticut Convention Center, and as noted in my introduction above, We-Ha.com was honored to be a media sponsor. According to Adria Giordano, a West Hartford resident who is the executive director of the American Heart Association Connecticut – which hosted the event – over $200,000 has already been raised, including $10,000 through an “Open Your Heart” challenge at the event. The website will remain open for further donations through the end of June. West Hartford Mayor Shari Cantor was the keynote speaker for this year’s fundraiser, sharing the moving story of discovering shortly after the birth of her fourth son, Jacob, that he had congenital heart disease with multiple serious heart defects – and how lucky her family was and has been to have access to high level health care and the research done by the American Heart Association. Shannon Miller of NBC Connecticut served as the emcee, and Duby McDowell of McDowell Communications Group chaired the 2024 Greater Hartford Go Red for Women. Survivor Ambassador Claudia Norman and Caroline Wilke of national sponsor CVS also spoke at the event.

West Hartford Mayor Shari Cantor was the keynote speaker at the Go Red for Women Luncheon. March 27, 2024.

Adira Giordano, executive director of the American Heart Association Connecticut. Go Red for Women Luncheon. March 27, 2024.

From left: Caroline Wilde, Shari Cantor, Duby McDowell, Claudia Norman, Shannon Miller. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • WeHa Candle is in the process of moving, and has vacated their space at 635 New Park Avenue as of this past weekend. Their new space – the former Pokemoto location at 970 Farmington Avenue in the Center – is in the process of being built out (I got a peek over the weekend) and should be ready to occupy in the next week or so – stay tuned for updates.

WeHa Candle Co. will be opening at 970 Farmington Avenue. Photo credit: Ronni Newton (we-ha.com file photo)

  • If this column includes any information about my family it’s generally in the introduction, but this piece of news is not only a proud momma moment but true business buzz. Congratulations to my daughter, Katie Redman, who as of today is the director of the Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine Center (PTSMC) clinic at 133 South Main Street in West Hartford!

Katie Redman. Courtesy of PTSMC

  • The West Hartford-based Simon Konover Company shared the following in a news release last week: Jim Wakim, Esq., President, Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel of The Simon Konover Company, announced his plan to retire later this spring. Wakim joined The Simon Konover Company in May of 2008 and has been responsible for the strategic growth of the company’s investment and management portfolio including the two operating divisions, Konover Commercial Corporation and Konover Residential Corporation. He will retire on May 31, 2024 but will remain with the company as a consultant through the end of 2024. Gregory Konover, a third generation Konover family member and grandson of company founder Simon Konover, will assume the leadership role as President of The Simon Konover Company. Greg started at the company in May of 2013 as an Acquisitions and Development Associate and was promoted to President of Konover Residential Corporation in October of 2019. Greg will continue in his capacity as President of Konover Residential Corporation. Scott J. Lynch, Chief Financial Officer, will assume the additional role of Chief Operating Officer, and will work closely with Konover to set the vision for the continuing success of The Simon Konover Company. “While it is rare for family enterprises to effectively navigate a generational segue, The Simon Konover Company is very excited about the strength of our organization and the opportunities that lie ahead as we prepare to welcome third-generation family leadership,” Wakim said in a statement. The Simon Konover Company is a nearly 70-year strong family-owned, vertically integrated real estate company specializing in ownership, development and management of residential and commercial assets for its own accounts and for third party owners. “Our leadership team at The Simon Konover Company is best-in- class and is poised to move the Company forward, creating value and opportunity for all. We look forward to announcing further exciting changes in the months ahead.
  • ICYMI, Wabi Sabi is now open at 135 South Main Street. There are a few photos of my Friday night dinner in the intro above, but you can find the complete story and lots more photos of the food, beverages, and interior here.
  • The West Hartford Greater Together Community Fund is now accepting applications for grants for its 2024 funding cycle. There are some upcoming information sessions available, too. Complete details can be found here.

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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