A round-up of openings, closings, and other news about West Hartford businesses.
By Ronni Newton
February is almost over, and even though there is going to be some blustery weather on Monday, and there are still snowflakes appearing in the weather forecast, my daffodils are really growing and I am happy that spring is in sight.
This past week has been very busy, and very exciting – much more exciting than I expected from a week that included a school vacation!
By far the highlight of my week was the story I had the opportunity to write about West Hartford resident Erin Bellucci, who randomly had the opportunity to sing at Madison Square Garden during the Michael Bublé concert on Wednesday night. I knew who Erin was from writing about her a few years ago when she was the very successful kicker for the Hall High School football team, but I had no idea what an amazing voice she has!
I was previously a features writer, and this is the type of story I most love to tell – and as a community journalist this is the type of story you dream about. In this case, Erin’s story turned into national news! I am thrilled for her, thrilled for her sister Allison whose PR career has undoubtedly gotten a great boost, and I literally jumped up and down when I learned that a link to my story appeared on the TODAY Show website, on People.com, and on Delaware Online (part of USA Today)!
In case you missed it, click here to read the story about Erin singing “At Last” at Madison Square Garden during Michael Buble’s concert last week. I think this is the beginning of something really big for Erin!
To top off the week, I was excited to learn on Friday that UConn Journalism has released its most recent podcast, “Behind the Stories: How to Success in Hyperlocal News,” that includes an interview with me about We-Ha.com along with interviews with Doug Hardy (also a West Hartford resident) of CTNewsJunkie, and Mike Dinan of NewCanaanite. Click here to listen.
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:
- This week we’ve got not one but two fitness stories leading this column. And with all of the restaurants we have in West Hartford, it’s a good thing that the fitness industry is going strong as well. Congratulations to Kim Zengerle, owner of Ignite Fitness (135 South Main St.) who kicked off the fitness studio’s grand opening weekend celebration with a ribbon cutting on Friday attended by Mayor Shari Cantor, Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Chris Conway, and Director of Community Services Mark McGovern. Zengerle said that Ignite’s approach is to develop a fitness plan that caters to a person’s ability. “It’s a personal experience – to meet you where you are at, and take you to where you want to be,” she said. the approach is to make fitness part of a client’s lifestyle rather than an intrusion, so that it will last. In addition to personal training, members can use the studio during staffed hours, which are 5:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 5:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Friday, 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, and 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday. Until I walked inside I had no idea how large the studio is, and it’s well stocked with a variety of equipment and weights. Zengerle said that she hopes to be able to also use the parking lot during nice weather for activities such as tire flips. For more information about Ignite Fitness, listen to the Experience We-Ha podcast, or visit their website, Facebook page, or Instagram page. See more photos below.
- In other fitness news, Total Fit LLC will be moving from Hartford to West Hartford next month. Owner Gabby Peralta said that the studio, currently located at 247 South Whitney St. in Hartford, will be moving in to the vacant space next to Fuller Yoga at 274 Park Rd. Total Fit offers individual and small group personal training for women only – both “seasoned athletes and those just beginning their fitness journey,” the website states. Build-out of the space is currently underway, and Peralta said that the move should take place during the second week of March. A grand opening celebration, that includes a ribbon cutting, is planned for April 4, beginning at 7 p.m. Visit the Facebook page for more details.
- The WE CARE Card fundraiser held in November 2018 was a great success – and last week checks totalling $18,200 were presented to Foodshare. Funds were raised by the sale of the cards for $50 each, and about 70 merchants who are members of the West Hartford Center Business Association participated this year. From left in photo: Barbara Karsky, Matt Banever, Jason Jakubowski, Al Marino, Kimberly Matson Moster, and Mike Mahoney were present during the check presentation of $8,700 from the West Hartford Center Business Association and Blue Back Square. In the photo below, Mahoney (far right) also presented a check for $9,500 to Jakubowski and Marino of Foodshare on behalf of the West Hartford Center landlords.
- West Hartford Economic Development Specialist Kristen Gorski has been nominated for a Connecticut Entrepreneur Award for Economic Development and needs our support! The awards are based on community support, and voting is open through March 18. On the voting website, Gorski described her role as follows: “I provide extensive outreach to enhance the relationship between the Town of West Hartford and local businesses. I am responsible for business retention and expansion, new business attraction, and small business and entrepreneurial support. I work with our business community to provide ongoing support, assistance and resources necessary for each entrepreneur to be as successful as possible, including liaising between businesses and DECD, CTSBDC and more … I work to make opening a business easier by helping find available space, helping get access to capital, shepherding businesses through the approval process and being a constant point of contact for assistance. During 2018, more than 60 businesses opened or expanded in West Hartford. I also serve on the BOD for the CT Economic Development Association (CEDAS), this organization advocates for business support and development, and advancing the practice of economic development in CT. Click here to vote.
- Congratulations to West Hartford resident Austin Hersh, a Financial Advisor and Financial Planning Specialist 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. He’s a graduate of Conard High School and has a bachelor’s degree from Bryant University.
- The West Hartford Chamber of Commerce will be offering a B2B Roundtable – a facilitated forum for businesses that sell to other businesses to discuss, strategize, collaborate and learn from each other. The forum, scheduled for March 6, from noon-1:30 p.m., will be facilitated by Dave Cailbey of Big Thunk Internet Marketing. The discussion topic is: “Paid, Earned and Owned Media – What Makes Sense for Your Business.” Lunch will be provided by the Simple Greek. Click here to register or for more information.
- Congratulations also to West Hartford resident Chuck Coursey, president of public affairs firm Coursey & Company, who has been elected to the board of Hartford Interval House, the largest domestic violence agency in the state. Interval House Chief Executive Officer Mary-Jane Foster said in a news release, “We couldn’t be more pleased to welcome Chuck Coursey to our board, whose late mother, Joanne C. Coursey, was a founding board member of Interval House, continuing her involvement as a volunteer, counselor and fundraiser for over 30 years.”
- I neglected to put this in last week’s column, but on Galentine’s Day, I met Sydney Golas (at left) and Sophia DeMaio, who had a booth set up at Ooh La La Boutique in Blue Back Square. The teens, both sophomores at Hall, have launched their own business, sunnybeadss, and are selling jewelry they make themselves. Check out their Instagram page (@sunnybeadss), and email them at [email protected] for further information.
- Artisan, located at the Delamar West Hartford, is now offering a three-course, prix fixe Theatre Menu in partnership with Playhouse on Park, West Hartford’s community theater. Artisan’s new Theatre Menu has kicked off with the run of “The Revolutionists,” which opened last week. The menu will change seasonally based on Chef Frederic Kieffer’s direction and will be made available from 5-6:30 p.m., the evening of the performances (Wednesday through Saturday), so theater-goers can choose to eat before the show. Tickets must be presented to servers at the start of the meal to apply. For more information visit Artisan on Facebook or call 860-937-2525. See the PDF of the menu below.
- Now that we have turned the discussion to food, I need to give a thumbs-up to the new Barb’s Pizza (968R Farmington Ave.) Ted and I ate their over the weekend, enjoying a calzone and
(a white pie with sausage, baby spinach, and potato, drizzled with crushed plum tomatoes). The calzone photo is below. One note: Barb’s does not yet have a liquor license so it’s BYOB. The IPA you see in the photo was procured from Toast. And for those asking about the salad dressing, the Barb’s house dressing is back, and available for sale by the jar.
- Not only did I feast on pizza, but I also did several food tastings this past week (lots of working out and running is needed this week to make up for it), including sampling some of the breakfast food at Donut Crazy. When the restaurant opened last fall, the hype was all about the doughnuts, but franchise owner Irene Luaices wants to make sure that the community knows their menu is much more extensive. The grill is open daily from 6 a.m.-3 p.m. (Donut Crazy is open until 9 on Sunday through Wednesday and until 10 on Thursday through Saturday), and offerings include omelettes, breakfast sandwiches, and avocado toast. See a few photos below (I ate the breakfast burrito, and it was yummy!), and you can find the complete menu here. The other tasting I did was at Milkcraft, and I’ll save that for next week!
- Congrats to New England Urgent Care (21 North Main St.), which celebrated its eighth anniversary on Valentine’s Day. “It’s only fitting that New England Urgent Care celebrates its eighth anniversary on Valentine’s Day,” said co-founder Yahel Gutman, RN, BSN, CYI, Clinical Director, and Certified Yoga Instructor (YTT-200H) in an email. “We love what we do; we love our patients and the community; and, we love our staff.” New England Urgent Care now has four clinics in the Greater Hartford area, and treats all age groups. For more information about New England Urgent Care, call 844-884-9911, visit urgentcarenewengland.com, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram at neUrgentCare.
- We reported several weeks ago that Silver Dahlia announced its plans to close its West Hartford store (970n Farmington Ave.) sometime this year, before the end of the summer. Silver Dahlia has now announced that its doors will close on May 1. Everything in the West Hartford store is now 30-50 percent off.
- ICYMI, there have been some management changes at Ideanomics (owner of the former UConn campus), including the return of Dr. Bruno Wu as chairman. Click here for the details – and rest assured there is much more to come very soon!
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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