A round-up of openings, closings, and other news about West Hartford businesses.
By Ronni Newton
Summertime, and the living is easy …
I usually spend a good part of my Sunday writing this column (believe it or not), but I managed to be more organized this week and had a lazy afternoon reading a book and enjoying the sunshine at Winding Trails, followed by a good old-fashioned hot dog and hamburger barbecue at my house.
It’s been a busy business week in West Hartford – busier than one would expect for the summer!
The week started with the news Monday morning that Besito had abruptly closed its Blue Back Square restaurant. Speculation about the reason for the closing was following by more details that became known on Tuesday about a lawsuit filed by the landlord for unpaid rent and other fees of just over $250,000.
Later on Wednesday there was a hearing at the West Hartford Police Department headquarters regarding the status of Los Imperios‘ entertainment license. On Thursday, Chief Tracey Gove said he needed a bit more time to make a decision after hearing testimony at the hearing, and that decision should be forthcoming early this week.
The final major business story of the week was the announcement late Friday (after they received a certificate of occupancy) of the long-awaited opening of Cook and the Bear at 50 Memorial Rd. in Blue Back Square. The restaurant officially opens for dinner Tuesday, and beginning Wednesday will also be open for lunch. I had a chance to sample quite a few menu items over the weekend, and it more than lived up to expectations. If you’ve already read the story, you may want to look back again for some of the food photos I have added!
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:
- For this week’s Business Buzz feature, we’re back in Corbin’s Corner and one space over from last week’s feature on PM Pediatrics, where it’s now been confirmed that The Tile Shop will be opening in the former Pier 1 Imports space. No timeframe has been given yet, but according to its website, The Tile Shop, which was founded in 1985 and has a network of more than 100 stores (the closest is in Brookfield and the only other Connecticut location is in Norwalk) offers the “latest styles and innovations available in materials such as porcelain, glass, ceramic, travertine and other natural stones.” More information to come as we find out the specifics of the West Hartford store, but here’s how the company describes itself on its website: “We see our customers as partners. As such, we believe in developing relationships that build trust while engaging your imaginations. Your home is a big part of your life, and we take that idea seriously. So we inspire your creativity and build the personal connections you need to make you feel comfortable about transforming your living space into a showplace you can be proud of.”
- Vineyard Vines is now open at Westfarms! I haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, but Westfarms spokesperson Amanda Sirica said the store is “gorgeous,” and she supplied the image at right and the other one below. This is the first retail store for the brand in central Connecticut (there are stores in Greenwich, New Canaan, and Westport, as well as an outlet store at Foxwoods). And while many people shop Vineyard Vines online, students (like my prepster kids) very much appreciate the brick and mortar locations because there’s a 15 percent student discount at Vineyard Vines – but only in the stores, not on the website. The 4,000 square foot store was formerly BCBGMAZAZRIA and is on the upper level near near the Macy’s Furniture and Men’s store – the part of Westfarms that is even technically in West Hartford.
- And while we’re on the subject of Vineyard Vines, last season’s limited edition custom label We-Ha Vineyard Vines merchandise will be specially-priced at the Taste of Blue Back Square and The Center (July 26) as new styles and colors are in the works for the upcoming holiday season. A chance to get the merchandise at a discount is just one more reason – in addition to the fact that tickets sold out early last year and about 150 people were turned away – why you should buy your tickets to this “Taste of” without delay. (Click here to do that!) And as for the limited edition merchandise, a newcomer to the line-up is an absolutely adorable pale blue We-Ha Vineyard Vines baseball cap. Now taking orders, and you will definitely find me around town wearing one of these as soon as the orders come in! Click here to see what’s in the We-Ha store.
- I’m “borrowing” this (with permission) from WHSquared regarding the West Hartford Chamber of Commerce’s Future Leaders of West Hartford (FLOW) event at the Playhouse on Park this Thursday: “To Beer or not to Beer… (we’re going with To Beer). On Thursday, July 20th join Playhouse on Park Theatre‘s Young Professional Advisory Board and yours truly, WHsquared – What’s Happenin’ West Hartford for ‘The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged).'” There’s a reception from 6-7:15 p.m. (Includes complimentary wine, beer, and snacks with the YPAB & WHsquared) and the show begins at 7:30 p.m. The special young professional (age 21-35) ticket price for this event is $20 and call Playhouse on Park at (860) 523-5900 ext 10 or go to http://playhouseonpark.tix.com/GenericMap.aspx… to reserve tickets. I saw the show on Friday night, and it is true that whether you love or hate Shakespeare, it’s absolutely hilarious!
- Speaking of the second annual Taste of Blue Back and The Center, Elizabeth Zigmont, Marketing Director for Blue Back Square is pleased to announce two new additions to the list of Blue Back Square restaurants participating in the July 26 event, and they are: INDIA and World of Beer. Jeannette Punsoni Dardenne and Kristen Fritz of Eat IN CT are working on the West Hartford Center restaurants and will be announcing those participants soon. Stay tuned for more details; the mix is certain to whet your palette. Sponsors, who are being recruited by Jill Fletcher and Tom Hickey, will be announced in Wednesday’s newsletter , and they have been brainstorming on creative and fun ways to make the evening more enjoyable. Some fun things being tossed around include: SnapBooth Photos will be providing real time photos at the photo booth, West Hartford Cleaning will have a special guest with them and if you are lucky could win a free cleaning. Remember we turned away over 150 people last year so buy your tickets now and take advantage of the bulk discounts so you won’t be disappointed.
- Don’t forget to vote for Best of West Hartford! This third annual competition is underway, and winners will be celebrated at a “Champagne on Ice” networking reception on Aug. 28. Click here to vote and for more details.
- Lifer Fitness Studio celebrated two years of being in the fitness business with a celebratory ribbon cutting with West Hartford Chamber of Commerce, friends, clients, and family on July 6 at their studio. The West Hartford Chamber also included the following information in a news release: “Debra Fountain has been in the fitness business for over 15 years. She is married with four children and always maintained a fit lifestyle. On a personal note, Debra has been married to the love of her life for 25+ years and has four beautiful children. While raising four children, Debra never let her duties at home get in the way of maintaining a fit lifestyle. She started her own personal training business within the basement of her home and began teaching classes at surrounding fitness centers and gyms. Out of all the classes Debra teaches, cycling and muscle toning classes are her favorite. She believes those two classes alone provide the best fitness results for herself and her clients. Debra has always encouraged her clients to treat their fitness as a lifestyle.” Click here for the LIFER website.
- West Hartford-based Northstar Wealth Partners announced in a news release that Partner and Wealth Advisor Theresa V. Donatelli was one of approximately 150 financial advisors who recently attended the second annual Barron’s Top Independent Women Advisors Summit, hosted by Barron’s magazine to exchange ideas and best practices, with an eye towards improving their business and serving the investing public in the best possible manner. The invitation-only conference was held June 12-14 at The Mandarin Oriental in Washington, D.C. “America needs wise and proven financial leadership. This conference brings together advisors around the country to share information and ideas toward one goal – to better serve their clients, their families and their communities,” Sterling Shea, Associate Publisher and Head of Wealth Management Programs at Barron’s, said in the release. “The financial markets and investing are more complex than ever. These leading advisors will leave this conference better equipped to help their clients find investing opportunities, avoid market traps and pursue financial well-being.”
- Congratulations to The Miale Team at Keller Williams Realty, which according to a news release has been named one of America’s most productive sales associates as a part of REAL Trends America’s Best Real Estate Agents, the newly issued ranking report produced by REAL Trends and sponsored by Zillow Group. The Miale Team is now a member of the “America’s Best Real Estate Agents,” and ranked in the top 5 percent for the state of Connecticut.
- Om Street – when LaSalle Road is turned into a giant yoga studio – is next Saturday at 8 a.m. (more on that to come later this week!), but Coldwell Banker agent Nadia Kachwaha wanted to share the information that she will be passing out free bottles of water and energy bars to get you ready for your workout. “Please stop by the office at 992 Farmington Ave anytime after 7:15 a.m.,” she said in an email.
- Also in business news this week, ICYMI, West Hartford resident David Ryan Polgar has been developing a national reputation for his work in the area of digital citizenship. Recently he received a shout-out from the Obama Foundation, which has taken on that topic as a focus. Polgar also has a live podcast about the subject airing on Monday. Click here for details.
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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