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West Hartford Business Buzz: January 29, 2018

An amendment made to the Special Development District for 21 Brace Rd. will allow for a new occupancy, Yoga from the Heart, to open in the basement of the building. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

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

By Ronni Newton

It was another warm (for winter) weekend, sunset is now after 5 p.m., and I can already see the very tips of my daffodils peeking out of the ground – all positives in my book even though the calendar still says January.

Ted and I were back in Hartford – at the XL Center again – this past weekend for the UConn vs. University of New Hampshire men’s hockey game. The transition to having adult children can be lonely, but it can also be lots of fun. We had a great time “double-dating” to the game on Saturday night and then having dinner at Chango Rosa with our daughter, Katie, and her boyfriend, Matt!

Katie and Matt missed our traditional Sunday night family dinner last weekend because they were at the Patriots game. And we are all very jealous that Matt is going to the Super Bowl next weekend! Does anyone know any other West Hartford residents heading to the big game? I’d love to share some stories!

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:

  • It’s rare to have Town Council action lead this column, but a vote taken at last Tuesday night’s meeting has paved the way for a new business to open in the Center. Fire House Square (21 Brace Rd.), which was originally an actual fire house, was turned into a Special Development District (SDD) in 1996, but the conditions included some strange (in today’s world) restrictions as to the use of the basement that prohibited personal service establishments other than dressmakers or tailors and permitted storage and the sale of antiques. Any changes to an SDD require Town Council approval, and thanks to a unanimous vote Tuesday night, Diane Couture will be opening Yoga from the Heart in the basement of 21 Brace Rd. – a space that has been vacant since last summer. Couture, who said she has been teaching yoga in five different studios in Southington and Cheshire, lives two blocks away from the space. “My mission has been to get to downtown West Hartford,” she told me after a brief public hearing about the change in occupancy that was held right before the meeting. Couture said that she wants to bring her practice to her friends and neighbors, as well as to people who work in the area. The goal is to open by the end of March, and she will have space for 28 mats. Couture said the studio will be open seven days a week, with classes in the mornings and early evenings. “Downtown Flow” will also be offered at 3 or 3:30 p.m., which she said would be perfect for restaurant employees before they head to work for the evening. Town Council member Leon Davidoff, in voting for approval, said the change “will bring the property up to modern standards.” Mayor Shari Cantor said the addition of a yoga studio “will be adding to Center’s quality of life.” For more information, and to be informed about the opening date, follow Yoga from the Heart on Facebook.
  • One sure signs of spring’s imminent arrival (other than those listed above) is pitchers and catchers reporting for spring training (mid-February), but there’s something else in West Hartford that happens around the same time and is a sure harbinger of warmer weather: Rita’s announced a few days ago that they will reopen on Feb. 9! Facebook followers can request their favorite flavors as a comment on a post and be entered to win their order free on opening day. Rita’s is located at 1134 New Britain Ave. in Elmwood.
  • Tickets are now available for the 5th Annual Taste of Elmwood, which will be held this year in a great new location, as well as on a different date and at a different time: 5-7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 21, in the beautiful lobby of Corporate Center West, in the office park at the northeast corner of South Main Street and New Britain Avenue (433 South Main St.). Click here to purchase tickets directly on We-Ha.com.
  • Congratulations to West Hartford resident Dr. Tekisha Everette, a local health equity advocate and executive director of Health Equity Solutions, who was honored Friday with the Families USA Health Equity Advocate of the Year Award “in honor of her exceptional advocacy and commitment to eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities and achieving health equity for all.” Hartford-based Health Equity Solutions is a statewide, nonprofit dedicated to increasing health equity by finding policy solution to eliminate of racial and ethnic disparities. “Dr. Tekisha Everette has been a health equity leader for many years. As executive director of Health Equity Solutions, she’s led coalition efforts to get the Connecticut State Legislature to approve a bill to recognize the value of Community Health Workers in improving health outcomes, especially for communities of color and other underserved communities,” Patrick Willard, senior director overseeing the Health Action conference at Families USA said in a news release. “Her efforts in a difficult political environment, reflect our theme this year to honor those who stay strong for America’s families.” Everette formerly served as the managing director of Federal Government Affairs with the American Diabetes Association. “I feel this is the work I was born to do. I appreciate the recognition; I am humbled and emboldened to keep fighting for justice and equity in health,” Everette said in the release. 

    Emilee Mooney Scott. Submitted photo

  • Congratulations also to West Hartford resident Emilee Mooney Scott, a lawyer in the Hartford office of Robinson+Cole, who has been named to the Board of Directors of Auerfarm. According to a news release, “Mooney Scott is a member of Robinson+Cole’s Environmental, Energy + Telecommunications Group, with experience in facility compliance and transactional matters. She assists clients in complying with federal and state environmental laws, with a particular focus on the management of hazardous and toxic substances, and she helps clients understand, manage and limit environmental risk associated with business and property transactions.”

    Bill Fiocchetta. Submitted photo

  • The Mercy Community announced last week that President and CEO William J. Fiocchetta will retire effective July 1, 2018. He has led the not-for-profit life plan community since 2005. “When Catholic Health East and Trinity Health first joined forces as one company in 2013, Bill was instrumental in aligning senior services for the East Coast Region and, as that region continued to expand, Bill’s knowledge and expertise was invaluable,” Steven Kastner, president and CEO of Trinity Health Senior Communities, The Mercy Community’s parent corporation said in a release. Kastner credited Fiocchetta with steering Mercy Community Health through the recession and several consolidations and integrations with other organizations. He also led the capital campaign for the remodeling of the Archbishop John F. Whealon Chapel of Our Lady of Mercy, the creation of Saint Mary Home’s “Secret Garden,” a Palliative Care Center, the restoration of the bell towers at Saint Mary Home, The Maureen M. Reardon, RSM, Ph.D. Labyrinth, and upgrades to the interiors of both The McAuley and The Frances Warde Towers Apartments at Saint Mary Home. A national search is being conducted for Fiocchetta’s successor, and Kastner hopes to have someone named by the end of the winter.
  • In other Mercy Community news, Mayor Shari Cantor, in her State of the Town Address on Friday, announced that The McAuley will be “embarking on a lifestyle evolution.” Because the announcement was made on Friday afternoon, I haven’t had a chance to find out any more details, but according to Cantor, Trinity Health Senior Communities is making a $4.3 million investment in The McAuley property to add a fitness center, spa and salon, outdoor dining, and a pub-style feature “The 19th Hole.” Construction is slated to begin in two weeks, Cantor said, and plans are to have it completed at the end of June.
  • And ICYMI, Mayor Shari Cantor gave her annual State of the Town Address at the Chamber of Commerce’s annual luncheon held Friday at the Delamar West Hartford Hotel. She summarized the past year and provided her vision for what to expect in West Hartford over the next year as well as further into the future. Click here for the full story of her presentation.
  • Also ICYMI, West Hartford resident Ali Lazowski has launched a new healthy food brand, Bare Life. Click here for her interview with Nan Price of Innovation Destination Hartford.
  • The 2017 grand champion was crowned in December, and now it’s time for the launch of the new season of 86’D: A Culinary Collision. Nominations are being take on Facebook for chefs to compete in this year’s challenge. Click here to nominate your favorite Connecticut chef!

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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