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West Hartford Business Buzz: December 17, 2018

Barb's Pizza will soon open at 968 Farmington Ave., in the Brace Road parking lot. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

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

By Ronni Newton

A continued Happy Holidays wish to all who are observing one of the 29 holidays that are celebrated by seven of the world’s major religions at this time of year.

My nest is going to be much fuller – and so is my refrigerator – for the next five weeks! Sam finished up his finals late Saturday and returned home on Sunday afternoon. We have already stocked up on eggs, which he seems to consume by the dozen.

And even though Katie doesn’t live at home anymore, she just finished a very intense semester of physical therapy graduate school and also has the next five weeks off until beginning her final semester of classes. We’re counting on seeing her more often during the next few weeks.

Since Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve both fall on Mondays this year, there will not be a Monday morning Business Buzz column for the next two weeks, and we will have newsletters only on Wednesday and Friday of those weeks. If there is enough business news to share, I’ll publish a column in one of the newsletters the week of the 24th, but otherwise look for Business Buzz to return on Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019.

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:

The sign is up and Barb’s Pizza will soon open at 968 Farmington Ave., in the Brace Road parking lot. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • A kitchen renovation is in the works, the signage is up, and owner Barry Arpaia confirmed that Barb’s Pizza will open sometime in the next several weeks at 968 Farmington Ave. in the space formerly occupied by Vaughan’s Pies and Pints which closed this fall. “West Hartford is an amazing opportunity for us,” said Arpaia, who will open the restaurant with his business partner, co-owner/operator David Tremblay. “It’s a quaint little notch in a mega-center of business,” he said of the location in the Brace Road parking lot. Although the previous pizza places in that space have not lasted (Backstage was there before Vaughan’s), Arpaia is confident that he will make it work. Everything on the menu is hand-crafted, and will include slices, calzones, stuffed bread, salads, and “very good Italian sandwiches,” he said. They will be open for lunch, serve beer and wine, and will have slices available late night on Friday and Saturday evenings. The dining room will be virtually the same as it was for Vaughan’s, and the outdoor seating on the expansive patio will return in the spring. And if the name “Barb’s Pizza” sounds familiar to West Hartford old-timers it should, because for years there was a Barb’s Pizza on Park Road, where Joey’s is now, and this is the same owner. Arpaia and Tremblay have been operating Barb’s Pizza in Cromwell for the past 16 years, he said, but has been involved in the industry for much longer. “I’ve been building restaurants for 32 years,” Arpaia said. He’s also been a restaurant consultant. The name of Barb’s Pizza, which Arpaia hand-drew and had turned into a logo by Lawrin Rosen of ARTeffects in Bloomfield, is a nod to former Harry’s Pizza partner Barbara Lang. “It’s all my recipes, all my designs, but I do love her name. It’s synonymous with success,” he said.
  • Sea Slim Nutrition and Weight Loss at Essential Health (74 Park Rd.) will open in January. Co-owned by Kerry Potts RN, MS and Donna Gucci RN, MS, the business will “offer personalized whole foods meal plans for a lifetime of healthy eating, weight management, increased energy, reduced inflammation, and optimal digestion,” according to a news release. There will be protocols available for autoimmune, keto, and paleo diets.
  • Most of the equipment has been delivered and Ignite Fitness (135 South Main St.) personal training facility is hoping to open in early January, owner Kim Zengerle said. I’ll be visiting for a feature story, but you can also find out more about Zengerle and her approach here. “Spark member” pricing ends today, and more information is available here.

    The “Double Max” at Max Burger. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • Last Monday I had an amazing time with a group of food bloggers and social media influencers, sampling some of the new items on the Max Burger menu. Some serious eating along with serious food photography took place, and I am pretty sure we tasted 16 different food items. As a sneak peek, check out the “Double Max” in the photo – two 5-oz Brandt beef burgers, American cheese, pickles, shredded lettuce, chopped Bermuda onion, and Max sauce on a sesame seed roll! And look for a giveaway of a $50 gift card to Max Restaurants that We-Ha.com and Experience We-Ha will be holding this week!
  • The West Hartford Chamber of Commerce is holding its holiday party on Wednesday, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. in the lobby of 345 North Main St. in Bishops Corner. The event will be catered by 200 Bloom from the University of Hartford. It’s free for Chamber members, and $20 for non-members. Everyone is requested to come dressed as their favorite holiday character! Details here.
  • Also, there will be an Ugly Sweater Contest at Savoy (32 LaSalle Rd.) on Wednesday, Dec. 19, from 8-10 p.m. The wearer of the ugliest sweater wins one free pizza a month for the next year! Guests are also asked to bring unwanted sweaters for donation to people in need.

    From left: Sheryl Sleeva, board president of GSOFCT Board of Directors, Jackie Mandyck, and GSOFCT CEO Mary Barneby. Courtesy photo

  • Congrats to West Hartford resident Jackie Mandyck received her “Women Who Innovate” award at the Girl Scouts of America’s 22nd  annual Breakfast Badge event on Dec. 7. Mandyck is managing director of the iQuilt Partnership in Hartford, an urban design plan which looks to link Hartford’s cultural and physical assets to make the city more walkable, engaging, and vibrant. Jackie also serves on the board of the Connecticut Women’s Council, and the Betty Knox Foundation. She formerly served on Girl Scouts of Connecticut’s Board of Directors.
  • Buildout is underway for the GoHealth Urgent Care clinic that will be opening next to Shake Shack (facing New Britain Avenue) in The Corbin Collection. According to Economic Development Specialist Kristen Gorski, work on the space on the other side of Shake Shack (closer to REI) is a “white box fit-out” that will make it easier for a future tenant to build out.
  • The Sprint store at 39 South Main St. closed last month. No news on a replacement tenant yet, but according to Gorski, Sprint’s lease is still in effect.
  • ICYMI, a feature story on Futures Inc., an organization dedicated to education and job training for people with disabilities which recently moved its headquarters to West Hartford from Middletown, was published last week. Click here for the complete story.

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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