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Bishops Corner Blue Back Square Business Elmwood Park Road The Center

West Hartford Business Buzz: April 30, 2018

REI held a grand opening at its new store in the Corbin Collection, which opened on April 24, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

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

By Ronni Newton

Photo credit: Sean Flanagan

I think it’s finally springtime in West Hartford! The grass is getting green, the trees are budding, and the flowers are blooming. Thanks so much to Sean Flanagan for this beautiful photo of a magnolia blossom!

Yes, there were a few weather setbacks this past week, but none involved snow or sleet and there were also some beautiful days where coats were unnecessary. Saturday was spectacular, and it seemed like most of the town was doing yard work, including at our house where my husband cut the lawn for the first time this season. Please note that the next yard waste pick up is not this week but next week (the week of May 7). I’ve noticed a lot of soggy bags sitting at the curb.

We put out our patio furniture on Saturday, and it seems like most of the restaurants in town are also set up for the outdoor dining season to begin – and with this week’s summery forecast, those patios are sure to get some good use. Did you know that there are 1,434 seats for outdoor dining in West Hartford? That was one of the facts given out at the West Hartford Chamber of Commerce’s annual Economic Development Luncheon on Thursday. (See more about that in one of the bullet points below.)

I’d like to give a shout out to my son, Sam, who turns 20 on Tuesday, May 1! It’s hard to believe I will no longer have a teenager. Sam has two final exams on his birthday, and another one later in the week, and then we are looking forward to having him home for the summer when he will be keeping busy with an internship at the New Britain Bees, valet parking for LAZ, and working with a friend who has a driveway sealing business.

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:

Bikes suspended in the air at REI, which this weekend held a grand opening at its new store in the Corbin Collection, which opened on April 24, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • The past two weeks have been banner weeks for business openings in West Hartford, especially at The Corbin Collection – the new shopping center in the redeveloped Sears and Sears Auto Center properties in Corbin’s Corner. Three businesses are now open in The Corbin Collection, including REI which moved from Blue Back Square last weekend and reopened in its impressive new store on Tuesday morning. The 25,000 square foot store is about the same size as the Blue Back store was, at least in terms of floor space, but the soaring ceiling with exposed ductwork and skylights gives it such an open, industrial feeling, and also allows for vertical display of large items, including an assortment of bikes which are suspended in the air. REI West Hartford Store Manager Andy Hodgson said Friday that having the store all on one level is a great asset, as is having much easier access to a loading dock for large items. “This new store is going to be an incredible resource for the big outdoor community in West Hartford,” Hodgson said in a statement. “We’re going to improve the customer experience with things like free parking, we’re offering world class gear for hikers, bikers, paddlers and snow sports lovers, and we’re going to have a permanent home for REI Outdoor School.” The REI Co-op has 37,000 members in the Hartford area. REI held a three-day grand opening party from Friday through Sunday, that included giveaways, classes, free food, and a fundraiser for the Connecticut Forest and Parks Association through a partnership with Hartford-based Hanging Hills Brewing Company, where 10 percent of the brewery’s sales of limited-edition India pale ale, “Old New England Trail,” were donated to the nonprofit organization that maintains the New England Trail. See the end of the column for many more photos of REI.

    Essential Health has rebranded, is expanding, and will be moving from Farmington to 74 Park Rd., in West Hartford

  • Much more to come on this one, but Essential Health – a combination natural food market, pasture-raised meats purveyor, and chiropractic care with a focus on healthy living and nutrition from Dr. Allie Mendelson (formerly Talcott Family Chiropractic and TFC HealthFoods of Farmington) will be expanding and moving in the next few months. According to its website, “Essential Health provides food, products and care for our customers and patients to live longer and healthier lives and avoid chronic disease.” The business will be moving to 74 Park Rd. in West Hartford, the space vacated by Value Office Furniture (which relocated to 22A Andover Dr. in West Hartford). For more information about Essential Health, click here for the website.
  • If you haven’t checked out SPoT Coffee yet in Blue Back Square, Monday is the day to do so! Following a ribbon cutting at 10:30, from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. there will be a grand opening celebration featuring free samples of the SPoT’s stone-baked pizza, hand-crafted beverages, and fresh-baked treats.
  • Congrats to the Delamar West Hartford Hotel, which has been awarded “Four Diamond Status” from AAA! According to a news release, “AAA Four Diamond Hotels exhibit stylish and refined decor, offering extensive amenities all delivered with a high level of hospitality and attention to detail.” Highlighted in the release are the hotel’s complimentary valet parking, complimentary glass of champagne served upon arrival, art exhibit from the New Britain Museum of American Art, exquisite dining available at Artisan, spa and newly-opened MedSpa (more to come on that this week!), and facilities for events for up to 400 people.
  • This is a cool business tidbit provided by a reader: The April issue of “Popular Mechanics” included a feature on the “55 Things to Do Before the World Ends,” and no. 54 was “Experience great diner food while it still exists.” A number of diners and their signature dishes were listed, among them the Quaker Diner, noted for its corned beef hash! For those who enjoy visiting diners around the country, the complete list is: The chili dog at Green’s Lunch in Charlotte, NC; the corned beef hash at the Quaker Diner in West Hartford, CT; the egg sandwich at Steve’s Park Diner in Middlebury, VT; the sausage gravy at Betty’s Restaurant in Shepherds­town, WV; the breakfast burrito at Tia Sophia’s in Santa Fe, NM; the souffle pancake at Bette’s Ocean View Diner in Berkeley, CA; the pancakes at White Palace Grill in Chicago, IL; the biscuits and chocolate gravy at Calico County in Fort Smith, AR; and the broasted chicken at Betty’s Pies in Two Harbors, MN.
  • Congrats to videographer David Chmielewski of DirectLine Media, who has expanded his operations, and has joined Amber Jones Photography in her expanded studio space at 485 New Park Ave.
  • The news that has many people upset – before we get to the ICYMI department – is that Suburban Pharmacy, which has been family-owned for more than 50 years in Bishops Corner is planning to sell their Bishops Corner drugstore to CVS. From a Facebook post from an employee: “I’m sad to say we are closing our doors Friday, May 4th at 3 p.m., and reopening on Monday, May 7 at 8 a.m. under CVS branding.” 

    The barrier has been removed, and Harvest Wine Bar should open in the beginning of May. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • ICYMI, Thursday’s West Hartford Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Update covered openings of countless (or at least too many for me to count) new businesses that have opened in town over the past year, as well as news about new businesses coming to town and other new developments. Many have been covered in a Business Buzz column, but Director of Community Development Mark McGovern and Economic Development Specialist Kristen Gorski did a great job summarizing everything in an engaging way, and also had several exciting scoops as they provided a tour through town. Included in their update was the imminent opening of Harvest Wine Bar, and the planned opening this summer of Donut Crazy and VMart. Click here for this not-to-be-missed story!
  • It’s hard to imagine that many people missed this one, but Shake Shack officially opened Friday in The Corbin Collection in West Hartford’s Corbin’s Corner. Click here for all of the details of the ribbon cutting with CEO and founder Danny Meyer, and some food photos!
  • Finally, ICYMI, when you’re watching the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, you may want to root for My Boy Jack, who is part-owned by West Hartford resident and business owner (ProCourier) Michael Gualtieri. Click here to read how Gualtieri and his buddies created Don’t Tell My Wife Stables, and how that led to the group having a horse running in the country’s premier horse race!

Remember, if you have any business news to share, add it in the comments section below or email Ronni Newton at [email protected].

Like what you see here? Click here to subscribe to We-Ha’s newsletter so you’ll always be in the know about what’s happening in West Hartford!

REI held a grand opening at its new store in the Corbin Collection, which opened on April 24, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

West Hartford Chamber Executive Director Barbara Lerner at REI, which held a grand opening at its new store in the Corbin Collection, which opened on April 24, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

REI held a grand opening at its new store in the Corbin Collection, which opened on April 24, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

REI held a grand opening at its new store in the Corbin Collection, which opened on April 24, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

REI held a grand opening at its new store in the Corbin Collection, which opened on April 24, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

REI held a grand opening at its new store in the Corbin Collection, which opened on April 24, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

REI held a grand opening at its new store in the Corbin Collection, which opened on April 24, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

REI held a grand opening at its new store in the Corbin Collection, which opened on April 24, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

REI held a grand opening at its new store in the Corbin Collection, which opened on April 24, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

REI held a grand opening at its new store in the Corbin Collection, which opened on April 24, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

REI held a grand opening at its new store in the Corbin Collection, which opened on April 24, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

REI held a grand opening at its new store in the Corbin Collection, which opened on April 24, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

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2 Comments

    • Yes! As far as I know they are still finalizing site approval, but I am in touch with the owner on a regular basis and will definitely share any updates as soon as they are available! ~Ronni

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