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West Hartford Business Buzz: August 9, 2021

Perkatory is now open as one of the vendors inside GastroPark. Pictured are Manager Kelly Dorsey (left) and Assistant Manager Josh Zbierski. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

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

By Ronni Newton

If you’ve sent me an email in the past day or two, you’ve seen my automatic response: “Ronni is on vacation, or at least trying to be on vacation.” I’m not really trying to be sarcastic; I really am trying to power down a bit.

This time of year tends to bring a lull in activity in town (hope I haven’t jinxed it), and after the past 17 months I hope we all get a bit of a break. I crammed quite a few interviews into last week before leaving town for my happy place, and I will be writing a few stories while I am away, but also hoping to spend some quality time sitting on the beach, reading, biking, running, and enjoying lots of great food and drink.

Cocktails on the widow’s walk Sunday. Photo credit: Sam Newton

We arrived Saturday afternoon and Millie has already chased dozens of seagulls and gotten swamped by several waves, and her fur is all briny and sandy which means she’s happy. On day two I gave up makeup and transitioned to beach hair. We’ve gotten to see my in-laws a few times.

Although the COVID positivity rate here on Nantucket is much higher than it is in West Hartford (seven-day average positivity of 12.09% as of Sunday), and there is an indoor mask mandate (not just a request) in place, it does feel different than it did last summer, when masks were required in outdoor public spaces (even while running on the bike path) as well as indoors. The only significant amount of time we spend indoors is in our house, in the car, or at the grocery store – all things we try to minimize while on vacation.

I don’t have a Saturday night dinner in West Hartford to showcase, but I did meet a friend for happy hour one day last week at Jar + Bar. The birria taco pizza gets a thumbs-up.

Birria Taco Pizza from Jar + Bar. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

West Hartford won’t be left unattended while I am away, and interns Sophie Christensen and Lily Guberman will be helping out, as will my colleagues at Turley CT. We may have fewer stories in our newsletters, but we will make sure that all of the important news is reported.

Please continue to support our local businesses, wear your masks indoors (regardless of vaccination status) – 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].

Here’s this week’s Buzz:

Interior of GastroPark includes two vendors, Perkatory and Small State Provisions. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • The Elmwood Business Association had its meeting at GastroPark on Friday morning, and it was a great chance to check out the newly-opened interior space and Perkatory which perfectly complements bakery Small State Provisions as one of the permanent vendors. This is the third location for Perkatory, a family-owned business which specializes in small batch coffees, and opened the first coffee shop in Middletown three years ago and the second in Southington about a year ago, Assistant Manager Josh Zbierski said. “We were looking to potentially expand, and Tate [Norden, owner of GastroPark] reached out. We’re excited to do something a little but different,” Manager Kelly Dorsey said. Perkatory, which is open inside GastroPark from 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, offers a variety of hot and cold coffees, with cold brew on tap coming soon. “We try to keep it fun, and have specialty flavors,” Zbierski said, noting orange cream is currently on the menu. “Most people wouldn’t think to put orange in their coffee,” he said. In addition to blends, Perkatory also features single origin speciality coffees, and sells their products online as well. “We are so excited to welcome Perkatory Roasters!” Norden said. “They are the perfect complement to our growing foodie playground! The goal for GastroPark has always been to create a community gathering place for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Whether meeting for a morning work meeting or a family dinner, we want GastroPark to be a vibrant community gathering place during any meal.” In addition to the interior vendors, GastroPark has an ever-changing selection of food trucks parked onside – now in the morning as well, where Hot Taco Street Kitchen has been onside serving delicious breakfast burritos and other items.

Hot Taco Street Kitchen has been a fixture at GastroPark in the mornings. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

New options inside GastroPark include Small State Provisions. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • Place 2 Be (50 Memorial Rd.) has only been open since mid-June in Blue Back Square – with the opening delay largely caused by the need to comply with fire safety regulations. However, it turns out the existing sprinkler system in the kitchen was too sensitive and in the middle of service on Saturday, June 26, a sprinkler went off, shortening out and damaging much of the equipment in the kitchen and portions of the walls, and flooding the floors, before a contractor was able to turn off the system. Repairs are being completed and owner Gina Luari said she’s in the process of staffing back up and will be reopening the restaurant on Aug. 16. The reopening will bring a few exciting new surprises and updates to the menu, Luari said – courtesy of newly-hired culinary director, award-winning chef Xavier Santiago. Look for a feature story this week with many more details.

The Place 2 Be. 50 Memorial Rd., West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The former Lord and Taylor at Westfarms will become York Factory. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • York Factory announced last week that they will be adapting the 121,116 square foot former Lord & Taylor store at Westfarms into a co-working space with a variety of workplace solutions and amenities available for its members including events and wellness services. Pets will be welcome, and childcare services will be offered, according to a York Factory brochure. Renovation of the space will include addition of skylights and windows, a central atrium and staircase. Much more information to come as this project gets underway.

Conny the whale outside The Children’s Museum in West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • Congratulations to the West Hartford-based Children’s Museum, which along with the Connecticut Historical Society and the Mark Twain House has been award a Museums for America grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The Children’s Museum, one of 126 organizations across the country to receive a grant, was awarded $91,590 to support the Hartford STEM/STEAM Collaborative for Young Children and Families. U.S. Rep. John Larson announced the grants last week. “The Children’s Museum, the Connecticut Historical Society, and the Mark Twain House could not be more deserving of these grants, which will bolster the top-notch programming put on by these three organizations,” Larson said. “This funding will support educational and historic preservation initiatives that will have a lasting impact on our region’s thriving arts and tourism industry.” Michael Werle, executive director of the Children’s Museum, said, “The Children’s Museum is most grateful to receive this grant from the IMLS. It will allow us to expand and extend our partnership with the Hartford Public Libraries and Community Centers, delivering STEAM-based (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) programs directly to young underserved children and their families of Hartford in their own neighborhoods. This grant will help get kids excited about, interested in, and comfortable with STEAM topics and activities as it enhances their learning skills in support of their educational development.”
  • ICYMI, Mayor Shari Cantor and Town Manager Matt Hart announced Friday that they are asking West Hartford businesses to require masks indoors. While the request stops short of being a mandate, officials are hoping for universal compliance. Many restaurants and other businesses in West Hartford have already posting on social media that patrons are asked to wear masks while indoors, other than while seated at a table or bar. Details can be found here.
  • Earlier in the week, officials announced that masks will be required in all municipal buildings. Click here for the complete story.
  • The bears will be completing their hibernation period soon, and all the details about the ribbon cutting for the WEHA Bear Fair can be found here.
  • To see all the recent business news on We-Ha.com, click 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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