A round-up of openings, closings, and other news about West Hartford businesses.
By Ronni Newton
Maybe if I don’t talk about the weather it will stop raining. I sure hope so, because although we have had some nice spring days – or parts of days – it’s rained almost every day, too.
The West Hartford Town Council adopted the Fiscal Year 2020 (July 1, 2o19-July 1, 2020) budget this week. A few years ago there was quite a bit of public engagement about the budget, likely because there was a strong possibility of school programs being reduced or eliminated. This year, other than on some Facebook pages there was very little public discussion of the budget, and slim attendance at two public hearings. It’s important, however, and directly impacts all of the town’s residents, so please take the time to read this budget story. (I’m not saying that just because I worked on it until 2:45 a.m. on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning(which I did) but because I really do think it’s important to remain informed.
The first West Hartford LIFE that I edited has been published! Most people seem to have received it in the mail – although mine has not been delivered yet – but if you’d like to read the flip book online, click here. I’d love to hear your comments and story suggestions!
My weekend was highlighted by participating in the Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society “War of the Words” game show at the organization’s signature fundraiser. Although we planned to attend the event, I didn’t plan to be part of it, but was asked at the last minute to stand in on the Blue Team for Susan Campbell – a well known columnist, lecturer, and author – who was sick. Although our team lost (it was really, really close), it was great getting to know my esteemed (and really, really smart) teammates: former NPR puzzle writer and game show producer (Who Wants to be a Millionaire, The World Series of Pop Culture, Cash Cab, Ask Me Another) Art Chung of Vox Media, and science author and New York Times columnist Carl Zimmer. The other team included linguist, lexicographer, and Wall Street Journal columnist Ben Zimmer (yes, they are brothers), language columnist and teacher Rob Kyff, and Brad Drazen (former NBC Connecticut anchor and current United Technologies associate director of PR and communications) who was already planning to be auctioneer and emcee, but stepped in as a Red Team member for someone else who was sick. Merriam-Webster Editor-at-Large Peter Sokolowski reprised his role as game show host.
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 was really hard to decide what to feature in this week’s column. On Thursday, Community Development Director Mark McGovern and Economic Development Specialist Kristen Gorski supplied dozens of business buzz-worthy news items at the annual Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Update luncheon. Gorski told me that there were 69 new businesses and 17 relocations noted in the presentation – not including the businesses that have opened in Spaces. You can read my story about the presentation, that includes all of the names of the new and relocated businesses, by clicking here.
- I chose Tide-Mark as the feature photo. According to Gorski, Tide-Mark – a publisher and printer of books, calendars, and puzzles – has purchased the former Prasanthi Center at 207 Oakwood Ave. and made it their new headquarters, relocating from East Hartford just last week. The new sign isn’t even up on the building yet!
- The Salvation Army Family Store opened Friday at 983 New Britain Ave., in a portion of the now-subdivided former JoeyZ Shopping Spree (Kathy’s Urgent Care will open in the other portion), next to the renovated PriceRite. The Salvation Army store is open Monday through Saturday, from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. “When you purchase an item at a Salvation Army Family Store, you’re changing lives. Learn more about how your purchases are transforming lives through The Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Center: https://greaterhartford.salvationarmy.org/SNE/ARC” the Salvation Army’s Facebook page states.
- This one wasn’t covered in the Economic Development Update, but a reader informed me that Andrea’s Tailoring has just opened at Westfarms, on the lower level across from Texas de Brazil. People are always looking for recommendations for tailors on Facebook (and those of us who are just 5-feet tall really need to know where good tailors are located), and the reader who informed me of the new shop had great things to say about Andrea!
- Stay on Park has moved across the street, and the new location at 207 Park Rd. is just perfect for the shop that features vintage home furnishings and accessories, creations by local artists, and more. It looks very different than it did as Green Man Tattoo Studio! To learn more about the business, including their hours and to see photos of their latest merchandise, follow Stay on Park on Facebook.
- New Park Brewing has added another day! Beginning this week, West Hartford’s craft brewery will now be open on Wednesdays from 5-9 p.m., in addition to their existing Thursday through Sunday hours. Can releases will begin on Wednesdays, and in a Facebook post the brewery said,”We will continue increasing can production until they last through the weekend.”
- Mayor Shari Cantor has issued a proclamation declaring April 29-May 5, 2019 “National Screen-Free Week” in West Hartford. Proponents of Screen-Free Week, which is being promoted by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, are hoping that local businesses will offer discounts to anyone participating in this week-long effort to encourage children in particular to unplug from digital entertainment. The Claypen has already signed on, and will offer a 10 percent discount to anyone mentioning Screen-Free Week. Any other business interested in participating should email Jessica LeBlond at [email protected].
- Juniper Homecare was outgrowing its office space at 1086 New Britain Ave., and owner Andrei Brel said he learned tht the building next door was for sale – and ended up buying it a few weeks ago! Brel said that some of Juniper’s administrative offices will soon be moving to the second floor of 1100 New Britain Ave.
- The Bishops Corner Neighborhood Association will be bringing back its planter program for the third year. “These large, colorful planters make a huge impact on Bishops Corner and we hope to continue the tradition,” the BCNA said in an email. Sponsors are needed, and it’s possible to partially fund a planter if you’re not able to commit to the full sponsorship. Full sponsorship ($404.13, tax included) includes name/business listed on all publicity, business logo on flyers, website and – new this year – signage on planter; and invitation to a ribbon cutting event. Partial sponsorship ($102, tax included) includes name listed in all publicity, website and signage on planter. Summer and fall plantings as well as regular maintenance such as regular watering and replacing dead plants is included. To order a planter or for more information, please visit the BCNA website or email [email protected]. To date, full sponsors include Mayor Shari Cantor, The Mercy Community, Companions for Living, West Hartford Senior Center, Macca Plumbing & Heating, and Abby Dabby Ice Cream and Frozen Yogurt. Partial sponsors to date are Mike Levinson, Shari Cantor, Marty & Becky Webber, Phil Barlow, Yvette Law LLC, Christine Looby, Julianne Roth, Cynthia Coppage, and Jack Bass. Click here to see how nice the planters in Bishops Corner looked last year!
- Westfield, MA-based Westfield Bank will be opening a full service financial center at a yet-to-be-disclosed West Hartford Center in late 2019, the company announced in a press release last week. According to the news release, Westfield Bank will initially move several employees to temporary space at 977 Farmington Ave. “Our new West Hartford Financial Center will host banking specialists from many areas of the bank,” said CEO James C. Hagan in the release. Westfield Bank also plans to open another Hartford area location in early 2020. “Both of our new locations will offer the deposit, lending, and technology solutions our customers need – from individuals, to small businesses and large corporations, to municipalities. We’re confident that our community bank values, customer-first approach, and convenience-based products and services will be a great fit for the greater Hartford community and we are very excited to meet our future customers.”
- West Hartford resident Dawna Capps-Evans has been named to the Connecticut Lottery Corporation Board of Directors by the Speaker of the House, State Rep. Joe Verrengia announced in a news release last week. Capps-Evans, an insurance and management consultant, is joining the 13-member board which oversees all CT Lottery operations, including games and retail vendors. “I congratulate Dawna on this appointment – I am sure she will be a great asset and the Lottery Board of Directors will benefit from her expertise, work ethic and experience,” said Verrengia, who chairs the legislature’s Public Safety Committee which has jurisdiction over gaming in the state. “This is a great opportunity to apply my work experience to the Connecticut Lottery Corporation Board of Directors and I am very pleased to have been appointed,” Capps-Evans said. “I look forward to the work ahead and to confirm the confidence placed in me by Speaker Aresimowicz and Rep. Verrengia.”
- Fourteen members of the Archdiocese of Hartford have received Papal Honors from His Holiness Pope Francis on the occasion of the 175th Anniversary Year of the Archdiocese, Archbishop of Hartford Leonard P. Blair announced. Congratulations to West Hartford residents Ilsa Nigro and John Sitarz!
- A few Blue Back Square restaurants have closed recently (INDIA and Potbelly), and there have been rumors spreading about The Cook and The Bear closing as well. Blue Back Square management has been told the popular restaurant, which is co-owned by Tyler Anderson, Jamie McDonald, and AJ Aurrichio, plans to remain open. I just looked at their Facebook page, and they have some great food and drink specials, trivia night, and other fun events during the week, too!
- ICYMI, the Elmwood Business Association is also looking for support of its beautiful planter program. Click here for details.
- Last week’s Experience We-Ha podcast featured Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society Executive Director Jenn Matos, who spoke about War of the Words (see above) as well as the Museum’s many other initiatives and activities. Click here to listen. This week’s podcast features CycleBar, and you can listen by clicking here!
- On Thursday I attended the Malta House of Care’s “Celebrating Wonder Women” Class of 2019 celebration. Two extraordinary West Hartford residents – Lhakpa Sherpa and Ann Uccello – were honored. Click here to read about them.
- And in case you missed the reference above, an incredible amount of business news was shared in the Economic Development Update on Thursday. 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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