A round-up of openings, closings, and other news about West Hartford businesses.
By Ronni Newton
The new year is less than a week old, so I’ll say “Happy New Year” again!
The first full week of 2019 was a short week – but I don’t think I’m alone in saying it seemed like an extra-long week. It seemed like everyone was ready to jump back into a flurry of activity, and it was hard to keep up with all of the news – particularly on the political front as it was announced that State Sen. Beth Bye has been tapped to lead the Office of Early Childhood, creating an open seat in the 5th District in which several people, including State Rep. Derek Slap and Deputy Mayor Beth Kerrigan, have expressed an interest!
I published Business Buzz on Wednesday last week – but I’m sensing based on some chatter on Facebook that many people missed it because it was on a different day. The closing of East-West Grille was the featured story (the owner is keeping the food truck operation, and hoping to sell the business to someone who will keep the same cuisine), and there were plenty of other news items. Click here for the complete column.
I went to my first-ever bridal expo on Saturday with my daughter, and we were both completely overwhelmed! Luckily there is still more than a year before her wedding. Anyone have a good DJ recommendation?
Thankfully the timing was perfect for Katie and I to participate in the Culinary Corner Pub Crawl right after the bridal expo. There’s nothing like a tropical drink to take the edge off being overwhelmed by wedding stuff – and the Hawaiian theme was definitely welcome on a rainy Saturday. Congrats to Eat In Connecticut on a great event to support End Hunger Connecticut!
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 Second Chance Shop West Hartford opened its doors Saturday in the space formerly occupied by The Clothes Horse at 175 Park Rd. The Second Chance Shop is being run by the Village for Children and Families to support their mission of building a “community of strong, healthy families who protect and nurture children by providing a full range of behavioral health, early childhood and youth development, substance abuse treatment, and support services for children, families and adults in the Greater Hartford region. I stopped by Friday afternoon, as they were preparing for the opening day, and West Hartford Auxiliary Co-Chair Angela Miller provided a tour of the shop as well as the spacious basement where they are storing off-season items as well as donations that have just been dropped off. The shop looks beautiful – and is artfully arranged with an assortment of regular as well as “boutique” merchandise, all deeply discounted. And when I say “boutique” I mean that they have gotten some incredible donations, including a mint condition Prada purse with what Miller said had an original cost of more than $1,000! Other designer labels include Armani, Jill Sander, Trina Turk, Calvin Klein, Uggs, vintage 501 Levi’s, men’s Burberry, and Facconable. In addition to clothing, shoes, and handbags, the Second Chance Shop has jewelry, other accessories, housewares, and artwork. Fiona Friar is the shop chair, and Carol Waxman (known to many as the Children’s Services librarian at the West Hartford Library) is the other West Hartford Auxiliary co-chair. The shop is all volunteer-run, and donations are tax-deductible. For more information about special deals, events, or sales at the Second Chance Shop, email [email protected] to get on their mailing list. You can also follow the Second Chance Shop on Facebook and Instagram (www.instagram.com/SecondChanceWH). Right now the Second Chance Shop is open Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. The grand opening event is planned for Jan. 17, from 5:30-7 p.m.
- Edge Fitness, 24-hour gym, is looking to open a new facility in the former Toys “R” Us space in Corbin’s Corner. West Hartford Economic Development Specialist Kristen Gorski said that because the shopping center is a Special Development District (SDD), before they sign the lease, Edge Fitness has applied for amendments to the SDD for the 24/7 operation, to permit their signage which will be illuminated 24/7, and for some new windows and walkway and landscaping improvements. The Town Council will be receiving the application for the amendments, and there will be a public hearing scheduled, most likely for late February. For more information about Edge Fitness, visit their website.
- Zest 280, at 280 Park Rd., closed on Dec. 28. And while I usually try to save the bad news for the end of this column, this announcement has many positive elements so I don’t want it to get lost. Zest 280 was a mission-based cafe, operating in collaboration with Community Partners in Action, and the Culinary Training Program is continuing, and expanding, as it moves to the Pond House Café. In a post on the Zest 280 Facebook page (and they said it so well I am just going to quote them) the owners said that the move is being made “with bittersweet excitement,” and while they will miss their customers, they “have created an expanded curriculum that will benefit our trainees greatly and give them valuable hands-on experience in a variety of areas. … Some of the great additions to the program includes training in a variety of aspects in the culinary field including banquets, catering, pastry, as well as learning how to prepare for lunch, dinner and brunch. The owners and management at the Pond House Café also have a vast amount of experience and knowledge that we feel will inspire and benefit the trainees that come through the program. Zest 280 Chef Trainer Felicia Jenkins will also be making the move to the Pond House to continue heading up the training program.” The program should be in full swing at the Pond House on Jan. 15.
- Congrats to West Hartford Town Council member Dallas Dodge, who has a new day job as a partner at Roy & Leroy, the government relations firm founded by Craig Leroy. According to the announcement, “Roy & Leroy provides lobbying services and strategic political consulting to a wide range of Connecticut businesses, non-profits and trade associations.” Dodge formerly practiced law with Shipman & Goodwin and was a senior attorney for the Office of the Speaker of the House. He was most recently vice president and counsel for the Insurance Association of Connecticut.
- Don’t miss West Hartford Restaurant Week (really two weeks!), which returns today and runs through Jan. 20. Foodshare is once again the beneficiary of this “dining for good” event, and will receive 5 percent of the proceeds from the special Restaurant Week menus at 28 restaurants from throughout West Hartford. Click here for the full story, and a link to the website where many of the menus are now posted.
- Halo, a Hartford-based business co-founded by West Hartford resident Garold Miller and his former Glastonbury neighbor Dan Weinstein, has been sold for $43 million to ZAGG Inc., of Salt Lake City, UT. Halo, which offers products such as portable chargers and other devices, is one of QVC’s top-selling electronics brands. For more information about Miller and Halo, read this story I published on We-Ha.com in December 2016. For more about the sale, click here for a story by Joe Cooper in the Hartford Business Journal.
- Congrats to West Hartford residents I. Charles Matthews and Mark Overmyer-Velázquez of West Hartford who both joined the Board of the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving as of Jan. 1. Mathews, who was appointed by the Judge of Probate Court, District of Hartford, is a retired attorney who ran his own consulting firm specializing in employment and discrimination law. Mathews previously served as Vice President, Diversity Management, Recruitment and Organizational Effectiveness for the Chicago-based Quaker Oats Company. Prior to his role at Quaker Oats, he served as Director of Workforce Diversity and Employment Counsel for United Technologies Corporation. Mathews has served in leadership positions on a variety of organization boards and committees and currently serves as Chairperson of the Hartford Stadium Authority and is a member of the West Hartford Town Council Zoning Alternates. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Government from Wesleyan University and his Juris Doctorate from Cornell University Law School. Overmyer-Velázquez, who was appointed to the Foundation Board by MetroHartford Alliance, is Professor of History and Latinx Studies and the Campus Director of the University of Connecticut-Hartford. He is the author and editor of several books and has been a visiting scholar and lecturer at universities in Mexico, Chile, China and Jordan. Overmyer-Velázquez served on the Immigration and Detention Service Project as part of the UConn Law School’s Asylum and Human Rights Clinic. The first Latino elected official in West Hartford, in 2017 he concluded a six-year term as a member and Chairman of the West Hartford Board of Education. Overmyer-Velázquez currently serves on a number of boards including Connecticut Students for a Dream, Hartford Public Library, Hartford Consortium for Higher Education, MetroHartford Alliance and iQuilt. He completed his doctoral studies in Latin American history at Yale University.
- Congrats also to West Hartford resident Brian Refici, assistant vice president of Mergers & Acquisitions at The Hartford, who has been named to the Board of Directors of the Greater Hartford Arts Council. He is active in the West Hartford community, serving as a youth sports coach for various baseball, football, basketball and soccer teams, as well as a Troop Committee member for the Boy Scouts of America.
- DORO Restaurant Group will he holding its first ever food crawl, a progressive journey through Europe and the Middle East – with a “globally-inspired” prix fixe menu that will travel to each of DORO’s three West Hartford restaurants: Treva, Zohara, and Àvert. The announcement states: “Begin the evening at Treva for drinks and appetizers along the Italian countryside before heading to Zohara Mediterranean Kitchen for an incredible family meal. In true old world European style, end the night with dessert and signature cocktails along the cobblestone streets of Paris and Lyon at our French-inspired restaurant, Àvert Brasserie.” There are actually two “journeys” planned – Monday, Jan. 14 and Monday, Jan. 28. The menu, with the approximate times, includes: Treva (6:30-7:30 p.m.) – Charcuterie, Cheeses, Braised Oxtail Agnolotti, Sautéed Calamari and Squash Blossoms , Italian Sunset Cocktail; Zohara (7:30-8:30 p.m.) – Whole Roasted Cauliflower, Duck Wings, Lamb Kofta, Moroccan Seafood Stew, Brussels Sprouts, Israeli Red & White Wines; an Àvert (8:30-9:30 p.m.) – Sticky Toffee Pudding, Brandy Caramel, Chantilly, Macarons, Cookies and Aged Sherry Cocktail. Click on the dates above to purchase tickets.
- The Delamar Spa West Hartford will be hosting a “Yoga Friendraiser” hosted to benefit The Bridge Family Center on Sunday, Jan. 13. The event will be held in partnership with The Yoga Shop and Grace & Grit, both West Hartford businesses. There will be yoga classes led by Annie Q., a complimentary skin analysis with a Delmar Spa West Hartford aesthetician, a Grace & Grit athletic leisure wear trunk show by shop owner and breast cancer survivor Melissa Weinstock, fresh juice courtesy of ARTISAN, and a coupon for a 10 percent discount on Delmar Spa West Hartford services. Register here through EventBrite. More information is also available on the DELAMAR Spa Yoga Friendraiser on Facebook.
- This is not really business, but it’s still a cool thing to mention. A reader emailed me this week to let me know that West Hartford native Frank Luntz, who graduated from Hall High School and is now a political consultant, is a character in the recently-released movie “Vice.” His character is played by Adam Bartley. The movie stars Christian Bale as Dick Cheney, Amy Adams as Lynne Cheney, Steve Carell as Donald Rumsfeld, and Sam Rockwell as George W. Bush.
- ICYMI, there’s some activity about to be taking place on the former UConn campus as Ideanomics prepares to turn it into Fintech Village. There has also been plenty of behind-the-scenes work going on to develop partnerships with organizations that will make the campus their home. Click here for 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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