A round-up of openings, closings, and other news about West Hartford businesses.
By Ronni Newton
Opening day for baseball season. The Masters begins later this week. At least one of my daffodils has survived and is blooming. The weather forecast for the next week shows temperatures at least in the 50s and a few 60s with the exception of Tuesday, and even though there is rain predicted you know what they say about April showers.
Despite Mother Nature’s cruel April Fool’s snowy/sleety joke, I think we’re about to really get some springtime in West Hartford.
Nice weather should bring good news for our local businesses as it gets people out and about, shopping and eating. You’re probably going to want to get some advance exercising, too, in once you read about the new business openings in today’s column!
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 feature photo for this column looks rather boring, but what about this one? I’ve done two long runs and gone to the gym twice since I learned last week about this new business with plans to open in West Hartford Center. Now I’m not the doughnut aficionado that both my son and husband are – although I will admit to an addiction to the Nantucket Bake Shop blueberry cake doughnut which I share with my daughter, and will admit that I eat one almost every day when we are on the Island – but these are some seriously outrageous doughnuts! Donut Crazy is clearly an appropriate name for this family-owned business that plans to open its sixth location in the former Kellie Burke Interiors space at 993-A Farmington Ave. in West Hartford Center. Donut Crazy, which is owned by Jason Wojnarowski, first opened in Stratford and now has its main location and commissary in Shelton. There are also locations in Bridgeport and New Haven, and a just-opened shop in the Saugutuck Train Station in Westport. “The doughnuts are special. There is nothing like them,” said a company representative in one of the existing locations. According to the Donut Crazy website, there are “Dailies,” which include traditional doughnut favorite flavors like Boston cream, powdered jelly, cinnamon sugar, and chocolate glazed. Also available “Daily” are flavors like the French toast doughnut (glazed raised yeast donut sprinkled with cinnamon and powdered sugar, drizzled with vanilla and maple icing), and red velvet glazed, and the “Crumby” (glazed cake donut rolled in fresh donut crumble) – and blueberry glazed! And then there are the really crazy doughnuts, special creations that are more seasonal and showcase the creative spirit of the bakers. Think the doughnut equivalent of NoRA Cupcake. Some of those specials include the “Peep” (raised yeast shell filled with lemon curd and marshmallow fluff made to look like an egg, topped with vanilla icing, jelly beans, and a peep), the “Cannoli” (raised yeast shell filled with Ipastata-style ricotta cannoli filling, sealed with mini chocolate chips, and dusted with powdered sugar), and for those who like the salty and sweet combo there’s the “Maple Bacon” (raised yeast ring dipped in a maple icing and topped with crumbled crispy bacon). Really those are just a few so you need to look at the menu, and start burning the calories in advance. For those who can’t live on doughnuts alone, Donut Crazy is more than just doughnuts. They serve Shearwater coffee (according to the website 100 percent USDA Certified Organic roasted and Certified Kosher), cold brew, a variety of teas, and fresh orange juice. Oh and there are also sandwiches, some of which are served on doughnuts (along the lines of what you might find at the Big E) rather than rolls.
- I caught up with Jacob Studenroth, owner of The Wise Old Dog, and learned some very exciting news: The Wise Old Dog, a small locally-owned corner liquor store on South Quaker Lane, IS in fact moving in to the larger space next door, formerly Lindy’s Laundromat. Details of what Jacob describes as a “very special build out” have been slowly leaked via the shop’s active Instagram account (@thewiseolddog) including the restoration of the original pressed tin ceiling, and the recycling of an early 19th century apothecary’s counter for use as the new register and checkout area. Many of those posts use the hashtag #foodtown1951 as homage to the store’s original occupancy as Food Town. Growing in size to fill the approximately 2,800 square foot space is the easy part, Studenroth said. The “delicious challenge” has been in designing a space that retains the intimate charm of the current Wise Old Dog. The opening date isn’t yet set, but we understand that the team is working seven days a week in hopes of welcoming everyone to the new store sometime this spring. More photos, provided by Studenroth, can be found at the end of the column.
- In case your sweet tooth wasn’t satisfied enough by Donut Crazy, there is another new bakery coming to West Hartford, this one to the other end of town. I don’t have a lot of details, but KT Bakery will be opening at 552 New Park Ave., in the former Kelly’s Salon & Spa location. According to its Facebook page, the Vietnamese-style bakery will be open daily and will offer a selection of breads, cakes, and scones. The sign is up on the building (please excuse the quality of the photo, take from my car on a very rainy day), and it appears that KT Bakery should open soon.
- This restaurant is not quite in West Hartford, but it’s in that area of Farmington that’s so close we like to claim it, plus it has a cousin restaurant (Plan B Burger Bar) in town. Butchers & Bakers, located at 270 Farmington Ave. in The Exchange, will open to the public on Friday, April 7 at 4 p.m. There will be dinner service only on the first weekend (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday ), and then the restaurant will also be open for lunch at 11 a.m. beginning Monday, April 10. Butchers & Bakers, according to a news release (I plan to check it out in person, too!) features a menus of “made-from-scratch” new American fare prepared with fresh ingredients, sourced locally when possible.” Owner Al Gamble said in the release, “We will work closely with local partners such as Urth Farms in New Britain and Walsh Farms in Simsbury to feature fresh, flavorful, produce from our area.” There will of course be plenty of meat and other proteins (“Butchers”) including steak, pork chops, chicken, and fresh seafood all custom-butchered in house. The ricotta cheese and fennel sausage will also be made in-house, as well the “Bakers” part of the menu which will include fresh breads, rolls, and pastries. The news release also indicates that there will be seating for 55 guests in the dining room, lounge seating for 35, and a 30-seat bar. There is also a 2,000 square foot patio with table seating for 45 also that also “features a covered outdoor bar with 25 seats and five TVs. Free-standing heaters and fire pit tables allow for almost year-round patio usage.”
- Your Green Spa, which originally opened briefly last summer, re-opened last month at 1140 New Britain Ave. in Elmwood. I’m really not quite sure why the business closed, but it’s definitely open again. Your Green Spa offers foot reflexology, an ancient Chinese alternative medicine that use massage of specific areas of the sole of the foot to stimulate other organs of the body. Reflexology promotes blood circulation, and claims to have positive impact on fat burning, detoxification, allergies, energy, and pain relief. Your Green Spa also offers hand massage and facials. For more information, visit their website or call 860-216-1691.
- ICYMI – and this is something that many are excited about – the West Hartford Town Council approved an ordinance Tuesday night that will pave the way for food trucks to set up shop in West Hartford. The lengthy ordinance will essentially allow food trucks to park in industrial zones, become an accessory use at other businesses in industrial zones, and permit the establishement of food truck parks in industrial zones. Click here for complete details.
- Also ICYMI, there was a “foundation setting” ceremony Tuesday for 616 New Park, the mixed-use residential and commercial development that is now under construction just north of the Elmwood CTfastrak station. The ceremony was held in conjunction with CTfastrak’s second anniversary. Read the full story here.
- I’ve already gotten a few emails from restaurants touting their Easter brunch and dinner menus, and I will plan to include highlights (along with links) in next week’s column. Please feel free to add your Easter menu information in the comments section below, or email me at [email protected] with “Easter” in the subject line.
- When Park & Oak Restaurant sent me their Easter menu, they also included this tidbit, which I couldn’t resist including since it has to do with the Masters (see intro to this column) and to me the Masters is synonymous with azaleas and springtime. “For the month of April, Park & Oak restaurant will be highlighting some very popular Southern dishes, while paying tribute to two iconic Southern events – the Master’s Golf Tournament and the Kentucky Derby. With the 2017 Masters Golf Tournament coming up next week, Park & Oak will pay tribute to a Masters concession favorite – the Pimento Cheese Sandwich. During the week of April 3-9, 2017, Park & Oak will spotlight Augusta’s iconic pimento cheese with $2 mini-P&O pimento cheese sandwiches during Happy Hour from 4-6 p.m. every day. In addition, during lunchtime hours, diners will have the opportunity to receive a complimentary side of Chef David’s new pimento cheese fries.”
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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“Making West Hartford fat again!” Seriously, these are all great and fun additions to our community!