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West Hartford Business Buzz: August 6, 2018

Work is progressing on Cost Plus World Market and buybuy Baby, both of which will be accessible from doors next to Saks Off 5th that will lead to the lower level of The Corbin Collection. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

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

By Ronni Newton

This was a week of contrasts – especially Tuesday when I started the day doing CrossFit, went to Town Hall to cover the swearing in of the Assistant Fire Chief Greg Priest, then to a wine lunch at Artisan (see just one of the photos below), and, after a few hours at my computer, headed to the Conard track to do interval training with my friend Laurie.

Kettlebell swings, which were part of the “WOD” (workout of the day) at CrossFit Hartford, were not as intimidating as I thought they would be. Photo credit: Kevin Doyle

CrossFit was fun – (Did I really say that?) – and I was tired but energized at the end because I had stepped out of my comfort zone and realized I was stronger and more flexible than I thought I was. I’m still sore, but it’s probably because I also ran those 100m intervals the same day, and then later in the week also did a body pump class, and on Saturday morning did a bootcamp class rather than running since it was pouring.

My house, which does not have central air conditioning, has been featuring several climate zones this week: the tropics, in the areas where there are no air conditioning units, and the arctic, which is where the air conditioning is on. We don’t have ducts (radiator heat), and we have very limited closet space already, so when we considered central air years ago it was not only expensive but intrusive. I’m honestly trying very hard not to complain about heat or humidity since I know I will be complaining when it’s freezing cold and snowy/sleety outside.

Last week was a busier week than I would expect to have in the summer, with quite a few police stories. I also had the chance to interview Bruno Wu, the Chinese-American billionaire at the helm of Seven Stars Cloud Group and the reinvention of the former UConn West Hartford campus, as well as some others involved with the project. I’ll have a story tomorrow that’s focused on what West Hartford residents can expect from the project – a bit of a timeframe for the development, and how it will impact our town. There have been plenty of stories written about what Seven Stars does and what blockchain is, but I’m aiming for more of the West Hartford angle.

I’m hoping that things really do quiet down after this coming week, because I am leaving for vacation on Friday and will be away for almost two weeks. We added a few days to the front end of our vacation in order to have (almost) the whole family together to celebrate my in-laws’ 60th wedding anniversary. Ryley McGinnins and Maddie Geerlof will be holding down the fort, and of course I am bringing my laptop and I’ll still be doing a bit of work, but I’m hoping to fill my days with lots of beach time, some running, biking, eating way to much and enjoying cocktails on the deck, and reading a few novels!

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:

Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • Everyone is curious about the opening of the businesses that signed leases last year to open in The Corbin Collection, and I have been trying, trying, trying to get details. Both Cost Plus World Market and buybuy Baby, which will be located on the lower level of the main building (the former Sears building) are owned by Bed, Bath & Beyond (as is the Christmas Tree Shop), so it means dealing with large corporate infrastructure which is not always easy to navigate. And now that Cost Plus has had its grand opening in Manchester, local residents are more eager than ever to know when our West Hartford store is opening. After trying multiple routes, I finally connecticut with the PR department at Cost Plus World Market, and was told that they plan a grand opening in November, and pledged to keep me updated. I peeked in the door, and there is still a lot of construction going on, so I doubt it could happen much sooner than that.
  • buybuy Baby has been equally, if not more, elusive about the opening date. From messaging them on Facebook, I was told that the planned opening is mid-October. I’ll keep after them for updates as well.

    Hartford HealthCare Go Health Urgent Care will be on the left corner of the former Sears Automotive Center building, and Pokéworks will be next door. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • More Corbin Collection news is that Hartford HealthCare Go Health Urgent Care has leased 2,654 square feet of space in the former Sears Automotive Center building, on the corner of the Shake Shack building facing New Britain Avenue. The urgent care center will be next to Pokéworks, which I originally thought (when I wrote about it two weeks ago in this column) was going to be on the other side of Shake Shack closer to REI, but will actually be facing New Britain Ave. It’s hard to tell from this photo, but there will be doors cut into the building!
  • Many people have been asking about this one as well. Sally Zhu, owner (with her husband Xingyu Huang) of the future Song Restaurant at 74 LaSalle Rd., said that the final health inspection should take place this week, and the plans as of now are for an official opening on Oct. 8. 
  • Nespresso opened Wednesday at Center Court at Westfarms. For those who don’t know what Nespresso is (and that was me until I just did some research), it’s an up and coming brand that sells a specialized coffee machine/system that delivers a consistently high quality cup of coffee every time. I consider myself a coffee aficionado, and will definitely need to find out more about this brand.
  • Congratulations to West Hartford resident Samantha Dynowski on being named the state director of the Connecticut Chapter of the Sierra Club!

    Jerry’s Artarama 25th anniversary celebration. Courtesy photo

  • Congratulations to Jerry’s Artarama, a staple on New Britain Avenue in Elmwood, which celebrated its 25th anniversary on Thursday! Dozens of customers and staff attended the celebration. Pictured in the photo at right (from left) are co-owner Jeff Shoham, General Manager Chet Terry, AJ Shoham (the owner’s son and a store employee, and co-owner Susan Shoham.
  • From a news release: YHB Investment Advisors, Inc., an independent investment advisory firm based in West Hartford Center, is excited to welcome Anne A. Space. A CFA Charterholder, Space began her career in investments in 2001, as a commercial mortgage analyst at CIGNA Investment Management.  Before joining YHB as a Senior Portfolio Manager in 2018, she was a Director of Asset Management at UBS Real Estate & Private Markets, where she managed $850 million in U.S.-based investments held in various open-end real estate equity and debt funds.  She also worked as an Assistant Vice President in real estate investments at Hartford Investment Management Company, a division of The Hartford, where she analyzed and sourced investments for the insurance company’s investment portfolios. Space graduated magna cum laude with a BS in applied economics and management from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.  She also earned an MBA with distinction from the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell, where she was a Roy H. Park Leadership Fellow. She and her husband have two sons and reside in Glastonbury. 

    Photo credit: Ira Nozik

  • The West Hartford Chamber of Commerce has been very busy with ribbon cuttings lately! One recent ribbon cutting was held July 19, at Yoga from the Heart in the old Firehouse (Firehouse Square) at 21 Brace Rd. in west Hartford Center. From a news release: “Experiencing firsthand the life changing gifts of yoga, Diane Couture embarked on a journey to bring those gifts to others by opening Yoga from the Heart in West Hartford Center in March of 2018. Owned and managed by Diane and filled with instructors who teach from their authentic journeys, YFTH is becoming a community based studio for health and wellness, offering a range of classes designed for every BODY and every JOURNEY.” Pictured (from left) Town Manager Matt Hart, Chamber of Commerce Board Chair Robert Kulakowski, Yoga from the Heart owner Diane Couture, Chamber Executive Director Barbara Lerner, Chamber Associate Director Morgan Hilyard, and West Hartford Economic Development Specialist Kristen Gorski. Yoga from the Heart has already become an integral part of the community, sponsoring local events and fundraisers, including an upcoming ElectroFlo for Foodshare on Aug. 24, from 7-8:15 p.m. in Blue Back Square. This event is a live, all levels Vinyasa yoga class. Details here.

    Harry’s Pizza owner Bob Hagmeier (center), with employees, Chamber representatives, and State Rep. Derek Slap, cut the ribbon celebrating the grand reopening of the restaurant. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • Another Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting was held Thursday night at the newly-renovated Harry’s Pizza in West Hartford Center (39 South Main St.). Owner Bob Hagmeier said that things have been going very well since the the restaurant re-opened after extensive renovation, an expansion of the menu, and the addition of a full bar offering craft cocktails. I will vouch for the delicious sangria (and pizza) that was served at the ribbon cutting!
  • Congratulations to West Hartford resident Cara Paiuk, who has been part of a group of photographers for the past year training and aspiring to become a “Peter Hurley Associate.” She just learned that she is the first photographer in Connecticut to earn the designation. Hurley is a New York headshot and portrait photographer who works extensively with actors as well as corporate executives. For more information about Pauik, visit Face Forward Headshots or HeadshotCrew.com.
  • Plan B‘s building, 138 Park Rd., sustained some damage during a recent storm, especially to the roof, and the restaurant has been closed for several weeks while repairs are being made. B Restaurants Senior Marketing Manager Lindsey Burke said that the landlord is working to have the damage repaired, but a re-opening date has not yet been set. We will keep readers updated!
  • ICYMI – There’s new leadership at the West Hartford Center Business Association. Congratulations to new president Matt Banaver. Click here for the rest of the details.
  • Also ICYMI, Fleet Feet Sports and CrossFit Hartford (owned by a West Hartford resident) as well as CrossFit Simsbury have teamed up for some combined training programs. That was the story I was working on when I participated in my first-ever CrossFit workout last week. Click here for more information.
  • Have you voted for the Best of West Hartford yet? Local business owners are counting on their loyal customer! Click here for the link to this year’s easy-to-complete ballot.

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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Catch of the day on Artisan’s $19 prix-fixe lunch menu was crabcake with citrus on greens. It looked beautiful and tasted great – even the flower! We tested out Artisan’s new private label rose wine as well, just $5 per glass with the lunch. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

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  • Quick point re: Nespresso; it is not at all an “up-and-coming brand”, rather an off-the-shelf ‘espresso’ in a plastic pod from international megacorp Nestle that has been around for many years.

    True espresso is ground to order.. the best around is at Story and Soil on Capitol Ave. in Hartford! They brew Giv Coffee (among others), which is a roaster/cafe in Avon!

    As for WeHa proper, Hartford Baking has good quality coffee as long as you order one of the featured bean offerings, one of which is almost always from Giv!

    No affiliation to any of the above companies, just pointing out the facts and always keepin’ it local! 🙂

    • Thanks, Jim! I love Giv Coffee – which I’ve bought at Hartford Baking as well! SPoT has great coffee as well. I haven’t been to Story and Soil yet, but it’s on my list of places to try!

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