A round-up of openings, closings, and other news about West Hartford businesses.
By Ronni Newton
I was hoping that the robin I saw hopping around my backyard last weekend wouldn’t slip and fall, or get frozen in place after Wednesday’s icy mess, but I’ve seen him enjoying the backyard puddles this weekend and based on the upcoming 15-day forecast on my phone, perhaps he is actually a harbinger of spring (or at least springier) weather after all. I’m hoping!!
Very early (5:15 a.m.) on Thursday morning, I navigated the skating rink that was my driveway (wearing Yaktrax on my shoes because otherwise I might have been sharing a photo of yet another emergency room/broken wrist experience like the one from just about exactly three years ago) to catch an early train from New Haven to New York City, where I had been invited to attend a “Pubtelligence” conference at Google’s New York offices.
No, it wasn’t a drinking conference – although there was a great happy hour to close out the day – but rather a joint venture between Google and Ezoic for digital publishers and website owners. Our business manager and I came home with some great ideas for the We-Ha.com site, and I also came home raving about the cafeteria, which serves an amazing array of healthy hot and cold dishes, free to all employees. I went to get a drink of water and instead of plain water there was selection of spa waters like kiwi lemon, watermelon lemon, and mango lemongrass! And of course I was a total tourist and took a bunch of photos out the window of the great view of the city, and of the lobby. (See right and below.)
On Friday night, Ted and I attended Journey Home’s “Home is Where the Heart Is” gala at City Place in Hartford. What a great event – beautiful location, delicious food catered by Max Downtown – and a very important cause fighting homelessness in the region. I know I have mentioned that I have volunteered with West Hartford-based A Hand Up in the past, and the two organizations have overlapping missions. I am excited to learn that they have now formed a partnership, and will be reporting on that very soon.
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:
- Unless there is a fresh snowstorm, just like much of the rest of the landscape in West Hartford these days the site that will be home to the area’s first Shake Shack also looks damp and dull in this photo. But just like the spring color that will dot the landscape in the next few months, the space is transforming and by late April should bright and colorful. It will likely also be hopping with excited diners who have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of the highly-touted fast casual restaurant in this area ever since we broke the news in December 2016. I couldn’t get much detail from Shake Shack’s communications department when I contacted them last week for an update, but I was able to get them to narrow the statement about plans to open in the “spring” to “likely late April opening.” I will definitely continue to keep tabs on Shake Shack, as well as plans for the opening of the rest of The Corbin Collection, which should be a bit later in 2018.
- Thursday nights will become comedy nights at the Elbow Room (986 Farmington Ave.) in West Hartford Center! Beginning Feb. 15, comedian Paul Gregory, who was a big hit at last fall’s Best of West Hartford event, will host the event every Thursday beginning at 7 p.m. and lasting until closing time. He’ll be sharing the stage on the 15th with West Hartford’s own Dr. Steven Fischman! According to Gregory, the night will begin with an “Open Mic” portion for anyone who wants to try stand-up and then will convert to a showcase of comedians doing short comedy sets for the rest of the night. The talent will consist of local comics as well as national headliners traveling through the Hartford area in between other show dates. Elbow Room owner Benny Delbon, as well as Fischman, are main supporters of the comedy night, Gregory said. “Benny and his staff will play a vital role in choosing comics from the open mic to perform on the showcase and Dr. Fischman will be a regular performer. The Elbow Room will offer dinner and late-night eats, 50 beers on tap, their famous rooftop bar, and now the comedy club in the basement. This basement comedy club will have the style and setup as the Comedy Cellar in NYC and the vibe of the old Improv clubs,” said Gregory, and he envisions the Elbow Room will becoming an iconic venue in West Hartford Center favorite comics of today as well as stars of tomorrow. “I am so excited about the opportunity to bring stand-up comedy to The Center because it will work perfectly with the population there,” said Gregory. “The comedy night will cater to ages 18-80 and will offer fun for the entire family during the earlier hours then converting to a more adult comedy crowd of 21+ as the night goes on.”
- The Green Teahouse in Blue Back Square (55 Isham Rd.) will be holding a Chinese New Year celebration on Saturday, Feb. 17, from 1-5 p.m. The “Year of the Dog” celebration is free and open to the public, and will include food, tea, face painting, TaiChi demonstration, and chair massages. For more information see the PDF below, visit the website, or call 860-232-6666.
- A new-to-market steak restaurant will be coming to Westfarms! I’m sorry to tease, but I do promise that the scoop will be coming very soon, and it’s something different that people will definitely be excited about!
- Here’s your chance to hear more and provide input about the future of the UConn property! The Bishops Corner Neighborhood Association (BCNA) will be holding a meeting tonight (Monday, Feb. 12) from 7-8:15 p.m . at the Bishops Corner Senior Center. Director of Community Development Mark McGovern will discuss the UConn engagement process, and will also discuss the status of the grant for the North Main Street/Albany Avenue intersection. Also on the agenda is
Agenda: BCNA Arts Committee report, a public safety report from West Hartford Police, and a report from Economic Development Specialist Kristen Gorski, as well as a chance for questions. For more information, visit www.BishopsCorner.org.
- The University of Saint Joseph in West Hartford recently welcomed Shannon Kula, D.L.S. as the founding director of its new Women’s Leadership Center (WLC). Kula, former Chief of Staff to U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski, will be responsible for overseeing an organization that is dedicating to empowering women “as leaders in their academic pursuits, community life, and professional careers,” according to a news release. In a statement, USJ President Rhona C. Free, Ph.D., said, “Now more than ever, women need to be involved in decision-making at the highest levels in all organizations. With her unique experience and perspective, Dr. Kula will develop programs for the Women’s Leadership Center that empower and prepare women, and men, to be effective, ethical leaders in their communities and workplaces.”
- Congratulations to Austin Hersh of West Hartford, a wealth advisory associate and financial advisor at Morgan Stanley’s Wealth Management office in Hartford, who has been named to the firm’s Pacesetter’s Club, a global recognition program for financial advisors who, within their first five years, demonstrate the highest professional standards and first class client service. Hersh has been with Morgan Stanley Wealth Management since 2015 and holds a bachelor’s degree from Bryant University.
- From a news release: West Hartford native Andrea Grody, who is the musical director of the Broadway hit, The Band’s Visit, will be a guest on the radio program “On Broadway” on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2018, from 5:30-6:30 p.m. The show airs on the Trinity College radio station, WRTC-FM, 89.3. It can also be heard via live streaming at WRTCFM.com. “I’m very happy to have Andrea back on my show,” stated long-time host Stuart Brown. “In February 2012 Andrea came on to talk about Strange Faces, a musical she wrote as part of her senior thesis at Princeton University.” On the Feb. 18 program Grody, a Hall High School graduate, will talk about her role as the musical director and how she was part of the creative team that helped shape the musical first, Off-Broadway, and then when it moved to Broadway. “Not many people know what a musical director does,” said Brown. “She brings a lot of insight into the collaborate nature of crafting a Broadway musical and will provide a behind-the-scene look at the show. We’ll also play songs from the show with commentary provided by Andrea.” On Broadway airs every Sunday night from 5:30-6:30 p.m. on WRTC-FM, 89.3, on the Trinity College radio station. It can also be heard via live streaming at WRTCFM.com. Now in its 25th year, it is the longest continuously running Broadway music radio show in Connecticut. Brown, a West Hartford resident, is also a theater critic for the Connecticut Critics Circle and the Outer Critics Circle.
- In this week’s ICYMI department, the groundbreaking was held Monday for Gledhill Estates, a residential development that will be built on the former Gledhill Nursery property on Mountain Road. The first home to be constructed will be the model, and it should take about six months to complete. For the complete story and photos of the property (including the iconic windmill, which will remain) click here.
- Also ICMYI, Tyler Anderson and A.J. Aurrichio, two of the partners in West Hartford’s The Cook and The Bear are taking over the food and beverage service at the Goodwin Hotel in Hartford.Porrón & Piña is slated to open in mid-April. Click here for all of the details.
- The Clothes Horse, which has been a staple on the corner of Park Road and Oakwood Avenue for 45 years and in business for 70 years, is not your average thrift store. Click here to read about the shop that has supported the Junior League of Hartford’s mission and for generations.
- Last but definitely not least: Don’t forget to buy your tickets to Taste of Elmwood (Feb. 21) before all of the employees of Corporate Center West snatch them up! Click here for the latest details about the event.
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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