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West Hartford Business Buzz: April 26, 2021

Rizzuto's has reopened its West Hartford location at 111 Memorial Rd. in Blue Back Square. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

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

By Ronni Newton

Saturday was a beautiful spring day!

It was almost nice enough to make me forget about Thursday, which was much too cold for all of the outdoor activities that I attended: ribbon-cuttings at three West Hartford Center businesses, a tree planting at the Elmwood Community Center, and the launch of the area’s first zero-emissions ride sharing company at GastroPark. (Details about most of these below.) I felt like a “Glamour don’t” wearing my down jacket and mittens in late April (I actually started off the day in a woolly hat as well) – and even with that I was freezing!

Inspired by reporting on a front door makeover earlier in the week, I finally added flowers to my empty planters on Saturday and then Ted and I spent some quality time (accompanied by Millie) sitting on the Adirondack chairs on our front lawn. I am hoping spring is here to stay – with a little touch of summer coming this week!

Millie enjoying a spring evening. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

A few items I want to mention before getting to the Buzz …

We-Ha.com has added a new portal for obituaries (click here: Obituaries). While we have occasionally posted obituaries in the past when someone sends one in directly, this new function will allow the public (or a funeral home) to submit the obituary directly to the site themselves. While there is a charge (payment can be made directly when it’s submitted), the cost is much less than an obituary in a newspaper, there is no limit on word count, and as many photos as you like can be included. The tribute you create for your loved one can easily be shared as well.

One additional item I want to mention is that we have been receiving a ton of press releases lately – upwards of 30 per week! And as the weather warms up, businesses expand operations, and events return, there is more than ever that our readers want to have shared. But please note that we can only fit a certain amount of content in our Monday-Wednesday-Friday newsletters, and news stories take precedence. Even press releases needs to be uploaded (by me), along with photos, and those that arrive the most “camera ready” (complete details included either in Word or pasted into an email and with photos provided as jpegs, but NOT as a PDF and definitely NOT just a flyer) tend to get posted first. Also, for a press release to even be featured, there must be a DIRECT connection to West Hartford.

Events can be posted directly on our calendar (Calendar), which I recommend doing even if you send me a press release.

We’re also getting invitations to cover the many events that are coming up, but as much as I want to, we can’t be everywhere and there are only so many hours in a day. We do hire freelancers occasionally, but our budget remains extremely limited and I have to prioritize those assignments for stories that will have broad appeal to the community.

Thanks for listening!

Ted and I supported a number of local businesses this week, including a bonus mid-week dinner out at Rizzuto’s which led to the feature story of this column. Saturday night we headed to GastroPark but were too late for the food truck we were planning on eating from. We stayed for a beer and ran into some friends we hadn’t seen for a long time, and then had a great dinner at Beachland Smoke!

Beers at GastroPark. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

GastroPark at night. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Fried pickles at Beachland Smoke. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

BBQ brisket, green beans, and fries at Beachland Smoke. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Anchor wrap and baked beans at Beachland Smoke. Photo credit: Ronni Newton


We hope you’ve been following our Keeping it in the Community feature, which is a collaboration with the West Hartford Chamber of Commerce and the town’s Economic Development Department.

Including the tip and spotlight was making this column very long and we have decided that going forward it will be a standalone feature appearing in the middle of the week, and we will still include the link to the spotlight in Business Buzz each week. Click here to see the most recent tip and read the spotlight on the Ron Foley Foundation.


Please continue to support our local businesses, and please wear your masks if you are in public places, and stay safe and healthy.

If you have information about businesses changing their operations due to COVID-19, 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:

Outdoor seating, with individual heaters in each cabana, is available at Rizzuto’s which has reopened its West Hartford location at 111 Memorial Rd. in Blue Back Square. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • Rizzuto’s (111 Memorial Rd. in Blue Back Square) closed in early October after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19, and rather than just remaining closed for a few days while contact tracing and deep cleaning were underway as originally planned, the owners made the difficult decision to remain closed during the winter months. There was lots of wondering about when (and if) they were going to reopen – but it happened on Wednesday, and Ted and I headed there for dinner that night, even before Rizzuto’s management had a chance to tell me about the reopening. “We reopened last night and are excited about serving West Hartford once again!” said Sam Parkinson, the nephew of Bill Rizzuto and operator of the West Hartford restaurant, in an email Thursday. I stopped by again on Friday afternoon and had a chance to meet with the new chef (John Medonis, who has extensive experience including working at Treva in West Hartford) as well as with General Manager Lynn Armington. Medonis said Rizzuto’s has been freshened up, and while favorites remain on the menu, he’s also introduced some new dishes. “We’re excited to be open,” Armington said, adding that one of the delays was waiting for all staff members to be vaccinated. Updates, Armington said, include redoing the floors, reupholstering, adding a new air filtration system, and updating the restrooms. “It’s still Rizzuto’s, still the same delicious food,” she said, and while there are changes to the menu, if someone wants an item that no longer appears there, the chef will be glad to make it as long as they have the ingredients. The expanded outdoor seating area includes cabanas with their own individual heaters. Rizzuto’s will be open daily for dinner at 4 p.m., and also serving lunch/brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. “We absolutely will be bringing back happy hour once we get adjusted,” she added. More information can be found on the website, and more photos can be found at the end of the column.

Pollo Genovese pizza at Rizzuto’s (chicken, basil pesto, roasted tomato, stracciatella). Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • In other Blue Back Square news, The Place 2 Be (50 Memorial Rd.) is just about ready to open, and according to a contractor who gave me a sneak peek inside (no photos allowed), it’s going to happen this week. I have not been able to confirm a date yet, but the interior looks almost completely ready to welcome fans of over-the-top brunch and lunch dishes and bottomless mimosas. To complement the greenery that has sprouted on the outside of the restaurant, there is a moss installation on the wall in the entryway and lots of live plants throughout. There is also a bathtub made for Instagram photo posing, and very cool swinging chairs that look out at Memorial and Raymond roads. And when you see the inside of the restroom, you’ll note a cute continuation of the “bottomless” theme on the walls. I’ll report more on the opening as soon as I get the details!

The Place 2 Be is supposed to open sometime this week. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • As I mentioned in the introduction, there were three ribbon cuttings held in the Center on Thursday – what the West Hartford Chamber of Commerce called a “Tri-bbon cutting.” Chamber Executive Director Chris Conway noted that the plan had been to wait for “better weather” to be able to hold the ribbon cuttings outdoors, but we all braved the brisk winds and unseasonably frigid temperatures that seemed stuck in the 30s as Westfield Bank, Good Cause Gifts, and Arethusa received their official welcomes to the community. A few more photos can be found at the end of the column.

West Hartford Chamber of Commerce and Mayor Shari Cantor at a ribbon cutting at Arethusa on April 22, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

West Hartford Chamber of Commerce and Mayor Shari Cantor at a ribbon cutting at Good Cause Gifts on April 22, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

West Hartford Chamber of Commerce and Mayor Shari Cantor at a ribbon cutting at Westfield Bank on April 22, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • ALDI (511 New Park Ave.) closed Sunday for about a month, in order to undergo a refresh of the interior and for construction of a 1,333 square foot addition in the loading dock area – all items approved by the Town Council late last year as changes to the Special Development District. Also included in the project will be enlarging and improving the current bus shelter on the property, installing new landscaping, and making improvements to parking and traffic flow. The expansion will add 1,040 square feet to the building, to provide additional refrigerated and frozen food storage, and the aisles will be reworked for better flow.

Aldi will close Sunday for about a month of renovation work. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • GoNetspeed announced last week that they are expanding their high-speed fiber-to-the home Internet service to neighborhoods spanning approximately 17,000 households in parts of West Hartford, Rocky Hill, Bristol, and Plainville. Areas in orange on the GoNetspeed Hartford County Map (see below or click here) should expect to see service available by end of fall 2021. “Our fiber expansion in the state of Connecticut won’t stop here,” Chief Operating Officer Tom Perrone said in a news release. “We are building as fast as we can to reach neighborhoods who have shown interest in our service. If you don’t see your area on the map, tell your friends, family and neighbors to submit their interest atwww.gonetspeed.com. We look at these submissions to help us decide where to expand next.” GoNetspeed’s fiber Internet offerings include a starting bandwidth offering of 150 Mbps for a flat rate of $50 per month without any bandwidth caps or throttling, extra fees or taxes, and with no contract required. For more information, or to register interest, visit www.gonetspeed.com.

GoNetspeed expansion plans in orange.

  • West Hartford resident Austin Peterson, founder and CEO of Palmetto Derma, is looking to celebrate local mothers with a special self-care treat on Mother’s Day. She shared the following in an email: “This Mother’s Day we are sending a complementary bath bomb to 50 local moms. We are asking individuals to nominate a mom – who they want to send some relaxation + rejuvenation for Mother’s Day. Please send nominations to [email protected] with the subject line: Mom 2021. Please include: Your full name + your email address; Full name of nominated mom +their email address + their mailing address; 2-3 sentences what makes them an amazing mom. Rules: 1 nomination per email address, one bath bomb per address. We look forward to receiving all the nominations! In the meantime, please visit us at www.palmettoderma.com + @PalmettoDerma on social media.

Palmetto Derma bath bomb. Courtesy image

  • I’ve been watching the progress at 540 New Park, which is being developed by Trout Brook Reality as a mixed-use, mixed-income, multi-family residential and retail development. It’s a hard site to photograph when I’m by myself but since my husband was driving when we were in the neighborhood on Saturday I managed to get a few photos out the window of the car. The remediation is well underway and it looks like work on the foundation is also progressing. The project is scheduled for completion in May 2022.

The former ACME building at 540 New Park has been totally demolished and environmental remediation is well underway. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • ICYMI, remaining capacity rules and other COVID-19 business restrictions, other than indoor masking, are going to be lifted on May 19. Read the full story here. As a side note, this was the first governor’s press briefing in the past 13-plus months that caused me to burst into happy tears because (even though I don’t dare put it on my calendar yet), it means my daughter’s wedding will be able to take place this July.
  • Electra, the area’s first zero-emissions ride sharing company, was officially launched on Earth Day. 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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Rizzuto’s has reopened its West Hartford location at 111 Memorial Rd. in Blue Back Square. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Rizzuto’s has reopened its West Hartford location at 111 Memorial Rd. in Blue Back Square. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Rizzuto’s has reopened its West Hartford location at 111 Memorial Rd. in Blue Back Square. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Bucatini (guanciale, peas, pecorino, egg) at Rizzuto’s. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Bread at Rizzuto’s. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

West Hartford Chamber of Commerce and Mayor Shari Cantor at a ribbon cutting at Westfield Bank on April 22, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

West Hartford Chamber of Commerce and Mayor Shari Cantor at a ribbon cutting at Good Cause Gifts on April 22, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Mayor Shari Cantor with Arethusa co-owner Tony Yurgaitis (center) and Chamber Executive Director Chris Conway. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

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