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West Hartford Business Buzz: August 27, 2018

Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & WIne Bar operating partner Liz Kiyak is one of the organizers of Restaurant Week, and Fleming's is one of the participants. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

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

By Ronni Newton

I hope everyone has been enjoying the stretch of great weather the past few days. I will honestly say that while I am not longing for fall, I am also not looking forward to the return of heat and humidity this week.

I returned home late Thursday night from two weeks of vacation, reluctantly – very reluctantly – leaving the beach on a long-awaited perfect day that followed a number of rainy days. The only consolation was that the weather at home was nearly as perfect (but minus the waves and the sand).

Less than 12 hours after returning home I had jumped right back into the job, and sat down to interview Superintendent of Schools Tom Moore about what to expect when students return to class on Wednesday.

I went for a run on Saturday morning (I’m sort of training for the half marathon), and was looking around, enjoying the nice weather, focused on the man edging the sidewalk ahead of me on Ridgewood Road rather than looking down – when the toe of my shoe caught on an uneven section of sidewalk.

Thank you to the kind man who stopped edging, picked me up off the sidewalk, and brought me paper towels and bandaids.

Hunter Marotto captured this photo of me interviewing someone at Center Streets on Aug. 26, 2018. The bandaids aren’t visible in the photo. Photo credit: Hunter Marotto

I did manage to run (limp) home under my own power, but I am now sporting super-sized bandaids on the palms of both hands and my left knee. The cuts and road rash are in about the same places they were when I took a similar tumble while training for the half marathon three years ago. Maybe I need a new, safer hobby, or I need a good coating of bubble wrap.

Shaking hands is going to be a bit tough until my hands heal, but I can type just fine. Luckily I didn’t have to do much lifting when we moved Sam back to UConn later on Saturday.

And I got right back out Sunday morning for a run, followed by covering Center Streets, which was a great event!

There seems to be a bit of a lull in business news this week – but I’m waiting for confirmation of several pieces of news that I hope to have for next week.

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:

An ice sculpture at the preview party for West Hartford Restaurant Week held on Friday, Aug. 24 at Fleming’s. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • Are you set to do a lot of eating out? West Hartford’s Inaugural Restaurant Week begins on Tuesday, Aug. 28, and will run through Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 3. Barbara Lerner, the executive director of the West Hartford Chamber of Commerce, said that as of Friday afternoon 31 restaurants had signed up to participate. “West Hartford offers some of the best eating and dining experiences in the northeast,” Mayor Shari Cantor said. “It is a destination for people in the region. What a terrific way to highlight the many great restaurants that West Hartford has to offer,” Cantor said. Throughout the week, not only will diners be able to enjoy prix-fixe meals at a discount – with menu items including $20, $30, or $40 specials, and $12 lunch specials at a diverse group of restaurants throughout West Hartford – but they will also be supporting Foodshare, a local nonprofit that serves the hungry and food insecure in Hartford and Tolland counties. Five percent of all Restaurant Week menu sales will be donated to Foodshare. Restaurants may feature a special menu for the week or offer their discounts on existing menu items. For more information, including an up-to-date list of menus provided by participating restaurants, visit www.whrestaurantweek.com or @whrestaurantweek on Instagram, as well as West Hartford Restaurant Week on Facebook. Diners can also participate in an Instagram contest, sharing their pictures and experiences with #WHRestaurantWeek for a chance to win a $100 gift card to the restaurant of their choice.

    Morgani Hilyard. West Hartford Chamber of Commerce website photo

  • In other Chamber of Commerce news, Associate Director Morgan Hilyard has announced that she is leaving her job, but she’s not going far. Hilyard will leave the Chamber on Wednesday, and on Thursday will begin her role as community manager at the soon-to-open Spaces co-working facility in Blue Back Square (former REI store space). She said in a phone interview that she will be responsible for daily operations, including giving tours, the community center, cafe, and organizing community connections and networking events. “I’ve been at the Chamber the last four years and loved every minute of it,” Hilyard said. She said she’s excited about the opportunities that Spaces will provide, particularly for Millennials, and the chances for collaboration between entrepreneurs. “People crave being around other professionals, and like that social dynamic,” she said of the co-working space. Hilyard said she will continue to support the activities of the Chamber as well as FLOW – the Future Leaders of West Hartford – which she has been involved with since its inception. Chamber Board Chair Robert Kulakowski expressed mixed emotions in an announcement of Hilyard’s plans to depart. “From day one, Morgan was a fabulous addition to the Chamber and her contributions over the past four years cannot be overstated. Morgan has played a critical role in helping Executive Director Barbara Lerner to grow and strengthen our membership and she made serving our members’ needs a top priority. Under Morgan’s leadership, FLOW – the young professionals’ arm of the Chamber – flourished. Morgan leaves the Chamber a bigger, better, stronger organization than when she arrived and we are deeply grateful for her service. She will be missed both personally and professionally, though she promises to remain an active Chamber member in her new role!”

    Steve Boyle (right) and Marc Lehman have formed Dorm Room Coaching and Counseling. Courtesy photo

  • Longtime West Hartford Public School coach and counselor Steve Boyle, who is also the founder and director of 2-4-1 Sports, has resigned from his post with WHPS and joined forces with popular local therapist, Marc Lehman, to form Dorm Room Coaching and Counseling (DRCC). DRCC is an online platform that allows students who are away at college, who could be struggling for a variety of reasons, to access support from a trained coach or counselor from the comfort of their own room. “Students and parents have been reporting to us just how challenging it is to access help while away at school. Unless you are presenting as in absolute crisis at the counseling centers, students are being turned away or booked two or three weeks out for a brief appointment. We feel strongly that that sort of help shouldn’t be hard to get,” Boyle said. “We have incredible coaches and counselors from throughout North America. The beauty of our platform is that we are not bound by traditional office hours and our folks can work with the students to meet at a mutually agreeable time – could be during the day between classes – or late at night if need be.” Shortly after Boyle and Lehman formed DRCC, Time Magazine came out with the following article: Record Numbers of College Students are Seeking Treatment for Depression and Anxiety – But Schools Can’t Keep Up.Boyle said, “We saw the need, but it was very validating to see it reinforced so vividly by Time. That said, we really want to work with those kids that might be struggling for other reasons as well and help them move from merely surviving to actually thriving. College should be the best four years of a young person’s life. The platform (which is HIPAA compliant) is incredibly popular with the students because they’re so used to communicating online.” Boyle shared that this will be his first time in 29 years that he won’t be part of a faculty, but he’s excited to continue his work of supporting students. “My parents live in Northern Virginia and I only saw them twice all last year. I will miss WHPS, but starting DRCC is an exciting next step that allows me the flexibility of still helping students, while simultaneously growing 2-4-1 Sports and being able to see my family more.” You can view DRCC’s promotional video here or visit Dorm Room Coaching and Counseling for more information.
  • I heard back from Donut Crazy’s owner while I was on vacation. He said that the space at 993 Farmington Ave. is currently being sheet-rocked, and estimated opening in October.
  • BlumShapiro Consulting, a division of Blum, Shapiro & Company, P.C., announced Friday in a news release that it has achieved President’s Club Distinction as a top-performing partner by Sage Intacct, a leading provider of cloud financial management software. BlumShapiro was recognized earlier this year as Sage Intacct’s Partner of the Month in both March and April. “We are honored to be recognized again by Sage Intacct, and this time for their prestigious President’s Club award,” said James H. Clarkson, Jr., CPA, partner of BlumShapiro Consulting in the release. “Our partnership with Sage Intacct reflects our shared passion in delivering best-in-class products and services to clients.”

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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