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West Hartford Business Buzz: August 26, 2019

Taqueria La Grande is now open at 169 Park Rd. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

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

By Ronni Newton

I kind of feel like it’s Groundhog Day, that sense of déjà vu because the past three years at this time of year I have done nearly the same exact things each day for several days in a row.

On Thursday afternoon I very reluctantly left Surfside Beach on a spectacularly sunny day. The dog (different dog, same activity) got a bath, we finished packing up, and we left Nantucket. We saw a spectacular sunset from the ferry.

We arrived home around 11 p.m., and exactly 12 hours later I sat down and interviewed Superintendent of Schools Tom Moore about the upcoming school year. Then I went to Target to help Sam shop for what he needed to go back to UConn (different Target, same activity) the next day.

Sam is excited to return to UConn for his senior year, but sad to leave Millie. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

On Saturday I did a long run (went 10 miles, which was farther than last year, and thankfully didn’t fall this year), and then moved Sam back to UConn. Saturday night I enjoyed a delicious restaurant week dinner at Bricco with my daughter and sister (that was different this year).

On Sunday I covered the Center Streets event. On Monday I will attend the West Hartford Public Schools convocation.

What’s different – other than that we have a different dog this year, and a new Target in West Hartford – is that this was my last college drop-off. It’s so hard to believe that Sam is a senior, that this is already his last year of college. He’s not planning on graduate school, at least not right away, and Katie is already done with her classroom work, so this is it. I purposely approached UConn on 195 Saturday, rather than sneaking into the campus the back way, to experience the beauty of the campus at the beginning of the school year.

Based on the intro I wrote for Business Buzz on this day last year it sounds like the weather was fairly similar. I’ll take this weather any day, because it was about as perfect as could be!

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:

Antonia Trejo, one of the owners of Taqueria La Grande. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • Taqueria La Grande is now open at 169 Park Rd. This is the second location for owners Antonia Trejo and Oscar Ponce, who also operate a small restaurant in New Britain. As the name implies, the focus is tacos, and there are a wide variety of fillings to chose from ranging from chicken, to pork (pulled or grilled), to steak, to shrimp, to veggie. Prices start as low as $2.50 each, and all are served with onion and cilantro. “The tortillas are made 5 seconds before I bring them to you, they are really fresh,” said an employee at the West Hartford location. Quesadillas, served with cheese, onion, and cilantro, and burritos, served with cheese, rice, beans, lettuce, avocado, onion, and cilantro, are also available with the same variety of fillings as offered for the tacos. The menu also includes tortas (a Mexican sandwich that includes a choice of filling, Mexican cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, jalapeños, onion, and cilantro), tamales, enchiladas, flautas, and sopes. Taqueria La Grande is open daily from 10 a.m.-10 p.m., and reviews on Facebook from those who have visited are excellent. Visit the Facebook page for additional details.

    Mr. Chow Asian Fusion is now open at 179 Park Rd. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • It’s been a week of restaurant openings, but since I was on vacation I am still catching up and will have feature stories on several of them coming later this week. A few doors down from Taqueria La Grande, Mr. Chow Asian Fusion also opened last week at 179 Park Rd. It’s owned by Hecheng Chen (whose other restaurant operations include Ichiro on Farmington Avenue and Chosen 1 just over the line on Park Street in Hartford) and includes unique dishes from a variety of Asian cultures.
  • Also now open is Pokéworks in The Corbin Collection in Corbin’s Corner. Sonny Chen, who also owns West Hartford’s Black Bamboo, co-owns Pokéworks with his childhood friend, Max Condron. The two have been friends since they attended elementary school together in Hartford, and are now teaming up for this venture.

    Freshii appears nearly ready to open on LaSalle Road in West Hartford Center. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • Freshii (54 LaSalle Rd. in West Hartford Center) is also getting set to open. I haven’t been able to reach anyone involved with the business, but the window coverings have been removed and the interior looks complete, so I am guessing the opening will be this week. More info to come!
  • In non-restaurant news, Keating Agency Insurance and Berry Insurance Associates have merged. Mike Keating and Jim Berry are pleased to announce that after many years of mutual friendship and common business values, Berry Insurance Associates will be officially joining the Keating Agency family of companies as of Sept. 1. “Jim and Dona Berry have provided Connecticut clients over 20 years of protection and personal service. They will both still be actively involved during this transition,” said Mike Keating. The Berrys have been very active in the West Hartford community, sponsoring youth sports teams and since 2016 holding the annual holiday toy drive “POPS! For Patients” for Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. The locations have already combined, and Berry clients can visit Keating Agency Insurance at 10 Arapahoe Rd. in West Hartford Center at any time for assistance. Keating will also continue and hopes to expand the POPS For Patients tradition and will serve as a drop-off location. Keating Agency Insurance, family-owned for three generations, and provides Home, Auto, Life, Financial Services along with Commercial Lines and represents multiple carriers.
  • Berry’s now-former location appears to already have a new tenant lined up for the 1052 New Britain Ave. location. A sign in the window indicates that Kiss and Makeup, a hair styling and makeup service that specializes in wedding and other special occasion preparation, will be opening in that space.

    Renovations for Arethusa are underway in the former Toy Chest space. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • Many people have asked about Arethusa, and will be glad to know that plans are moving along. It appears that the structural work separating the former Toy Chest location at 975 Farmington Ave. into two spaces has been completed, and now the build-out for Arethusa itself can begin.
  • Taste by Spellbound, a from-scratch bakery, is just a few weeks away from opening at 8 Mayflower St. in Elmwood. More details to come!
  • This week’s sad news is the closing of True Made at 1145C New Britain Ave. in Elmwood, less than three months after opening its doors. Owner Mark Reeves said that the reason for closing is due to family obligations that conflict with operating the retail location. Reeves said he still plans to do some pop-ups and private trunk shows, and may reopen a retail space at some point in the future.  

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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