Bishops Corner Blue Back Square Business Elmwood Park Road The Center

West Hartford Business Buzz: July 15, 2019

Rendering of 540 New Park by Amenta Emma Architects. Town of West Hartford image

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

By Ronni Newton

This week’s introduction is an easy one to write.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Below are a few thousand words about the newest member of our family.

We brought Millie, our 9-week-old bearded collie puppy, home on Sunday. We are already so in love with her.

She was born in Binbrook, Ontario, Canada. The breeder is a very good friend of the woman from whom we got Scarlett, our beloved bearded collie who died in November, just a week shy of her 16th birthday.

Going to Canada was a fun road trip for the family, too. Both Katie and Sam came with us, and with Katie getting married next June, it may be the last trip for just the “core four” members of our family. We stayed in a bed and breakfast in St. Catharine’s, which is right on Lake Ontario, and on Saturday were awed by Niagara Falls (and the spray felt great on a hot July day).

Apologies in advance if I am a bit distracted, because getting any work done with this little lovebug is going to be a major challenge!

Katie holding Millie in the car. July 14, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Millie, July 14, 2019. Photo credit: Katie Newton

Millie, July 14, 2019. Photo credit: Debbi Zimbler

Millie, July 14, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Millie, July 14, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Millie, July 14, 2019. Photo credit: Debbi Zimbler

Niagara Falls. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

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:

Former ACME Auto at 540 New Park Ave. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • A blighted property is poised to undergo a major transformation, with the West Hartford Housing Authority/Trout Brook Realty Advisors plans to build 540 New Park on the site of the former ACME Auto at the intersection of New Park Avenue and the Oakwood Avenue extension. The plans call for 52 residential units in a building with ground floor commercial space, associated site parking, lighting and landscaping, similar to the 616 New Park project. A portion (not yet announced) will be workforce housing. Renderings of the mixed use transit-oriented development have been submitted to the Design Review Advisory Committee (DRAC) for a study session. “We believe 540 New Park will add to the vibrancy of the New Park Neighborhood, just as 616 New Park has since its opening last year,” said George Howell, executive director of the West Hartford Housing Authority and CEO of Trout Brook Realty Advisors. Howell added that “540 New Park will serve as an economic catalyst for the area, not only providing new customers for area restaurants, stores, and businesses, but also encouraging new investment and development in Elmwood and along New Park Avenue. We look forward to working with the Town of West Hartford and the Design Review Advisory Committee to build another high-quality residential community for the New Park neighborhood.”
  • Plans are shaping up for 4th Annual Taste of Blue Back Square on Wednesday, July 31, which this year will include all Blue Back Square restaurants, and possibly a few West Hartford Center eateries as well. The big news is that this year’s event will be held right in the middle of Blue Back, with the town providing permission for Isham Road to be closed, Blue Back Square Marketing Director Amy Cholowa announced. Also new this year is the “VIP Ticket.” According to Cholowa, Blue Back Square General Manager Robyn Rifkin, and WHMedia’s Tom Hickey, “Greg Nemergut, owner and Ertan Sener, general manager of West Side Wines and Spirits will Host the VIP serving Aperol Proseco Spritz and Gosling Dark and Stormy, and with desserts provided by Classic Cakes and Carol Murdock. There will be seating, and some surprises from Boppers adds Michelle Hollander of Boppers. In addition, Nurturing Hands will offer free chair massages to all VIP ticket holders. VIP Tickets are $50 and available, first come, first served on EventBrite.

    Ribbon cutting at BrightStar. West Hartford Chamber of Commerce photo

  • Congratulations to BrightStar, where the West Hartford Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon cutting June 26 celebrating the company’s fifth anniversary. Located at 924 Farmington Ave. BrightStar provides home-based nurse-managed care, with availability 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For more information, visit the company’s website.
  • Mark your calendar for the return of West Hartford Restaurant Week, Aug. 20-Sept. 2. Details to come!
  • Big Y announced last week that it will eliminate single-use plastic bags at the check-out by Aug. 1 in all Connecticut and Massachusetts stores, including the Bishops Corner store. There will be a 10 cent charge for paper bags. On Aug. 1, a new state law goes into effect which calls for a total ban on single-use plastic bags by Aug. 1, 2021. Click here to read the story on CTNewsJunkie.com.

    Fudgesicle. Courtesy photo

  • Let the Recipes Begin! Bare Life will be releasing new hot cocoa mix dessert/snack recipes every Friday this summer the company stated in a news release. Bare Life, a local start-up which has produced an innovative coconut hot chocolate that is organic, non-GMO, dairy free, gluten-free, refined sugar-free, kosher, paleo, and vegan – is the key ingredient in a dazzling array of dessert recipes being released every Friday throughout the summer. Founder Ali Lazowski will be adding a new, delicious dessert recipe to the Bare Life website each week, to include a list of all ingredients, easy-to-follow instructions, equipment needed, preparation tips, and suggested toppings and mix-ins. The first three recipes are already available – Hot Cocoa Peanut Butter Protein Bites, Homemade Marshmallows, and Hot Chocolate Fudgesicles – coinciding with the first three weeks of summer. (The fudgesicles were just in time for the July 4th weekend heatwave.) “I’m thrilled to share these recipes, bringing hot cocoa mix into summertime in delicious ways,” said Lazowski. “Growing up, fudgesicles were my absolute go-to summertime treat, so this latest recipe really brings me back to those fun, hot summer days as a kid. I love creating recipes for foods I haven’t been able to find in a gluten free, dairy free and refined sugar free version. I’m so excited to share all of these yummy recipes.” Lazowski, of West Hartford, began conceiving of her business in a doctor’soffice – many doctor’s offices, in fact. It was her simultaneous battles with cancer and Lyme disease that inspired her to explore her love of food and launch a business. Starting by creating Bare Life’s coconut hot cocoa mix – organic, Kosher, vegan, gluten free, Paleo and produced locally. Bare Life’s Hot Cocoa Peanut Butter Protein Bites recipe were recently featured on CT LIVE! on NBC Connecticut, along with founder (and chief recipe creator) Ali Lazowski. Bare Life Hot Cocoa Mix is available locally at retailers including Shoprite of Canton, Crown Supermarket, Essential Health, CT Farm Fresh Express, Omar Coffee and Liquid Nirvana. Products can also be purchased online and more information is also available at www.eatbarelife.com.
  • New England Urgent Care is one of the first urgent cares in Connecticut to receive its licensing, and is the only state-licensed and nationally-certified urgent care operating in West Hartford, Enfield, Manchester and Bristol, the company announced in a press release. “The process was rigorous – New England Urgent Care facilities were subject to inspection and investigation. After meeting all the requirements, licensing was granted on May 28, 2019. Why does licensing matter? According to Connecticut lawmakers, the goal was to ‘better regulate this growing industry that provides an important health care service.’ Dr. Michael Gutman, New England Urgent Care Medical Director, believes regulation benefits patients. He said, ‘It’s going to force facilities to either say ‘we’re not urgent care’ or increase quality of their care.'”
  • This week’s sad news: Charming Charlie has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy again, and this time will be closing all 261 stores. The company has four stores in Connecticut including the store in Blue Back Square, and all will be closing at the end of August. Click here to read more from NBC Connecticut.
  • Last week The Hartford Business Journal profiled West Hartford resident John Kumpa, co-owner of the 19-year-old local logistics services provider Multi-Mode Logistics (MML). Click here for the complete story.
  • ICYMI, we’ve had two podcasts this past week – one focused on men’s fashion with Matt Banever of Daswani Clothiers (click here), and another (that I probably should be listening to) published late last night with Marissa Squires of Dogology. Click here for the latest.
  • Finally, Ideanomics has provided We-Ha.com with some renderings and is beginning neighborhood outreach for its Fintech Village project, and will be going door-to-door in the neighborhood of the former UConn campus all week in a “Fintech First Look.” On Friday, July 19, more detailed plans will be available on the company’s website, www.fintechvillage.us, and will be shared with media. Included will be architect’s renderings and a “3-D graphic fly-through” of the Fintech Village campus. Imagery will also be on display at Town Hall, the Noah Webster Library, and the Bishops Corner Library. The complete story 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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