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West Hartford Business Buzz: January 17, 2022

A ribbon cutting and grand opening celebration was held for Pink Flamingo Party Co. on Jan. 13, 2022. Pink Flamingo Party Co. is located at 1001 Farmington Ave., West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

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

By Ronni Newton

Today is Martin Luther King Day and although it’s a federal holiday and many people have the day off, please note that there is no trash/recycling delay this week.

Other holiday-related notes from the town: Town Hall as well as the schools, Elmwood Community Center, the senior centers, and all three libraries are closed today. The Recycling Center is open from 7 a.m.-4:30 p.m., and Veterans Memorial Rink is open for public skating session from 12:40-5:50 p.m.

Today is the 26th town-wide celebration of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and while plans were initially in the works for this year’s event to be held in person, because of the spike in COVID-19 cases over the past few weeks the decision was made out of an abundance of caution to hold the event in a virtual format. Last year’s virtual event was definitely inspiring, and there is a great line-up of speakers and performers this year, and I urge everyone who can to watch – either live or later in the day. The program will premier at 10 a.m. Monday on WHCi’s cable stations, website, and YouTube channel. Details about the speakers and other participants can be found here.

It was ridiculously cold over the past few days, and a few of the days my home’s radiators didn’t seem to be able to displace that frigid air (even though we kept the heat turned up overnight). I’ve been wearing my down vest in the house, and cooking comfort food as well as dishes that involve turning on the oven. (That, combined with not running because it’s too cold, is not a great combination.)

Friday night was a good night for a big pot of chili.

Homemade chili on a cold night! Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Saturday sports with a side of work. I was resting my feet on “Millie’s ottoman” and she had to perch there as well. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

After a day of sports watching, and still craving comfort food, Ted and I went to the Corner Pug on Saturday night and had a great dinner that started with soup (French onion and clam chowder), chicken pot pie, and a grilled salmon sandwich (my attempt to be healthy, but I did not resist those waffle fries).

The dinner was far better than the Patriots game that followed …

Chicken pot pie from Corner Pug. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Grilled salmon sandwich with aioli and waffle fries from Corner Pug. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

French onion soup and clam chowder from Corner Pug. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The bread at the Corner Pug was still warm when it arrived! Photo credit: Ronni Newton

A universal indoor mask mandate is currently in place in West Hartford. (Click here for the details.) Please comply, and please don’t give our business owners and their staff a hard time about it. Really. Please continue to look out for each other, support our local businesses – and stay safe and healthy.

If you have information to share about local businesses, please provide details in the comments or email Ronni Newton at [email protected].

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Here’s this week’s Buzz:

A ribbon cutting and grand opening celebration was held for Pink Flamingo Party Co. on Jan. 13, 2022. Pink Flamingo Party Co. is located at 1001 Farmington Ave., West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • Pink Flamingo Party Co. opened at 1001 Farmington Avenue right after Thanksgiving, and last week had a ribbon cutting and grand opening “disco party” celebration! “Pink Flamingo Party Co. is a fun, happy party place that is here to bring people joy,” said owner Ashley Sodipo. And even though everyone who attended Thursday’s celebration was wearing a mask (while they were inside the store), the smiles could not be disguised. It’s hard NOT to be happy when you’re surrounded by bright pink and other cheerful colors, and glitter, and flamingos! Sodipo spent much of her childhood in West Hartford, attending elementary school at Smith, and then King Philip and Bristow. She had been living in New York since 2011, and started as an online business – a side hustle – about two years ago out of her Brooklyn apartment, where she offered curated party decor, event styling, and epic balloon installations, helping people (of all ages) and organizations in Connecticut and New York celebrate special moments and occasions. “I’m really excited to bring this business back to West Hartford,” she said about the opening of her first brick and mortar location. “Everyone is welcome here, people are happy to be here. It’s lively, and it really fits this business.” Sodipo isn’t yet 30, but has been named to the Forbes Next 1000 List, has been featured in Black Enterprise, and was supported by American Express’ “100 for 100” as one of 100 female Black entrepreneurs to receive a grant, mentoring, and other resources. “Launching Pink Flamingo Party Co. as our first brick and mortar, in my hometown, was my dream, and it’s now a reality to bring a community fun, new ways to party. We want our store to be your first stop for party supplies, and we want people to reimagine how they party – during the pandemic and beyond.” For more information, visit Pink Flamingo’s website, or follow them on Facebook and of course Instagram (@pinkflamingoparty.co). More photos can be found at the end of the column.

Pink Flamingo Party Co. is located at 1001 Farmington Ave., West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Pink Flamingo Party Co. is located at 1001 Farmington Ave., West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Pink Flamingo Party Co. is located at 1001 Farmington Ave., West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • While driving around taking some other photos, I stumbled across some additional good news! I was headed west on Park Road, and as usual glancing at signs to see if there appeared to be anything new (or closed), when I saw the lights on at 0 Degree Thai Ice Cream! I quickly turned around and went back to check it out, and there was an “open” sign on the door at the new location at 276 Park Road. Arianna, who was working in the shop, told me they just opened on Friday. For those who may not recall, there was a 0 Degree at 120 Park Road (where BIRDCODE is now located) but it closed a few years ago, although the Middletown location remained open. “After an incredulous 2.5 years journey covered with unimaginable stumbling blocks and delays, 0 Degree West Hartford is unbelievably reopening today 14 January 2022!! To all our loyal customers, we thank you for your immense patience!” a post on the 0 Degree Facebook page noted. I’ll be back to sample their Thai rolled ice cream soon!

0 Degree Thai Ice Cream is now open at 276 Park Road in West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

0 Degree Thai Ice Cream is now open at 276 Park Road in West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • West Hartford Lock has settled into the new building they purchased at 11 Sherman Street, and has now expanded – nearly doubling in size from 14 to 23 employees – with the purchase of a Fairfield County business. West Hartford Lock had been located just over the town line on Prospect Avenue in Hartford, and just before the pandemic (in February 2020) purchased the Sherman Street building. “As plans for the building renovation were taking shape, COVID hit in March. We kept a pared-down team of employees active … we were an essential business relied on by our community to secure businesses and homes. We maintained our operations at the current location on Prospect Ave in Hartford. After the lockdown and understandable delays from the contractor and town inspectors we finally moved into our new space in September of 2020,” said Vice President of Strategy and Market Development Juri Kotowitz. In January 2021 they began discussions about acquiring Stratford, CT-based Lindquist Security Technologies, he said, and finalized that transaction and at the same time moved that operation to Trumbull. “We changed the name to Lindquist Doors and Hardware ‘a Division of West Hartford Lock’ to better represent the new entity,” Kotowitz said. “The last couple years have certainly been a whirlwind especially in light of COVID, the lockdown, and our evolution. It’s truly been the leadership of Maria and Eric [Brown] that kept our team upright and focused on the road ahead.” West Hartford Lock is involved with countless construction projects in West Hartford and the Greater Hartford area, he said, both installing and servicing doors and hardware.

West Hartford Lock has moved to 11 Sherman St., at the corner of South Street. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • Work is now well underway at the former ShopRite location at 46 Kane St., where Floor & Décor plans to open in the 71,285 square foot space. They are updating the façade on south and east side of the building, adding an area where customers can pick-up their purchases, and will be adding new landscaping. The retaining wall along the east side of the property will have fencing added for safety purposes, and ADA accommodations will also be made to the site. According to the Floor & Décor website, the company “is a leading specialty retailer of hard surface flooring, offering the broadest in-stock selection of tile, wood, stone, related tools and flooring accessories at everyday low prices. Founded in 2000 and headquartered in Atlanta, Floor & Decor is one of Fortune’s 100 fastest-growing companies. At Floor & Decor, homeowners and professional contractors have access to superstore selection at warehouse prices with showroom quality,” with an extensive selection of in-stock products.

Work is well underway for the new Floor & Decor at 46 Kane St. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • We mentioned last week that Best of West Hartford had been postponed, and the new date has now been set for Feb. 23, 2022,, at Center Court at Westfarms. “Along with Westfarms, we took a look at the rapidly rising numbers in the recent COVID outbreak and we decided, out of an abundance of caution, to postpone the event,” said Tom Hickey, president of 20/20 Media, sponsor of the annual Best of West Hartford event. “It wasn’t an easy decision to make – we’ve had an overwhelming response to the voting for the best of everything this terrific town has to offer – from pizza parlors to hair salons to health clubs to home improvement shops, and the list goes on, but we felt strongly that we had to put the safety and well-being of our community first,” Hickey said. While the date has changed, the schedule of fun will remain the same. The presentation of awards will be the highlight of an evening emceed by WTNH newscaster Dennis House, catered by Brio, and featuring entertainment by School of Rock. Guests will each receive one free drink served up by bartenders extraordinaire Two Pour Guys, with a cash bar open available after that. The early registration date/price has been extended to Jan. 31 (click here).
  • West Hartford law firm BBB Attorneys is offering free legal advice today, Martin Luther King Day. “Martin Luther King, Jr. lived a life of service, seeking justice for the less fortunate and racial fairness in the world,” the company advised in an email, and in his honor the entire firm is volunteering on Monday, Jan. 17, “offering pro bono work for those who cannot afford legal representation in an effort to support access to justice in our country. This service is open to anyone in the state of Connecticut with legal questions or challenges. Lawyers and paralegals will provide one hour of time to address ANY legal issue. This may include family and divorce assistance,  personal injury questions, landlord-tenant issues, real estate questions, reviewing contracts, small business questions, advice for people filing or defending small claims cases, etc.” Contact BBB Attorneys through this link: https://www.bbbattorneys.com//mlk

    Kerry Rauch. Courtesy photo

  • West Hartford-based Sage Solutions, LLC, a geriatric care management and consulting company, is pleased to announce that West Hartford resident Kerry Rausch, MSN, APRN, has joined the practice. She has more than 30 years experience working with older adults, and is a Yale-trained family nurse practitioner certified by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) and a certified Continence Care Nurse and Menopause Practitioner. Her experience includes 15 years working in female urology at Starling Physicians where she developed the Continence Care Center. In addition, she is an adjunct clinical faculty member at Netter Medical School at Quinnipiac College and at Yale School of Nursing. She has spoken at various venues on Urological Care of the elderly. She is currently the president of the local chapter of Urologic Nurses. Her experience also includes coordinating and facilitating research at the Center on Aging at University of Connecticut. Rausch’s practice focuses on helping older clients and their families enhance their strengths and find ways to address their challenges to improve quality of life. “I’m thrilled to be joining Kathryn Freda and Casey McGannon at Sage Solutions. They offer such a caring, hands-on approach to person-centered care that completely aligns with my values and way of working,” said Rausch.  “Kerry brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to Sage Solutions, and most importantly, her philosophy of care is a perfect fit.  We are very fortunate to have her,” says Kathryn Freda, founder of Sage Solutions. For further information, visit www.sagesolutions.com.
  • Sad news about the owner of a West Hartford business. George Chatzopoulos, owner of Kouzina Mediterranean Eatery in Corbin’s Corner (formerly Simple Greek), who was also the owner of the former Balos and is probably best known as owner of Chips Family Restaurant, died of brain cancer last week. I interviewed him multiple times, and he was always so warm and friendly. Our sincere condolences to his family.
  • If people weren’t convinced previously that New York Sports Club had closed the West Hartford location for good, the fact that they held a liquidation sale on Friday afternoon (someone sent me a notice that was on a Hartford Tag Sale Facebook page) should confirm it. I tried to check it out a bit earlier in the day (the sale was supposed to start at 3 p.m. and I had a commitment at that time) but couldn’t get inside, although I did peek in and see what looked like a major clearing out in progress. I continue to follow up with Blue Back Square management, and hope to have some news regarding a new tenant for that space in the near future.

The former New York Sports location in Blue Back Square had a liquidation sale on Friday afternoon. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • ICYMI, there’s a fun West Hartford connection to the necklace, designed by Jesse Lazowski, that Carrie Bradshaw has been wearing in “And Just Like That” – the next chapter of “Sex and the City.” Click here for the full story!
  • 2020Media has acquired the Connecticut and Massachusetts Jewish Ledger publications, and West Hartford resident Tom Hickey is now publisher. Click here for details.
  • Journalism is business, too, and I’m a member of the board of CFOG (Connecticut Foundation for Open Government), which is hosting “Stories Behind the Stories” – a behind-the-scenes look at how some of the state’s biggest stories of the past year evolved. Click here for more details or to register for the virtual program on Jan. 31.

Remember, if you have any business news to share, add it in the comments section below or email Ronni Newton at [email protected].

Mayor Shari Cantor with Pink Flamingo Party Co. owner Ashley Sodipo. Pink Flamingo Party Co. is located at 1001 Farmington Ave., West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Pink Flamingo Party Co. is located at 1001 Farmington Ave., West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Pink Flamingo Party Co. is located at 1001 Farmington Ave., West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Pink Flamingo Party Co. is located at 1001 Farmington Ave., West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Pink Flamingo Party Co. is located at 1001 Farmington Ave., West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Pink Flamingo Party Co. is located at 1001 Farmington Ave., West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Pink Flamingo Party Co. owner Ashley Sodipo (center) with Mayor Shari Cantor and West Hartford Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Chris Conway. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Pink Flamingo Party Co. is located at 1001 Farmington Ave., West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The team poses for a photo at the grand opening celebration on Jan. 13, 2022. Pink Flamingo Party Co. is located at 1001 Farmington Ave., West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Pink Flamingo Party Co. is located at 1001 Farmington Ave., West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Pink Flamingo Party Co. is located at 1001 Farmington Ave., West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Pink Flamingo Party Co. is located at 1001 Farmington Ave., West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

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