A round-up of openings, closings, and other news about West Hartford businesses.
By Ronni Newton
Ah … springtime.
It was a spectacular weekend for being outside, following a week that also included some very nice days. My daffodils are almost in full bloom, and while there are bound to be a few more chilly days in the next few weeks, I’m hoping my down coat can remain in the closet for at least the next six months.
I guess I did okay on my CT Live! debut, because they invited me back as a monthly guest! Tune in to NBC Connecticut at 11:30 a.m. today, where I will be joining Taylor Kinzler and Jimmy Marlow to talk about about West Hartford business news. It’s great having the opportunity to share what’s going on in this town with an even broader audience through CT Live!
And speaking of a broader audience, I do have some other big news to share: In addition to being managing editor of We-Ha.com, I have also been named the editor of West Hartford LIFE as of the May issue! What this also means is a chance for more collaboration with Turley Publications, with shared content between We-Ha.com, the West Hartford Press, and West Hartford LIFE. I am very excited to be able to share the bylines of Ted Glanzer, Dave Heuschkel, John Fitts, and others on We-Ha.com, and to write some more long form features myself for West Hartford LIFE.
To all of the kids and families enjoying spring break this week – I hope you have a great vacation!
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:
- If you’ve heard rumors that Toy Chest is moving, you’re correct – but this is not bad news and no fear, West Hartford Center’s iconic toy store is not going far! Owner Marilyn Caruso has confirmed that the Toy Chest is moving next door, just one storefront to the east, from 975 Farmington Ave. to 973 Farmington Ave. “We think it’s a very positive move,” Caruso told me. “We love the Center, and don’t want to move from the Center,” she said. Caruso said she renovated the store when she purchased the business from its original owner, Morris Shlien (G. Fox’s former toy department manager), in 1989, and knowing it’s in need of some updating, she determined it would make more sense to move next door. While the space, which most recently was home to Second Time Around, is somewhat smaller, Caruso said it “will be a fresh, new look,” and they will still carry the same products that generations of West Hartfordites have come to depend on – toys, games, puzzles, dolls, furniture, strollers, baby equipment, and more. Work is underway readying the new space, which like the current space has a lower level, but the move won’t happen for at least a few weeks – not until some time after the Easter Bunny has visited. Toy Chest, which celebrated its 60th birthday in 2016, was originally at 986 Farmington Ave., where the Elbow Room is now located. Shlien moved across the street in 1980, taking the space of the Youth Center, a clothing store. For more information about the Toy Chest, visit their website.
- Park Road between South Highland and Tobey streets has turned into quite the healthy destination, and the latest addition is Health is Wealth, which offers a variety of juices and smoothies that can be customized to your taste and nutritional needs. “Our mission is to inspire community through healthy drinks,” said owner Anthony Williams, who also owns the nearby Jaws Barbershop (5 Oakwood Ave.). Health is Wealth’s menu offers a variety of suggested blends ($5.5 for a 16-oz. serving and $7.50 for a 24-oz. serving), including the WEHA Special (strawberry, pineapple, mango, kiwi, and agave), and blends named for – and in the school colors of – Conard, Hall, Northwest Catholic, Kingswood, and ASD. Rather than choosing the Conard (beets, raspberry, carrots, almonds) for my kids’ alma mater, I tasted the Jaws special – a deliciously-refreshing mixture of mango, lemon, pineapple, agave, and coconut water. The shop, located at 74 Park Rd. right next door to Essential Health, just opened on Tuesday and is in its soft opening phase, with a grand opening planned for May 1, Williams said. See more photos below.
- Several readers messaged me to tell me that Charming Nails & Spa has recently opened at 312 Park Rd. (next to Sweet Chili) and all raved about the friendliness and great service offered by husband and wife owners Peter and Eileen, who recently moved here from New York City, and the cleanliness of the salon. I stopped by over the weekend, and while I didn’t have time for a manicure or pedicure, I will definitely confirm the friendliness and cleanliness, and will be heading back there to take advantage of the 15 percent opening discount that runs through April 15.
- Easter season and beer are a good combo, right? The answer is yes when you’re talking about Bunny Hops – an event that will be held in Blue Back Square on Thursday, April 18. Blue Back Square Marketing Director Amy Cholowa (whose pup, GG, posed for this photo), said Bunny Hops is a pub crawl – and it’s also a benefit for local dog rescue nonprofit The Woof Gang. For those who would like to have an evening out with their canine companions (with our without bunny costumes), dogs are welcome inside Spaces, the new coworking facility at 71 Raymond Rd. Spaces is partnering with Thomas Hooker Brewing Co. and will offer craft beer and games such as Jenga, Clue, Sorry, and Taboo for event-goers to enjoy. Sara Huber Photography will also be there to take photos of your pup. Spaces serves as the check-in for the pub crawl as well, and those who leave their dogs at home can continue their evening by checking out the beer specials at Bar Louie, Deadbolt, The Cook and The Bear, and World of Beer. Tickets are $25 and include two beer tickets, pizza (served at Spaces), valet parking, 25 percent off of purchases at Woof Gang Bakery and Grooming, and more. Buy tickets and learn more by clicking here.
- The sign is up and Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine (PTSMC) will be opening its West Hartford clinic at 135 South Main St. (next to Pho 135) on April 29 and will begin scheduling patients this week. I got a tour of the soon-to-be finished clean and modern space from Managing Partner Tom Kassan, and will be writing a feature story as the opening gets closer.
- Congrats to Fleet Feet West Hartford – named one of the Best Running Stores in America for 2019!
- While the details don’t yet appear on their website, GoNetspeed’s phase 2 expansion is about to get underway. According to Mark LeBlanc of LeBlanc Tech Services, who is contracted with GoNetspeed to help build their customer base, phase 2 will encompass roughly the area west of Trout Brook Drive (service is already in areas available east of that), and bordered on the north by Asylum, the west by Ridgewood Road, and the south by I-84. For more details, contact Mark through his website www.leblanctechservices.com.
- The West Hartford Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting at Uberdog on Friday, celebrating the doggy day care/boarding facility’s recent move from 635 New Park Ave. to 121 Talcott Rd. Uberdog held a grand opening celebration over the weekend, which included hosting a very successful dog adoption event with Dog Star Rescue. The new space looks great – and a feature story is coming soon!
- Congrats to West Hartford native Michael Farrell (a friend of my daughter’s from Conard), who along with partner and fellow Harvard grad Ben Brook has received nearly $4 million in seed money to co-found a start-up company, Transcend, focused on data and privacy issues. Click here to read about them in Business Insider.
- Work in Progress Fitness (WIP), one of the first fitness studios to open in the New Park Avenue area, is excited to celebrate its sixth anniversary on April 15! WIP offers 50-minute boot camp classes lead by experienced and passionate coaches, and was established by two West Hartford women, Mary Kate Doyle and Laura Keever, who were looking to make boot camp classes less intimidating and more personally empowering while providing an effective total body workout. Keever and Doyle say that they are most proud oft the WIP community – and are inspired by the diverse group of clients who continue to work together and motivate each other on the gym floor every day, in the original West Hartford location as well as in Canton and downtown Hartford. “Amazing connections are made here and you receive an abundance of support from both your coaches and your fellow Wipsters, no one is left behind,” they said in a news release. In celebration of the anniversary, WIP will be offering free community classes on their April 15 anniversary – at 6:45 a.m., 9:30 a.m., noon, 6 p.m., and 7 p.m. Visit the website www.wipfitness.com to learn more about WIP Fitness or register for a free community class on April 15.
- Planters are coming back to Elmwood, and the Elmwood Business Association has set a goal to have 60 planters lining the streetscape this year. Charlie Hilborn of Sheehan-Hilborn-Breen Funeral Home will be once again pounding the pavement looking for donations – $100 for a planter plus $100 for upkeep. The Elmwood Business Association voted to donate $1,000 to the effort, and are hoping for many more contributions. Donations should be payable to Knox Inc., and mailed to Charlie Hilborn at 1084 New Britain Ave.
- Keating Agency Insurance is in the final round of their “Puppy Naming Madness” competition. Four possible names remain in contention for the name of their absolutely adorable Golden Retriever puppy – who will arrive next week. Click here to vote for: Finley (aka Finn), Rider, Shamrock, or Barkley Von Woofenhauser. Donations made to each animal-related charity that you choose when you vote!
- This week’s sad news is that Janie and Jack is closing its Blue Back Square store, but the exact thing has not yet been announced. There is already interest from new tenants, according to Blue Back Square Marketing Director Amy Cholowa.
- As probably every already knows, Grant’s closed on Monday. Click here to read that story, which includes an interview with Billy Grant.
- FLOW, the Future Leaders of West Hartford, will be hosting a 90s/2000s trivia night at Effie’s Place on Wednesday. Click here for details.
- Congrats to Annisa Teich, who with her mother, Annette Farese, have purchase West Hartford Coworking. Click here to read the complete story.
- Don’t miss this week’s Experience We-Ha podcast – an interview with Deb Cohen of The Front Door Project! Click here to listen.
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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