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West Hartford Business Buzz: January 20, 2020

Rendering of WeHa Brewing & Roasting Company by Linda Howley, Stone Howley Architects LLC

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

By Ronni Newton

Today is Martin Luther King Day and many people have the day off. (But if you are wondering, there is no trash/recycling delay this week.)

I know it’s cold outside (I looked back at my post on this day last year, when I said it was “awfully, bitterly, arctic-ally cold” and it’s not quite that bad this year), but if you do have the time, I highly recommend attending West Hartford’s annual Martin Luther King Day program.

This is the 24th year for the town-wide celebration of the life of Dr. King, and it’s always a wonderful ceremony that includes music provided by students from schools throughout town as well as a keynote address. I’m particularly excited to hear this year’s speaker, Wanjiku “Wawa” Gatheru, UConn’s first-ever Rhodes Scholar. In addition, two students – one each from Conard and Hall – are chosen as speakers. I’ve covered this event for many years, and am always incredibly impressed by the poise and impassioned words of the students. Look for my story about the event later today.

Ted and I had a great time at the Bridge Family Center’s Annual Children’s Charity Ball.

Saturday night was snowy, but that didn’t seem to stop anyone from attending the Bridge Family Center’s annual Children’s Charity Ball (photo gallery can be found here). We traveled to and from the Ball via WeHa Wheels, which was especially welcome since it meant that we (i.e., Ted who unlike me was not wearing 4-inch heeled sandals) didn’t have to brush the snow off the car to head home.

There were about 350 guests at the event, which after a few years at the Gershon Fox Ballroom in Hartford has returned to the Hartford Golf Club. Ted and I had a great time, and were very glad to support the Bridge through the auction and “changing lives” raise the paddle challenge.

Sam returned to UConn Sunday night in advance of his final semester of senior year. I can’t believe that this is it – four years of college have flown by in what seems like the blink of an eye. He’s definitely planning to savor every moment of the next few months.

This is the first time ever that Sam is looking toward a future that doesn’t have a definite path mapped out. He’s started to job hunt in earnest (his Christmas presents included an “interview suit,” a tie, and good shoes), so if anyone is looking for a smart and personable data analytics whiz (double major in economics and statistics with a minor in math) let me know and I will have him send over a resume!

We’ve really enjoyed having Sam home for the past month and while I won’t have to go to the grocery store anywhere near as often to buy eggs by the 18-pack and we won’t have to run the dishwasher as often, it’s going to be very quiet around here. Millie, Ted, and I will really miss him!

I miss him already.

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:

Courtesy image

  • I really like coffee, and I also really like craft beer, and eventually – in the not-too-distant-future – those two will be combined in West Hartford at WeHa Brewing & Roasting Company. In the meantime, and quite appropriately since coffee is pretty much a good way to start off anything, owner and West Hartford resident Cody McCormack has already launched the WeHa Roasting Company part of the business. He has acquired his Cottage Food License from the town (he said the process was fast and straightforward), and has been testing out roasts in his home to get the profile he wants to achieve, and has also arranged to be part of a local pop-up, he said in an interview last week. The goal of WeHa Roasting “is to make specialty coffee approachable and transparent,” McCormack said, and although I consider myself somewhat of a coffee aficionado (i.e., I drink a lot of black coffee and like “good” coffee), I realize I have quite a bit to learn. “We’ve been working with importers on what we want to achieve, and then we tailor our roast profile,” he said. Beans sourced from different areas have different tastes, and the rest of the coffee’s profile is achieved through the roasting process. “When the beans start cracking, you can gauge the roast you want to achieve,” McCormack said. To taste the coffee, he uses a “cupping” technique that involves mixing the grounds and water until a crust forms, then removing the crust and as you “slurp,” letting the taste of the coffee spread through your mouth, to the back of your throat. He also brews the coffee to test the quality of a brewed version. For those who drink their coffee brewed, McCormack, who has recently spent a week training in Minnesota, said he thinks a V60 Pour Over is the best technique. The WeHa Roasting Company blends – all to be named after West Harford neighborhoods – that have made the final cut so far are the “Center” (light, fruity, and floral), and the “Blue Back” (more of a medium blend). There will also be several single origin coffees, beginning with Ethiopian and Colombian. The beans will be roasted and sold the same week. “Being small, local, will really differentiate us. Our beans are really going to be fresh,” McCormack said. WeHa Roasting Company will be offering coffee beans, as well as merchandise and “drink wear” at Think Synergy in Hartford (next to the Goodwin Hotel), at least until later this year when he hopes to also get the brewing operation up and running and move into an approximately 5,000 square foot location. The lease is still being finalized, he said, but the location in the New Park Avenue area is promising and they have already been testing out brews through a home brewery, but he’s hoping to be able to officially announce plans in the next month. The rendering (feature photo) contemplates a tap room/cafe of about 2,000-2,500 square feet where people can enjoy morning coffee and baked goods, and beer (and food brought in or from food trucks) later in the day. McCormack, who still works as a CPA by day, will remain in charge of the the coffee operation, and his partner, who has many years experience as a brewer, will manage the brewing part of the business. For updates, follow @wehabrewingco and @weharoastingco on Facebook and Instagram.

    Second Chance Shop, 175 Park Rd., West Hartford. Courtesy photo

  • The announcement of a special sale didn’t arrive in time to be included in last week’s column, but we would like to congratulate The Village for Families & Children on the 1-year anniversary of its West Hartford Second Chance Shop. Since it opened last year, the store at 175 Park Rd. has generated $100,000 for underprivileged families and children, The Village said in an email. The West Hartford shop, run by The Village’s West Hartford Auxiliary, is one of four mission-based shops and sells new or gently used women’s and men’s clothing, as well as accessories, antiques and collectibles, books, holiday decor, household items and jewelry. All items are donated and proceeds help The Village serve families and children in Greater Hartford with mental and behavioral health needs. Last year, the shops raised a combined total of $300,000, and since the first shop opened 60 years ago, $5.5 million has been raised. Jill Scully, chair of the West Hartford Auxiliary, said she hopes members of the public will continue to support the store and the mission.“It has been an amazing first year, from our wonderful volunteers who have worked so hard to make our shop what it is to our customers who have supported our mission. I feel very privileged to be part of The Village community who so actively help support children and families.” Village President and CEO Galo Rodriguez said, “We chose West Hartford to host one of our four Second Chance Shops because we know the town is a generous and compassionate community – and a great place to shop. Our goal is to connect people with our mission and using retail to do that makes a lot of sense. We’re grateful to the members of the West Hartford Auxiliary for their dedication and to folks in West Hartford who have bought $100,000 worth of merchandise in the past year.” Anyone who has questions or is interested in getting involved with the Second Chance Shop should contact Sarah Adanti at [email protected] or 860-297-0545.
  • Peach, “a women’s apparel brand with a soul,” wants the public to know that they will be offering a Thrive workshop on Friday, Jan. 24 from 7-8:30 p.m. at b.kind boutique in West Hartford Center (1000 Farmington Ave.). This free workshop, entitled “It’s a New Year…Resolve to Flex Your Inner Strengths,” is part of the personal development events hosted by Peach throughout the country. Bevin Mugford, head of Peach’s Field Development, will be speaking about using your character strengths to achieve your goals. “Each of us embodies 24 character strengths, developed in varying magnitudes, that guide how we think, feel and behave. By understanding our inherent strengths, we get closer to understanding ourselves. Bevin is a compelling speaker with great energy whose message helps strengthen our emotional intelligence, often an underdeveloped skill. Her content is impactful and may just change the way you think. Guests will tap into their unique and natural strengths and enjoy refreshments, inspiration, connecting and shopping the latest athleisure line,” the organizer said. Click here to register.

    Carl Lantz. Courtesy photo

  • Congratulations to Carl Lantz, a West Hartford resident and realtor with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in West Hartford, who has been named as Connecticut Realtors 2020 Region 3 vice president effective Jan. 1. Since 2007 he has been an active member of both Connecticut Realtors (CTR) and the Greater Hartford Association of Realtors (GHAR) as a director to CTR and a member of the Executive Committee. He is on the National Association of Realtors Consumer Communications Committee and in 2019 was named local Realtor of the Year for GHAR. In 2017 he was president of GHAR, and has received the “5 Star Agent Award” from Connecticut Magazine. He is active in town sports, PTO, ski patrol at Ski Sundown, and various charitable organizations within the community.

    Karen Dootson. Submitted photo

  • From a news release: “YHB Investment Advisors, Inc., an independent investment advisory firm based in West Hartford Center, is excited to announce the promotion of Karen Dootson to Senior Portfolio Manager.  Karen joined YHB Investment Advisors in January 2009.  She currently manages complex client relationships, which in aggregate, exceed $93 million. Karen also develops and manages outside investment fund relationships which provide valuable investment research to YHB’s portfolio management team. Karen is an active member of the Hartford Regional Chapter of the Women in Pensions Network.”
  • Congratulations to Daryl Jackson, owner-operator of West Hartford’s Chick-fil-A  franchise, and the rest of his leadership team, on ending 2019 by earning the company’s prestigious “Symbol of Success” award for achieving significant sales growth. In a video posted on the Chick-fil-A Facebook page, Jackson said the award had been identified as a goal to achieve this year, and they offered extra rewards to customers as incentives to get them to try different items and to spread the word. “A big thank you from me and the rest of the Chick-fil-A family. It’s all because of you,” Jackson told customers in the video.

    Consulting Cardiologists ribbon cutting, Jan. 14, 2020. Photo credit: Ira Nozick

  • One more congratulations this week – to Consulting Cardiologists, PC, which celebrated the opening of their new office (433 South Main St., Suite 109 in West Hartford) with a ribbon cutting hosted by the West Hartford Chamber of Commerce. Mayor Shari Cantor and physicians from the practice cut the ribbon Tuesday at the state-of-the-art facility which provides a full spectrum of cardiac services, including onsite echocardiography, stress testing, and cardiac monitoring techniques. This is the independent cardiology practice’s ninth location in the state. More information can be found on their website.  
  • L.A. Vision Family Eyecare is expected to open this month at 262 Park Rd. (former Max and Lily’s Closet location), Economic Development Specialist Kristen Gorski said. Official announcement to follow!
  • We-Ha.com is partnering with UConn Athletics for West Hartford Days at the XL Center, and the first was at the UConn Women’s Basketball vs. Houston game – a resounding victory for the Huskies. Coming up next is the UConn Men vs. Tulsa on Jan. 26. We are very excited to collaborate with our West Hartford and Husky pride, and click here for more details on how to purchase $5 tickets.
  • ICYMI, tickets are selling quickly for the Chamber of Commerce‘s annual Mayor’s State of the Town luncheon at the Delamar West Hartford Hotel. Click here for details.

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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We-Ha

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