A round-up of openings, closings, and other news about West Hartford businesses.
Business Buzz is sponsored by NBT Bank, and we are very thankful for their support!
By Ronni Newton
I’m definitely not a fan of the weather we have had the past few days. I will usually run outside all winter, but the wind has been biting and the sidewalks and roads have been icy, and I have wimped out and any exercise I have gotten has been done indoors.
Even Millie has been chilly. Please excuse the blurriness of the photo. She did want to go out for a walk and did not want to pose.
Last Tuesday was supposed to be a full day of events, but one meeting got switched from in-person to Zoom, and everything else was canceled or postponed due to the weather. The other days of the week made up for it, and included Monday’s Martin Luther King Jr. celebration at Town Hall, a Community Planning and Economic Development Committee meeting where the most up-to-date Vision Zero Action Plan was outlined, Conard girls basketball playing the defending state champs (which was in the middle of the afternoon and I covered it because Paul Palmer couldn’t get there), and a Town Plan and Zoning/Inland Wetlands and Watercourses meeting for the vote on the wetlands application for development of a portion of the former UConn campus. I did a second story about the development of the former UConn campus on Friday because the application for a zoning change/establishment of a Special Development District has been submitted, and there are some other important updates such as the name being changed.
The working name had been Oakwood Park, and while it likely chosen to pay homage to the Champion Oak Tree on the 1700 Asylum Avenue portion of the property, members of the community shared that it was confusing because Oakwood Avenue is on the other end of town, and the developer changed the name. The new name is Heritage Park.
My headline, which was already rather long, noted a name change, but didn’t include the name. The feature photo does show the name, however, and it’s included in the subhead. I try to avoid clickbait headlines – but if the whole story is in the headline and no one bothers to read the story, then the hours I spent researching and writing will have been purposeless and our advertisers will not have their ads seen. Without advertising, We-Ha.com will not be able to keep the site operational since that’s where the majority of our funding comes from (other than sponsorship, like NBT’s sponsorship of this column, and the generosity of those who are voluntary supporters). I’m not trying to be snarky when I respond to Facebook comments about people not wanting to read the whole story (the most important parts are generally at the very beginning), and I remain firmly and adamantly opposed to creating a paywall for accessing our content, but I do urge anyone who is interested in a topic to please at least skim the story! Thank you …
Also, did you know … We-Ha.com has numerous features on our website that are built especially for the wider community? Our calendar is one of those features. Events that are promoted on local social media platforms will, typically, appear on our calendar. If you don’t see your event, you can post it directly. If you want to advertise your event(s) on the calendar, click here for a link to do so. We don’t get this income; it’s just a feature that’s provided on the calendar – which is a great source of information for those looking to find out about area events.
Dinner on Saturday night was fabulous! It had been way too long since Ted and I had eaten at Frida, and they recently (as in six months ago) introduced some new menu items. I tried the Kahlo’s Octopus Tacos (tacos are a staple of my diet, and this is actually the second week in a row I have had an octopus entree for a Saturday night dinner). The tacos (sautéed octopus, garlic, onions, jalapeño, cilantro, and chef’s sauce) were so good!! Ted tried the Burrito Baja Fish – and that got an enthusiastic thumbs-up as well. We loved the presentation of the guacamole – and the carved strawberry on top of the flan, as well as some very cute little spoons that were provided for eating it!
If you’re looking for news about West Hartford in print please note that many stories from We-Ha.com, as well as other local news, is published in the twice-monthly issues of the West Hartford Press.
If you have information to share about local businesses, please provide details in the comments or email Ronni Newton at [email protected].
Here’s this week’s Buzz:
- I love it when I discover a business that’s either brand new, or flying under the radar, and West Hartford Market Place definitely falls into that category. Located in the rear of a warehouse building at 25 Talcott Road (Smoker’s Warehouse is in the front, and the building also includes other warehouse uses, a used appliance business, and a personal training business), it’s a business model that, as far as I know, doesn’t otherwise exist in West Hartford. West Hartford Market Place is open four days a week – from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday. They’re just getting going – now in their third week – and I stumbled on an ad looking for merchants and stopped by on Friday to see what it was all about. Brenda Delahunty, who rents one of the booths and deals in antiques, anb is also the weekend attendant, defined the business as a “shared indoor merchant space,” not an indoor flea market. “We’re not just yesterday’s items being resold again for today,” she said. “We’re really looking for artisans, the craftsmen,” she said, adding that they would also love to have baked goods for sale, hand-crafted jewelry, and artwork at the Market Place. “I happened to have the antiques already, but we’re looking for diversity.” Brian Young, who has owned the building for 40 years, was looking to do something with the space in the back, that had been vacant for several years. They had been holding weekly auctions in the space for a few months, but attendance wasn’t very good. A mutual friend introduced Young and Delahunty, and she said Young jumped at the idea when she suggested launching something like West Hartford Market Place. Young said there are 27 booths, and he has 13 merchants already signed up, including someone who sells duck decoys and another who sells books. Advantages to merchants who rent the space (the cost is $248 per month – $264 with tax – for an 8-foot-by-8-foot space with pegboard walls) is that they don’t have to be present to sell items because there is always an attendant on duty. “I think this is awesome because it’s indoors,” said Young. Delahunty, who is very enthusiastic about the new operation, said it’s intended to be a place that’s a fun and joyful environment, that makes it easy for the merchants. There’s plenty of parking on site, but right now it’s cluttered, Delahunty said. They plan to clean up the parking area, and create space outdoors for the nicer weather, where there will be space for another six to eight merchants to set up shop there. Auctions are still being held on the second Tuesday of the month, at 5:30 p.m. For more information, follow West Hartford Market Place on Facebook or contact Brian Young at 860-214-9568.
- Just before the pandemic, in February 2020, the Town Council approved multiple upgrades to the Corbin’s Corner Shopping Center, including a 2,500 square foot addition at the rear of Trader Joe’s. Last April I heard those plans were finally going forward, and indeed that is true. You can’t tell from the inside (I shopped after I took the photo) but here’s the photographic proof of the addition under construction at the rear of the Corbin’s Corner store.
- Hartford Baking Company hasn’t needed to use their liquor license until now – with the introduction of a Jazz Brunch! Live jazz, and $8 mimosas will be available every Sunday, from 10:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m., upstairs at HBC’s West Hartford Center location, 965 Farmington Avenue. The full menu – including avocado toast and a variety of breakfast sandwiches – is available, and there is no cover charge for enjoyment of the music. Hartford Baking Company’s Facebook page, or Instagram (@hartfordbaking), will provide details about the musical lineup each week.
- BK&CO began offering virtual styling on Wednesday nights in April 2020 – just after the pandemic began – and have continued the tradition of mini fashion shows for their social media followers every Wednesday night since then. This Wednesday, Jan. 24, they will celebrate their 200th episode! BK owners Barbara Karsky and Karen Herbert have been friends since high school, and opened their first store together in 1986. Their store moved to its current spot at 983 Farmington Avenue since 2016. “Clients love our fashion show – as they call it – and they appreciate the fact that it speaks directly to them. The encouragement and positive feedback have been overwhelming and has motivated us to continue,” Karsky said. Each roughly 35-minute episode has a theme, and Karsky and Herbert present specific outfits to go with that them, while chatting with their clients. The themes were initially focused on pandemic actinides such as driveway birthday parties and Zoom meetings, but evolved into holiday party and vacation attire as people resumed activities. “The virtual environment gives our customers an avenue not only for shopping, but also to feel the connection and camaraderie that has always been the hallmark of the BK&CO experience,” Herbert said. To attend the 200th Virtual Styling, email [email protected], call 860-232-6225, or text 860-836-6955.
- Max’s Winter Wine Festival at The Bushnell: Giving Back Never Tasted So Good, will take place on Wednesday, Jan. 31, at The Bushnell. It’s a collaboration between the Max Cares Foundation – which provides career-track scholarships to promising students in the fields of hospitality and the culinary arts, and also makes grants to select nonprofits in Greater Hartford and Greater Springfield communities – and Max Hospitality. The food and wine tasting will include a “Taste of Max” with offerings from all of the local restaurants, including the three in West Hartford (Max’s Oyster Bar, Savoy, and Max Burger), prepared by the team of executive chefs, as well as hundreds of wines, “ensuring a diverse range of options to suit all preferences with an impressive array of premium hospitality items,” the announcement states. For an additional charge, guests can attend a Grand Tasting which is an exclusive VIP Champagne and Caviar Reception to begin the evening. Steven Abrams, a member of the Board of Directors of the Max Cares Foundation (and VP of Max Hospitality), expressed his excitement, stating, “We are delighted to offer guests the opportunity to savor some of the best wines in the world at what is sure to be one of the most talked-about events in Hartford this year.” Click here to purchase tickets, or for more information.
- Park Lane Pizza at 337 Park Road has been closed for several days, and according to various Facebook posts the reason is due to repairs. While there is a sign in the window saying they are open for takeout, that’s not the case right now. I stopped by on Saturday and confirmed with a contractor onsite that there was a burst pipe that led to a ceiling collapse and repair work is underway. There was no answer when I called (two different numbers) but the website indicates that they will be reopening on Wednesday.
- The reason for the temporary closure of Division West (36 LaSalle Road) which I heard about when a reader messaged me on Wednesday evening wondering why the restaurant was dark, is a bit more elusive. On Thursday the business posted on their social media that they would be closed through Monday, Jan. 22. I tried to call and there was no answer, and several messages sent through social media appear to have been read, but there was no answer to my inquiry. I also stopped by on Saturday and the door was locked and no one appeared to be there. I’ll update if they are open on Monday.
- Nautical Bowls looks to be getting closer to completion in the former Overflow space in Bishops Corner. The signage is up and looks good – and the interior work seems to be progressing based on peeking in the window!
- The Jewish Community Foundation has announced a change in leadership. Last week, Board Chair Gayle W. Temkin announced that Walter Harrison has been named the organization’s interim president and CEO, succeeding Jacob Schreiber, who has decided to resign. Harrison, president emeritus of the University of Hartford after serving as president of 19 years, has been vice chair of the Foundation board. According to the announcement, he also serves as a vice chair of the board of Trinity College, vice chair of the Trinity Health of New England Board of Directors, and is a member of numerous other boards of leading Hartford area not-for-profits. “I am very grateful that Walt has agreed to serve as interim leader at this time,” Temkin said in the announcement. “The Foundation will benefit enormously from his leadership experience as it continues its work on behalf of the Jewish Community of Greater Hartford and around the world.” On behalf of the Foundation board, Temkin expressed her thanks to Schreiber and his staff for all that they accomplished together during his tenure, including leadership through the COVID-19 pandemic. In recent years, she noted, the Foundation has expanded its philanthropy and grant-making in significant ways by launching new opportunities for donor engagement and by fostering close partnerships with agencies, synagogues, donors and community members. She commended Schreiber for making a number of key hires at the Foundation, resulting in a dedicated and high-performing staff.
- West Hartford Podiatry Associates (2531 Albany Avenue) wants to publicly thank all who donated to this year’s sock drive. “We collected over 2000 pairs of socks and were able to donate them to House of Bread in Hartford,” said Dr. Kurt W. Rode. “We hope to make next year even BIGGER,” he said in an email, also wishing everyone a Happy New Year.
- ICYMI, news about the former UConn campus includes unanimous approval of the wetlands permit, as well as the new name and submission of the complete application for a Special Development District and rezoning.
- West Hartford residents have new leadership roles with the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving‘s Catalyst Endowment Fund. Complete details can be found 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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