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West Hartford Business Buzz: January 6, 2020

The interior of the former Grant's has been gutted and there are plans for a new restaurant to take over the space. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

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

By Ronni Newton

Happy New Year to all!

When I realized many years ago that 2020 would be the year my son would graduate from college, I thought that it sounded like a pretty cool year to have as a graduation date. The years since I first thought about that have gone by in the blink of an eye – and not only will 2020 be the year of Sam’s completion of his bachelor’s degree at UConn, but it will also be the year Katie earns her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree, and the year we celebrate Katie and Matt’s marriage.

Many people have been on vacation over the past few weeks, and we even skipped our Wednesday newsletters on both Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, but did publish a Business Buzz column last Monday in between the holidays. In case you missed it because you were otherwise occupied with holiday activities, you can find last Monday’s column here.

Last Thursday and Friday were the first work days of 2020, but it was still quiet and I think this first full week of the new year will be when people really get back in gear. I anticipate plenty of business news over the next few weeks.

Photo credit: Ronni Newton

We’re also now in the doldrums of winter, and I will make an even more concerted effort to find good news to offset the winter blues, and the sadness my family is feeling in the wake of the Patriots loss Saturday night.

Millie, who is furrier than ever, doesn’t share my disdain for winter and cold weather. She particularly enjoyed the blustery wind on Sunday.

One thing that will be fun to do in the next few weeks is enjoy the latest edition of West Hartford Restaurant Week! It begins today, and runs for the next two weeks. West Hartford has so many great restaurants that I have trouble visiting them all, and this is a great opportunity to try out some new places, or some new menu items, and support Foodshare at the same time. (Here’s the link with more details!)

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:

  • There has been plenty of speculation about what will be going into the former Grant’s space at 977 Farmington Ave., and now there is visible activity with contractors working at the site. A few weeks ago I reported that permits had been secured by the building owner for a “white box build-out,” essentially stripping out the existing improvements so that it becomes a clean slate ready for the new tenant to add their own improvements. I touched base with the landlord once again, and while the name of the restaurant and its concept are still being kept under wraps, plans (submitted under a placeholder name of 977 Farmington Avenue Restaurant) have now been submitted to the town’s building department and are under review. What can be said is that the plans call for a large-capacity restaurant which will include a pizza oven/pizza bar in the center (it won’t just be a pizza place though), as well as a 30-seat bar and multiple other dining areas, and a 44-seat outdoor patio.

    Float Forty-One officially opens on Jan. 6 in Bishops Corner. Courtesy photo

  • Float Forty-One officially opens today! West Hartford’s first float therapy center is located at 345 North Main St. in Bishops Corner, and offers four different float tanks in the 3,200 square foot space. All provide a feeling of complete weightlessness in water in which 1,000 pounds of Epsom salts have been dissolved. There are two single-person cabins, one “deluxe” tank that can accommodate two people, and one “float orb,” that is shaped like an egg and can be closed for an ultimate sensory deprivation experience. Floaters can also enjoy a variety of other relaxation experiences, including a tea station and meditation room. Owner Sarah LaTeano said it’s been a “crazy roller coaster,” and she is so excited to finally be opening. An open house will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 7, from 2-6 p.m. to give people the opportunity to tour the center and see what it’s all about, and pre-sale pricing will be extended until 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday as well. I will be doing a full feature story soon, but you can get a great idea of the experience by seeing the video and listening to the “floatcast” interview with LaTeano by Experience We-Ha’s Jeff Lovanio and Ryan Keating. (Click here to view/listen.) Click here for more information or to book a float.

    The Lyons family Phillips 66 gas station in Bishops Corner has reopened. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • Lyons Phillips 66 reopened for gasoline sales in Bishops Corner on Dec. 31. Owner John “Chip” Lyons provided the following information to We-Ha.com: “We are pleased to be back and seeing all of our customers. The location has all of the Phillips 66 image upgrades including a new canopy and new dispensers with the new security standards for credit card processing. Lottery has been reinstalled and we offer all of the available scratch tickets and computer games. Our beverage and snack selections are available. Meanwhile we continue to offer our existing customers and our new friends in Elmwood a wide selection of automotive repair needs at our location at 1056 New Britain Avenue. We are hoping to receive approval to add emission testing soon. So to our extended family of friends and customers, please come visit us at either location so we may address your vehicle needs or come by to try your luck at lottery or just talk sports and visit Amy’s dogs. Thanks again to all for your support and friendship.”

    Homegrown Studio. Courtesy photo

  • Homegrown Studio is now open for business in the Boulevard Shops (463 Prospect Ave./1026 Boulevard), and owner Meredith Magee Donnelly said she is “excited to offer local families a unique art experience with weekly classes, one-day pop-ups, and birthday parties.” Registration is open for the winter session which begins this week, and there are a variety of morning and afternoon classes for children ages 10 months to 12 years. Click here for more information or to register.
  • I attended the Elmwood Business Association meeting on Friday morning, and as expected there was much discussion about the closing of Puritan Furniture, news which we broke in last week’s column. There is plenty of speculation about what will happen with the property once the store closes. West Hartford Economic Development Specialist Kristen Gorski said the property has not been sold, and the town has not yet received any applications for any work to be done on the property, which according to town records includes 2.72 acres on the south side of New Britain Avenue where the store buildings are, and another acre or so on the opposite side of the street used for parking. The property is in a commercial/industrial zone, and any changes in use may also be subject to the “TND” zoning overlay which has strict regulations on distance from the street and location of parking. Puritan announced Monday that the store closing sale will begin on Thursday, Jan. 9. Visit their website for more details.
  • We-Ha.com is partnering with UConn Athletics for West Hartford days at upcoming women’s and men’s basketball and hockey games! We are very excited to collaborate with our West Hartford and Husky pride, and look for details on games and how to purchase discounted tickets this week.
  • Also announced at the Elmwood Business Association meeting is the collaboration of two hair stylists (Meg and Mish) who met while renting space at Salons by JC in Bishops Corner and have just opened Rock and Soul Hair at 635 New Park Ave., Suite 2B. Self-described as “flower children with rock and roll hearts,” they are balayage specialists and also offer cosmetics and personal care services. You can find more information about the salon on Instagram at @rockandsoulhair.
  • Congratulations to West Hartford resident Christopher F. Droney on his new position as a partner in the Litigation Department of Hartford office of law firm Day Pitney LLP. Droney, who recently retired as Senior U.S. Court of Appeals Judge for the Second Circuit, is also a former West Hartford mayor. Droney was appoints to his most recent position by President Barack Obama on Dec. 1, 2011, and prior to that he was a U.S. District Judge for the District of Connecticut for 14 years and before that was U.S. Attorney for Connecticut. According to a press release, Droney, a magna cum laude graduate of Holy Cross, began his legal career at Day Pitney as an associate following his graduation from UConn law school. “We are thrilled to welcome back Judge Droney to Day Pitney,” said Tom Goldberg, Day Pitney’s managing partner, said in a statement. “Judge Droney’s unique combination of experience as a trial and appellate jurist for more than two decades and as a former U.S. Attorney will significantly benefit our clients and enhance our deep team of talented lawyers.” While on the Court of Appeals, Droney was a member of the Committee for the Administration of the U.S. Bankruptcy Courts of the U.S. Judicial Conference. He was also a member of the board of directors of the Federal Judges Association. As a U.S. Attorney, Droney supervised numerous criminal investigations, including grand jury matters. He was also a member of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee of U.S. Attorneys, and chair of the Civil Issues Subcommittee of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee. “I am excited to return to private practice at Day Pitney,” said Droney in a statement. “I look forward to collaborating with the firm’s many talented lawyers, many of whom I know and have worked with, to develop solutions for clients across a range of areas.” As part of Day Pitney’s Litigation Department and a member of the Appellate practice group, Droney’s practice will focus on complex litigation at state and federal levels. He will also represent clients in matters involving governmental and internal investigations and white collar defense.
  • ICYMI, here’s a look back at the Top Stories of 2019.
  • It’s noted in the introduction, but as another reminder today begins the fourth edition of West Hartford Restaurant Week. I’m “sure” there are plenty of healthy options on the prix fixe menus for those who are still sticking to New Year’s resolution diets, and if not it’s hard to argue with an opportunity to support Foodshare. Click here for the complete story that includes a link to participating restaurants and menus.
  • We-Ha.com intern Asaad Hicks had a chance to learn more about one of West Hartford’s newest businesses, Achieve TMS East. Click here to read the story.

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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