A round-up of openings, closings, and other news about West Hartford businesses.
By Ronni Newton
What a difference a week makes!
It’s a good thing I’m not a meteorologist.
In last week’s column I wrote about winter’s return, and how it looked like the snow would be here to stay. Although my backyard still has a good cover of snow, it’s less than half as deep as it was last week. The path my husband had shoveled for the dog is down to the grass – grass that even looks green rather than brown. Weekend temperatures were well into the 50s and even the low 60s – perfect for my 10-mile run on Saturday (yes, I’m a bit crazy), walking the dog, strolling West Hartford Center, and pretty much anything that involved being outside without wearing a down coat.
On Sunday we joined what had to be at least 1,000 people and just about as many dogs at the Farmington Avenue reservoir. Scarlett had a great time, but with all of the melting snow her paws did get a bit muddy.
I’m loving the 65º that I see forecast for Thursday!
I want to give a shout-out to both of my kids, who were two of the 2,718 dancers participating in HuskyTHON 2017 at the Hugh S. Greer Field House at UConn between 6 p.m. Saturday and noon Sunday. The 18-hour dance marathon, one of the country’s top college fundraising events, raised a staggering $836,174.52 this year for Connecticut Children’s Medical Center! That’s about $120,000 more than was raised last year, and last year’s event broke records. My daughter Katie has participated with her sorority, Delta Gamma, for all four years that she has been at UConn, and this year her team alone raised $56,502.61, third place among all participating teams. There were a few other West Hartford residents on the DG team – including Bianca Speranza, Sydney Lyons, Grace Murray, and Olivia Dugas. My son Sam, a freshman participating for the first year, was part of the Phi Gamma Delta (FIJI) team that raised $9,024.
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:
- We’ve all been watching the progress of the Delamar West Hartford Hotel since construction began more than 18 months ago. It’s tough to tell visually how close it is to completion because it really depends on which side you’re looking at, but since there have been many opening dates being batted around I went right to the source for a reliable update. The answer from a Delamar spokesperson: “June is realistic.” Although the company is pushing for an earlier opening, the official plan is to open in June. While there is still some “heavy construction” going on, many pieces are being worked on at once with the overall project is now progressing at a very rapid rate. Most of the top floor rooms have been sheetrocked, and extensive work is being done on both the lobby and restaurant as well.
- MOOYAH is rolling out a new menu, the MOO2, and West Hartford’s restaurant (722 North Main St. in Bishops Corner) was chosen as one of the sites for the initial rollout because it’s one of the company’s top locations and franchise operators Matt Rusconi and David Vorchheimer are known as top franchisees. “We’re offering more variety. It’s an exciting new menu,” Rusconi said. Menu changes include the addition of fried chicken (breaded in-house) and grilled chicken, chili queso, and use of only Certified Angus Beef in all burgers – as well as a new program to expedite the ordering process.
- While I was speaking with Rusconi about MOOYAH, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to follow up again about one of his other franchise businesses – Moe’s Southwestern Grill. Rusconi and Vorchheimer were owners of the Moe’s location that closed in Blue Back Square last May, and Rusconi assured me that they have not given up plans to reopen in West Hartford. “We’re still looking for a spot,” he said.
- Those who were missing the Park Road Cumberland Farms for their morning cup of coffee or its inexpensive gas prices will be happy to know the location reopened last Wednesday. It was closed for several weeks while the gas pumps were upgraded along with a few other electrical updates.
- Leadership Greater Hartford has made some staffing changes, including the hiring of two West Hartford residents in key positions. According to a news release, Larisa Kottke of West Hartford joined the LGH staff as the director of Finance and Operations, succeeding Cathy Tracy who retired after 10 years. Kottke has a masters in Public Administration and a certificate in Nonprofit Management from UConn, and formerly worked at Hartford Performs. Annmarie Goyzueta (who I met when she was in middle school!) joined the LGH staff as grant manager and Development & Membership coordinator, succeeding Laurie Robillard, now a program coordinator for The Aurora Foundation. Goyzueta has a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Hartford’s Barney School of Business, will earn her M.A. in Communications from UHart this spring, and was formerly employed by the YWCA and NCCJ.
- New England Urgent Care celebrated the sixth anniversary of the grand opening of its first clinic in West Hartford on Valentine’s Day. Since then, New England Urgent Care has opened four additional locations in the Greater Hartford area – West Hartford, Enfield, Bristol, and Simsbury – and, is adding a fifth location in Manchester on March 1. “Six years have gone by quickly,” New England Urgent Care’s Medical Director and co-founder, Dr. Michael Gutman, MD, PhD, FACEP, said in a news release. “We continue to grow because of our staff’s dedication to providing exceptional ER-quality and cost-effective walk-in medical care.”
- David P. Stevens has been selected as executive director of The McAuley, William J. Fiocchetta, president and CEO of The Mercy Community announced last week. Stevens, whose career has included more than 25 years in restaurant management, has served as director of Operations for The McAuley for more than five years. “David was recognized for his work in pairing colleagues at The McAuley with West Hartford’s Continuing Education Department, which administers the National External Diploma Program: a federal high school diploma program for adults who have acquired demonstrable skills through work experiences,” the company stated in a news release. He will take on his new duties on March 1, 2017.
- I don’t usually post job listings, but I loved this one and wanted to give it a mention because I know how hard it can be for students to find summer jobs – especially fun ones! David’s Pet Services is hiring full- and part-time puppy and dog walkers for the summer! Anyone interested should email [email protected] (that is not a typo). More information about the business can be found on their website.
- Finally, ICYMI, Zest 280, located at 280 Park Rd., reopened last week. In addition to the eclectic and healthy menu of soups, salads, sandwiches, and grain bowls, the restaurant has added the new mission of working with Community Partners in Action to train individuals re-entering the workforce. For all the details click here to read the story written by Michelle Bonner, a former ESPN SportsCenter anchor and founder of Bonner Consulting Group (media and public relations) who will be doing some more writing for We-Ha.com in the future. Look for a story soon introducing Michelle!
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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I have emailed flyer for the Swing Dance at Conard this Friday night to the editorial email. Not sure it’s getting to you. Will you be able to get this event in the We-Ha? Mr. Porter would love the publicity.
I have it and will make sure it’s in Wednesday’s newsletter! You can also post the event directly on the event calendar. ~Ronni