Bishops Corner Business Elmwood Park Road The Center

West Hartford Business Buzz: February 5, 2018

Pho 135 will be opening in the former South Main Pizza space at 135 South Main St. in West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

A round-up of openings, closings, and other news about West Hartford businesses.

By Ronni Newton

I’m going to keep my introduction brief today because as I write this it’s Super Bowl Sunday, and my husband is a huge Patriots fan, and we are having some family and friends over to watch the game.

I copied that paragraph above from the intro to this column on Super Bowl Sunday last year, but this year (intro not quite as brief) I am going to add that my daughter, Katie, has turned into a huge Patriots fan as well! One of her boyfriend’s brothers now works for the Patriots, and she and her boyfriend, Matt, have gone to several games this season. He and his other brother have been out in Minneapolis for the past few days – and will be at the big game on Sunday – a once-in-a-lifetime (perhaps) experience! We are all rather jealous, as is their mom who will be watching at our house.

I’ll be living vicariously through them – as well as my suitcase which Matt borrowed for the trip – and am hoping to see some photos on social media!

My son, Sam, who has always been the biggest Pats fan in the family, planned to watch the game with the same group of fraternity brothers he watched with last year. “Same person who had me over last year so I had to keep the mojo going!” he told me in a text Sunday morning.

Katie came over Sunday morning with the same type of breakfast sandwich she ate after the last victory. Yes, we are a superstitious family!

And as you read this you will know who won, and many of you will be in that post-Super Bowl stupor, perhaps even taking a “mental health” day off from work.

How about the ads? I really like football, but like many people I also really like watching the Super Bowl commercials. I’ve avoided watching them in advance this year so I can be surprised. Please let us know your favorites in the comment section below!

Saw a robin in my backyard on Feb. 4, 2018! Photo credit: Ronni Newton

One last comment – totally unrelated to the Super Bowl. Friday was Groundhog Day, and there were conflicting prognostications from area groundhogs. I’m choosing to go with Chuckles from the Lutz Children’s Museum who did not see his shadow and is predicting an early spring. Plus – I just saw this robin in my yard, which is certainly a good sign. (Excuse the poor photo quality but I didn’t want to scare it away by opening the door or getting any closer.)

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:

  • There’s a ton of business news to share this week, but I’m particularly excited about this one that’s in my neighborhood: Pho 135 will be opening soon in the long-vacant former South Main Pizza space on South Main Street! (The “135” in the name is because of the 135 South Main St. address.) I spoke with Pho 135 owner Tiffany Nguyen last week, and she is so excited about continuing her family’s legacy of restaurants in the Hartford area. Nguyen’s aunt and uncle (who are from Vietnam) moved to Connecticut in 1975 and opened the highly-regarded Que Huong on New Park Avenue on the West Hartford-Hartford line – actually the state’s first Vietnamese restaurant, Nguyen said. Nguyen’s immediate family moved to the area in 1994, and took over management of Que Huong. The family also opened the highly-acclaimed Bamboo Grill in Canton and Glastonbury, both of which closed recently. “We’re ready for the younger generation,” Nguyen said. She will own and manage Pho 135, and her aunt will be the head chef. “The main dish will be pho, but we will also have a dozen or so of our signature dishes from Bamboo Grill,” Nguyen said. All are authentic Vietnamese dishes, made from family recipes that the family began developing in the 1970s. Nguyen’s own favorites will headline the menu at Pho 135, including banh mi, a sliced beef dish made from filet mignon, and her signature pho. Everything is homemade and made from healthy ingredients, she said, noting that the pho is naturally gluten-free. “We will give it a modern twist,” Nguyen said, referring to the food as well as the decor which will merge traditional Vietnamese decor in a way that is “modern, hip, and young.” The interior of the former pizza place has been gutted, and Nguyen said she has just finalized plans with the builder and designer. The restaurant will seat 65-70, at 15-16 tables including a few in the spacious front window area. A bar along the left side will offer beer, wine, tea, coffee, and Vietnamese smoothies, Nguyen said. Demolition should begin this week, and plans are to open by the beginning of April.

    Gib Barrieau is now with Daley Moving and Storage. Submitted photo

  • Daley Moving and Storage continues to grow as a member of the Home Design District and within West Hartford. “We’ve hired Gerard ‘Gib’ Barrieau to head our West Hartford office and warehouse. He is the grandson of the founder of Barrieau Moving and Storage and has first-hand knowledge about the moving industry. We are thrilled to welcome him to our team,” said Cyndi Sanders of Daley Moving and Storage. Sanders said that another key addition to the team is Bob Pearlman, who has 35 years of experience as the former owner of Nationwide Moving and will be providing free estimates as he represents Daleys.
  • Continuing the positive growth theme, Balance Massage Therapy, LLC, which celebrated its 10th anniversary at its Talcott Road location last summer by expanding its staff, is growing again. The team has welcomed its newest therapist, Caitlin Drakely, LMT, a recent graduate from The CT Center for Massage Therapy/Cortiva Institute. In addition to adding new staff, the practice will now also be offering extended hours, including Saturday appointments. “For many years, we only offered client sessions Monday through Friday. We realized that didn’t always fit everyone’s availability, so I’m thrilled to be able to extend options to include weekend hours,” said owner Cailin McBee. “Our recent growth has warranted bringing on multiple therapists to handle all of our clients’ needs.” Balance Massage Therapy offers therapeutic sessions that may help to reduce acute or chronic pain, decrease stress levels, and provide general relaxation. For more information, and to book a massage using the online scheduling system, visit www.BalanceMassageCT.com, or call 860-508-3336.
  • Sadly (very sadly, in my opinion) we missed dark hot chocolate week, but there is still plenty of hot deliciousness being offered. Hartford Baking Company, which has West Hartford locations at 965 Farmington Ave. and 625 New Park Ave. in West Hartford, is delighted to announce that they will be celebrating love and chocolate during the month of February with a different decadent hot chocolate blend each week. The offer actually launched on Jan. 31, which was National Hot Chocolate Day. The hot chocolates are made with real cream, and real bars of chocolate, and remaining mouth-watering selections include: week of Feb. 5 – Celebrate National Nutella Day with a Nutella Hot Chocolate, week of Feb. 12 – Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate, week of Feb. 19 – S’mores Hot Chocolate, and week of Feb. 26 Oaxacan Hot Chocolate with Chile and Cinnamon.
  • Hartford Baking Company is going to be busier than ever, because on Feb. 10 they are hosting West Hartford’s The Wise Old Dog’s very first “Pop-Up Saturday Supper” upstairs at the West Hartford Center location (965 Farmington Ave.) Wise Old Dog owner Jacob Studenroth said that a limited number of tickets are available to the event, which includes five wines (“probably with a bonus or two,” he added) and dinner with winemaker Kelley Fox of Kelley Fox Wines. The dinner will begin with a champagne reception and toast from FarmBub producer Jean Josselin & Fils at 6 p.m., and dinner seating is at 6:30 p.m. The dinner will be “handmade and family style,” Studenroth said. “In addition to the Blanc de Noir Champagne, we will pour four expressions of Kelley’s handcrafted Pinot Noir, including her prized Maresh Vineyard. This intimate dinner promises to be a true treat. What a delicious way to kick off 2018 with something different…,” said Studenroth. Click here to purchase tickets, which are $80 each, including tax and gratuities. The pop-up is being presented by The Wise Old Dog, in association with Off The Wagon Events, Artisan Wines, and Hartford Baking Company.  
  • Best wishes to Mark Finkelstein on his retirement as vice president and administrator of West Hartford-based Hughes Health & Rehabilitation. “For more than 46 years I’ve dedicated my professional career to the health care field, and for the last 12 years I’ve had the honor of serving as administrator of Hughes Health & Rehabilitation. During that time, I have had the privilege of working with an outstanding team of dedicated skilled nurses and staff.  I wouldn’t trade my time at Hughes for anything as I’ve come to love the people and processes that have made this place a trusted, warm and caring health care center for people and generations of families in the greater West Hartford area,” said Finkelstein in a statement. In a new release, Hughes also announced that Lina Dureza will replace Finkelstein as administrator. Dureza previously served as Hughes’ Director of Nursing. In addition, Hughes appointed Amy Peruti as its director of Nursing.  Peruti previously served as Hughes’ nursing supervisor. 
  • Congratulations to several public relations/advertising agencies that are based in West Hartford or who are run by West Hartford principals and have been selected among the Top 16 in the region by expertise.com. Express Strategies, Coursey & Company, Ryan Marketing, and Dennis PR Group are among those with West Hartford ties – and many of the others are very familiar names in my in box. Click here for the complete list.
  • Plans are well underway for the fifth annual Taste of Elmwood, scheduled for Feb. 21 beginning at 5 p.m. at Corporate Center West, and a growing list of restaurants have already committed. Click here for all of the details, including how to purchase tickets in bulk for a discount!
  • There has been plenty of business news in the past week, and in the ICYMI department, the Community Visioning process for the former UConn West Hartford campus has launched with a survey. Plans were also announced for a forum (also on Feb. 21, but you can go to Taste of Elmwood early and easily make it to Town Hall for the 6:30 p.m. forum). Town officials really want to get as much input as possible from the community. Click here for all of the details, including the link to the survey.
  • The Park Road Association is offering its first Small Business Workshop on Tuesday, Feb. 6. Click here for details.
  • Finally, West Hartford released its Grand List last week, and the numbers indicated what Town Manager Matt Hart called “healthy growth.” The Delamar West Hartford Hotel has joined the list of the top-10 taxpayers. Click here for the full story.

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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