A round-up of openings, closings, and other news about West Hartford businesses.
By Ronni Newton
I hope that all who celebrated had a very, merry Christmas and/or a very happy Chanukah! We wish all of our readers a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year, too!
My family had a wonderful Christmas celebration – actually multiple celebrations and one more to go – with family and friends. We toasted my daughter Katie’s acceptance just a few days ago into UConn’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program. It was her top choice, and we are thrilled that she will remain close by for the three-year graduate program, and will still be able to easily share family moments with the rest of us. The in-state tuition is an added bonus! Although Katie will get her bachelor’s degree in May 2017, she and her brother Sam – who had a great first semester academically – will both finish up their UConn careers together in May 2020.
As mentioned in last week’s column, we were observing the official federal Christmas holiday on Monday and that’s why we did not publish a Monday newsletter and why this column is appearing on Wednesday. We will do the same thing next week for New Year’s, with the year’s first Business Buzz column publishing on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017. After that we will return to our regular Monday column schedule, and Monday/Wednesday/Friday newsletters.
Of course if there is any breaking news, we will send that out through a special email alert.
As expected it’s been a fairly quiet business week, but we still have plenty of news to share.
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 West Hartford Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting Dec. 15 and welcomed Sleep Number to its new free-standing store at 1593 New Britain Ave. The location is on the West Hartford/Newington/Farmington/New Britain line, but Sleep Number is referring to the location as their West Hartford store so we are going to count it, too. Sleep Number built the new store (a Shell gas station and mini-mart was previously on the site) and moved across the street from Westfarms in November. The West Hartford Chamber of Commerce said in a news release: “This beautiful new store provides all the space they need to display their wide array of beds and accessories including pillows, linens and blankets.” Of course the featured product is the Sleep Number bed, which “contours to your neck, shoulders, back and hips, cushioning your entire body for more proper spinal alignment.”
- A holistic healing/wellness center has recently opened up right near West Hartford Center. Zen: Body + Mind, owned by Cyndi Roberts and her business partner Lexi Jacobson, opened in September at 91 South Main St. in the old Victorian house on the corner of Boulevard. According to Roberts, the center offers “a variety of one on one holistic healing modalities, including therapeutic, gentle, restorative and prenatal yoga, meditation, reiki, access consciousness bars, craniosacral therapy, and myofascial release.” All are welcome to visit at an open house planned for Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017, from 1-4:30 p.m.
- Now for some sad news: Gledhill Nursery is officially closed. The garden center, which was located at 660 Mountain Rd., sent out an email to its newsletter subscribers indicating that the business would be closing for good on Christmas Eve. I stopped by on Tuesday and found the gates closed. So many people are on vacation right now so it’s difficult to get more information but the property has been for sale for quite some time, and expect details to be reported soon about proposed development for the site.
- FYI, Connecticut’s minimum wage will increase to $10.10 as of Jan. 1, 2017. According a news release from Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s office: “The coming change is the final step in a series of three scheduled increases under the law that first increased the minimum wage from $8.70 to $9.15 on Jan. 1, 2015; from $9.15 to $9.60 on Jan. 1, 2016; and finally to $10.10 effective Jan. 1, 2017. Connecticut was the first state in the country to adopt legislation establishing a $10.10 minimum wage.” Bear’s Smokehouse owners Jamie McDonald and his wife Cheryl have decided to bump up the minimum wage paid to employees at its locations to $15 per hour in January 2017, the Hartford Courant reported. There isn’t a Bear’s in West Hartford, but McDonald is a West Hartford business owner as the “Bear” in Cook and the Bear which will open this winter in Blue Back Square. No word yet on whether or not the $15 per hour minimum will apply there.
- In addition to Cook and the Bear, we are eagerly anticipating some other restaurant openings in early 2017. Scott Miller, COO of DORO Restaurant Group, has confirmed that build-out is well underway at Zohara Mediterranean Kitchen (991 Farmington Ave.) with plans to open sometime this winter.
- Congratulations to Hughes Health & Rehabilitation Vice President Mark Finkelstein, who has been honored as a Health Care Hero by the Hartford Business Journal. Finkelstein, pictured with WFSB 3 news anchor Denise D’Ascenzo, enjoyed the festivities at the Hartford Business Journal’s Health Care Heroes 2016 Awards Luncheon held on Dec. 1 at the Connecticut Convention Center. According to a news release, Finkelstein was “honored for his work in ‘Corporate Achievement – Innovation,’ along with seven others health care heroes in different categories. D’Ascenzo served as emcee of the Hartford Business Journal awards ceremony. In her remarks, D’Ascenzo acknowledged many of Hughes’ accomplishment in 2016, including being one of only three skilled nursing facilities nationwide to receive the Gold Excellence in Quality Award from the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living, as well as Finkelstein’s selection as a top performer for the third time in four years by the American College of Health Care Administrators.”
- The We-Ha Pop-Up, located at the corner of Memorial and Isham in Blue Back Square, was incredibly successful, and even warranted a visit from the official Vineyard Vines whale last Thursday! There is still some merchandise left, and look for the store to reopen for a few more days on Jan. 6-8. More details to follow!
- ICYMI West Hartford resident Wes Thompson, the former president of Sun Life U.S., has launched an innovative new insurance company. Emerge.me is an online platform which uses a “virtual insurance broker” named Max to help users both understand and purchase emergency insurance options that complement health insurance and can provide a financial safeguard in the event of a major illness or accident. Click here for the details.
- We’ve been asked about New Year’s Day brunches in West Hartford, and encourage anyone (readers or restaurant owners) who knows of any to post the details in the comments section below.
Remember, if you have any business news to share, remember to add it in the comments section below or email Ronni Newton at [email protected].
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