A round-up of openings, closings, and other news about West Hartford businesses.
By Ronni Newton
It’s vacation time for my family, and while I am not completely disconnecting I’m hoping that West Hartford remains relatively quiet for the next two weeks.
I have numerous stories in the queue that will be published in the coming days (and already have some Business Buzz to share next week) and a great group of interns and freelancers handling things in West Hartford while I am away, but over the next two weeks I’m also hoping to spend some quality time with family on Nantucket – sitting on the beach, reading, biking, running (I did 8 miles on Saturday as part of my half marathon training), and enjoying lots of great food and drink. So far our only non homemade food over the past week was takeout on the ferry late Thursday night – and also the doughnut I had on Saturday morning that I ate before I thought to take a photo. Otherwise we’ve been grilling dinners at the house and hanging out on the deck, so readers are spared my food photos this week.
Yes, that’s Millie in the photo above with me. She had a haircut just before vacation which makes grooming much easier, and by day two of vacation I am also in an easy grooming routine and have given up on makeup and blow drying my hair. And yes, we are incredibly lucky to have this longtime family beach house that also has a widows walk with amazing panoramic views of the ocean and the rest of the island, and is a great vantage point for watching the sunset.
I’m leaving this paragraph in here, although last week was much better and I think I only had to email three people who tried to post comments to stories with their first name only (or some made-up moniker). Please remember that I will not publish your comment until you provide your full name! Once a commenter gets through the approval queue the first time, future comments are posted automatically, and there are some commenters who are grandfathered because this requirement is only a year or two old. I have emailed all who have tried to comment without complete names, and in every case they haven’t bothered to respond or provide their names. If there’s silence for a week, I delete the request. Just wanted readers to know. If a week goes by and you don’t respond to my email asking for a full name, the request will be deleted.
The state changed its COVID reporting a few weeks ago and while detailed reports aren’t issued daily the number of positive tests over the past week for each town is updated each day. The most recent report (as of Sunday) indicates 67 positive tests in West Hartford over the previous seven days – which is down quite a bit from last week when it topped 100. The positivity rate is at 12.3% – which doesn’t include the home tests that are positive but not reported. Cases are down again after rising last week. One day I hope to be able to delete this paragraph completely, but in the meantime, please continue to have patience since not everyone has the same level of comfort, continue to look out for each other, support our local businesses – and stay safe and healthy.
If you have information to share about local businesses, please provide details in the comments or email Ronni Newton at [email protected].
Connecticut Physical Therapy Specialists is the sponsor of this week’s Business Buzz!
Here’s this week’s Buzz:
- Float Forty-One, which is located at 345 North Main Street in Bishops Corner (near the Paper Store and Yoga Shop) has just opened a salt cave. “It was definitely on our list of things to add, but when we first opened we weren’t sure what to put in that space,” said owner Sarah LaTeano. Float Forty-One opened in January 2020, and while the goal was to add another modality to enhance the operation, shortly after opening the goal shifted to survival once the pandemic hit. LaTeano said she and her husband, who is the co-founder of the business, decided to move forward with the halo therapy salt oasis. Halo therapy – a dry salt therapy that is good for respiratory function, La Teano said, enhances the core business of floating. She said it’s particularly useful before beginning a float because of the airway and respiratory benefits. “You’re decompressing, so by the tie you get into the float you don’t have to do that,” LaTeano said. Salt therapy can be combined with floating – and LaTeano said it greatly enhances the floating experience – or can also be a separate and standalone service. Some groups plan a self-care day but have participants who are unable to float, but can still have a self care day that involves the salt cave which is available on an individual basis or for small groups. She said sometimes groups visit Float Forty-One for a self care experience, and having the salt cave will allow people who don’t want to float to still participate in an element of the experience. The salt cave includes zero gravity chairs and moon pods, and the floor is covered with sand grade Himalayan salt that makes you feel like you’re at the beach. There’s a salt wall with soothing lighting. And in addition to adding a salt cave in West Hartford, LaTeano said that two weeks ago she and her husband purchased a building in Cromwell at 17 Shunpike Road, and plan to open a second location in the three-story building in 2023. “This building needs a ton of work, however, we’re excited to pour our hearts into it to make it Connecticut’s premier wellness destination. We have so much planned for this space … for now all we can say is that we will have four float tanks and a salt cave the rest will be shared along the way! The ground floor of this property is currently home to Cromwell Massage and they are staying. Finding this building is our biggest dream come true!”
- Also in Bishops Corner, the Iron Shop by Superb Steel has now opened at 2575 Albany Ave., where West Hartford Ornamental Iron Works had previously been located. Steve Degliuomini, who will be managing the West Hartford location for owner Tom Ostynski, said Superb Steel has a larger operation in New Britain (40 Harvard Street) which serves their commercial clients and more structural products, but this location is more focused on residential and decorative items. “What we do is all custom made items,” he said, including railings and arbors. “We like the location, the niche,” Degliuomini said. The building, which was constructed in 1921, is remaining virtually the same (the windows are being updated), and the new sign mimics a sign that was there 70 years ago. As of Monday, the shop will be one from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Saturdays. “We’re excited,” Degliuomini said.
- WeHa Brewing & Roasting (141 Shield Street in Elmwood) has added a great new patio, and dogs are welcome, owner Cody McCormack said. Follow WeHa Brewing & Roasting on Facebook or Instagram (@wehabrewingco) to stay up-to-date on their schedule of special events.
- There is activity taking place at the long-vacant lot at the corner of Raymond Road and Farmington Avenue! I was so excited to hear about work finally taking place on this site, which has been owned by Socony Mobil Oil Co, Inc. (aka Exxon Mobil) for nearly 100 years and was formerly a Mobil gas station. According to Economic Development Coordinator Kristen Gorski, the work taking place is additional environmental remediation under a long-standing permit – which is not as exciting as I thought it might be – but it’s good to see some progress on a site that has long been an eyesore in West Hartford Center.
- Both buildings at 920 and 924 Farmington Ave. have now been demolished, paving the way for the next step in construction of The Byline, the project that will bring 48 new luxury apartments to West Hartford Center. The project was unanimously approved by the Town Council in late January, and was met with excitement by Council members, including Mayor Shari Cantor who praised it as a great example of “new urbanism” with a location that is a gateway to the Center, encourages walking to amenities, and is right next to the Trout Brook Trail. The section of the trail that runs alongside the property officially opened last month.
- The wrap has been installed on the windows and doors, formally announcing the planned opening of Kilwins at 38 Isham Road in Blue Back Square, where most recently Trollbeads was located. Kathleen Allen, who along with her husband purchased the franchise business that specializes in high quality chocolates, ice cream, and confections, said they both grew up in Bristol and after living in Maryland and working in corporate America are looking forward to moving back to Central Connecticut. She said she is hoping to open by December.
- Art is popping up all over in Blue Back Square – an effort by the new owner Charter Realty to bring more visual energy and vitality to the space. I took these photos last week!
- Big Brothers Big Sisters of Connecticut, a statewide youth mentoring organization, recently received a generous $30,000 Signature Grant Award from the Petit Family Foundation. The grant will support program enhancements in science, technology and art for mentors and mentees, while building mentoring relationships. At the presentation of the Signature Grant Award were (from left in photo below) Michael Chambrello, Petit Family Foundation Board Member; Andy Fleischmann of West Hartford, President and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Connecticut; Annemarie Holly, Grants and Program Enhancement Manager, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Connecticut; Johanna Petit Chapman, Vice President, Petit Family Foundation; and Dr. William A. Petit, Jr., President of the Petit Family Foundation. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Connecticut provides caring, inspirational adult mentors to under resourced children, ages 6 through 18, in each of the state’s 169 municipalities. To obtain detailed information on the organization, please visit: www.ctbigs.org.
- ICYMI, the Children’s Museum‘s Special Use Permit, allowing temporary relocation to space at Emanuel Synagogue, was approved by the Town Plan and Zoning Commission last week. The preschool will be opening at its new space on Mohegan Drive for the start of the school year at the end of this month, and the museum will be closing by early September and will reopen in the new space a few weeks later. 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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