A round-up of openings, closings, and other news about West Hartford businesses.
By Ronni Newton
I was already feeling a little melancholy on Sunday about summer racing toward an end, and then I got tagged in a tweet informing me that beginning Wednesday the sun will set before 8 p.m. in West Hartford.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s still plenty of great warm weather ahead, plenty of patio time, and I am very much looking forward to my beach vacation that begins next weekend. And my calendar says “Autumn begins” on Sept. 22. However, the school supplies are front and center in the stores and we realized over the weekend that because of vacation, this Sunday would be our last Sunday dinner at home (Sunday dinner, which always includes my sister and often the kids’ significant others, is a special and sacred family tradition) before Sam heads back to UConn for his sophomore year.
Katie is already almost done with her second summer session of her Physical Therapy graduate program, and after a few weeks off she will go back to school at UConn for the fall semester at the same time as her brother. She did remark that it’s very different this year, because she’s been going to school all summer plus she’s not moving into a dorm or apartment.
I can’t start the regular business of this column without making note of a very sad event that happened last week, the passing of Tim Confessore, president and owner of Cricket Press. I can’t recall when I first met Tim, but I have known him as a neighbor and friend at least since 2000 when my daughter started kindergarten and I joined the Webster Hill PTO and got to know him and his wife, Michele – who if I recall correctly was one of the officers at the time. I also worked with Tim over the years while volunteering for various non-profits, and in 2001, on the occasion of Cricket Press’ 30th anniversary, I did a feature story about him for the West Hartford News. West Hartford has certainly lost a great man, but I have no doubt his legacy will live on in many ways.
Just a warning – this column is very food-oriented. To get you ready, here’s a photo of what my family had for brunch on Sunday. I will admit that we strayed from West Hartford and went to the Sloppy Waffle in Newington. One of those larger-than-the-plate-sized chocolate chip pancakes was completely consumed by my husband, and my son gobbled up the entire egg/sausage/waffle/homefries plate, plus a bit of my omelet!
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:
- Elmwood will be home to a noodle-oriented Asian fusion restaurant by the end of the year when Nummy opens in the former New Asia space at 1160 New Britain Ave. I had a chance to chat with Ron Patel, an IT specialist who works at UConn in West Hartford (soon to be in Hartford) and is one of four partners and longtime friends who are bringing this new concept to West Hartford. Patel said that Nummy will feature Southern Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese cuisine, with an emphasis on noodles, including ramen, as well as skewered meat. The other partners include Weijia Bao (owner of the highly-acclaimed Bao Bao Cafe on Lexington Avenue in New York City), Na Jiang (aka Anna) who previously owned a sushi/Chinese restaurant in Pennsylvania and now lives in Farmington, and Baiyao Zheng (aka Bernice), who lives in Unionville. “It’s a new concept and [Weijia] has created all of the recipes. In this area we don’t have anything like it,” Patel said. What about the name Nummy? “We were just brainstorming, playing with words,” Patel said, and it’s a play on “yummy.” Unlike New Asia, which moved across the street to 1155 New Britain Ave. in March and actually decreased its seating capacity because so much of its business is takeout, Nummy will be primarily a sit-down restaurant. Patel said there will be seating for 28-32 people. If there is high demand, take-out may eventually be accommodated, but he said the recipes lend themselves to being eaten immediately. The windows have just been covered over and the space is gutted, and Patel said that they have just started working with designers and hiring contractors, with plans to soon apply for permits. “We are hoping to open before the holidays, looking at a November timeframe,” Patel said. “We’ve all known each other for a while. We make a good team,” Patel said.
- It’s nice to see the growth of restaurants outside the Center, and a new one will open on Park Road this week! Many people have been asking me about the progress of Zaytoon’s Bistro ever since I mentioned it in this column back in November 2016 when the sign first went up in front of the former Melo Mini Mart at 165 Park Rd. Work has been going on behind the scenes where owners Zainab and Omar Hayajneh have gutted and totally transformed the space into a spacious and light-filled restaurant that will feature Lebanese and other Mediterranean cuisine, including specialties from their native country of Jordan. The Hayajnehs are West Hartford residents (they live off Mountain Road north of Albany Avenue) and two of their four children (two are in college) will be students at Hall next year. They were previously involved with a deli in New York, and since moving to West Hartford have been commuting to the two businesses they owned in the Sandy Hook area of Newtown for several years, but are very happy to now be working close to home. “We’ve been looking on Park Road for about three years,” Zainab said, but couldn’t find the right space. Zaytoon’s is scheduled for its final inspections early this week and if all goes well should be open by the weekend. Diners will have their choice of fresh meat, chicken, or seafood – all visible in a display case in the front – that will be grilled onsite into a variety of delicious main dishes. Also available will be deli sandwiches with house-made ingredients, salads – Mediterranean and American – and a variety of sweets including baklava. Breakfast will be served as well. Zaytoon’s Bistro will seat 30 inside and 16 on the patio. “We think it’s something different, something special to add to this area,” Omar said. Look for more specific details and interior photos to come in a feature story later this week!
- Moving to the Center, but keeping with the food theme, Icy Rolls (56 LaSalle Rd.) is getting very close to opening. Owner Hecheng Chen said that final inspections are scheduled for the end of this week, and if all goes well opening is possible over the weekend. More information definitely to come!
- Keeping with the food theme, and staying in West Hartford Center, I touched base with Donut Crazy owner Jason Wojnarowski last week. He said he has been working with the town to finalize plans for the West Hartford shop at 993-A Farmington Ave. (right next to Zohara), but opening is still a few months away. “Mid to late fall,” Wojnarowski said. I’m just going to leave this doughnut picture out here.
- Hungry yet? Moving away from the Center, and heading back to Elmwood, Rita’s of West Hartford will be participating in National Custard Day (who knew?) on Tuesday, Aug. 8. “Creamy and delicious frozen custard” is just 99 cents on Tuesday, according to Rita’s Facebook page.
- One last food item – I promise! FSR Magazine (Full Service Restaurant news) recently published a list of the top 50 emerging restaurant chains, which was sent to me by a former West Hartford resident. Many are small regional operations with only a couple of locations, but two of the chains are already present in West Hartford. Congratulations to b Restaurants (b Burger Bar) and Barcelona Wine Bar & Restaurant for making the list!
- In non-food news, congratulations to West Hartford resident Robin Smith, vice president and general counsel, Americas, of LEGO Systems, Inc., who has been elected to the board of the National Association of Women Lawyers for 2017-2018.
- Finally, last but definitely not least, don’t forget to vote for the Best of West Hartford! This third annual competition is underway, and being on vacation is no excuse for not voting! Click here to vote for your favorite local businesses, and for more details.
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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