A round-up of openings, closings, and other news about West Hartford businesses.
By Ronni Newton
I’m feeling a definite sense of déjà vu as I write this column.
It’s the Sunday afternoon two weeks before Christmas, and it’s been a crazy couple of weeks of work with a never-ending flow of news.
Just like at this time last year, our house is fully decorated other than the tree – which is in the stand but devoid of lights and ornaments because we are waiting for both kids to help trim it. Unlike last year my daughter is living in Newington and commuting to grad school in Storrs – close enough to have taken a study break to come over for dinner tonight – but both kids start their final exams tomorrow and end Wednesday, and the tree will have to wait for at least a few more days until we can all be together.
Just like on this Sunday last year, the West Hartford Symphony Orchestra had its Holiday Concert this afternoon. There is nothing like beautiful music of the season to lift one’s mood.
Last year it snowed on Sunday, and this year we had our first snowfall on Saturday. I’m definitely not a winter person, and can often be heard saying “bah humbug” when it snows, but I will say that this was a pretty snowfall, and I do like the way my Tudor house looks when it’s frosted by snow.
It’s time to keep taking those deep breaths, and time to enjoy the sights, sounds, light, music, and spirit of the holiday season. And maybe even enjoy that snow.
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:
- HB Seafood (1142 New Britain Ave., in Elmwood) is in transition, and although the business is still going to be owned and operated by the same family, it will become an Asian restaurant featuring noodles and rice bowls. There was quite a bit of discussion on Facebook last week regarding what was actually happening, so I stopped in to get the real scoop from owner Matt Malahan. He confirmed that he and his wife, Juntimar, who also own Hot Basil on New Park Avenue, will continue to own the business but the name will change to Noodie – named for a restaurant they used to visit in Bangkok – and the menu will undergo a complete transformation and no longer focus on seafood. “When we opened, everything was fresh and we were steaming lobsters and pricing them accordingly,” Malahan said. But as his costs increased he could no longer remain at a price point that worked for the area, Malahan said, and there was little room for profit. The interior was redecorated when they were closed for a few days at Thanksgiving, with walls that were formerly pale blue now painted in a mustardy hue and coastal decor replaced by Asian style paintings. Noodie’s soft opening is planned for Tuesday and the menu will highlight chicken teriyaki rice bowls ($7.50) and Shoyu ramen ($10). Phu and a Thai noodle soup will be added shortly, and he said eventually the selection will include five or six noodle dishes and three or four rice bowls. Malahan showed off his new “snow ice” machine which just arrived from Taiwan, and will be used to create iced treats, available in multiple flavors, that he said are more creamy tasting than icy. And although Hot Basil is also Asian, Malahan said there will not be any common menu items. Noodie will be BYOB, at least initially, which Malahan said should not be an issue since Harvest Fine Wines is a few doors down.
- How often is there a perfect noodle segue in this column? This may be a first, but while we are on the subject of noodles, I got a press release last week with the information that Noodles & Co. (which has a location at 333 North Main St. in Bishops Corner) is now offering zoodles – spiralized zucchini noodles! From the press release: “We spiralize whole zucchinis every morning, yielding mounds of fresh Zoodles. We can substitute Zoodles into any one of our bowls, replacing any of our wheat-based pastas and noodles with light, springy Zoodles. At a fraction of the calories, a Zoodle Bowl will leave you satisfied but not overly full. Zoodles are also gluten-free, so whether you’re intolerant to gluten, following a “Paleo” diet, or just looking to cut carbs, we now have the perfect option for you.” Zoodles are also available with a variety of proteins, or as a substitute in other dishes, including mac and cheese.
- Lane and Lenge retail space is now open at the Delmar West Hartford Hotel. I peeked in the window and it looks beautiful! For more information call 860-523-6220.
- On Monday night, Chris Sheehan of Max Downtown will compete against Xavier Santiago of Trattoria Toscana for the title of “Grand Champion” in the final installment of 86’D A Culinary Collision. The competition, which is a fundraiser for End Hunger Connecticut, was launched by industry professionals and West Hartford-based Eat IN Connecticut back in February with 16 chefs in contention, and the finals will be held beginning at 9:30 p.m. (yes, it’s late because they need to use the entire restaurant) at Zohara on Farmington Avenue in West Hartford Center. Tickets can be purchased online through Eventbrite or at the website 86dculinarycollision
.com and are also available the night of at the door.
- Congrats to Tyler Anderson, owner of Millwright’s in Simsbury and co-owner of West Hartford’s Cook and the Bear, who nailed his meat and potatoes dish on the first week of Top Chef, winning the challenge and advancing to the next week. The show airs on Bravo at 10 p.m. on Thursday night.
- Jewish Family Services is offering a Community Discount Card, and with a $20 donation (to the Kosher Food Pantry) you get a card that offers savings at 12 businesses in West Hartford or the surrounding area. See the PDF below or visit the Jewish Family Services website for more details.
- Farmers Insurance agents Steve Somen and Isaac Adams recently left corporate executive roles and celebrated the opening of their new Farmers Insurance Agency office at 224 Whiting Ln. in West Hartford. They held a ribbon cutting last Tuesday and an open house on Saturday, and say they have built “an agency team dedicated to understanding and customizing insurance choices.” The Somen Insurance Agency is also a Park Road Association collection site for the Toys for Tots of Hartford County drive and for The Town That Cares Fund of West Hartford. Donation boxes are available for unwrapped toys – as well as new coats, hats, gloves, mittens and scarves. For more information call 860-477-3600 or visit www.farmersagent.com/ssomen.
- Rockledge Golf Course closed for the season as of Saturday, the town reported via Twitter. The Golf Shop will remain open from Tuesday Tuesday-Saturday, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., for holiday gift shopping including gift certificates, golf clubs, apparel and much more.
- Hartford Flavor Company (not quite in West Hartford but co-owner Tom Dubay is a West Hartford native who attended Conard High School) has launched a new tasting room holiday cocktail menu. Visit hartfordflavor.com for more details.
- I found it hard to believe when a friend texted me to tell me that Victoria Cleaners (17 Sedgwick Rd.) had closed. Just a year ago (in fact in this column exactly a year ago), I reported on Dana Gordon’s plans to close Sedgwick Cleaners as of Dec. 31. Victoria Cleaners opened on Feb. 1, 2017, but according to another area tenant they closed just over a week ago. I stopped by just to confirm and the space is already gutted and a “for lease” sign is posted.
- Finally, there is plenty of news in the ICYMI department this week. Major troubles for Los Imperios, which lost its liquor license as of Friday in response to a remonstrance hearing held on Nov. 30. That decision was rendered just days after the court approved the town’s request for a temporary injunction. Click here for the complete story.
- The West Hartford Center Business Association held its holiday party on Wednesday at Barcelona, and had something special to celebrate: This year’s We Care Card fundraiser raised $10,000! At the party, a check was presented to Foodshare. Click here for more information.
- The West Hartford Parking Division is giving a “holiday gift” to those parking in the Center or Blue Back Square. Click here for details on how to apply the coupon code for one hour of free parking.
- The Town Council will vote Tuesday, but its subcommittee on Economic Development has recommended against purchase of the former UConn campus and the resolution is expected to pass by bipartisan vote. Click here for the complete story.
- Have you checked out the holiday windows in West Hartford Center and Blue Back Square? Click here to see which windows won this year’s decoration contest.
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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