A round-up of openings, closings, and other news about West Hartford businesses.
By Ronni Newton
We had an emergency at our house this weekend – but a good kind of emergency.
Dave and Halli King, who call themselves “chief scoopologists” – brought their ambulance-style mobile ice cream parlor to our street on Sunday, parked in front of our house, and handed out ice cream sundaes to our neighbors and friends.
The reason we were visited by the Ice Cream Emergency is that I had won the experience as a raffle prize at the Malta House of Care Wonder Woman event in 2019, and decided it would be fun to incorporate into a major graduation party for both kids, since 2020 was going to be a milestone year for everyone.
Well … we all know what happened to 2020, and the milestones that included both graduations being celebrated virtually in front of our TV.
The Ice Cream Emergency had to shut down operations for a while, but recently began operations again, and while we couldn’t really host the graduation party we planned, we decided it would still be fun to have the truck come to the street to celebrate our kids’ graduations. We had family members, and Katie and Sam invited some of their friends, and we invited our neighbors as well. A group ranging in age from 1 to mid-70s had a great time listening to music, playing a little corn hole, and enjoying customized sundaes, safely physically-distanced on our front lawn.
The Ice Cream Emergency owners were great, and followed all protocols including allowing only two people at a time into the vehicle. In normal times customers get to add their own toppings, but now Dave and Halli do it for you. They also provided hand sanitizer and required the use of masks while inside the vehicle.
We had a choice of six different ice cream flavors, plus dairy-free sorbet. And Millie, who joined us on the lawn and enjoyed a chance to socialize, even got her very own bowl of whipped cream.
As the weeks go by I’ve been attending and reporting on many more, and attending many more, in-person events. I hope it continues.
Please continue to support our local businesses, and please wear your masks if you are in public places, and stay safe and healthy.
If you have information about businesses changing their operations due to COVID-19, or doing something worth sharing, please provide that information in the comments or email Ronni Newton at [email protected].
- Maximum Beverage is planning a move from its existing location at 333 North Main St. in Bishops Corner (Marshalls/Home Goods shopping center) across the street to 340 North Main St., into the currently vacant 7,705 square foot space next to Anytime Fitness and below Whole Foods. “We’re really excited about it,” said Maximum Beverage owner Brian Whitney. The lower level space at 340 North Main was previously occupied (many decades ago) by Bradlees, and then later by Service Merchandise, but has been vacant for many years. Maximum Beverage has been located at 333 North Main for more than a decade, where they feature more than 3,000 wines, 1,000 beers, and 1,500 spirits, as well as tastings and educational programming. The new space will be roughly the same square footage, Whitney said, but the parking situation will be much more favorable for their business needs, and he said that Edens, the current landlord, was very cooperative in allowing them to end their lease. At 340 North Main, Maximum Beverage is looking to make minor updates to the façade, signage, and landscaping, and plan to add six parking spaces as well as repurpose some existing spaces in front of what will be their entrance as short-term, 15-minute parking for picking up merchandise. The move will require amendment to the existing Special Development District, and the Town Council will vote Tuesday night to refer the application to the Town Plan and Zoning Commission and the Design Review Advisory Committee, and will set a public hearing. Whitney said the contractors are ready to go, and they hope to move by Nov. 1. “We love Bishops Corner, and we really want to stay there,” he said.
- The Mosaic Sun Studio, a jewelry boutique located at 968R Farmington Ave. (access in the Brace Road parking lot) has not only reopened but has also implemented its “design your own section,” owner Nancy Samuels-Cowan said. The shop, which opened in November 2019 in the former Beadoir space, offers an assortment of jewelry, much of it imported from Israel, as well as some Judaica, and now an opportunity for people to custom design their own pieces of jewelry. Prices range from $8-$200, and Samuels-Cowan said it’s “not fine jewelry, but not costume,” with most items crafted from sterling silver, gold-filled or gold-plated, bronze, or brass. There are also accessories like scarves, gloves, keychains, and a selection of vintage items Samuels-Cowan curates from estate sales. “So far I have received great feedback,” she said of the new design your own space. for more information visit the website www.mosaicsunstudio.com, call 860-424-1710, or visit the Mosaic Sun Facebook page. More photos of the design your own section can be found below.
- Fabletics is now open at Westfarms! I’ll check it out soon (which will likely involve some shopping) and report back. The store is located on the lower level of the mall, near center court.
- I read a report recently that the Lucky Brand store at Westfarms had closed, but the person who answered the phone when I called on Sunday confirmed that the report was inaccurate. He said the store will be closing in five or six weeks, but currently remains open. Lucky is located on the upper level near Nordstrom.
- One more piece of Westfarms news: Lord and Taylor has reopened! The store is not open every day, but according to their website (and this was conformed with a Westfarms spokesperson), Lord and Taylor was open Sunday, and this week will be closed Monday through Wednesday, open Thursday from noon-6 p.m., closed Friday, and will be open Saturday from 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
Things continue to be challenging for the fitness industry, but West Hartford resident Wesley Hart, owner of The Fitness Continuum in Blue Back Square is one of the business owners who has found a way to evolve his company so that clients feel safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The Fitness Continuum is now headquartered at SPACES in Blue Back and has an area occupied as a private studio where a trainer works with one or two (if two, they are distanced) clients at a time. HEPA air purifiers are in use, temperatures are checked, and masks are worn by trainers. The workouts are by appointment only, with time set aside for cleaning (with medical grade sanitizer) in between clients. Hart has also been offering the use (for free to clients) of Cycle-Ops spin bikes that they can use at their homes for online classes. For more information email [email protected]
com or call 860-944-9542.
- Outdoor dining opportunities continue to multiply in town! My husband and I had a great dinner on the patio at Frida Saturday night – margaritas, enchiladas mole, huarache, and churros for dessert – and we definitely gave it a thumbs up. Frida (1150 New Britain Ave.) just opened in December 2019, but after the pandemic hit got going with their take-out after a brief closure and applied through the town for outdoor seating in the parking lot. They reopened for indoor seating on June 24. “We can’t complain,” co-owner Sandy Sanchez said. They have been able to add 22 seats on the patio, and are able to use at most 16 (of the 52) seats inside due to the need for distancing. They have instituted QR codes on their menus, which can be used for payment as well as for ordering. “We have big smiles behind our masks,” Sanchez said. More food photos can be found below.
- There’s also a new outdoor dining option at Arugula Bistro, in the dining corral on Farmington Avenue – in addition to indoor dining and takeout/delivery/curbside pickup. Owner Christiane Gehami is excited about it, and thankful to those who assisted with the design, plantings, and furnishings. Indoor and outdoor tables are first come-first served, and Gehami asks that advance orders be made by 4:30 at www.arugula-bistro.com, or by phone at 860-561-4888.
- New outdoor dining can also be found at Vinted Wine Bar, which reopened last week at 63 Memorial Rd. in Blue Back Square. The Vinted dining corral was just installed (but was included in the original plans; town staff was just waiting for them to open) has resulted in Memorial Road now becoming one-way, eastbound, between Isham and Raymond roads. A photo of the dining corral can be found below.
- The University of Saint Joseph in West Hartford announced last week that five new trustees have been named, individuals who offer expertise needed as the University continues its enrollment growth and campus improvements. “We are very grateful for the new members of the Board of Trustees who add depth and diversity in perspective and experience,” said Brewster Perkins, MBA, Board Chair. Anthony Campbell is assistant chief of police overseeing Patrol Operations, Community Engagement and Emergency Services at Yale University. Prior to joining Yale in 2019, he served in the New Haven Police Department for 21 years, where he held a number of different roles that culminated in his becoming Chief in 2016. He earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Yale, and has additional training in counter-terrorism and law enforcement management. Maria Lino has been principal and founder of The Latino Way Marketing and Media since 2012. Additionally, since 2014 she has been a political consultant for multicultural communities and General Producer for CT en Vivo Digital News. She earned a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Nur University, and a master’s degree in International Trade from Gabriel Rene Moreno University, both of which are in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Mary Alice Synkewecz, RSM, served 20 years as director of the Collaborative Center for Justice. Prior to that, she served as an advocacy coordinator for the Archdiocese of Hartford’s Office of Urban Affairs, and as regional president of the Sisters of Mercy of Connecticut, in addition to other teaching and ministerial roles. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Diocesan College in Madison, CT, and a master’s degree in Pastoral Ministry from Saint Joseph College (now the University of Saint Joseph). Thomas Weidman has been a private investor and business owner since 2007. He spent 30 years as a property-casualty actuary, working for several insurance and reinsurance companies. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Penn State University, and achieved the professional designation Fellow of the Casualty Actuarial Society (FCAS) in 1982. Ann Welch, RSM, has served as Principal of St. Catharine Academy in Bronx, NY, since 2000. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Biology, with minors in Chemistry and Education, from Mount Mercy College, her master’s degree in Biology from Northern Iowa University, and a Master of Education – Administration & Supervision degree from Loyola University.
- This week’s sad news comes from West Hartford Deputy Mayor Leon Davidoff, who with his sister, Susan, co-owns The Paper Station in Newington (29 E. Cedar St.) Davidoff said that the retail store is closing and all merchandise, as well as many of the fixtures, are being sold off. “We will continue to specialize in personalized invitations and stationery as well as business stationery by appointment,” Davidoff said. Call 860-666-4684 for further information, or visit the website or Facebook page for further details.
- ICYMI, I visited BodyRoc Fitness Lab along with Sen. Richard Blumenthal last week, and had a chance to hear the firsthand account from owner Shawn Chambers about what it meant to have to close his business and the struggles that continue even as the boutique fitness studio has reopened. Read the full story here.
- Earlier this week, we reported the sad news that Park & Oak has closed its doors for good. Details can be found here.
- The list of West Hartford businesses that received PPP loans of at least $150,000 can be found here.
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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