A round-up of openings, closings, and other news about West Hartford businesses.
By Ronni Newton
I feel like February just began, and it’s already the 10th. Not that I am complaining about time seeming to pass quickly during the winter.
I started off last week in Florida, and was very glad to get just a bit of beach time in between visits to my dad. Although I didn’t swim (my family members are probably laughing as they read this, because while I love the beach I rarely go all the way into the water unless it’s really hot outside, or the water is nice and warm) I did stick my toes in the water and it was warmer than Nantucket is in the summer.
I returned Tuesday afternoon (in plenty of time to attend and report on the Board of Education meeting), but Ted had left to go on a ski trip out west with a friend earlier that day. Millie was definitely confused by all the comings and goings, but she and I have had some good one-on-one time this week, which included me having to be the one to walk her in the rain and cold. I definitely missed him – for multiple reasons!
Millie and I were very happy when Ted returned Saturday night.
Something else I am happy about: Pitchers and catchers report this week! I always see that as a sign that spring isn’t too far off.
It’s not business, but one of the highlights of the past week …
Marlon Pitter and I covered the Conard vs. Pomperaug girls basketball game on Wednesday night, and were thrilled to see Azaiyah Felder score her 1,000th point, and then tie Delaney Connors’ school scoring record of 1,020 points. Connors set the record in 2018, as a senior, and Felder, who is just a junior, went on to break that record on Friday night when she scored 14 points in a game in Avon. (Conard won 31-19). If she scores 12 points against Glastonbury tonight, she will break a season scoring record of 420, set by Kathy Cermola way back in 1979.
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 space occupied for 24 years by The Judaica Store (which closed last May) at 31 Crossroads Plaza in Bishops Corner, and a long-vacant former tobacco shop at 33 Crossroads Plaza, are being combined and in the process of being transformed into F45, one of the country’s fastest growing fitness franchises, which should be opening this spring. Franchise owner, resident Lauren Lansing who was formerly a handbag designer in New York City, said she moved to West Hartford about five years ago. “What I’ve been mostly interested in is functional fitness,” said Lansing, who was an athlete in high school and college and has played multiple sports, including field hockey, soccer, and swimming, and has also been interested in owning her own business. Lansing and her husband checked out the F45 studio in Fairfield, and were hooked. “It was awesome,” she said. The “F” stands for “functional” and the “45” is for the 45-minute length of the classes, but her first class was actually a special 60-minute class. After taking the class, she said, “This has got to come to West Hartford.” It took a while to find the right spot, Lansing said, because she wanted a space with ample free parking. She was thrilled when she learned of the available Crossroads Plaza space. F45 is a high-intensity (HIIT) workout that includes circuit training, and is a great workout for people who are balancing fitness routines with a busy work and family life, said Lansing, who has two children, now ages 5 and 7, who are in kindergarten and first grade at Whiting Lane. The workouts, which according to the F45 website can burn up to 750 calories, build strength and endurance, and can be modified for participants of all fitness levels – from beginners to serious athletes. “We are for everyone – beginners, body builders, cross trainers, runners, people who get bored easily, those who need motivation, and those who want a personal training experience but can’t afford it,” she said. “What sets us apart is technology,” said Lansing. There are eight monitors, and the workouts are displayed at each station, leaving the coaches available to help participants concentrate on their form. Each class has two coaches, which allows for a “personal training experience in a group coaching class,” and it’s fun, really fast, and effective. In addition, the “team training” aspect of F45 encourages community. There are no mirrors, and there is no “ego attitude,” she said. West Hartford is already a healthy and fitness-loving community, Lansing said, and while there are many fitness centers in town, she believes there is room for all of them, and each offers something unique. Lansing said she will begin marketing of memberships as soon as the opening date can be announced, and will have a limited number of founder’s rates available. The 2,700 square foot space will include 1,700 square feet of fitness space, and two restrooms and two showers. She’s hoping that coaches will be able to train at the recently-opened Glastonbury location. She is the manager, her husband is a partner in the business and will handle much of the backroom operations, and a sales manager has also been hired. To sign up for a free trial workout, visit the website. You can also stay updated via Instagram (@F45_training_WestHartford) or Facebook, or email Lansing at [email protected]. A few more photos are below.
- Thursday is Galentine’s Day – an especially appropriate day to celebrate in West Hartford, since Galentine’s Day was first “celebrated” by Leslie Knope on the show “Parks and Rec,” which was co-created by West Hartford native Michael Schur. This year’s Galentine’s Day celebration in Blue Back Square features a Girls Night Out at Ooh La La (80 Memorial Rd.) with Spanx and The Medspa (permanent new space is being completed next to Muse PaintBar). Representatives from Spanx will be providing the advice on how to “find the right bra and shapewear to complete your look,” and representatives from The Medspa will provide suggestions for “what they can do to help reach your goals.” There will also be prosecco, chocolates, and raffle prizes.
- Juliana’s Pizzeria (264 Park Rd.) is in the process of adopting a new name, but when you see the new sign (not yet installed), don’t be alarmed. It is still under the same ownership. The restaurant recently posted the following on their Facebook page: “We would like to thank you for support since our grand opening last year. We would also like to let you know that due to legal issues with a pizzeria in Brooklyn with our same name we will be changing our name to Bert’s Pizzeria. This change will be happening within the next two weeks. We however, will continue to provide quality food and service, our phone number will remain the same. The only change that will be made is the name. Thank you for your support.”
- Fundraising is well underway for Safe Grad celebrations at both Hall and Conard, and Moe’s Southwest Grill in in Bishops Corner (722 North Main St.) will be hosting a fundraiser for Hall Safe Grad on Wednesday, Feb. 12, from 4-9 p.m., and will be donating 20% of sales if diners show the flyer (posted below).
- While the Hartford Rib Off is not held in West Hartford, event organizer Lynne Cohen lives in West Hartford and HRO founder Guy Neumann is owner of GN Construction, which is located on Girard Ave. just a few blocks from the town line. In the past 10 years the Hartford Rib Off has raised more than $180,00, and this year’s event, will support three local charitable organizations, including Journey Home which has many West Hartford roots and connections, as well as The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp and the Hartford Rib Off Scholarship Fund. The two-day HRO will be held on Father’s Day Weekend, June 19-20, at Riverside Park in Hartford, and admission tickets for Sunday include access to an all-you-can eat buffet under 15,000 square feet of tents. Saturday’s Kick-Off day includes live music, food and drink vendors (coordinated by West Hartford-based Eat IN Connecticut), free people’s choice samples from participating pit masters (while supplies last), and a tasting glass with continual pours from Connecticut’s best craft breweries, cocktails, unlimited water, and soft drinks. The HRO is looking for additional sponsors. Tickets are on sale now, and early bird pricing is available through April 1. More information is available on the event website.
- Congratulations to West Hartford resident Ilona Gooley, CPA, who was recently named a “Woman to Watch” at the Connecticut Society of Certified Public Accountants (CTCPA) first-ever “CTCPA Women’s Awards Breakfast” at the TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut. Gooley is Senior Manager at Andersen, Hartford. CTCPA Executive Director Bonnie Stewart said in a news release that the CPA society created the awards program “to recognize the many contributions that CPA women professionals are making in Connecticut. As the first female executive director of the CTCPA, I have a personal perspective on diversity. Diversity does not merely tolerate our differences; diversity celebrates our differences,” she noted.
- Congratulations to West Hartford resident Larisa Kottke, who has been named vice president for finance and operations of Leadership Greater Hartford. Her responsibilities include managing the organization’s business operations including financial planning, management and reporting, purchasing, and HR administration and she previously served as the organization’s director of Finance and Operations, according to a news release. Kottke, a who has an MPA with a certificate in nonprofit management from UConn is also a VP of UConn’s Department of Public Police Alumni Council, a graduate of LGH’s 2018 Quest Program, and has more than 10 years of experience in the nonprofit sector, having previously worked for youth- and arts-centered nonprofits.
The West Hartford Art League has been chosen to be a part of the “Stop & Shop Community Bag Program” for the month of February! This program is designed to make it easy for customers to contribute to their local community while supporting the environment, and each time a $2.50 reusable Community Bag is purchased at the Stop & Shop located at 1235 Farmington Ave. in West Hartford in the month of February, $1 will be donated to the West Hartford Art League. This is a great way to support the environment and fundraise for our organization at the same time. The West Hartford Art League is hopeful for plenty of support from the community. To learn more about this program, visit stopandshop.bags4mycause.com. To learn more about the West Hartford Art League, visit westhartfordart.org.
- Now for this week’s sad news – the sudden closing of Moppets Drop-In Childcare on Friday evening. There was quite a bit of excited buzz when the facility – unique to the area – announced the opening of the drop-in daycare facility in December 2019. An email sent out to customers late Friday evening led to questions about the reason for the sudden closing, which even came as a surprise to employees, and concern that there was a licensing issue particularly since the website and Facebook page were also taken down. The license through the Department of Early Childhood is still active, but Moppets owner Drew Vernon said the reason for closing was completely financial. Expenses were too high, and he said he did not want to end up in a bankruptcy situation. “I will refund all customers with prepaid hours,” Vernon told We-Ha.com when reached via Facebook messenger on Saturday. He said that there was “no ill intent” surrounding the closing, and all transactions had been handled by credit/debit card and all monies will be refunded directly to the cards within the next few days. Vernon said that since the closing he has been approached by several parties interested in purchasing the business, so stay tuned for any updates.
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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