A round-up of openings, closings, and other news about West Hartford businesses.
By Ronni Newton
When I looked at my calendar last Monday morning it appeared that the week would be somewhat quiet, with the the Conard vs. Southington football game on Tuesday night and Thursday night’s Holiday Stroll as the only major and newsworthy events on my schedule.
Then last week quickly turned into one of the busiest weeks in a long time, with business and other news coming fast and furiously.
And because there’s even more business news to add to what was reported last week, with no further ado here’s this week’s Buzz.
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].
- Omaha Steaks will open their second Connecticut retail store next spring in West Hartford! Maurice Kaoud said he had been looking for the right tenant for the space in the Kaoud building at 13 South Main St., left vacant when Salon Medusa recently moved to Bishops Corner. “I went into the Omaha Steaks located in South Windsor at Evergreen Walk and knew they would make a great addition to West Hartford Center,” Kaoud said. The lease was signed late last week, and Omaha Steaks is scheduled to open in the spring of 2016 right next to Sweet Frog in the Kaoud Oriental Rug building. According to the company website, “Omaha Steaks manufactures, markets and distributes a wide variety of premium steaks, red meats and other gourmet foods. These products are custom cut and packaged to serve the needs of our various markets.” The family-owned business was founded in 1917 and has retail locations in 27 states. The stores sell meats as well as seasonings and sauces.
- We try to refrain from including news about new businesses coming to town until the leases have been signed, sealed, and delivered, but sometimes the businesses choose to make their forthcoming presence well known even before the documents are signed. Such is the case with Bar Louie, which has been extensively advertising for employees for its new West Hartford location in the former Au Bon Pain and Umi Sushi spaces in Blue Back Square. Blue Back Square management could not confirm anything because there is no lease signed, but West Hartford Director of Community Services Mark McGovern confirmed that Bar Louie has submitted plans to the town to do interior renovations for the Blue Back Square space. According to its website, Bar Louie is an “eclectic urban bar with warm surroundings, filled with nightlife photography, hand-laid tile artwork and other local architectural touches. Made famous for our handcrafted signature martinis, we also feature an exceptional selection of uniquely presented American food traditionally and regionally inspired, including small plates, burgers and sandwiches.” This will be the first Connecticut location for Bar Louie. The only other New England location is in Providence.
- Cookshop Plus has opened! The family-owned store, owned by Australian natives turned West Hartford residents Samantha and Jimmy Hines, is located at 977 Farmington Ave. The owners received official permission to open last Thursday morning, and quickly stocked the shelves as much as possible to welcome customers at 5:30 p.m. at Thursday night’s Holiday Stroll. Thankfully Samatha’s parents, who own the only other Cookshop Plus store (in Bowral, New South Wales, Australia) were in town to assist. Look for more information coming soon about the store that is a cross between Williams Sonoma and Sur La Table, and will pride itself on customer service and on its wide range of products. Follow Cookshop Plus on Facebook to stay up-to-date with their news and unique offerings.
- We’ve got lots of news in the ICYMI department, beginning with Chick-fil-A‘s announcement of plans to open on New Park Ave. This story was one of the most-read articles ever on We-Ha.com, and there were nearly 100 comments on Facebook. Many readers expressed excitement about the food while some others expressed disdain for anti-gay comments made in the past, but later retracted, by company CEO Dan Cathy. Before Chick-fil-A finalized its plans to open a West Hartford store, regional management reached out to State Sen. Beth Bye, who said she appreciated the company’s efforts at outreach and is optimistic that the owner/manager of the West Hartford location will be open-minded.
- In other major ICYMI news, Sinatro Brothers will be selling a huge amount of real estate – three West Hartford Center buildings that include a large portion of the east side of LaSalle Road. This story can’t really be compressed into a bullet point, so please click here for all of the details.
- ICYMI, Total Wine will be opening a store in Corbin’s Corner in West Hartford, in the former Office Max location. Because the shopping center is a Special Development District, the plans are pending Town Council approval, but the only requested change is a minor cosmetic alteration of the façade, so it will not likely be an impediment. Click here for the complete story.
- Also ICYMI, Salon Medusa – which moved out of the space that will become Omaha Steaks (see above) – is now open at 35 Crossroads Plaza in Bishops Corner. Click here for more information.
- West Hartford’s La Petite France, owned by French native Alexandra Litor, will donate 5 percent of all sales during the month of December to the French Red Cross to benefit victims of the Paris attacks. Click here for details.
- Congratulations to Billy Grant, chef/owner of West Hartford’s Grants Restaurant & Bar and Restaurant Bricco, who has been honored as the Connecticut Restaurant Association’s Chef of the Year! Max Catering, also of West Hartford, was named Caterer of the Year. Click here for the complete story.
- The Better Business Bureau recognized Connecticut businesses with Marketplace Excellence Awards at its annual meeting in November. According to a news release from the BBB, the Superior Customer Service Award, which honors a business that exemplifies ethical marketing messages by excelling in high standards of advertising and selling practices, went to Hartford Fence which is located on New Park Avenue in West Hartford. Ray Costin of Hartford Fence was one of three to receive an Exceptional Employee Award. Bartlett Brainard, also located in West Hartford at 75 Talcott Rd., received an honorable mention.
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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