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West Hartford Business Buzz: August 8, 2022

The Performance Lab is now open at 635 New Park Ave. (Building 4). Photo credit: Ronni Newton

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

By Ronni Newton

I’m still trying hard not to complain about the heat and humidity, but this weather is certainly challenging that determination.

This was a great time to test out the efficacy of our newly-installed mini split air conditioning on our first floor – and to say I am overjoyed would be an understatement. The system is virtually silent, and every time I walk into the house – or downstairs from the second floor “sauna” – I can’t help but say say “ah …” Although the portable air conditioner in our second floor bedroom has been working overtime, it doesn’t do anywhere near the same job and it’s also ridiculously loud.

Official half marathon training week two included several torturous runs – a hill workout and 8 miles Saturday morning. I was definitely questioning my sanity on Saturday morning during what was probably one of the toughest runs I have ever done, but I am happy to have toughed it out and hoping that after this week the weather will at least be a bit more tolerable.

I still prefer eating outdoors if possible – no matter hot hot it is. I had a chance to satisfy my ever-present taco craving with lunch on the patio at bar taco last week, and Ted and I very much enjoyed Saturday night’s dinner on the patio at Smoke Public House on Park Road.

Tacos from bar taco! Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Cold beers on a hot night at Smoke Public House. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Dumpling appetizer at Smoke Public House. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Smokehouse panini at Smoke Public House. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Spicy fish grinder was one of the specials at Smoke Public House. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

I’m going to say this again (because it still happens almost every day) and continue to email all who try to post comments to stories with their first name only (or some made-up moniker): I will not publish your comment until you provide your full name! Once a commenter gets through the approval queue the first time, future comments are posted automatically, and there are some commenters who are grandfathered because this requirement is only a year or two old. I have emailed all who have tried to comment without complete names, and in every case they haven’t bothered to respond or provide their names. If there’s silence for a week, I delete the request. Just wanted readers to know. One person responded to an email last week and gave me their last name so their comment was approved. All other comments that are over a week old have been deleted.

The state changed its COVID reporting a few weeks ago and while detailed reports aren’t issued daily the number of positive tests over the past week for each town is updated each day. The most recent report (as of Saturday) indicates 106 positive tests in West Hartford over the previous seven days. The positivity rate is at 16.7% – and of course that doesn’t include the home tests that are positive but not reported. Cases are back up again after dipping for the previous weeks, which is definitely not a good sign. One day I hope to be able to delete this paragraph completely, but in the meantime, please continue to have patience since not everyone has the same level of comfort, continue to look out for each other, support our local businesses – and stay safe and healthy.

If you have information to share about local businesses, please provide details in the comments or email Ronni Newton at [email protected].


Connecticut Physical Therapy Specialists is the sponsor of this week’s Business Buzz!

Here’s this week’s Buzz:

Owner Becky LaVaway, her children, and staff cut the ribbon along with representatives from the West Hartford Chamber of Commerce. The Performance Lab is now open at 635 New Park Ave. (Building 4). Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • The Performance Lab is officially open at 635 New Park Ave. The clinic – which combines physical therapy, wellness, and recovery services – had a soft opening in mid-June but had a ribbon cutting with the West Hartford Chamber of Commerce on Thursday afternoon. This is the second location for the Performance Lab (the other is in Prospect, CT), which is owned by physical therapist Becky Lavaway, who obtained a Women’s Business Development Grant from the state to assist with the expansion. Services include physical therapy to treat an injury or to enhance mobility – provided on a 1-to-1 basis – and treatment can be targeted to sport-specific goals. The facility also includes cryotherapy, compression, and infrared saunas. Personalized IV therapy is provided by the Performance Lab’s staff nurse, Caitlyn Gaetani, under the direction of a physician. Prior to the first infusion, Gaetani will administer a micronutrient blood test, which looks for vitamin and mineral deficiencies to provide the best formula, targeted to the needs of athletes, people with chronic pain, individuals involved in a weight loss program, and those recovering from illness, including COVID, said Jordan Nihoul, the manager of the West Hartford location. The company employs roughly 15 people at the two locations, including four physical therapists. The Performance Lab is able to bill insurance carriers for their covered services. For more details, visit the website. Additional photos of the new West Hartford facility, which is right next to The Tribe, can be found at the end of the column.

The Performance Lab is now open at 635 New Park Ave. (Building 4). Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • Specialty store a good find is planning to open the second week of September at 1000 Farmington Ave., Suite 109, and will offer “one of a kind finds” including vintage clothing, children’s toys and clothes, art from local artists, sport cards and memorabilia, Pokémon cards, classic video game consoles and games, legos, sports gear, home furnishings, collectibles and more. “With help from his family and friends, owner Jason Craig is excited to be opening this adventure in a great location! Jason is local to West Hartford and plans to stay in the area for many more years. His vision was to open a store where people of all generations can come and search for that hidden treasure,” said Michelle Margolis, who is assisting with the marketing. We’ll announce the opening when it takes place, and in the meantime any questions can be directed to [email protected]. You can also follow the business on Instagram @agoodfindweha.

a good find will be opening in September at 1000 Farmington Ave. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • I got a peek inside Sparrow last week, and a chance to chat briefly with owner David Boyajian, who gave me a tour of the space. He was personally putting the finishing touches on some of the furnishings inside the restaurant, which is oh-so-close to finally opening within the next few weeks. The interior has a very cool, industrial vibe, and includes exposed and distressed metal accented with pops of Tiffany blue color and a mural by Peter Le Floch. I am looking forward to sharing the full story as soon as possible!

A peek inside Sparrow, which will be opening at 977 Farmington Ave. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • Pires Jewelers, which has been in its current location at 258 Park Road since 1990 (the business opened in Hartford in 1983) will be closing for good on Aug. 31. Owner Nelson Pires said the reasons they are closing are that his partner, George, is retiring, “and also the business environment, at least for a small old-fashioned family business, isn’t what it used to be,” and they are barely able to earn enough to sustain the business. “So we figured it was a good time to walk away before things got worse. Also we found a buyer for our building, and that was something that sped up the process.” A liquidation sale is in progress. “We greatly appreciate all of the wonderful customers we have had throughout all of these years. We have formed many friendships with so many of you, and it is the thing we will miss the most!” Nelson wrote in a Facebook post announcing the closing. Nelson hopes to be able to continue to offer repair services, and when that has been finalized I’ll share the information in the column – as well as details on how people can pick up any unclaimed items once the store is closed.

Pires Jewelers at 258 Park Road will close for good on Aug. 31. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • The West Hartford Gift Shop, which is physically located inside the Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society, has a new website (westhartfordgiftshop.com) and is now set up for e-commerce with a catalogue of all of the shop’s offerings available online. People are always looking for West Hartford-related merchandise, and the shop is a great source of local items, as well as word-, Colonial-, and dictionary-related products. The gift shop is a social enterprise business, that supports the “preservation and mission of the Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society.”

The Noah Webster House has received funding to expand the operations of the West Hartford Gift Shop at the 227 South Main Street site. Photo credit: Ronni Newton (we-ha.com file photo)

  • GastroPark has just launched their Brunch Kitchen Menu, with items like Sunrise Sliders, Avocado Toast (featuring  Small State Provisions‘s sourdough bread and radishes grown onsite, French Toast, and more. Brunch is served Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., and Perkatory Roasters and Small State are also open during that time, and there are various food trucks as well. Check the website for the specific schedule. And also, congrats to owner Tate Norden and Jessica Tyburski on their wedding over the weekend!

Brunch offerings at GastroPark. (Facebook image)

  • The most recent issue of PEOPLE Magazine highlights West Hartford native Max Drazen as one of just 32 musicians featured in “Meet the Talented Emerging Artists You Should Be Listening to All Summer Long.” Drazen, a 20 “Max Drazen is the kind of musician you want to keep on repeat. Though Drazen only has two singles currently out, “Let Me Down Slow” and “Caffeine” while making a name for himself — the singer assures that he’s always known this is what he was meant to do,” the article states. We’ve written about Max’s soccer prowess at Hall High School (he graduated from Hall in 2018 and went on to play soccer at Middlebury College), but his music is amazing and we look forward to watching the singer-songwriter’s career soar!

From left: Declan O’Brien, Kevin Puleo, Max Drazen. Conard vs. Hall boys soccer. Nov. 1, 2016. Photo credit: Ronni Newton (we-ha.com file photo)

  • This is National Farmers Market Week, and West Hartford has two great markets! I stopped at the Blue Back Farmers’ Market on Sunday, and couldn’t resist photographing some of the produce! The Blue Back Farmers’ Market (Town Hall parking lot) is open Sundays from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., and the West Hartford Farmers’ Market (parking lot at the corner of LaSalle and Araphahoe roads) is open Saturday from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

A wide variety of tomatoes from Sweet Acre Farm at the Blue Back Farmers’ Market. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • There’s much more progress on build-out of the IHOP that will be located in the former GoldRoc Diner space at 61 Kane Street. Renovation work, according to permits with the town, includes a new kitchen, and other interior improvements. Mustafa Ayaz, who lives in Southington and owns several gas station properties in Connecticut, purchased the building shortly after the GoldRoc closed, and along with his family will be operating the IHOP franchise in that space.

Work continues on the build-out of IHOP at 61 Kane Street, in the former GoldRoc Diner space. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • West Hartford resident Ryan Matthews (far right in photo below) was a recent interview guest on WTNH-TV’s morning news show. Matthews, Vice President of Programs at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Connecticut, talked about the youth mentoring organization’s recent merger earlier this year. He explained how Big Brothers Big Sisters has transitioned from serving a portion of the state to now serving the entire state. Joining Matthews for the interview were, from left on couch, Alyssa Taglia, co-anchor of the WTNH morning news show; Little Brother (mentee) Rell from New Haven; and Charlie Gamble of Woodbridge, Rell’s mentor in the program and Connecticut’s Big Brother of the Year for 2022.

Courtesy of Big Brothers Big Sisters

  • RiseUP for Arts has been busy creating “Instagrammable worthy murals” throughout the area, including in West Hartford where artist Julie Bergeron (@hartford.art) created this mural outside the Pharmacy at Blue Back (55 Isham Road) in West Hartford’s Blue Back Square (also in partnership with Image Marketing and Charter Realty). A virtual tour of the murals throughout the state is available on the RiseUp website – and if you pose in front of one, be sure to post your photo with the artists’ hashtag as well as @ctmurals and #instagrammablect.

Mural by Julie Bergeron @hartford.art at 55 Isham Road, West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • American Eagle Financial Credit Union (AEFCU) is partnering with the United Way for their annual “Stuff the Bus” school supply drive, and throughout August, all American Eagle branches will be collecting school supplies from their members, employees and the general public as they try to surpass last year’s collection of 20,000 items. All donated items will be used by the United Way to supply school classrooms for the 2022-23 school year. Donation boxes marked with the “Stuff the Bus” logo will be available in all American Eagle branches until the end of August, including the branch at 1245 New Britain Ave. in West Hartford. Suggested donation items include crayons, erasers, glue sticks, highlighters, markers, pens, #2 pencils, pocket folders, sketchbooks and spiral notebooks.

Courtesy image

  • It’s iced latte week at Hartford Baking Company. I had a preview sample of this “Junk Bar” iced latte last week, and will definitely be going back for more! The Junk Bar latte includes coconut milk, caramel, mocha syrup, espresso, whipped cream, and crushed junk bar pieces (junk bars include coconut, butterscotch chips, chocolate chips, graham cracker, and pretzels on an Oreo crumb crust). Other flavors include Raspberry Iced Mocha, Campfire Mocha, and Strawberry Iced Matcha.

Junk Bar Latte is one of the featured iced lattes at Hartford Baking Company this week. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • The Boston Market location in West Hartford (1240 Farmington Ave., across from Stop & Shop) is closed, at least temporarily. There’s a sign on the door, no one answers the phone, and online ordering is not available. I haven’t yet been successful in getting any details about the plans, and if anyone has more information, please let me know and I’ll provide updates.

Boston Market is closed, at least temporarily. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Boston Market is closed, at least temporarily. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • ICYMI, we had a feature last week about West Hartford resident Ali Lazowski, founder and owner of Bare Life, who recently received the Small Business Association Connecticut District’s Microenterprise of the Year award. Click here for the full story.

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

Staff of the Performance Lab, now open at 635 New Park Ave. (Building 4). Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The Performance Lab is now open at 635 New Park Ave. (Building 4). Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Infrared saunas. The Performance Lab is now open at 635 New Park Ave. (Building 4). Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The Performance Lab is now open at 635 New Park Ave. (Building 4). Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Cryotherapy. The Performance Lab is now open at 635 New Park Ave. (Building 4). Photo credit: Ronni Newton

IV therapy room. The Performance Lab is now open at 635 New Park Ave. (Building 4). Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The Performance Lab is now open at 635 New Park Ave. (Building 4). Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The Performance Lab is now open at 635 New Park Ave. (Building 4). Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The Performance Lab is now open at 635 New Park Ave. (Building 4). Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The Performance Lab is now open at 635 New Park Ave. (Building 4). Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The Performance Lab is now open at 635 New Park Ave. (Building 4). Photo credit: Ronni Newton

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  • The photo of Sparrow looks like a cafeteria with graffiti on the walls, tables are very close together. I had thought this was suppose to be an Italian restaurant?

  • the positivity rate is so high because not that many people get tested — and also people are getting “covid” from their vaccines. Same thing happened when my wife got her 4th shot in May. She got “Covid” within 8 hours of that vaccine and I got it 2 days later. When can we have an honest dialogue about the harm these vaccines have done? When can we have an honest dialogue about their ineffectiveness — about all of these people who have “died unexpectedly”? We cannot continue to be shills for big pharma.

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