Bishops Corner Business The Center

West Hartford Business Buzz: January 18, 2016

Jeff Brand (center) opened his new State Farm agency in West Hartford on Jan. 4, 2016. Courtesy photo

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

By Ronni Newton

When We-Ha.com sent out a breaking news alert Friday morning notifying our readers that West Hartford’s Walmart Neighborhood Market would be closing, my husband replied with an email that said: “I guess you have your Business Buzz lead for Monday.” My response (and I have copied both of our emails): “Not really. It will be old news by then!!”

I like to lead this column with something that I hope will be a surprise, and prefer whenever possible for it to be good news.

That said, the closing of a store that employs 100 people and occupies nearly 60,000 square feet in one of West Hartford’s major business districts is big news. We try to send out breaking news judiciously, and felt that this one qualified. There are some pretty strong feelings about Walmart – and many residents are saying good riddance – but it’s still going to a leave a large hole in town and result in the loss of quite a few jobs.

We will let you know as soon as there is any information about a new tenant for the Walmart space, as well as any other vacant spaces in town.

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:

Jeff Brand (center) opened his new State Farm agency in West Hartford on Jan. 4, 2016. Courtesy photo

Jeff Brand (center) opened his new State Farm agency in West Hartford on Jan. 4, 2016. Courtesy photo

  • Welcome to one of West Hartford’s newest business: Jeff Brand State Farm Agency, located at 12 North Main St., Suite 108. Jeff Brand, a 14-year resident of West Hartford, opened the “customer-first, consumer-oriented” agency on Jan. 4, and according to a news release, will be providing “insurance and financial services to help people manage the risks of everyday life, recover from the unexpected, and realize their dreams.” Brand is a former employee of Farmington Bank where he opened the Bloomfield branch in 2012, and was 2014-15 “Member of the Year” of the Bloomfield Chamber of Commerce. He is currently chairman of the Board of Advisors of the West Hartford YMCA. Brand’s wife, Jessica, is a family and consumer science teacher at Hall High School and they have a 5-year-old daughter, Avelynn. Jeff Brand Agency employees include Jobeth Woodward, who brings 15 plus years of customer service, sales, and management experience, and Crystal Amara, who is currently an adjunct business professor at Tunxis Community College, a cross-fit fanatic, and house mother at Miss Porters. “The Jeff Brand State Farm Agency’s mission is to be a partner in life and business and deeply rooted in the community,” Jeff says. “We pride ourselves on being a vital resource for our customers and a pillar in the community; highly recognized for customer experience and civic involvement. We will be a consistent top State Farm performer.” For more information, please visit www.jeffbrandsfagent.com or call 860-521-0674.
  • ICYMI: The Walmart Neighborhood Market in Bishops Corner will close its doors on Jan. 28. As noted above, it’s not the lead story today, but it’s a big story and if you didn’t read about it already, or missed the updates, click here for all the details!
    Lorey Cavanaugh of KBDC. Submitted photo

    Lorey Cavanaugh of KBDC. Submitted photo

  • Congratulations to Kitchen & Bath Design + Construction of West Hartford, winner of  “Best of Design and Customer Service” on Houzz, the leading platform for home remodeling and design! According to a news release, KBDC was chosen by “the more than 35 million monthly unique users that comprise the Houzz community from among more than one million active home building, remodeling and design industry professionals.” Owner Lorey Cavanaugh is thrilled about the honor. “We’ve had the opportunity of working with some terrific clients on fun and eye-catching projects this past year and have worked hard to meet our client’s needs and expectations. I am so grateful for their kind words through reviews and comments on Houzz, and it’s been rewarding to know that our project images are being seen and appreciated across the web,” she said in the release. For more information about KBDC, visit their Houzz profile or website.
  • Chipotle will close all of its restaurants for a few hours on Monday, Feb. 8, 2016, for a “food safety meeting” to address the company’s widely-publicized outbreaks of foodborne illnesses. Chipotle has more than 1,900 locations, including two in West Hartford – 966 Farmington Ave. in West Hartford Center and 1457 New Britain Ave. in Corbin’s Corner. Here are some details about the company’s decision from an article in CNN Money Magazine.
  • RugSale.com, which is the online branch of Kaoud Oriental Rugs, has just launched a free interior design service. Here are the instructions, provided to us in a news release from RugSale.com, to follow to take advantage of the service: “Simply take a picture of the room you want to decorate. Fill out our form at http://rugsale.com/deals/free-interior-design and submit your information with a description of how you envision the completed room to look. Once submitted our interior design team will research and suggest a range of rugs, decor, accents and ideas for you. Our team will submit a simple mock-up, the perfect rugs and links to home decor products that we believe will best fit your space. RugSale.com will also include discounts code and promotions so you can get the best price possible.”
  • West Hartford-based gunmaker Colt Defense, which locally employs more than 600 people, exited bankruptcy last week. Click here for details from Hartford Courant business writer Mara Lee.
  • This restaurant is right over the line in the West End Hartford but it’s owned by the Sasonov family of West Hartford so we’re giving a welcome and a shout-out to Metro Cafe at 580 Farmington Ave. The restaurant’s specialty is “all day breakfast,” and also offers a selection of high-end coffees and teas. For more information visit Metro Cafe’s Facebook page.
  • We all know that West Hartford is the dining “Mecca” – at least for Central Connecticut – and several of our local restaurants have been deservedly honored as the “Best Restaurants in Connecticut 2016: Experts’ Picks” by Connecticut Magazine. Congratulations to the eateries that have earned the top honors from veteran restaurant critics, food writers, and bloggers as well as Connecticut Magazine editors: “Best Italian” Treva and Bricco Restaurant; “Best Mexican/Latin American: Besito; “Best Pub” Corner Pug; “Best Steak” Flemings Prime Steakhouse; “Best Tapas” Barcelona (includes other Barcelona locations); “Best for Families” Rizzuto’s (includes other Rizzuto’s locations); “Best Desserts” A’Vert Brasserie; “Best Sushi” Murasaki; and “Best Seafood” Max’s Oyster Bar. For a complete list of 2016 “Experts’ Picks’, click here.

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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