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West Hartford Business Buzz: December 30, 2019

The J.Rene Coffee Bar inside Cookshop Plus is now open. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

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

By Ronni Newton

I hope all of our readers are having a wonderful holiday season, celebrating whichever holidays you observe with family and friends. I also wish everyone a very Happy New Year as we prepare to bid goodbye to 2019 and welcome a new year and a new decade!

Millie loves the beach, even in the winter. Sunday morning was peaceful and beautiful. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

I’m writing this on Sunday night after returning from a very quick visit to my in-laws on Nantucket. Other than our drive home Sunday evening (when it was sleeting and raining), the weather was beautiful and in about 50 hours we fit in a few great beach walks (saw frost on the beach path Sunday morning, which I have never seen), a stroll around town, a visit with some old friends, and a wonderful family Christmas celebration.

After New Year’s Day we will be entering the doldrums of winter – my absolute least favorite time of the year. This week I will be working on a year in review, and as 2020 arrives I’m hoping for lots of good news to share to offset the winter blues.

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:

Kiki Banks (left) and Keenan Asbridge behind the counter at the J.Rene Coffee Bar inside Cookshop Plus. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • There isn’t a ton of new business news at this time of year (and it’s also hard to track down people and information during the holidays when many people, myself included, are traveling) but one piece of happy news is the opening of the J.René Coffee Bar inside the new Cookshop Plus store at 60 LaSalle Rd. in West Hartford Center. I’m a coffee purist (some say a very boring coffee drinker because I mostly drink just plain black coffee), but I love the taste of really good, strong coffee. I’ve been a big fan of J.René ever since the cafe opened on Park Road, and it’s great to have this option in the Center as well. I did quite a bit of Christmas shopping at Cookshop Plus, and was thrilled when the coffee bar had its soft opening Dec. 20. It was great to meet baristas Kiki Banks and Keenan Asbridge, who served me a great cup of coffee! The coffee bar is part of the retail store but has a separate entrance/exit and will open for business at 7 a.m.

    BiCi Co. is beginning work on its location inside 616 New Park. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • BiCi Co. has started the long-awaited build-out of their space on the ground floor of 616 New Park (renderings are displayed in the windows, which are now papered over) and the business has launched a crowdfunding campaign that is eligible for matching funds through the Sustainable CT Community Match Fund and will also help West Hartford earn credits and reach its goal of becoming a Silver Level sustainable community. BiCi Co., which according to its websitewas created by the Center for Latino Progress in June 2015 to provide an opportunity for hands-on bicycle education and service learning projects for 30 summer youth interns,” will be opening its “west” location in the spring of 2020. “We are a social enterprise organization focused on youth and workforce development,” Joseph Dickerson, program manager, previously told We-Ha.com. According to BiCi Co., some of the funds raised will help outfit the tool storage and bicycle repair work stands at the West Hartford space which is next to the CTfastrak staton in Elmwood. In Hartford, BiCi Co. has a robust “Earn-a-Bike” program, as well as DIY repair hours, and other courses. In West Hartford, there will be similar programs, including wheel-building, basic bike maintenance, and more. To participate in the BiCi Co. Winter Crowdfunding Campaign, click here.  See more photos of the renderings below.

    Ryan Marketing Wishing Wall. West Hartford Holiday Stroll, Dec. 5, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton (we-ha.com file photo)

  • Props to West Hartford based Ryan Marketing, which for the second year in a row sponsored a “wishing wall” during the Holiday Stroll. The company donated $1 to the Food Pantry for each wish made on its wall – and there were 782 this year!
  • Congratulations to West Hartford resident Mal Doyle, whose journey with pulmonary fibrosis was featured in the “Lung Health” centerfold insert in the Dec. 20 issue of USA Today. Doyle has organized a support group for area residents with the disease, and has been an amazing at advocacy and raising awareness. The insert can be found on this PDF: http://doc.mediaplanet.com/all_projects/22998.pdf and the full online version of the article is available here: https://www.futureofpersonalhealth.com/lung-health/finding-support-changed-this-pulmonary-fibrosis-patients-life.
  • The WeHa Unified Business Club, through which students with and without disabilities create sustainable micro-businesses based on the interests of the teens with disabilities, is selling cookbooks. “West HartFOOD” is a compilation of contributed recipes from a variety of people throughout town (I am honored to have been asked to contribute), and has a great cover designed by local artist Julie Phillipps. To order a copy of the cookbook, and for information about the club’s other businesses and products, many of which are sold at b.kind (1000 Farmington Ave.), click here for the website.
  • The AT&T Store at 56 LaSalle Rd. is now open for business.

    The AT&T Store at 56 LaSalle Rd. is now open. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • Now for the sad news, and unfortunately there are several items to report this week. BlueprintCT Home will sadly be closing its store at 970 Farmington Ave. in West Hartford Center, and returning to its retail roots in Litchfield County. I really enjoyed getting to know owner Louis Lemieux, and wish him the best of luck. For details about the store’s move back to Litchfield County, visit the website or follow on Facebook.
  • There was a rumor a few years ago about Cosi closing its restaurant at 970 Farmington Ave., and although it was not true at the time, the location is now closed. According to a reader, Cosi was closed, dark, and locked Friday, and a call he made to the Hartford location indicated that the West Hartford Center location has indeed closed for good.

    Puritan Furniture, at 1061 New Britain Ave. will be closing its doors for good. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • Puritan Furniture (1061 New Britain Ave.) sent a letter to its customer base about 10 days ago inviting them to a private going-out-of-business sale for the 88-year-old retailer. The store closing, along with a public sale, will be officially announced soon, the manager told me. Look for more details here as soon as they are available. While it is very sad to see a longtime retailer go out of business, it will be interesting to see what development opportunities this large space in Elmwood will bring to the community.
  • ICYMI, this week’s Experience We-Ha Podcast is about the Experience We-Ha Podcast, and a look back at the 70 episodes that have been recorded since the feature began in 2018. Click here to listen.

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

Like what you see here? Click here to subscribe to We-Ha’s newsletter so you’ll always be in the know about what’s happening in West Hartford!

BiCi Co. is beginning work on its location inside 616 New Park. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

BiCi Co. is beginning work on its location inside 616 New Park. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

BiCi Co. is beginning work on its location inside 616 New Park. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

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We-Ha

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