Business Elmwood Park Road The Center

West Hartford Business Buzz: January 9, 2017

The New Old School of Music has just opened on New Park Avenue. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

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

By Ronni Newton

The first full week of the 2017 is already complete and many people are still working diligently to follow their New Year’s resolutions.

I didn’t really make any resolutions this year, and maybe because there was no pressure of any formal commitment I have gotten tons of exercise since the new year began. I didn’t plan to be a weekend warrior but that’s pretty much what happened this weekend and I may not be able to get out of bed on Monday morning when you are reading this.

My weekend started off with a seven mile run. I’ve run more than a dozen half marathons over the years, but haven’t been running very far lately. So when one of my running partners asked me to run seven miles with her on Saturday morning, I decided that the arctic temperatures and threat of snow would be a “fun” challenge. Thankfully we finished up at exactly the moment the flakes started flying, and it was actually a great run!

My daughter wanted to try hot yoga, and the 90-minute class was kind of a good thing to do first thing Sunday morning when temperatures were in the single digits. And then a friend asked me to go cross country skiing later on Sunday – which was an opportunity not to be missed because the snow was perfect.

The weekend wasn’t all about healthy living, however. There was plenty of pizza involved, and a big pot of chili that I cooked up on Saturday night that went really well with the craft beers in our refrigerator.

It’s been great having my kids home, and they have one more week before heading back to UConn. My son is changing rooms and roommates, so we need to do the whole dorm room set-up all over again next weekend. My daughter is about to start her last semester as an undergraduate and somehow has worked it out so that she has a full course load but only has class two days a week. I’ll mention one of her classes in a future column – one that involves Jonathan the Husky as a key component of the curriculum.

Although this semester may be easier than others, she has worked very hard and in addition to taking many challenging classes has been very involved in campus activities. I’m very proud that for the fourth year in a row she is part of her sorority’s team participating in HuskyTHON, an 18-hour dance marathon and major fundraiser for Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. I know she would love some extra support, and if anyone is willing to donate, please click here for her personal fundraising page.

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 New Old School of Music has just opened on New Park Avenue. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The New Old School of Music has just opened on New Park Avenue. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • A new business has just opened up on New Park Avenue right next to Hartford Baking Company. West Hartford resident Mirela Panaitisor is the owner of The New Old School of Music, and she is very excited to have her own space to teach violin, viola, and piano – as well as parent and child music and movement classes.  is another new business that has just opened up that I’d love to see get some attention. Panaitisor, the mother of two elementary-age children in West Hartford Public Schools, previously worked for a music academy in Manchester, but for the past seven years has been traveling throughout the area as a teacher. “I feel like this is a dream come true. Since I was very young I hoped I could open my own music school – show the world how I feel inside and how music can touch people in unspoken ways,” she said. She has another teacher working with her, and also hope to coordinate camps with other child-related businesses in the New Park Avenue area. Panaitisor will host an open house on Jan. 27, and said that that all potential customers can take a class for free on a trial basis. More details about classes are available on the website www.newoldschoolofmusic.com and on the business’ Facebook page. “I love that now I have a place where I can get creative. I’m so lucky,” she said.
    Courtesy of Matthew O"Connor

    Courtesy of Matthew O’Connor

  • West Hartford native Matthew O’Connor has recently founded O’Connor Leatherworks – a custom footwear business. O’Connor said that after graduating from Conard High School in 2002 and attending art school, he went on to study under “the country’s top cordwainer,” Dan Freedman, in Middlebury, VT. (I had to look it up, but a cordwainer is a shoemaker.) After a four-year apprenticeship with Freedman, O’Connor moved back to Connecticut to open his own custom footwear business which he operates out of a warehouse at 236 Hamilton St. in Hartford. In addition to custom footwear, O’Connor crafts belts, wallets, bags, keychains, and guitar straps for all genders. He said he prides himself on “making the finest leather goods and footwear” and can make anything out of leather that a customer requests. For more information contact him by email at [email protected] or visit the O’Connor Leatherworks Facebook page. O’Connor provided some great photos of example of his work, several of which are found below.
  • Congratulations to West Hartford resident Dariusz Bouzyk a carpenter at Bartlett Brainard who has been honored with an Exceptional Employee Award from the Better Business Bureau. According to the Better Business Bureau, the award is given to an employee who exemplifies “high ethical standards of behavior while demonstrating exceptional and honest practices with their business’s consumers and clients.”
  • Cookshop Plus on Farmington Avenue in West Hartford Center has just celebrated its first year in business and is expanding its cooking class offerings. The classes are fun and social – in addition to being useful – and include dumpling and gnocchi making and cake and cookie decorating. Click here for a full schedule and registration information.
  • The first Thursday in February is fast approaching which means it’s time to secure your tickets for the 4th Annual Taste of Elmwood. Participation from restaurants and variety of available food will be greatly expanded this year with Eat IN Connecticut’s involvement, and sponsor Jerry’s Artarama is already working on the swag bags. Beverages will be provided by Maximum Beverage and will include beer and wine as well as water and soda. The event will once again be held at St. Brigid St. Augustine School at 100 Mayflower St., and will run from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Tickets will be on sale later this week so watch for details on We-Ha.com because it is likely to sell out. New this year is the option to guarantee a ticket to each “Taste of” (Elmwood, Park Road, Bishops Corner, and Blue Back & The Center) by purchasing a four pack for $120 (regular cost $160). First come, first served with a limited number of tickets available to ensure enough food. The “Taste of” events are brought to you by West Hartford Media Solutions, Eat IN Connecticut, Maximum Beverage, Taylor Rental Party Plus, Merchant Solutions, Direct Line Media Production, Elmwood Business Association, West Hartford Chamber of Commerce, We-HaMag Community TV Show, and St. Brigid St. Augustine School.
  • Park & Oak Restaurant will add lunch as of Jan. 23, chef/owner David Borselle said. The menu is not yet finalized, but check back with the restaurant’s website or follow them on Facebook because it will be posted soon.
    The 'Texas' at The Blind Pig includes brisket, jalopenos, cheddar, and barbecue sauce. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

    The ‘Texas’ at The Blind Pig includes brisket, jalopenos, cheddar, and barbecue sauce. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • There’s no firm date set, but Cook and the Bear co-owner Jamie McDonald said that he and partner Tyler Anderson hope to open the Blue Back Square restaurant in a few weeks, perhaps by the end of January. McDonald has been very busy with his other restaurants, and over the weekend held tastings at The Blind Pig, a unique pizza restaurant that pair Bear’s meats with wood-fired pizza (and also serves burrata, salads, wood-fired dirty wings, and more) as well as craft cocktails. The Blind Pig opens to the public on Tuesday and is located at 89 Arch St. It’s where Bears Smokehouse was located before the recent move around the corner to Front Street. Follow on Facebook for more details.

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].

Like what you see here? Click here to subscribe to We-Ha’s newsletter so you’ll always be in the know about what’s happening in West Hartford!

Courtesy of Matthew O'Connor

Courtesy of Matthew O’Connor

Courtesy of Matthew O'Connor

Courtesy of Matthew O’Connor

Courtesy of Matthew O'Connor

Courtesy of Matthew O’Connor

Courtesy of Matthew O'Connor

Courtesy of Matthew O’Connor

Courtesy of Matthew O'Connor

Courtesy of Matthew O’Connor



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We-Ha.com is the place to go for the latest information about West Hartford – a town that "has it all"! We-Ha.com is part of and proud of our community, and we bring a hyperlocal focus to news and features about the people, schools, businesses, real estate, sports, restaurants, charitable events, arts, and more. Contact us at: [email protected] or [email protected].


  • Again, “we-ha.com” is being used as an Ad vehicle for the Bear group. Last time for his new groundbreaking labor matrix, which when you look online, only pays 15 dollars an hour to line workers. The rest of the job offerings are at 12 and below. Go figure. Now today , he has gotten weha.com to advertise a “Hartford ” business opening.. Oh…. of course his West Hartford restaurant is still “coming soon”. Thanks for advertising a Hartford pizza brand so west Hartford residents can make there way to Hartford for.a pizza and not help out the 10 or so pizza places in our town. Oh. Remember to come by bike because Arch St has 0 parking. Thanks.

  • Re: “Mike”

    Get fired by the Bear group? Why else would you post this diatribe at 4 am? No need to bike to Arch Street. There is a new multi-story parking garage on Arch Street that cost $6. total after 6 pm. If you can’t afford the parking cost you probably can’t afford to eat out at Bear’s or anywhere else.

    • Obviously missing the point Jake . Are you sleeping outside tonight so you can get your hands on the first pizza tomorrow ? While your at it , get me an ETA on the Cook and the Bear.

      • Mike,

        It’s just a blurb on a restaurant. Try not to turn it into a global conspiracy.

        Sheesh, I would hate to see how you react to an issue with actual substance. Try to relax. You’ll live longer!

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