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West Hartford Business Buzz: December 4, 2023

Ben Loveland, owner of WeHa Print, stands in front of a printing machine that has revolutionized his business. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

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

Business Buzz is sponsored by NBT Bank, and we are very thankful for their support! 

By Ronni Newton

It’s December, meteorological winter, and somehow (because it’s all I did on Saturday) I actually have my house almost completely decorated for the holidays. Last year at the time I had only gotten as far as the wreaths.

Covering Holiday Stroll on Thursday (story and photo gallery here) and the [very rainy] Mitten Run on Sunday (story and photo gallery here) definitely boosted my holiday spirit, but the news rarely takes a holiday break and there are plenty of non-holiday-related happenings still taking place in West Hartford.

Last week I attended the four-hour TPZ meeting – which was part one of the consideration of the wetlands application for development of the former UConn property. I’ve been covering this story since UConn first announced its plans to vacate the West Hartford campus more than eight years ago and of course will continue to keep our readers up-to-date on all developments.

Coming up this week will be the final public meeting on Vision Zero. Here are some details about where that project stands, and how you can provide additional feedback.

Ted and I met for dinner at Division West after I was done covering the Holiday Stroll on Thursday night as part of his birthday celebration (thanks to his brother for the gift certificate, which I also got to enjoy!), and I ordered plenty of comfort food which was exactly what was needed after I had been outside in the cold for more than three hours.

Drinks at Division West. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Butternut Squash Ravioli at Division West. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

BBQ Pulled Pork Mac & Cheese at Division West. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

We spent some time Saturday evening with Katie and Matt (and the baby), and ended up getting some takeout Chinese from Black Bamboo. Obviously we were all starving because I didn’t even think to take any food photos until this was all that was left …

Forgot to photograph our feast from Black Bamboo until after we had eaten! Photo credit: Ronni Newton

If you’re looking for news about West Hartford in print please note that many stories from We-Ha.com, as well as other local news, is published in the twice-monthly issues of the West Hartford Press.

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:

WeH Print is now open at 97 South Street, Suite 240 in West Hartford. Courtesy photo

  • I first connected with West Hartford resident Ben Loveland back in the early days of the pandemic, when through his company ScrubPocket.com he was distributing ventilator management badge cards that were given out at no cost to doctors, nurses, and respiratory therapists throughout the country. Loveland, whose background is as registered nurse, has recently branched out beyond the medical industry and recently with several partners formed the company WeHa Print, to offer general printing, including unique custom-printed items on plastic. Loveland has always been fascinated with the printing industry – and shared his Christmas list from third or fourth grade when along with a Gameboy and a cat he wanted a copy machine and a laminating machine. He chose a nursing career after also developing a love of science when he was earning his Eagle Scout designation and did an explorer’s program with a local ambulance company, but eventually started making laminated reference cards for himself, and after not being satisfied with outsourcing results eventually started printing them himself, and making reference cards for others in the medical industry. “We bought all that manufacturing equipment,” he said, and realizing he had more equipment than many print shops he began transitioning to printing as a full-time job. What differentiates WeHa Print, Loveland said, is their ability to work with laminated plastic, and that most of their ordering can take place online with a transparent pricing structure. Customers can upload images, or a design they want printed, directly to the WeHa Print website, receive a quote, and have their job ready for pick-up with just a few days turnaround. They have a special machine that Loveland said is a game-changer, and has the die cutouts to create high-quality laminated name badges or other products with materials and through a process that keeps them from peeling. Clients can set up their own account, with the brand standards kept on file, so they can easily order items to their specifications. They create all sorts of reference cards, stickers to identify your circuit breakers, restaurant menus, and gift items. Right now they’re doing a lot of holiday cards and can work with templates as well as more customized designs, and have the cards ready for pick-up at their 97 South Street facility in West Hartford within a few business days. You even get a free sheet of address labels with each order. Another new printing machine will be arriving next week, and will allow them to print even larger posters and other documents.They also print up to five “lost pet” posters for free. “It seems like the right thing to do,” said Loveland. WeHa Print has five full-time employees (including Loveland and his wife), a 6,000 square foot facility, and is open Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., and Loveland said will be expanding their hours if there is a call for it. He’s had booths at Celebrate! West Hartford, the Halloween Stroll, and at the Noah Webster House Holiday Market, looking to grow the WeHa Print side of the business. To contact WeHa Print, visit their website, call 860-239-0580, or email [email protected].

Some of the items that WeHa Print has created. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Some of the items that WeHa Print has created. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Ben Loveland’s Christmas list, dating back to third or fourth grade, includes a copy machine and a laminating machine. Courtesy photo

Ben Loveland, owner of WeHa Print, stands in front of a printing machine that has revolutionized his business. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Reference cards and templates for name badges at the WeHa Print/ScrubPocket facility at 97 South Street. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Reference cards and templates for name badges at the WeHa Print/ScrubPocket facility at 97 South Street. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Reference cards and templates for name badges at the WeHa Print/ScrubPocket facility at 97 South Street. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • West Hartford resident Allison Burke has just launched her own women-centered psychotherapy practice, Mindful Path Counseling & Wellness, and is working with clients through tele-health as well as through “walk and talk” therapy. She and her husband are both originally from Massachusetts (she has a degree in social work from Boston College), and were living in the Philadelphia area but in 2021 moved to West Hartford to be closer to family. “Most of my clients want to be seen by tele-health,” she said, and while she doesn’t have a physical office, at least a few days a week she meets clients in person for “walk and talk,” spending the hour session walking in places like the reservoir, Elizabeth Park, Westmoor Park, or Trout Brook Trail – or any other safe space where it’s easy to either do a loop or out and back route. “It’s such a great way to get some exercise, and for some people it’s easier to open up with not sitting across the room from a therapist.” The name of her business – which she formed earlier this year – is a nod to the walk and talk therapy, as well as to mindfulness, which is an important part of her practice. “It has always been my desire to open a therapy practice that specializes in working with women and focuses on the mind-body connection,” she said. Burke said she usually will do at least two tele-health sessions before the walk and talk in order to collect information and build a comfortable relationship. Also unique to Burke’s practice is her experience dealing with trauma, which is part is due to previous work at a Burmese refugee camp in Thailand. For more information, visit the website www.mindfulpathct.com or contact Burke at [email protected] or 860-222-0870. [UPDATE, this phone number has been corrected.]

Allison Burke. Courtesy photo

Walk and talk therapy. Courtesy photo

Courtesy image

  • The Delamar West Hartford will be holding “Story Time with Santa” on Dec. 7 and 14, in collaboration with The Village for Families & Children, the nonprofit that was also the beneficiary of funds raised during Sunday’s “Breakfast with Santa” to support The Village’s initiatives in the community. “We are delighted to join forces once again with The Village for Families & Children to make a positive impact on our community during this festive season,” said Erin Spiegel, Director of PR and Communications for the Delamar Hotels. “Our ongoing commitment to supporting The Village reflects our belief in their important work, and we are eager to spread joy and contribute to their cause.” Artisan West Hartford is also offering a special holiday drink called the “Delamargarita” with $4 from each drink sold during the events donated to support The Village. For more information, visit the Delamar West Hartford website.

Storytime with Santa at the Delamar. Courtesy photo

$4 of the purchase of each Delamargarita supports the mission of the Village for Families and Children. Courtesy photo

  • I was honored to be part of a group of media professionals-turned bartenders who helped raise $14,000 last Tuesday night at Max Downtown in support of the CT Brain Tumor Alliance. It was “by far our biggest and best year to date!” said Dan Tapper of Sullivan and LeShane, who organized the event with the support of title sponsor ($10,000) Shimkus, Murphy & Lemkuil, Inc.

“Bartenders” at Max Downtown on Nov. 28 were helping raise money for the CT Brain Tumor Alliance. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

“Bartenders” at Max Downtown on Nov. 28 were helping raise money for the CT Brain Tumor Alliance. Courtesy photo

CT Brain Tumor Alliance fundraiser at Max Downtown on Nov. 28, 2023.. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

“Bartenders” at Max Downtown on Nov. 28 were helping raise money for the CT Brain Tumor Alliance. Courtesy photo

  • West Hartford’s Knockout Fitness, founded by “dynamic duo” Anthony and Johnny Atallah, is thrilled to announce its grand re-launch. “This innovative gym, born from a fusion of passion for fitness and holistic wellness, is set to redefine the fitness landscape in West Hartford. The popular gym has gone through a complete transformation from the ground up. The new look is a sleek modern design in black with elements of warmth through wooden accents and fun and striking new lighting. New equipment is complemented by additional new offerings such as physical therapy and aesthetic options to combine with any workout package,” according to an announcement. A grand re-opening was held a few weeks ago, including DJ Roc, catering by Bricco Restaurant, an open bar, and a raffle which raised money for Connecticut Children’s. For more information about Knockout Fitness, which is located at 20 Jefferson Avenue, Unit 3, visit their website.

Knockout Fitness grand re-opening party. Courtesy photo

Knockout Fitness owners Anthony and Johnny Atallah with Mayor Shari Cantor and her husband, Michael Cantor, at the grand re-opening party. Courtesy photo

  • Congratulations to Hall High School graduate (Class of 1995) Jennifer Grigoraitis, who this November was elected mayor of Melrose, Massachusetts. According to a news release, “the election, on November 7, 2023, marks the first time that a woman has been elected to this leadership post since the city’s founding in 1850. Grigoraitis, a Democrat, won a very competitive election in Melrose, a small city just north of Boston, where she lives with her husband Bill Kreamer and two children and currently serves as president of the city council. Grigoraitis’ parents, Penni and Rich Grigoraitis, have lived in West Hartford for 50 years, and Penni was a longtime employee of West Hartford Public Schools. “West Hartford has played a pivotal role in Jen’s pursuit of public office. She is a strong advocate for thriving public schools, and regularly reflected on her positive experience as a student in the West Hartford Public School system as an example of the importance of investing in public education.  During the preliminary and general elections, Grigoraitis received support from many former Hall High classmates, educators, and longtime family friends.  She is grateful to have had the encouragement of so many current and former West Hartford residents,” the news release states. She will be officially sworn in on Monday, Jan. 8, 2024.

Mayor-elect Jen Grigoraitis with her family. Courtesy photo

  • I followed up with Cake Gypsy owner Deanna Damen this week after a reader asked for an update on their plans to open a location at 1123 New Britain Avenue. It’s been a long time coming, and Damen said some of her permits have expired and she has been working with the town on some needed changes while also operating her busy stores in Avon and Canton. “I am looking forward to opening there ASAP,” she said of the Elmwood location.

Future Cake Gypsy at 1123 New Britain Ave. Photo credit: Ronni Newton (we-ha.com file photo)

  • There was plenty of West Hartford representation at last month’s star-studded Connecticut Children’s “Miracles & Main” Gala at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford. “The event, attended by nearly 1,000 distinguished guests, proved to be an unforgettable evening dedicated to celebrating and fundraising. The event raised $1,502,962, and counting, which is a 31% increase over 2022, for the young patients and families who depend on Connecticut Children’s exceptional healthcare services. This year’s donations have made this the most successful galas of the organization’s history,” a news release states. Also in attendance were actresses Diane Guerrero and Jessica Darrow, renowned for their roles as Isabela and Luisa in the Disney film “Encanto” – who also connected with children currently undergoing treatment at Connecticut Children’s Hospital. “The event further featured other notable personalities, including ESPN powerhouses Field Yates, Elle Duncan, Gary Striewski, and Coach Seth Greenberg. Additionally, the red carpet was graced by Connecticut Mayor Shari Cantor and United States Senator Richard Blumenthal, solidifying the Gala’s status as an unmissable event in Connecticut’s social calendar,” the news release stated. Paulanne Jushkevich, MA, CFRE, Foundation President, expressed, “Every year, the Connecticut Children’s Gala exceeds expectations, and 2023 was nothing short of spectacular. We are profoundly grateful for the support and enthusiasm from our donors, sponsors, and attendees. The funds raised at the event will help us provide exceptional care to children, ensuring that the magic never fades. We thank everyone who joined us in creating more miracles for the children who need them most.” Jim Shmerling, DHA, FACHE, President & CEO, Connecticut Children’s, said, “Our friends, team members, patient families, and supporters played an indispensable role in our pursuit of a healthier future for all children. Their support is the foundation upon which we create magic and perform miracles for the kids who rely on us. Together, we can continue to make a profound impact, ensuring that no children’s health journey is without hope. We are grateful to all who joined us in making this vision a reality.”

Mayor Shari Cantor and Michael Cantor at the Connecticut Children’s gala. Photo by Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images for Connecticut Children’s. Courtesy photo

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, West Hartford Mayor Shari Cantor, Town Council member Tiffani McGinnis, Town Clerk Leon Davidoff, and former Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin at the Connecticut Children’s gala. Courtesy photo

West Hartford Mayor Shari Cantor, Encanto actresses Diane Guerrero, PR professional Jane Owen at the Connecticut
Children’s gala. Photo by Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images for Connecticut Children’s. Courtsy photo

  • ICYMI, on Tuesday morning a groundbreaking was held for the redevelopment and expansion of West Hartford Fellowship Housing. Read the complete story here.
  • The process of reviewing the wetlands application for development of the former UConn campus property by West Hartford 1 LLC took a step forward with the first TPZ public hearing on Wednesday, Nov, 29. The hearing will continue on Dec. 11, at 6 p.m. Click here for the details.
  • Thursday night was a great night for the Holiday Stroll. Photos and the story can be found 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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