A round-up of openings, closings, and other news about West Hartford businesses.
By Ronni Newton
I usually write the introduction to the column first and then fill in the rest, but today I have struggled to come up with the right words for the introduction. The rest of the column is done, so now I have moved onto this part, but I am still at a loss for the right words.
I originally planned to be chatty and write about one of the classes my daughter is taking this semester, so I will start off with that. The official name of the class is “Care of Companion Animals,” but she and her friends call it “puppy petting.” Yes, this is an actual class at UConn, and apparently they learn useful things about animals like their skeletal structure. They had “bunny day” last Thursday. She even sent me a photo. She’s a second-semester senior, has worked hard, gotten incredible grades, had leadership roles in several campus organizations, and has been admitted to graduate school to get her doctorate in physical therapy. I guess I am okay with her taking this class – but she had better get an “A” or our dog (and I) will be very upset!
I try very hard to be completely non-partisan and non-political in my reporting. I think it’s very important to tell both sides of the story, regardless of my own opinion. I work very hard to be thorough, and because of that, my stories are often longer than what you might expect from an online news site.
I don’t think I am being political in saying that I find some of the things happening in this country to be extremely scary. I reported on the rally in West Hartford Center yesterday, which I would have done irregardless of my personal opinion because it was news. People weren’t standing out in the cold for their own benefit, but because they strongly feel that we as a country have a moral obligation to be welcoming.
I am the child of an immigrant – and technically so is everyone in this country with the exception of Native Americans. My father came to this country as a 7-year-old in 1939, fleeing persecution by the Nazis in Vienna, Austria. He came just with his mother because his father, a Romanian citizen, couldn’t get a visa to the U.S. My grandfather spent several years in Cuba before being allowed to join his family in New York. My father’s maternal grandparents were sent to a concentration camp, fortunately survived, and came to the U.S. when they were liberated after the war ended.
I don’t tell that story very often, but I know I wouldn’t be here today if my father hadn’t been allowed into this country.
My daughter did an immigration project when she was in elementary school, and she interviewed and wrote about several people including my father. She also wrote about the day care provider she had for the first three years of her life – a former refugee who escaped Vietnam by boat. And she wrote about Geza Pozsar, who choreographed her first gymnastics routine. Pozsar, who had been the choreographer for Nadia Comaneci and the rest of the Romanian National Gymnastics team, defected to the U.S. in 1981 along with famed gymnastics coaches Bella and Marta Karolyi.
So many people have the lives they have now because they and/or their families were given refuge in this country. Of course no one wants terrorists in this country, and I think vetting of refugees is important. Yet I also think this shouldn’t be political. It’s about compassion, humanity, and what the fabric of this country has been since its founding.
I assure you that I will continue to work hard to be completely non-biased in my reporting, and I thank readers for allowing me to share my story and my opinion.
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:
- The craft beer lovers in town (and I consider myself one of those) have been drooling with anticipation as we await the opening of New Park Brewing. We got to have a sample last Thursday night, when two of New Park Brewing’s founders, Alex Lee (who does the brewing) and Tom Atkins, were pouring samples of Canopy American Pale Ale at Àvert Brasserie in West Hartford Center. The event attracted quite a crowd, and the reviews were excellent. Atkins said that New Park Brewing should open by late March in their space at 485 New Park Ave. There are plans for a membership club, and look for more news to come as the opening gets nearer. You can also follow New Park Brewing on Facebook for updates.
- Taste of Elmwood is this week – and there’s a special $5 off promotion! The regular ticket price is $30 ($40 at the door) but if you use the code below, you can get the tickets for $25 each. If you have already paid full price, there will be a list and let organizers know and you will be given $5 worth of raffle tickets. And come ready to enjoy the restaurants of Elmwood – and beyond! A few other local businesses don’t have food, but will have something to share. And there’s a DJ. And chair massage. Participants include: Arugula, Café Louise, Chick-Fil-A, Classic Cakes, Corner Pug, Elmwood Pastry Shop, Fernwood Restaurant, Goldberg’s Bagels, Keating Insurance, Nurturing Hands, Seoul BBQ and Sushi, and Sliders Grill and Bar. The 4th Annual Taste of Elmwood is Thursday, Feb. 2, from 5:30-7:30 p.m., in the transformed gymnasium of St. Brigid St. Augustine School! Click here to buy tickets. At the checkout, for $5 off, use discount code: UYRVDLS8PXYH
- A new dry cleaning business is set to open in the former Sedgwick Cleaners space at 17 Sedgwick Rd. Victoria Cleaners, owned by South Windsor resident Bruce Lee, is set to open on Wednesday, Feb. 1. Lee said that his brother has owned a cleaning business in East Longmeadow, MA, for 30 years, and that’s where the actual cleaning will be done. Lee said that Victoria Cleaners will clean rugs and other items in addition to clothing. He will be personally running the shop along with one employee, and hopes to hire another person once the business is established. Lee said he is excited about joining the business community in West Hartford where it’s “vibrant, with lots of activities.”
- Los Imperios, located at 904 Farmington Ave., was closed over the weekend due to a stop-work order posted by the State Department of Labor. The bright red notice was posted on the door on Friday, and stated that the Los Imperios was “ordered to cease all business operations for this worksite.” Reasons cited were all related to workers’ compensation coverage, and included failure to secure payment for coverage, and failing to secure coverage that meets requirements, misrepresenting employees as independent contractors, and materially understating or concealing payroll. A sign from the owners of Los Imperios indicated that the establishment should reopen this week. The closure did not seem to have anything to do with other issues related to the business, including a warning letter sent by Police Chief Tracey Gove following multiple disturbances or a request for an injunction related to bottle service which is set to be heard by a judge this week. Click here for more information.
- Several alert readers informed me that Cumberland Farms at 141 Park Rd. seems to have closed but the store still appeared stocked. The closing is temporary, and according to Director of Community Services Mark McGovern the station is getting upgraded pumps. An employee at the New Park Avenue Cumberland Farms said that the Park Road location will reopen on Feb. 6.
- From Salons by JC owner Gary Dahms: On Jan. 19, Victoria Myers and Laura Soto opened their second Jeans & Fajas Colombianos Boutique inside of Salons by JC (333 North Main St. in Bishops Corner). Their original location in East Hartford has proven to be so popular that it was a natural progression to bring their unique line of merchandise to West Hartford where it is a wonderful complementary business to the other beauty and wellness care professionals located there. Victoria and Laura’s custom fitting method is based on their client’s height, weight, waist and hip measurements. This method along with years of professional experience ensures their clients will get the girdle/faja or body shaper that best suits their body type and style preference. In addition to the girdles/fajas they also carry a complete line of 100 percent Colombian push-up jeans (Jeans Levantacola Colombianos) that, due to their elegance and exacting fit, make the wearer feel very feminine. Store hours are: Monday by appointment; Tuesday – Saturday 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m. They can be found on Facebook at Jeans & Fajas Colombianos Boutique. They can be reached at 860-471-6152 (West Hartford) or 860-402-6320 (East Hartford).
- Congratulations to Kitchen & Bath Design + Construction of West Hartford which was honored with a Best Of Houzz 2017 award. The award on the leading platform for home remodeling and design was for “Best Of Design and Customer Service.” KBDC owner Lorey Cavanaugh said in a news release, “It’s an honor to be awarded these Houzz badges because they represent our wide reaching presence and the impact this presence has in our community and beyond.”
- Budget Blinds of West Hartford has also been honored with a Best of Houzz award for “Best of Customer Service.” Budget Blinds of West Hartford owner Tina Boske said in a news release, “It is an honor to be recognized by Houzz and its members for a second year. We strive for excellence in customer service every day and we appreciate the recognition.”
- Crown Market held its grand reopening on Wednesday with a ribbon cutting with the West Hartford Chamber of Commerce and a proclamation from Mayor Shari Cantor. Crown has undergone a complete renovation, but remained open throughout the two-year process. Click here for details on the renovation.
- ICYMI, at its meeting Tuesday night the Town Council officially approved the redevelopment of the Sears property in Corbin’s Corner by Seritage Growth Properties. Click here for the complete story. Many people have been asking what will happen with the REI space in Blue Back Square once the store moves to The Corbin Collection. According to Blue Back Square Marketing Director Elizabeth Zigmont, REI still has nearly 18 months left on its lease. She said there have been many prospects looking at the space, but it’s far too early for any firm plans.
- The West Hartford Chamber of Commerce has launched FLOW – the “Future Leaders of West Hartford.” The group’s focus is the needs of younger professionals in the community, and activities will include social, educational, and community service events. The first event is Feb. 9 at Noble & Co. Click here for all of the details.
- Congratulations to West Hartford resident Carl Lantz who was elected in December as the president of the Greater Hartford Association of Realtors. “I look forward to leading the second largest local association in New England that supports our REALTOR members and their businesses,” said Lantz in a news release. “I’m committed to promoting the value of homeownership and the importance of using a Realtor, an expert, to aid in the process.” According to the release, Lantz has been a REALTOR for over 14 years and has been affiliated with RE/MAX, located in West Hartford. Throughout his career, Carl has championed numerous leadership programs in real estate industry. He has been a member of the GHAR Board of Directors since 2009, a member of numerous GHAR committees, and a Connecticut REALTORS Director since 2006.
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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Expressing and supporting pro-humanity views is a moral imperative, not being partisan. I applaud you.
Thank you for sharing your personal story. It was much needed today:-)