A round-up of openings, closings, and other news about West Hartford businesses.
By Ronni Newton
Suddenly it’s August. I feel like I just flipped over the calendar page to July, and now we’re on to another month.
Even though I will soon be returning to Nantucket as I usually do in August for some more beach time, heading into the back side of the summer has always made me sad. And while I have been pretty much wishing away time this year ever since the middle of March, I’m dreading the arrival of the cold weather even more than ever. It’s not that I like the weather we have been experiencing – it’s been unbearably humid, and my house does not have central air conditioning – but I dread the shorter days, and the eventual inability to eat meals and conduct day-to-day activities outside.
Like many people, I was convinced COVID-19 would long since be in the rearview mirror by the time fall arrived; I had actually hoped it would be gone before the summer.
But as the heart-wrenching decisions need to be made about school, sports, and how to celebrate fall holidays, I’m sad to think that there will need to be another change to what we have now adopted as “normal.”
We’ve visited a different West Hartford restaurant virtually every Saturday night since outdoor dining opened up, and hope to continue to eat outside as long as we can.
This week we enjoyed some great pizza at Savoy – and I wish I could remember the name of the super-fresh appetizer special pictured above, made with tomatoes, peppers, and other ingredients from Rosedale Farm. The dining corrals and new patios will remain in place for a few more months, but even with the extra capacity, business for our restaurants is far from what it was pre-pandemic, and I know our retailers continue to suffer as well.
Please continue to support our local businesses, and please wear your masks if you are in public places, and stay safe and healthy.
If you have information about businesses changing their operations due to COVID-19, 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:
- I was having an outdoor meeting Friday morning in the Center (if you saw me sitting at a table at Arethusa drinking coffee, it really was business!) and when I looked across Farmington Avenue I saw a Lux Bond & Green sign on the former Blueprint CT Home (before that Silver Dahlia) space at 970 Farmington Ave.! After visiting the new space, and seeking out Lux Bond & Green President John Green to get the details, I learned that this is a pop-up, while the main store at 46 LaSalle Rd. undergoes a renovation projection. “We had already closed for several months due to COVID, and didn’t feel we could close for another few months,” Green said, so they divided the store in half with a construction wall, and moved some of the merchandise to a pop-up space around the corner last week so the renovation can be done in stages. Right now, you can find the designer jewelry collections on Farmington Avenue, while watches, the repair shop, and additional jewelry remains in the LaSalle Road store. Once the first stage is done, the contents of the pop-up will switch with what is currently in the LaSalle Road store, including drop-off and pick-up for repairs (the repair shop itself, which is in the basement, won’t be impacted). In addition to an overall facelift, Green said the location of the Yurman collection and Rolex will be flipped once the renovation is complete. The Farmington Avenue lease runs through November, but the work should be done well in advance of that.
- The pop-up consignment shop Ari’s Closet is remaining in place for another week at the corner of Memorial and Isham roads in Blue Back Square. According to Arielle Haller-Silverstone, the pop-up has been so successful, and she has continued to get new merchandise from clients throughout the country as well as consignments from local residents, she decided to remain for another week. Ari’s Closet is open daily from 10 a.m.-9 p.m. For more information or to contact Haller-Silverstone, visit the website sellwithari.com.
- I don’t always repeat what I read on Facebook, but according to very trustworthy sources West Side Wines (10 Raymond Rd.) has been sold, and the store is now called Tilted Bottles. I heard about this too late on Sunday for anyone to be there to answer the phone, so I’ll update it for next week’s column once I get details.
Meredith Magee Donnelly, owner of kid art studio Homegrown Studio, emailed me this week with an update on her business (1026 Boulevard). “We are so excited to announce that we are back up to running classes at 50% capacity,” she said. “With our 1,600 square foot space we are lucky to have plenty of room to create a safe environment with lots of fun! Our new Safety Protocols can be found HERE.” In addition to classes beginning this fall, they are offering the space for one-day art parties and birthday parties of varying lengths for children from ages 1-10. They are also adding Homegrown PLAYSCHOOL – a drop off class for children ages 3-6 years that will be facilitated by Donnelly and Lizzy Brooks, both former Kindergarten teachers with Masters in Education. The classes will run Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9-10:30 a.m. with a 6:1 child/teacher ratio, and will include circle time, singing, read alouds, art and sensory explorations and math, science and literacy through play. Visit the website for more information or to register for a program.
- The full details are coming in a feature story this week, but if you happened to see my Instagram or Facebook page, you will know that I am very excited to share the news about Drink Mechanics. Entrepreneurs Aaron Stepka and Taylor Gillaspie – longtime friends who grew up in New England, met in LA, and combined have opened more than a dozen cocktail bars across the country – have partnered with Millwright’s owner and West Hartford resident Tyler Anderson to launch the Drink Mechanics cocktail delivery service. It’s kind of like an ice cream truck that delivers unique craft cocktails straight to your home – which I’ve heard many adults joke about as a too-good-to-be true possibility. You do have to order in advance from the website, but the order is transmitted instantly, so you can still have time to order if you see the truck at your neighbor’s house and in most cases you will be able to get your order filled right away. There are homemade cookies – Coco’s Cookies – for sale as well. The cocktails are hand crafted and canned by Stepka and Gillaspie at Millwright’s, and if you’re interested in a sampling they will be partnering with Anderson and AJ Auricchio’s new taco truck, TA-Que, for a socially-distanced tailgate party Monday night from 5-7:30 in the in the Millwright’s parking lot in Simsbury. More information can be found here about Monday night’s event, and while I’m going to save most of the details about Drink Mechanics for the dedicated story, you can find out more about the business, which just launched this week, on their website. We tried the Green Monstah (celery, pineapple, mezcal, citrus, poblano chili, can sugar) and The Kickstand (peach juice bourbon, aged rum, ginger, citrus, can sugar), and both were amazing!
- Congratulations to West Hartford resident Peter Murphy, a partner at the law firm of Shipman & Goodwin LLP, who has been elected to the Board of Directors of the Connecticut Convention & Sports Bureau (CTCSB) for its 2020-2021 fiscal year. The CTCSB is the State of Connecticut’s only statewide sales and marketing organization for meetings, conventions and sports events.“Peter Murphy is an experienced and respected attorney who will be a great asset to our organization,” Thomas Madden, chair of the Connecticut Convention & Sports Bureau and the director of Economic Development for the City of Stamford, CT, said “He also was elected to our Connecticut Convention & Sports Bureau’s Executive Committee.”
- American Eagle Financial Credit Union has just launched the nomination process for the third quarter of its “Cash Back to the Community” program, and will be taking nominations through Aug. 16. Local nonprofits only need one nomination to be considered for the ballot, and then voters decide the top three between Sept. 7-20. Nominate your nonprofit of choice here. The three winners (selected by the community) that receive the most votes will split the value of funds raised through the program, equal to 1% of of credit and debit card interchange income for that quarter. “Cash Back to the Community is a wonderful and effective way for our members and the general public to play an active role in our philanthropy efforts throughout Connecticut,” said Dean Marchessault, president and chief executive officer of American Eagle Financial Credit Union. “And, people have really taken to the program. Last quarter, over 240 organizations were nominated and 4,447 total votes were cast as we gave away nearly $20,000 to three worthy nonprofit organizations.” West Hartford organizations Friends of Feeney and the Seniors Job Bank have been among the winners in the past two contests, and a total of $40.266 has been raised. Nominations and voting for Cash Back to the Community will be conducted via American Eagle’s website or social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
- A reader shared the sad news that Frank Bellantoni, 97, longtime owner of the Kingswood Barber Shop, 846 Farmington Ave., has passed away. His obituary can be found here.
- ICYMI, Meçha Noodle Bar opened this past week at 975 Farmington Ave. in West Hartford Center. The creative and fun menu is described as “Southeast Asian comfort food,” and I really enjoyed everything I sampled! The complete story, and lots of photos, can be found here.
- It’s been about eight years since the Town Council first began considering a redevelopment project for the Sisters of Saint Joseph property at the corner of Park Road and Prospect Avenue, and following the Council’s approval of a tax stabilization agreement last week, it looks like the One Park Road project will finally come to fruition. 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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