A round-up of openings, closings, and other news about West Hartford businesses.
By Ronni Newton
Wasn’t Friday’s snowfall beautiful?
Those words rarely come out of my mouth, but for a variety of reasons (it was the first “no school” day of the season, it didn’t interfere with anything critical, it wasn’t bitterly cold, it was enough snow for cross country skiing but not so much that it impacted roads for too long, it stuck to the trees) I actually enjoyed the snow day!
My sister sent me this photo of a snowman that someone built at the corner of Farmington Avenue and Stanley Street that for obvious reasons she thought I would like. I have no idea who built it –although the other side said Dave – but I saw several images of this same snowman pop up on social media. Sadly, the snowman has not been enjoying the bright sunshine that followed the snowfall.
One other bit of editorializing before I get to the buzz …
Last Wednesday someone posted the following question in the Neighbors & Friends in West Hartford Facebook group: “What restaurants do you miss in West Hartford?” There were, at last check, 138 comments. The names include Mediza, C.O. Jones, Back Porch, Vals, Top Nosh, Friendly’s, Counter Burger, Azul, Macaroni Grill, Edelweiss, Maple Hill, and Scoler’s. Some have been gone for only a few years, and some have been gone for decades.
The reason I mention this thread is that businesses (restaurants as well as other types of businesses) turning over in West Hartford is not a new trend – and the level of turnover is far from unusual for any town of this size. I recall many of the places mentioned on Facebook, and some are in spots that have had several different occupants in the 18 years I have lived in West Hartford. One of the current differences is that because of social media, we all find out about closings as well as new businesses much faster, and we spend more time talking about them. That’s one of the reasons why you all read this column, right?
Back in December Blue Back Square’s Marketing Director Elizabeth Zigmont said, “For every door that closes there’s someone else looking at the space.” I will of course start today’s column with the positive news, but let’s keep that in mind as we hear about businesses closing (see bullet no. 3) or moving.
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:
- Max Restaurant Group President Rich Rosenthal has released the name of the group’s new pizza restaurant which will open at 32 LaSalle Rd. in West Hartford Center: Savoy. The full name will actually be Savoy Pizzeria Napoletana. Rosenthal said Sunday that the name came from the story of Queen Margherita of Savoy, for whom the Margherita pizza was named. “It has a nice back story to it,” he said. Apparently Queen Margherita was invited to Naples and given the opportunity to choose her favorite pizza. The one she chose – with the red sauce, white cheese, and green basil that evokes the colors of the Italian flag – was named the Margherita pizza in her honor in 1889. Those who eat at Savoy will be able to enjoy Margherita pizza as well as other Neapolitan style pizza made in two wood ovens that are currently being shipped from Italy, Rosenthal said. “The menu will be hyper-oriented to pizza,” he said. While pasta will not be served, Rosenthal said there will be some great appetizers, antipasti, and salads, as well as a Burrata bar serving house-made mozzarella and other artisanal cheeses. The full bar will also include Italian wines on tap and a selection of craft beers. The 2,400 square foot space will seat 80, Rosenthal said, with a good portion of the seating at the bar and the Burrata bar. Because of the narrow sidewalk and a tree right in front, Rosenthal doesn’t think there will be much in the way of outdoor seating. As for the interior decor, Rosenthal said it will look like a “pizza place with a hip feeling,” and will appeal more to adults than families. Savoy is scheduled to open in mid July.
- Blue Plate Kitchen will hold a fundraiser Monday night (that’s tonight!) for employee Kevin Garrido, a West Hartford resident whose home was significantly damaged in a fire last week. The restaurant will donate 10 percent of the proceeds from dinner (4 p.m. through closing) to help Garrido’s family and will also accept cash donations. The family is currently staying in a hotel in Avon. Look for more details soon regarding other ways to assist the family.
- We do have some closing news to report this week. Lucy Activewear, located at 84 Memorial Rd. in Blue Back Square, will be closing. The manager on duty said that March 31 will be the last day the West Hartford store will be open for business. She said that Lucy has been closing many of their stores across the country, particularly on the east coast where business has been slow overall.
- Blue Plate Kitchen gets two mentions this week, because they were one of the restaurants to tell us that they have a Valentine’s Day special next weekend. The prix fixe dinner menu begins at 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and includes a choice of salad, entree (house made gnocchi with wild mushrooms, pan-seared sea scallops, or petite filet), and dessert choice for $59.95. (Reservations 860-906-1419) A’Vert Brasserie and Treva have also clued us in on their Valentine’s Day specials (for menus see PDFs at the end of the column), Besito has Valentine’s Day specials beginning on Friday, Feb. 12 (call 860-223-2500 for details or to make a reservation, or visit www.besitomexican.com), and Arugula on Farmington Avenue will serve Valentine’s Day Sunday brunch on Feb. 14 from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. and dinner from 5 – 10 p.m. (reservations strongly recommended at 860-561-4888). Other restaurants with Valentine’s Day specials can post them in the comment section below!
- Vegans and those with dairy allergies (or those who are lactose intolerant) will be happy to hear this news posted on Ben & Jerry’s Facebook page: “Ben & Jerry’s is rolling out Non-Dairy and we’ll be scooping it soon!” According to their website, “Non-Dairy flavor creations are made with almond milk and so boldly loaded with chunks and swirls that you’ll get Ben & Jerry’s euphoria in every bite.”
- The Contessa Corset Shop, which for as long as many of us can remember has been located at 66 LaSalle Rd. in West Hartford Center, has given up its storefront. The store, which specializes in bras for women who have undergone mastectomies, has moved to 45 South Main St., Suite 301.
- Offices of H&R Block have been holding a “1,000 win $1,000 a day” sweepstakes since Jan. 4, and on Feb. 4 a lucky winner was chosen in the West Hartford office (29 South Main St.). “We are so excited to celebrate Refund Season by announcing our first $1,000 winners,” said at H&R Block. “Every day we see what a tax refund can mean to our clients and the joy it brings to them. Now we get to celebrate again with the lucky winners getting another $1,000 on top of their refund. This contest is about putting the ‘fun’ in Refund Season,” said Manager Grace Gaillard. Kimberly Circo (at left in photo with preparer Wynn Le) was the lucky winner.
Remember, if you have any business news to share, remember to add it in the comments section below or email Ronni Newton at [email protected].
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You are correct that turnover in retail space is normal. What is not normal is the amount of quality locally owned stores that close, only to be replaced with nothing, or even worse another eatery or bar. How many merchants can justify $35-50 sq ft, when there is no foot traffic during the day?