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West Hartford Business Buzz: August 29, 2016

Groundbreaking for the Chick-fil-A on New Park Avenue in West Hartford took place on Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

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

By Ronni Newton

I’ve been building up to this all summer, but as of Friday at 4 p.m. (“Say goodbye” was actually scheduled for 4 p.m. on UConn’s Freshman Friday itinerary), my husband and I are empty nesters.

Sam was great about letting me take photos of him – with the dog, with the packed car, in the packed car surrounded by all of his stuff, with me, with his roommate. The move-in went very smoothly thanks in part to the help of big sister Katie and her fellow Husky Haulers who happened to be assigned to North Campus.

We’ve been through this before. I had a pair of scissors in my purse and we had the hammer ready because we knew that lofting beds is not as easy as it should be.

Sam let me give him a great big hug and even a kiss on the cheek when we left him in his new dorm room just after 4 p.m. (Okay, I do tend to run bit late.) One mom was crying as she said goodbye to her daughter in the parking lot, but my eyes were dry. Until …

I found Sam's pint-sized baseball glove on his floor after dropping him at UConn, and that was what brought on the tears. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

I found Sam’s pint-sized baseball glove on his floor after dropping him at UConn, and that was what brought on the tears. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

I walked into Sam’s room to open the window right after we got home. His bed was made, for probably the first time in about five years. And on the floor was a tiny baseball glove – probably the glove he got when he first started playing t-ball about 14 years ago. I honestly have no idea why it was on the floor, or where it has been for the past decade, but the sight of that pint-sized mitt brought on the waterworks.

While having both kids in college is certainly not a tragedy –quite the opposite – becoming an empty nester is still a milestone. Both of my kids have gone to sleep-away camp, and on trips without us. Sure, there have been times that both have been out of the house for the night at the same time, but it’s not the same. Neither one is living here right now, and that’s a major life change for all involved. Both are only 40 minutes away, but they are living somewhere else, meeting new people, having experiences completely separate from my husband and me. Sam may be at an in-state college, but his roommate is from a completely different continent.

In the back of my mind is the fact that although I spent the first two summers after college at home, other than a few weeks here and there, that was it. My husband only went home after his freshman year.

After the drop-off we had a fun and busy weekend, saw lots of friends, checked out the new Hog River Brewing Company, went to Center Streets, drank coffee on the patio. I bought way too much chicken to grill Sunday night, and need to readjust my grocery shopping.

My Facebook feed has been filled with photos of college drop-offs for the past week or two, but West Hartford Public Schools reopen on Wednesday so that’s about to change. For the first time in 16 years I will be observing the first day of school solely as a reporter, and my message to all parents is to savor those moments. In the blink of an eye you will be an empty nester, too.

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:

Groundbreaking for the Chick-fil-A on New Park Avenue in West Hartford took place on Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Groundbreaking for the Chick-fil-A on New Park Avenue in West Hartford took place on Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • Chick-fil-A has broken ground for its West Hartford location! Construction fencing and a trailer are up, and equipment started foundation work on Thursday, Aug. 25 at 511 New Park Ave., next to Aldi and in the parking lot of BJs and Home Depot. Chick-fil-A received final approval from the West Hartford Town Council on May 10, 2016. Company officials previously said that the 4,779 square foot restaurant would open in January 2017.
  • While you’re thinking about fast food, there’s a chance to snag some free fries today! According to a news release: “Dallas-based better burger brand MOOYAH Burgers, Fries & Shakes is marking the opening of their 100th restaurant in a big way. On Monday, Aug. 29, MOOYAH will host a nationwide celebration offering free fries for a year to the first 100 guests in line at each location.” Those first 100 will receive a pack of 52 coupons for free fries, as well as a “Fresh Hot Buns” t-shirt. MOOYAh will also give away $100 per day for 100 days through its rewards app, and will be handing out other prizes throughout this upcoming week. West Hartford’s MOOYAH is located at 722 North Main St. in Bishops Corner. “Hitting the 100-unit mark solidifies our place as a major player in the better burger segment,” said MOOYAH Chief Operating Officer Michael Mabry in the release. “We’re excited to continue building on this momentum by partnering with entrepreneurs like the Matt Rusconi (owner of the three in-state locations) who share MOOYAH’s vision of a seriously fun atmosphere that serves seriously good burgers, fries and shakes.”
    Free fries for a year to the first 100 in line at MOOYAH on Monday! Courtesy photo

    Free fries for a year to the first 100 in line at MOOYAH on Monday! Courtesy photo

  • Total Wine & More, which opened a location in Corbin’s Corner in West Hartford on June 24, has made the news several times this week. On Tuesday the company issued a press release indicating that it had filed a lawsuit challenging Connecticut’s minimum pricing laws for wine and spirits. “Connecticut is the only state in the country where, by law, the wholesalers and retailers together set the minimum price consumers pay for wine and spirits,” stated the release. The lawsuit alleges in part that: “Connecticut’s mandatory minimum pricing scheme results in retail prices for wine and spirits that may be in excess of 25 percent higher than prices offered for identical products in surrounding states; and the price-fixing by wholesalers and retailers constitutes restraint of trade and a violation of the federal Sherman anti-trust act.” Total Wine & More Vice President of Public Affairs Edward Cooper said that the consumer is the loser under the minimum pricing structure, with many driving to Massachusetts or New Hampshire where prices are cheaper. The Hartford Courant’s Daniela Altimari interviewed lobbyist Carroll J. Hughes, who represents the mom-and-pop liquor stores that claim they can’t compete without the minimum pricing and will be driven out of business. In a story just two days later, Altimari reported that the state Department of Consumer Protection is now investigating Total Wine & More for openly (in full-page advertisements) defying the state’s minimum pricing law. Stay tuned!
  • In case you missed this story, also published this morning, there may soon be a proposal for a moderately-sized residential development in West Hartford Center. Lexham, which owns multiple buildings in the Center, would like to construct apartments in space currently occupied by surface parking, but a zoning amendment must be approved first. Click here for the complete story.
  • I personally hate rushing fall and it’s not even Labor Day, but if you are already thinking about your Halloween costume the pop-up Spirit Halloween store is ready for you. It’s now open in the former Eastern Mountain Sports storefront in Corbin’s Corner.
  • Playhouse on Park has some new board members. According to a news release, Nina Elgo, Donna Haghighat, and Janice Weinstein join the Playhouse Theatre Group, Inc. Board of Directors as the theater begins its eighth season. Elgo is a judge for the Superior Court of Connecticut and the Judicial District of Hartford, Weinstein is an interior decorator and the owner of West Hartford’s Spirited Design, and Haghighat is the chief engagement and advocacy officer at YWCA Hartford Region.
  • See the countdown on the top of the page? You have just days, scant hours left to vote for Best of West Hartford. There are more than 275 finalists selected in nearly 50 categories – all determined by nominations from the community, and if you want to see them broken down by neighborhood, Joy Taylor was kind enough to do that. Click here to see the breakdown! We don’t want anyone complaining that they didn’t have a chance to vote, so if you haven’t done so, here’s the link. There’s still time to buy your tickets to the gala awards show on Sept. 8 – a great networking opportunity that includes food and drink and the chance to be first to know who the winners are! Click here to purchase tickets before the price goes up.

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

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