A round-up of openings, closings, and other news about West Hartford businesses.
By Ronni Newton
I can’t believe it’s July 30.
Summer is zooming by, as my favorite season always seems to do. I love the phrase “The days are long but the years are short,” but in summer, even though the days are literally long because of the amount of daylight, they aren’t nearly long enough. And although I will have to say that I have not been loving this recent tropical weather pattern with its stifling humidity, I will still take it over sub-zero wind chills any day.
In just four more weeks Sam will be back at UConn beginning his junior year. Katie will begin her second-to-last semester of classes in her Doctor of Physical Therapy program (the third year is all clinicals), and I will be at West Hartford Public Schools’ annual Convocation, kicking off the start of the 2018-19 school year. I’m definitely not at all ready to welcome changing leaves and pumpkin spice.
In the meantime, things do seem to be slowing down a bit in West Hartford as August approaches. The event calendar is a bit emptier, many kids are away at camp, and families are taking vacations.
I’m in town for the next few weeks, and then will also be among the families on vacation. I’m hoping things stay quiet in West Hartford this time, unlike when I was gone for a few days around the Fourth of July!
While I’m here, as well as when I head for the beach, I am going to savor every last bit of summertime, eat as many meals outdoors as possible (we had some great pizza and beers on the patio at Vaughan’s Pies & Pints in the Center on Saturday night), and hope that the days pass as slowly as possible.
While you’re enjoying those summer days, if your phone, tablet, or laptop happens to be handy, don’t forget to vote – early and often – for the Best of West Hartford. The contest opened last week, and the newly-revamped survey is much easier to complete this year. There are changes to the format, and to the celebration of winners which will be held later in the fall. Click here for details.
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:
- Buildout for The Fix IV Therapy at 1000 Farmington Ave. is nearly complete and the “boosting boutique” is planning for an early fall opening, owner Erin Fox said. While there are places in Connecticut where people can receive IV infusions of vitamins, The Fix will be the first in the region to do it in a setting that is salon- or spa-like, rather than medical. Fox, who has a background in marketing and PR, is working directly with a West Hartford anesthesiologist who will be the medical director. The nursing staff will be run by Lindsay Gasper, RN. Fox grew up in Avon and has lived in West Hartford for several years, and said she’s always been a big believer in wellness and exercise, as well as supplements. With IV therapy, the vitamins bypass the digestive tracts, and not only deliver 100 percent of the nutrients but do it quickly, she said. The infusions will be delivered by registered nurses, and a choice of “fixes” will include formulas to target athletic performance, immunity, anti-aging, weight loss, and even hangover recovery. Fox said that in New York City, where IV therapy is already a much more common practice, the busiest day is marathon day, with runners seeking treatment for assistance with recovery. The West Hartford location is decorated with individual chairs and comfortable couches. “It’s a nice place to sit,” Fox said, conducive to a gathering of friends. “I am so excited to open in West Hartford,” she said. Look for a feature story as the opening nears.
- I received several messages from people concerned/interested in what is happening at Moscarillo’s Garden Center & Florist, where the greenhouse that was attached to the main building has been removed and large swath of land has been cleared. In the past few years, two garden centers in West Hartford have closed and both are now being turned into residential developments, but Moscarillo’s owner RJ Domack said he’s been getting lots of questions but not to worry. “We’re here to stay,” said Domack, a fifth-generation member of the Moscarillo family. They’re actually expanding their space, and have started construction of a new 15,500 square foot greenhouse on the back of the building, where one of the two older greenhouses was previously located, and the new structure will be the largest retail greenhouse in the state, Domack said. The property previously had two greenhouses, one which is more than 30 years old, and the other – the smaller one that has now been removed – which was about 20 years old, with a total of about 13,000 square feet. The freestanding greenhouse will remain in place until the new one is completed, around Christmastime, Domack said. “The 30-year-old greenhouse was state-of-the-art at the time,” he said, but the new one will be completely different, constructed with steel trusses and glass all the way around, and a roof that opens to allow the hot air to escape, eliminating the need for a large number of fans. Moscarillo’s has been located in West Hartford for 27 years, but the property was previously Cascio Nursery. See below for additional photos of Moscarillo’s.
- Artisan’s garden at the Delamar West Hartford Hotel is spectacular, and a great place to enjoy summer activities like the family-friendly New England-style “Artisan Lobster Clam Bake” which will take place on Sunday, August 12, 2018, from 4-7 p.m. “Guests can sit back and relax on the expansive lawn under a beautiful tent while enjoying the sounds of acoustic music and excellent cuisine including prepared by Artisan‘s renowned chefs,” a news release states. Lawn games will also be available for guests to play. The menu includes a whole lobster (1/2 lobster for kids), clams, potatoes, corn, potato salad, coleslaw, pasta salad, seasonal greens, cornbread, and local strawberry shortcake for dessert. Beverages include Artisan‘s own private label rosé, ice cold beer, and soft drinks. Tickets are $89 for adults and $39 for kids, and will be sold in advance through Aug. 7 through Eventbrite by clicking here. No tickets will be sold at the door.
- Ryan Keating returned to West Hartford about two years ago to join his family business, Keating Agency Insurance. To learn the ropes in the property/casualty insurance business, Keating has taken advantage of as many as possible of the agency schools offered by various insurance companies, and that approach was recently written about as a successful case study by the Satellite Agency Network. “Agencies need knowledgeable and loyal producers to thrive in this industry, but staff training and development can become quite expensive,” the case study states. “He was starting to connect the dots on the value/benefit of working in an established third-generation agency,” said Michael Keating, Ryan’s dad. Like Michael Keating had done years ago when he joined the business, he encouraged his son to attend as many producer schools as possible to “learn the various carrier products and forms, but more importantly, to develop the carrier/agent relationship with dedication and commitment.” Ryan Keating attended the Travelers Commercial Lines School in December 2016 and Travelers Personal Lines Leadership School in July 2017, Hartford Small Business Coverage Specialist Program in April 2017, Chubb Commercial Lines Producer School in November 2017, and The Hartford Commercial Lines Producer School in December 2017. He is currently enrolled in The Hartford School Sales Coaching Program, which started in January 2018. A Liberty Mutual Commercial Lines Producer School is next on the agenda. “Constant learning, it’s a necessity,” Ryan Keating said. Even though the schools take away time spent cultivating clients, “if you look at the long-term return on investment, it’s a necessity for growth,” he said.
- I’m a big IPA fan, so this press release really caught my eye! “Thursday, Aug. 2, is International IPA Day, and all Plan b locations will be celebrating with some of the coolest, rarest, and most unique IPAs the bar managers can get their hands on. Each restaurant will feature a different lineup of between four and 12 IPAs, everything from perennial local favorites like Lawson’s Sip of Sunshine and New England Brewing Seahag to limited releases from Kent Falls and Beer’d Brewing.” An “All-IPA” menu that will also be available also includes I.P.A. salad (Iceberg-Pear-Avocado salad topped with crumbled bacon and blue cheese dressing), I.P.A. burger (twin chuck patties, Idaho potato chips, Pale ale beer cheese, and Applewood-smoked bacon); and I.P.A. dessert of Ice cream pie (coconut cream with Pineapple (caramelized) and Almondswith a bourbon caramel drizzle. The IPA specials will be available the whole week of July 30 through Aug. 5. Visit the website or check Facebook to confirm which IPAs are available at the West Hartford Plan b location (138 Park Rd.) each day.
- Congratulations to Mark Finkelstein, the recently-retired administrator and vice president of Hughes Health & Rehabilitation in West Hartford, who spent 53 years in the healthcare field and received the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Connecticut Association of Health Care Facilities/Connecticut Center for Assisted Living (CAHCF/CCAL) during the organization’s annual meeting at the Mystic Seaport on July 12. Under Finkelstein’s leadership, according to a news release “Hughes was honored, among other accolades, as a ‘Best Nursing Home in America’ for seven consecutive years by U.S. News & World Report; selected as one of ‘America’s Best for Extended Care’ for four consecutive years by the Women’s Choice Awards; and acknowledged as one of ‘America’s Top Nursing Homes’ for seven consecutive years by the Consumer’s Research Council. Also in 2016, Hughes was just one of three providers nationwide to receive the coveted 2016 Gold Quality Award from the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL).” Finkelstein has also served as adjunct faculty of Quinnipiac University, guest-lectured at Harvard Business School and Yale Law School, presented at conferences and seminars, and appeared on radio and TV programs representing the post-acute and long-term care administration profession. He has won numerous other accolades including the Ross Laboratories Distinguished Service Award for service and leadership to members of the American College of Health Care Administrators (ACHCA), ACHCA’s Top Skilled Nursing Facility Administrator award (three times in four years), ACHCA’s Distinguished Administrator Award, and four awards from the General Assembly of the State of Connecticut for contributions to professionalizing administration and improving quality of patient care; providing reliable and unbiased assessments of health care issues; for meritorious service; and for many years of distinguished service. In 2016, he was honored as a Health Care Hero by the Hartford Business Journal.
- As noted above, the 2018 Best of West Hartford contest has started. Click here to vote for your favorite businesses in a variety of categories on a survey form that is much simpler to complete this year.
- ICYMI, the former Nelson Salon at 8 Ellsworth Rd. in West Hartford Center has been transformed by owner Nilce Conti into Beleza, a beauty/well-being business. There are still several hair stylists on staff, but a diverse array of other service focused on health and beauty have been added. Click here for more information.
- Also ICYMI – and if you did miss it you’ll have to wait another year for the next one – a very successful Taste of Blue Back Square & The Center was attended by about 500 people last Wednesday inside what will be the Spaces co-working facility in Blue Back Square. Story and photos here.
- Take a stroll through the Center – which is ranked the top walkable town center by the Connecticut Office of Tourism. Click here for details.
- Even before the Lobster Clam Bake, there’s a special event in the Artisan garden as the private label rosé wine is unveiled this Thursday, Aug. 2. This event was postponed from last Thursday due to the weather. Details here.
- Finally, two upcoming chances to support Foodshare will take place at the end of August thanks to the area’s very generous restaurant community. On Aug. 27, the Eat.Drink.Give benefit for Foodshare will feature a host of celebrity chefs cooking up a six-course gourmet dinner with wine pairings that will be held at Grant’s in West Hartford Center. Click here for details. And the next day, West Hartford’s inaugural Restaurant Week will begin, with 5 percent of special menu items being donated to Foodshare and 28 restaurants already signed up to participate. Details 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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Editor’s Note: The first bullet point in this column has been updated from an earlier version.