A round-up of openings, closings, and other news about West Hartford businesses.
By Ronni Newton
I hope all of our readers had a wonderful holiday season, celebrating whichever holidays you observe with family and friends. I also wish everyone a very Happy New Year as we greet the first real work day of 2019.
It’s hard to believe the holidays are over. My tree is still standing – with most of its needles still intact despite having stopped absorbing water more than a week ago – and as usual we will be among the residents putting the tree at the curb for the second week of pick-up.
My family had a wonderful holiday season full of celebrations with family and friends. Ted and I, along with both kids and their significant others, even fit in a quick visit with my in-laws in Nantucket right after Christmas, and had no travel problems in either direction which is definitely a pleasant surprise at this time of year.
We might have gone to Nantucket a day earlier – except that I had scored “Hamilton” tickets for the matinee performance on Dec. 26. My sister and I attended, and we were both absolutely blown away. I was afraid it would not live up to the hype, but the show completely exceeded my expectations in every way.
There wasn’t much news in town between Christmas and New Year’s, and for perhaps the first time ever I actually skipped a week of Business Buzz and we also skipped our newsletters on Dec. 24 and Dec. 31.
I did spend several hours writing a year in review, and I’m always amazed at how much has happened over the course of a year. I’m really proud of what We-Ha.com has achieved during 2018, and hope you will read this recap of the year’s top stories if you haven’t already done so!
We are now entering the doldrums of winter (my absolute least favorite time of year), but there are quite a few new businesses that are close to opening, and others that are about to file for permits or sign leases. Although there is not a ton of news to report for this week, I do anticipate lots of exciting business news over the next few weeks!
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:
- While I was out of town last week I heard that East-West Grille (526 New Park Ave.) would be closing as of Dec. 30. We-Ha.com intern Hunter Marotto spoke with owner Manola Sidara on Saturday, and she told him that she was planning to retire from the restaurant, continue running the East-West Grille food truck, and was hopeful that she would have a buyer for the business who would keep the Laotian-Thai menu in place. On Monday, after the restaurant closed for the last time, Sidara shared some additional information with me. “We had a good run, 19 years,” said Sidara, who moved to the Elmwood section of West Hartford 19 years ago when she opened East-West Grille. She said that she has two daughters, ages 11 and 16, and as a single mom she feels like it’s important to be home more often with them than she can while running the restaurant. “It hasn’t really sunk in,” she said about closing, but said she’s very sad about it, for her employees – many of whom have been at the restaurant for 15-16 years – as well as for her longtime and very frequent customers. Sidara still owns the building, she said, and has two buyers interested in buying the “turnkey” restaurant business. She said that she will continue to operate the food truck, which she has brought to New Park Brewing, One World Market in Parkville, and to other locations in Hartford, and she is hoping to get involved with GastroPark when that opens in West Hartford and other area breweries. She also has a “hot dog” cart that she will use to serve Asian sandwiches. “Food is my passion,” said Sidara, who has been in the food business for more than 35 years. She said that in the future, once her children are older, she’d love to partner with someone in a fine dining restaurant in West Hartford. In the meantime, Sidara said she is looking forward to operating the food truck and, “I am really looking forward to being there for my children.” One bit of history about the 526 New Park Ave. building, which has been featured in a past “Throwback Thursday” column: it was constructed in 1940 and in the past housed the Yankee Flyer Diner and Webster’s Barbecue Cafe.
- Plans for Target to open in Bishops Corner are moving along – and actually a bit ahead of schedule. Economic Development Specialist Kristen Gorski said that Target applied for permits for the interior fit out of the former Walmart space in late December. The national chain signed a lease for the space at 333 North Main St. in early December, with plans to open in 2019.
- Dr. Roshni N. Patel has launched a new zero-opioid pain integrative management and regenerative medicine practice at locations in West Hartford (1001 Farmington Ave.) as well as Farmington (399 Farmington Ave.) – one of the few practices of this type in the state. Patel is currently triple board certified in Neurology, Pain Medicine, and Brain Injury medicine. According to a news release, Patel early on embraced state-of-the art treatments including stem cell therapy and platelet rich plasma injections, was the founder of the interventional spine and pain management of Grove Hill Medical Center (now Starling Physicians), and worked for 10 years serving patients at her Newington office performing interventional pain management procedures and migraine and headache management. “She has reinvented a new way of treating pain with procedures that are designed to provide long term benefits and prevent surgery or help recover faster from surgery,” the release states. Her new integrative pain and regenerative medicine practice, which launched on Jan. 1, 2019, includes patient certification for medical marijuana. “Why prescribe dangerous drugs like opioids which only treat symptoms while creating new symptoms at the same time, when both symptom management and healing can be accomplished without the use of such drugs?” Patel said. Regenerative therapies are a spectrum of cutting-edge therapeutic techniques used to naturally treat and heal the cause of a painful condition rather than masking the symptom. Regenerative therapies stimulate and accelerate your own body’s natural ability to heal itself. Two of the most effective regenerative therapies include stem cell and platelet rich plasma injections. Injuries and conditions commonly treated by regenerative therapy procedures include back and neck pain; golfer’s elbow; osteoarthritis of the knee, hip, and shoulder; tennis elbow; joint injuries; and ligament, cartilage, and tendon injuries.
- Congratulations to West Hartford resident Kathy Fishman, who was named the “Woman of Impact” for December by the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford. Fishman is the director of Operations and Programming for Voices of Hope, and is also a longtime Federation volunteer and donor. Click here to read the complete announcement.
- It may be a bit preliminary to include this, and I will find out more for next week’s column, but according to Gorski plans have been filed for interior renovation and a new restaurant will be moving into the former Chengdu space at 179 Park Rd. Chengdu closed in September when its owners retired. According to the town website, the name of the new entity is Mr. Chow Inc., but since I discovered that information on New Year’s Day, I wasn’t able to find out any more details. Stay tuned for an update!
- Ryan Marketing had a really cool display at the West Hartford Holiday Stroll – but it was more than just a display. Ryan Marketing donated $1 for every message written on the “Wishing Wall,” and the result was $563 raised for the West Hartford Food Pantry!
- Union Kitchen (43 LaSalle Rd.), which had its grand opening on Dec. 5, is now serving lunch Thursday through Sunday. Brunch will soon follow according to a post on the restaurant’s Facebook page. For more information and the menu, click here.
- Barb’s Pizza (968 Farmington Ave.) is getting very close to opening. “Approximately two weeks” was the estimate provided a few days ago by co-owner/operator Barry Arpaia.
- In an effort to support and encourage the preservation of skilled traditional arts and crafts, the Connecticut Cultural Heritage Arts Program (CCHAP) at the Connecticut Historical Society (CHS) has awarded grants to mentor artists in the Southern New England Apprenticeship Program who intensively teach their expertise to student apprentices and help sustain cultural expressions that are important to their ethnic and occupational communities. Additionally, the grants allow artists’ work to be shown publicly at local and regional festivals, arts activities, and events. Included among the most recent grant recipients is Lithuanian straw art master artist Aldona Saimininkas of West Hartford (and apprentice Philitha Stemplys-Cowdrey of Granby). This team hand picks rye straw from farm fields and prepares it to form ribbons that become intricate scenes. Saimininkas has taught Lithuanian straw art workshops to Scout groups, Lithuanian gatherings and cultural schools, and adult classes throughout the U.S. and Canada. She created an official gift for the 600th anniversary of Lithuanian Christianity and has a straw picture in the Vatican’s art collection (a gift to Pope John Paul II).
- ICYMI, since the last column there have been a number of podcasts posted by Jeff Lovanio and Ryan Keating. Recent guests have included Cathy Davis from Bartlett Brainard, Greg Confessore from Cricket Press, and local “weatherman” John Lyons. Click here to find all of the podcasts.
- Also ICYMI, Barbara Lerner was honored by the Town Council just before she retired as executive director of the West Hartford Chamber of Commerce at the end of December. She’s not going to stay completely “retired,” however, and has already formed her own consulting company. Details are here.
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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