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West Hartford Business Buzz: April 15, 2024

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

Last week was filled with such excitement, and although I wasn’t in the path of totality on Monday for the eclipse, it was still very cool – and literally the temperature cooled way down at Rockledge Golf Course where we went to observe the sun 92% in the shadow of the moon.

I was bummed not to managed to get any good photos, but thank you to Mick Melvin for sharing the ones he took in West Hartford.

Then Monday night – the UConn Men’s Basketball Championship win! My shamrock socks did the trick, and we were finally able to change Millie’s bandana after the game. I didn’t want to jinx anything by putting her UConn bandana on before the end of the season.

I was afraid to change Milllie’s bandana until after the championship. She’s now repping UConn. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Ironically, instead of being in town for the UConn championship parade this weekend, we flew down to Duke for Ted’s college reunion. And, we are staying at the home of my college roommate whose husband is the former president of the NC State Alumni Association and former chair of the Board of Visitors. It was great to see so many old friends – some of whom we had not seen in decades – and to enjoy the beautiful North Carolina weather this time of year. I couldn’t resist posing by this sign …

In front of Cameron Indoor Stadium on the campus of Duke University. Photo credit: Ted Newton

Craig Rosenberg covered the UConn victory parade for We-Ha.com, and you can see his great photos here.

The friends we stayed with in North Carolina were at the Final Four last weekend – cheering for NC State. Mayor Shari Cantor and several other of her family members were also there, and shared these photos.

Mayor Shari Cantor with UConn’s Donovan Clingan. Courtesy photo

Mayor Shari Cantor with Rip Hamilton and Ray Allen. Courtesy photo

A note regarding local sports: Paul Palmer is back in action providing coverage for We-Ha.com but he’s not able to attend day games other than on the weekend due to his regular job. We will try to get to as many different sports at Conard and Hall as possible, but also welcome submitted photos and details from the community to highlight the other contests we aren’t able to get to. And if there are any budding sportswriters interested in doing the occasional story, please contact me at [email protected].

My one restaurant meal in West Hartford last week was at The Schmooze Café – which just opened inside The Crown Market. The tuna wrap and pickle were fabulous, and you can read the whole story about the new gathering spot here.

Tuna wrap, pickle, chips, and a drink at The Schmooze Cafe. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

A few other food highlights from meals eaten at Duke on Friday and Saturday. These options were definitely NOT available while I was in college.

Tacos at Duke. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Buffalo chicken wrap and sweet potato waffle fries at Duke. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

I can never resist a poke bowl! Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Ted had chicken tiki masala for lunch. I’m not sure what the other side dish was. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

If you’re looking for news about West Hartford in print please note that many stories from We-Ha.com, as well as other local news, is published in the twice-monthly issues of the West Hartford Press.

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:

WeGym is located at 635 New Park Avenue, Suite 2B. Courtesy photo

  • WeGym has just opened a location 635 New Park Avenue, Suite 2B, in a former hair salon space right next to Smash Avenue, the driveway to the right just past GastroPark. According to WeGym Vice President of Marketing and Brand Development, Kameron Kicklighter, they are “offering barre, yoga and strength classes with custom equipment and an incredible team of instructors.” WeGym features customized equipment – which they also sell – and also offers a warm and welcoming place to work out as well as a great area for relaxation and socialization. “To celebrate the opening, packages and memberships are discounted until the end of June 2024. Book classes on MindBody or ClassPass,” Kicklighter said, adding that the first class is free. For more about WeGym, visit their website or follow on Instagram @wegym_weha.

Custom equipment at WeGym, 635 New Park Avenue, Suite 2B. Courtesy photo

Welcome area at WeGym, 635 New Park Avenue, Suite 2B. Courtesy photo

Studio at WeGym, 635 New Park Avenue, Suite 2B. Courtesy photo

  • West Hartford resident Zack Napolitano, has recently launched The TAC Group. With a wealth of functional experience in supply chain operations, The TAC Group approach is two-fold: reduce operating expenses in your supply chain in the short term while laying the foundation for sustained operational excellence and preparing your operations for automation, robotics, and AI. According to The TAC Group, they achieve this through a focus on “People” and “Process” – reducing labor expense by 15% within 90 days. They also work alongside clients to understand their business’s unique demands, crafting bespoke solutions that drive sustainable growth and value creation. With 75% of all warehouses expected to be utilizing some form of automation, AI, or robotics by 2026, now is the time to take action and prepare for the future. The TAC Group team works within a current operation to upskill the labor force to ensure a smooth transition to automation. “Having been a part of many different operations and facilities from 50,000 to 1.2 million square feet, I know that automation is not plug and play,” said Napolitano. “There is no one fit solution for all operations. I work with my clients to find automated solutions that fit their needs and budget.” The TAC Group works with clients all over Connecticut and the Northeast serving the CPG, Retail, E-Commerce, 3PL, Distribution and Fulfillment and Manufacturing industries. You can reach Napolitano by email at [email protected]. For more information visit www.theTACgrp.com.

Zack Napolitano. Courtesy photo

  • I’ve continued to check up on the status of the opening of Park Lane Pizza and when I drove by one day last week there were several contractors working at the site. They confirmed other information I had been provided that the goal is to reopen by the end of April, and pointed out the new hoods that have been installed in the kitchen. As noted a few weeks ago, the town’s permit records indicate that after the ceiling was damaged due to the impact of a storm in January, the owners embarked on a renovation project because once a ceiling is opened up, the need to comply with current code becomes a requirement. The records indicate that they are also making the space more accessible by removing the door and wall from the Quaker Lane entrance, updating restrooms, etc.

New hoods have been installed in the kitchen as repairs and renovation continues at Park Lane Pizza. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Repairs and renovation continues at Park Lane Pizza. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Repairs and renovation continues at Park Lane Pizza. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Repairs and renovation continues at Park Lane Pizza. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • Sneak peek at Nautical Bowls! Training of staff is underway, and they will be having a soft opening this week with a ribbon cutting on April 24. The grand opening is Saturday, April 27 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and the first 30 receive people to arrive will receive a free Dingy sized Signature Bowl. There will be a DJ and visits from Dillon (Hartford Athletic Mascot) and Sonar (the Hartford Wolfpack mascot) with raffle prizes and a photo booth area. Owner Mike Smith let me sample the various flavors of the available bases, all of which are non-dairy, gluten-free, soy-free, and don’t have any refined sugars or preservatives (they do have added natural sweeteners). I’ll be going back later this week to get more details – and photos – once they business is operational.

Various flavors of base for Nautical Bowls include açaí, pitaya, coconut, blue magic, mango, and cacao. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Interior of Nautical Bowls, 345 North Main Street in Bishops Corner. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • Tonight at 5:30 p.m. is the Town Council public hearing on 1700 Asylum, the proposal by WeHa Development Group, LLC for developing the east side of the former UConn campus property into the Residences at Heritage Park. The hearing had been postponed from March 11 due to the need to resolve several outstanding issues, and details can be found in this article about the postponement. I will be there to cover the hearing, and vote which is scheduled to take place at a special Town Council meeting following the hearing.

Rendering of proposed entrance to The Residences at Heritage Park – the new name of the proposed development for the former UConn campus in West Hartford. Courtesy image (we-ha.com file photo)

  • Congratulations to Hall graduate Sasha Torchigina who has just launched a new real estate business, Torch Real Estate Group, after buying out her partner. She has just bought the property at 222-224 Park Rd where Endless Summer Tan was previously located. Endless Summer Tan has closed for good, she said, and she is looking for a new commercial tenant for the space.

Sasha Torchigina. Courtesy photo

  • The Economic Development Office has partnered with West Hartford Public Schools to host the Futures in Manufacturing Career Fair for high school students to introduce them to careers in the trades and manufacturing. The event will be held on Wednesday April 17, from 9 a.m. to noon in the Town Hall auditorium. Local technology and manufacturing companies will offer on-site job shadowing, apprenticeships, or summer jobs. Transportation from the high school to the career fair is provided. More details are on the flyer below.

Courtesy image

  • The Connecticut Green Bank has announced its 2023 Awards – the 8th annual recognition of contractors, developers, lending partners, community leaders, and home and building owners across Connecticut for their commitment to the state’s clean energy transition. Thanks to projects and partnerships like these, the Green Bank has helped create more than 27,000 job years and reduced energy cost burdens for more than 68,000 families, businesses, and nonprofits since 2011, the organization said in a news release. “Each year, our list of honorees continues to expand, pulling together a broad cross-section of leaders and partners,” said Bryan Garcia, President and CEO of the Green Bank. “For 2023, we are recognizing the first projects and partnerships related to our new environmental infrastructure scope, as well as presenting special Chair’s and President’s Awards to Sustainable CT and their outgoing Executive Director Lynn Stoddard for their exceptional contributions to our communities.” West Hartford companies receiving honors include Verogy (Outstanding Project for a solar project at Meadow Ridge), and Environmental Systems Co (Accelerating PACE). In addition, Premier Improvements LLC and Action Windows and Siding have been recognized with Home Solutions Awards.
  • The West Hartford United Methodist Church is having a “Diaper & Toiletries Drive” the months of April and May, 2024, Diapers and pull-ups, especially sizes 4, 5, and 6 are needed along with wipes. Additionally, toiletries such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, soap, shampoo, razors, shaving creme, feminine hygiene products, hand sanitizer, single roll toilet paper, and tissues are also needed. There is a box next to the front door available for drop off 24/7. All donations support the  West Hartford Food Pantry. The church is located at 1358 New Britain Ave., West Hartford, corner of Berkshire Road and Exit 40 of I-84, just one block east of Westfarms.
  • ICMYI, the Crown Market has officially unveiled The Schmooze Café – a place where you can gather to eat, to discuss, and to feel part of a community. Complete details can be found here.
  • The designs chosen for the version of the West Hartford Infrastructure Master Plan was revealed Monday during two public information sessions. Click here for the full story.

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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