West Hartford Business Buzz: January 4, 2017

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

By Ronni Newton

Happy New Year, West Hartford!

I hope everyone enjoyed the past few holiday-shortened weeks. It was back to reality for many people on Tuesday, and even though this is a four-day work week for many, I have a feeling that it’s going to seem very long.

I had a great holiday season that included a short trip to Nantucket to celebrate Christmas with my in-laws. There’s nothing like the beach, even in late December! We managed to have a calm ferry ride out there, but then the gale force winds returned. We got off the island only slightly later than planned, but it was a very rough ride that had me and my dog both green around the gills.

Of course I did a bit of work while I was away, and one of the things I was searching for was information about Chick-fil-A’s West Hartford opening (see below). My computer initially brought up the closest location to Nantucket. Neither I nor any other member of my family had any idea there was a Chick-fil-A in Hyannis, so of course my kids insisted on checking it out on the way home.

I was thinking today’s Business Buzz would be sparse, with only news about several businesses closing. But then I found out all sorts of interesting news on Tuesday so instead this is a very exciting column!

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:mission-escape-games-logo

  • A “puzzling” and unique new business is poised to open in some long-vacant space in West Hartford Center! West Hartford’s first Mission Escape Games will occupy the second floor of 76 LaSalle Rd., the space above Bricco, with a number of separate theme rooms. Mission Escape is an hour-long adventure where participants have to “escape” by solving clues, puzzles, and brainteasers before time runs out. It’s a great team-building exercise to strengthen corporate collaboration, or can be played with strangers. “It’s a growing trend,” Town Manager Ron Van Winkle said. The Town Planning and Zoning Commission will vote Wednesday night on whether or not to approve the business’ special use permit application (officials say approval is likely) because the use is neither retail nor restaurant, and Van Winkle said that the ordinance may eventually be rewritten to accommodate experiential businesses. “We’re excited that it’s a new type of use that’s becoming more popular, a new exciting amusement space in the Center,” Director of Community Services Mark McGovern said. There are several similar businesses in the Greater Hartford area, but Mission Escape Games Connecticut will be under the same ownership as two New York locations, confirmed LaSalle Road Partners, the owner of the building that is applying for the permit. Click here for the website describing the business and those locations.
  • Chick-fil-A construction is nearly complete, and the New Park Avenue restaurant should be opening by early to mid-February. Town Planner Todd Dumais said that the property will be turned over by the development team in a few weeks, and the final preparation will take another two to three weeks. Chick-fil-A now has a  West Hartford Facebook page which is providing updates on the progress, and is also now accepting job applications.
    Photo credit: Joy Taylor

    Photo credit: Joy Taylor

  • In case you missed this West Hartford shop before the holidays, the We-Ha Pop-Up store is back by popular demand, but for just one day! Limited edition We-Ha Vineyard Vines clothing and accessories will be available while stock lasts, and the popular HALO portable phone chargers are still in stock, including the HALO Bolt 57720 Ultimate Portable Charger that can jump start a car! Avery Soda, Aroma Coffee book, calendars and more are also for sale. The We-Ha Pop-Up will be open this Saturday, Jan. 7, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 69 Memorial Rd. in Blue Back Square.
  • In last week’s column we reported that Gledhill Nursery had officially closed on Christmas Eve, and Town Planner Todd Dumais said this week that the sale of the property is in progress and the town is expecting an application from a local developer to construct single-family homes on the Mountain Road site. He said he anticipates the plans to be for “open space development” rather than a standard subdivision. There are actually two parcels of land that are involved in the sale, totaling 9.14 acres, and at most 18-19 homes could be built, Dumais said. Wetlands permits as well as perhaps a special use permit might be needed, but the land is zoned R-13 for residential development and Dumais doesn’t anticipate the need to create a special development district.
  • Sally & Bob’s Eatery new owner Helen Brower said that beginning Jan. 7 the restaurant will be extending its weekend hours. Sally & Bob’s will now be open from 6 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturdays and will also be open on Sundays, from 7 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • I’ve mentioned the volunteer work I have done with non-profit A Hand Up, and got this great message from the organization today: “A Hand Up, Inc., ahandupinc.org, a totally volunteer WeHa non-profit, completed 200 deliveries in 2016 – a record. Each delivery sets up a family with home furnishings in their first apartment after being homeless!”
  • Based on the response to Tuesday evening’s story, there is already plenty of excitement about the news that Johnny Vaughan, of Vaughan’s Public House in Hartford, is the new owner of the Backstage Pizza business. Vaughan’s Pies & Pints will feature gourmet pizza and craft beer, and should open in the Farmington Road space (Brace Road parking lot) next month. Click here for the complete story.
  • This is a business closing story but Alex Litor said that she is closing La Petite France Bakery to pursue her dream. The bakery and cafe will close for good on Jan. 12, but there is still time to get a King’s Cake before Three Kings Day on Friday, as well as stock up on other sweet favorites. Click here to read the story.
    SPIN Monograms & Gifts in Blue Back Square will close on Jan. 14. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

    SPIN Monograms & Gifts in Blue Back Square will close on Jan. 14. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • Now for the rest of the closings, along with photos … According to an email received from SPIN Monograms & Gifts owner Marcie Humphries, the 55 Isham Rd. store in Blue Back Square will be closing its doors on Jan. 14. “The reason I’m closing is my lease is almost up and I want to pursue other interests. It’s been a lot of fun and I really enjoyed serving my customers but it is time to move on,” Humphries said in the email. She said that everything will be 25-50 percent off, with 75 percent off on holiday merchandise. Furniture will be sold as well. The store will be open from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on Tuesday through Saturday.
    Pier One in Corbin's Corner is closing. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

    Pier One in Corbin’s Corner is closing. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • Pier One in Corbin’s Corner will be closing. A sign posted in the window said that discounts of 10-30 percent are currently being offered on all merchandise. The West Hartford store is the only one in the area that will be closing, and according to the sign on the door the Newington, Glastonbury, and Avon stores will remain open.
  • Someone told me that Payless in Corbin’s Corner had closed and by the time I checked it out the space was completely emptied of all merchandise and furnishings. (See photo below) No more details are available.
  • One final closing to note is Tray’s Place, the breakfast/lunch spot in the Town Center Building at 29 South Main St. A note on the door from owner Tracy Lynch said that she closed the doors on Dec. 22 “with a heavy heart.” Tray’s Place had been in business for 15 years. “I will leave here with great memories. Thanks to all of you,” Lynch wrote.

    Tray’s Place at 29 South Main St. has closed its doors. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

    Payless Shoes in Corbin's Corner is closed and completely empty. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

    Payless Shoes in Corbin’s Corner is closed and completely empty. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Remember, if you have any business news to share, remember to add it in the comments section below or email Ronni Newton at [email protected].

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  • Gledhill Estates’ developers said 15-16 houses two months ago.
    Then it was 16-17 a month ago.
    Now it’s 18-19.

    Is it any wonder why people hate these snakes?

    And they aren’t really single family homes. They are PUDS. And they are atrociously ugly monstrosities. Par of the course.

    • The 18-19 figure came from the Town Planner when I asked what the maximum number of homes would be. He wasn’t basing that number on what the developer is proposing, and I don’t have any information about the developer. If you have more details to share, please email me at [email protected]. ~Ronni

    • I don’t actually have that information because the plans haven’t been filed yet. But I believe that neighbors who have been contacted know who it is. ~Ronni

  • I feel bad for the property owners on Fairfield rd and Huntington whose backyards back up to this. I understand why Gledhill sold to a developer; I’m guessing that was their only option. Who else would buy such a large lot? But still really unfortunate for everyone whose backyard will soon abut a construction zone. Same as everyone surrounding the new houses at the end of East Maxwell. Their previously wooded rear property lines were cleared, giving them full view of construction and then someone else’s backyard. Will the developer do anything to address this?

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