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Bishops Corner Blue Back Square Business Elmwood Park Road The Center

West Hartford Business Buzz: July 29, 2019

Lou's Auto Service at 1056 New Britain Ave. is in the process of being covered to Lyons Complete Auto Repair Center. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

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

By Ronni Newton

I’ve mentioned the past two weeks that I have a new puppy. And I am pretty sure I mentioned that she was going to be a distraction.

Millie visited West Hartford Center on Saturday! Photo credit: Ronni Newton

I’ve started writing this column several hours later than planned because … puppies are so much fun. My daughter, her fiancé, and my sister joined us for our traditional family dinner on Sunday night, and we spent hours laughing at the puppy. She played in the sprinkler, chased a ball, hopped over things, chewed on squeaky toys, and did so many other things that had us literally ROTFL [rolling on the floor laughing]. We actually sat on the floor playing with Millie for about 45 minutes until she decided it was nap time.

Everything is brand new to our little pup. She doesn’t seem to mind the rain or thunderstorms (she likes getting wet), she is terrified of the trash truck, she chased the lawnmower and woofed at it, and when she doesn’t want to go on a walk she lies down and won’t move. With the help of Debbie Sheridan from Debbie’s 4 Dogs, she has already learned some commands, such as touch, sit, find, and come. She’s very bumbly, but also very smart, and so darn cute.

Millie has already brought our family so much joy.

We took her to the Center on Saturday, and she met dozens of people who told her how cute she was. I had forgotten about this stage of having a puppy, and I am so glad to be experiencing it again.

And Millie is even sleeping pretty much all night now!

Burrata with heirloom tomatoes at Rockledge Grille. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

I also forgot about the stage where puppies chew on things. The chairs that Scarlett chewed on 16 years ago now have some major new bite marks.

Other random thoughts this week are that somehow it’s gotten to be July 29 already. I am already sad that summer seems to be flying by.

Ted and I had a great dinner on the patio at Rockledge Grille Saturday night. We loved the burrata appetizer, and the taco salad, which many friends and family members had been telling me about, lived up to the hype!

Half marathon training started this weekend, following a toasty Riverfront Scramble Christmas in July that I ran on Thursday night with a few of my running buddies.

Time to walk the puppy, and I’ll just have to finish writing this column later …

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:

Lou’s Auto Service at 1056 New Britain Ave. is in the process of being covered to Lyons Complete Auto Repair Center. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • There were many people who were sad about the closing of Lou’s Auto Service in Elmwood (1056 New Britain Ave.), but when the property was sold in early June, it was to another longtime family business that is committed to taking care of its customers. “West Hartford is our home,” said Amy Lyons McCarthy, of Lyons Complete Auto Repair Center, the new owner of the property. Lyons, a family business that has operated the Phillips 66 gas station and an auto repair business at the northwest corner of Bishops Corner since 1979, is excited about expanding their business to a new area of West Hartford – and expanding what they are able to do. They are staying open in Bishops Corner, but Amy said they are moving three A-tech mechanics from Bishops Corner to Elmwood, and putting in an alignment rack, new heavy-duty lifts, and other upgrades. “Technically what we’re doing is expanding what we have now, to better take care of our clients,” Amy said. While the Elmwood location will not sell gasoline, there will be a small convenience store with lottery tickets, snacks and drinks, and ice for sale. They are getting a license to sell used cars, and applying to be an emissions testing station. There will also be propane refills available. “If people have ideas of what they would like us to carry let us know,” Amy said. The new sign is up and the building is in the process of getting a facelift, with new flooring, new lifts, updated electrical, and a new coat of paint – courtesy of Amy’s 80-something-year-old parents. The target for re-opening is mid-August, Amy said. And for those who are missing Sweet Pea, the dog that belonged to Robert and Barb from Lou’s, Amy said that the Lyons family has three dogs who will be visiting on a regular basis. Amy said it would make the previous owners’ father happy, to know that the business will continue to be family-owned. She’s still in touch with the previous owners as well, and is committed to continuing to service old and new customers.
  • The 4th annual Taste of Blue Back Square is Wednesday, July 31 (rain date Aug. 1), from 5:30-8:30 p.m., and guests will enjoy food samples, entertainment, shopping, beverages (cash bar from Two Pour Guys) Tickets are $40 each, and a VIP experience ($50) is available as well.  All tickets include valet parking, entry, and food samples from at least 12 restaurants. Other activities include a Pony Tail and Braid Bar by Blo Blow Dry Bar, live painting demo from Muse Paintbar, and a demonstration from CycleBar. VIP tickets include a complimentary beverage from West Side Wines and Spirits with a choice of Aperol Prosecco Spritz or Gosling Dark and Stormy, free chair massage from Nurturing Hands, dessert from Classic Cakes, and seating. Tickets will be available for purchase at the event for a drawing with special prizes from retailers and restaurants, with proceeds benefiting Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. Tickets are available through Eventbrite here.
  • Taste of Blue Back Square will also provide the first glimpse of the new WeHa Wheels, the shuttle service driven by Premier Limousine wheels, that will provide free (yes, free) rides to anyone who lives within a 2-mile radius of West Hartford Center and Blue Back Square on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings from 4:30-11:30 p.m., when parking is typically at a premium because the town has become such a popular destination for shopping, dining, and strolling. Finishing touches are still being put on the 12-passenger vehicle, and look for a story with all of the details in the Wednesday We-Ha.com newsletter – and a chance to check out the vehicle on Wednesday night. WeHa Wheels is scheduled to launch on Thursday, Aug. 1.

    Interior of new Hartford Stitch location. Courtesy photo

  • Hartford Stitch has “let out its seams” and after three years has moved a few blocks away to 207 Park Rd, at the corner of Whiting Lane. “We have come a long way from the days of toting equipment from class to class,” said Laura Kasowitz, owner and lead teacher, who began with a pop-up shop in 2015. “Anchoring on Park Road has fulfilled my dream for a home for creative people to meet, learn and laugh our way though successes and challenges.” Kasowitz said that she knows that people can learn to sew by watching a video, or maybe going on a sewing retreat, Hartford Stitch is successful because local makers have a chance to bond, and feel a sense of empowerment. “Our classes are kept small so there is a lot of interaction between the instructor and student,” she said. “We are not just looking to ‘teach,’ we want to engage and give our students everything they need – skills, confidence, community or just a break in their regular day-to-day. We strongly believe in the power of learning together and it’s one of the reasons that we have so many repeat students.” The Hartford Stitch family now includes four instructors, and having the right teachers is an important key to success, Kasowitz said. “Not only do they need to be deeply knowledgeable about their craft but they need to be enthusiastic, patient, and thoughtful. Hiring teachers marks a big leap in the company’s growth and I continue to find wonderful people who support our mission and vision to create a maker community. With a new larger space Hartford Stitch is able to bring in different textile and fiber artists to create even more exciting learning opportunities.” Anyone interested in learning more about classes at Hartford Stitch can visit the website www.hartfordstitch.com.
  • American Family Care (AFC) is proud to announce they are now an approved contracted network provider with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Veterans can receive urgent care treatment at AFC locations in West Hartford, New Britain, Vernon, Torrington, and Danbury without pre-authorization or an appointment. Veterans can take advantage of the extended hours and convenience offered by AFC. “We are honored to be able to serve those who have served our country,” said Dr. Iftikhar Ali, Medical Director of AFC. “Our helpful staff will verify the veteran’s eligibility before providing care to ensure treatment is covered.” The VA urgent care benefit covers treatment of non-emergency conditions such as flu-like symptoms, coughs and colds wheezing, sprains, sore throats, painful urination, bumps and bruises, and mild skin irritations. The benefit also covers diagnostic services like x-rays and some lab testing. Vaccines are covered when they are required as part of the urgent care treatment. For example, a tetanus shot for a vet seeking treatment for a wound caused by a rusted metal object. Flu shots are also covered. There’s no limit on the number of times an eligible veteran can access urgent care. There is no out-of-pocket copayment required. Dr. Ali notes preventative services and dental services are not covered under the benefit. If veterans are experiencing a medical emergency, they should call 911 or seek immediate care at the nearest emergency room. To check eligibility, veterans can contact their local VA medical facility by phone or in person, or visit https://www.va.gov/COMMUNITYCARE/programs/veterans/Urgent_Care.asp for more information.
  • Aspiring photojournalist Sofie Brandt (a former We-Ha.com intern) said she “is passionate about giving voice to people from different cultures and telling stories from tender moments. I believe that each and every person has a story that is worth being told.” She is leaving for college at Portland State University on Sept. 18, but said that before she leaves, she would love to take senior portraits for area high school students. Details about session packages can be found online at https://sofiebrandt.com/session-packages/. More information can also be found at sofiebrandt.com, [email protected], 860-560-6897, Instagram: sofiebrandtphoto, or Facebook: sofiebrandtphotography.

    Ribbon cutting at The North Star Realtors. Courtesy photo

  • Congratulations to West Hartford resident and Hall High School (previously King Philip and Aiken) alum Travis Bish! Bish, owner and broker with The North Star Realtors, had a ribbon cutting Tuesday with the West Hartford Chamber of Commerce, Mayor Shari Cantor, colleagues, and family. North Star Realtors, located at 15 North Main St., Suite 100, specializes in residential and investment real estate. “I graduated from UConn in 2005 and worked primarily in the finance sector. It wasn’t until then birth of my daughter that I realized I needed to start a business with a focus on helping people and contributing to our community,” Bish said. “With each sale, a portion of the proceeds due to the brokerage will go towards funding various community projects that may otherwise go underfunded. My vision is to have a successful company that the surrounding communities benefit from.” Bish, who said he now lives on the Conard side of town, is married to Jami, also a Hall and UConn graduate, who is a social worker. The couple has a 3-year-old daughter, Mila, who will start pre-k this fall. For more information contact Bish at 860-874-1894 or [email protected]com, or visit the website www.thenorthsterrealtors.com or www.facebook.com/TheNorthStarRealtors.
  • Congratulations to West Hartford resident Bruce Adams, who has been named president and CEO of the Credit Union League of Connecticut (CULCT) effective Aug. 19. The Hartford Business Journal reported that Adams, a former partner at Day Pitney, former state financial regulator, and current deputy commissioner of the state Department of Revenue Services (DRS) will take over for Jill Nowacki.

    From the new Union Kitchen summer menu: Chilled watermelon with feta, mint, evoo, and sea salt. Courtesy photo

  • From a press release, and because it sounds delicious: “Chef Zach Shuman of Union Kitchen has released his new summer menu featuring brighter flavors and lighter fare. A restaurant known for its modern American cuisine and light comfort food, Union Kitchen has infused the late summer bounty into a refreshed eclectic menu with new starters such as Whipped Feta with cracked black pepper and olive oil served with crusty bread; Tuna Tacos with pickled vegetables, charred avocado crema, sriracha aioli ($13); Chilled Watermelon with feta, mint, evoo, sea salt ($9), and Fried Green Tomatoes with arugula, roasted tomato, garlic aioli ($11). The menu also now includes BOWLS such as the Farro Bowl with charred broccoli, tomatoes, greens, feta, parsley vinaigrette ($18), and a Quinoa Bowl with avocado, pickled apples, mushrooms and toasted nuts ($19). Hand-Held Mains include a Muffuletta with salami, mortadella, ham, provolone, olive tapenade on grilled olive bread ($14). Main Entrees include dishes such as Seared Scallops with Spam fried rice, roasted pineapple chutney, toasted coconut ($28); White Miso Glazed Salmon with cauliflower mash, red lentils, shaved turnip salad ($24), as well as a Petite Flat Iron Steak with baby spinach, creamed corn, and herb fingerlings ($24).” There’s also a new brunch menu and a new happy hour menu. Brunch hours are Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and happy hour is every day from 3-6 p.m.

    Future Edge Fitness in Corbin’s Corner. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • Work is progressing at Edge Fitness, which will be opening in the former Toys R Us spot in Corbin’s Corner. I’ll provide updates as the opening date nears!
  • ICYMI, the big news early last week was the unveiling of Ideanomics’ vision for the former UConn campus. While the remediation of PCBs and asbestos, and the demolition of four of the five existing buildings will be taking place soon, there is an extensive process of permitting, zoning changes, hearings, and more before the project becomes reality. If you have a strong opinion one way or another, there will be plenty of opportunity to voice it. Click here to see the renderings, and view the video flyover/walking tour of the proposed project.
  • Click here to listen to the latest Experience We-Ha podcast, an interview with Anita Wolf and Jodi Daniels of Face It Medspa.

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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