A round-up of openings, closings, and other news about West Hartford businesses.
By Ronni Newton
Summer days like Sunday – bright and sunny, gentle breeze, warm but no humidity – are, in my opinion, what make living in this part of the country so special.
I hope everyone had a chance to get outside and enjoy Sunday. I sure did, including eating all three meals outside on my patio, running, and wine tasting!
I’m planning to run the Hartford Half Marathon this fall, and trying to be at least semi-serious about my training plan, so I did a “long-ish” (5.5-mile) run late Sunday morning and was very happy for the absence of humidity. There were so many people out and about, walking dogs, biking, running, etc.
I also enjoyed a wine tasting at Arrigoni Winery in Portland, CT – finally getting to enjoy a birthday present from my daughter and sister! We were joined by Katie’s boyfriend’s mom, and it was a wonderful afternoon sampling some delicious wines in a beautiful setting.
For a few weeks my nest is completely full …
The weekend also included moving Katie out of her apartment in Storrs Center on Saturday – clearing out the household items and furniture she amassed during two years of living off campus. Her lease was up and she’s testing out the commute from West Hartford to her Doctor of Physical Therapy program at the UConn Storrs campus – fortunately carpooling with a fellow DPT student – before figuring out what her next living situation will be.
There’s one more weekend anecdote that I can’t resist mentioning … On Friday my son, Sam, went to Misquamicut with his girlfriend. They brought lunches and Sam said he was sitting in his beach chair and had just started unwrapping his lunch when there was suddenly a large shadow above his head. Then there were feet – or perhaps they should be called talons – in his hair! A seagull landed right on his head! And he said it then hopped down onto his lap, and snatched a bite out of his sandwich before flying away! I’ve already heard/told this story a number of times, and still can’t stop laughing. Sam thought it was funny, but has a newfound – and well-founded – fear of birds.
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:
- The 1.13 acres that was formerly the home of Patrissi Nursery on Ringgold and Crescent streets, just south of Park Road, has been vacant for more than a year ever since the nursery and garden center failed to reopen for the spring of 2016. Many people have been wondering what would come of that land, and there will soon be a proposal under consideration. At its meeting this Thursday, the town’s Design Review Advisory Committee is scheduled to review a proposal from Ringgold Crescent Partners LLC for a 25-unit townhouse development with access from Ringgold Street. The plans – shown at right – are still very much in the preliminary stage, Town Planner Todd Dumais confirmed Friday. “We wanted to start with with DRAC, show them what’s in mind,” he said. Dumais said that the developer will soon begin the process of engaging with the Park Road Business Association as well as neighbors.
- I usually save the negative news for the end of this column, but while we’re in the neighborhood it only makes sense to mention the other housing project that was supposed to be well underway by now just one parcel to the east on Park Road. Plans to build Arcadia Crossing, a 310-unit, $100 million apartment complex planned for the 22-acre Sisters of St. Joseph of Chambery property at the corner of Park Road and Prospect Avenue, have fallen apart. Town Planner Todd Dumais confirmed Friday that the Sisters of St. Joseph have terminated their contact with Center Development Corporation. The plan had been unanimously approved by the West Hartford Town Council in January 2016, after many hours of debate and extensive outreach to the community. The first phase of the project, however, had been completed – moving the sisters to the renovated “west wing” portion of the complex. Dumais said that if another developer steps forward and is willing to build exactly what was approved, there will be no need to take action. “If they have a new design, we have to start all over again,” he said. Since the deal fell through in the past few weeks, there have been numerous developers looking at the site, Dumais said.
- Max Burger held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday afternoon, celebrating the restaurant’s brand new bar and extended Happy Hour, now weekdays from 3-6 p.m. “Everything from the ground up,” was the way Manager Jason Sowik described the updates. The bar top has been replaced and there are now 12 taps (increased from eight) featuring a greater selection of primarily local beers indicated on the chalkboards along the ceiling. [Editor’s note: A definite thumb’s up for having Sip of Sunshine on tap.] Max Burger opened in April 2007, but the “insides” of the bar area date back to the building’s former occupants, Azul and Simmer, Sowik said. Other features include under-bar lighting and – welcome to many electronics addicts – plugs and USB chargers under the bar and accessible from every seat. The bar area was blocked off for three weeks for the construction, but the restaurant remained open throughout other than two Monday lunch closings. A few additional upgrades will be forthcoming, including some spotlights and a new floor. The nailhead leather chairs are about the only thing that has been retained – other than the menu. “We’re excited. It’s been along-awaited process and I am looking forward to getting behind the bar and making some cocktails and being the staple of West Hartford Center we’ve been for years,” Bar Manager Sarah Landini said. See below for more photos.
- You’ve got just two more weeks left to vote for the 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 for your favorite local businesses, and for more details.
- Congratulations to West Hartford resident Wes Thompson, who founded and launched the innovative insurtech firm Emerge in December 2016, and who has now been named the president and CEO of Portland, OR-based M Financial Group. Thompson, who was formerly president of Sun Life Financial U.S. and held various senior leadership positions at Lincoln Financial Group, will officially take over his new role on Sept. 1.
- Academic Coaching Associates, owned by West Hartford resident Sue Schaefer, provides training for students in skills like time management, organization, self-advocacy, and other areas to further their academic success and achievement. The company is now branching out into career coaching through Launch Career Coaching, a six-session three-week course designed for recent college grads as well as young adults. Topics include networking, resume writing, interview skills development, and social media. The first session begins Aug. 14, and a second session is also scheduled to begin on Sept. 25. Click here for more details.
- I don’t have any other details than this, but Park Road Jewelers, which was located at 316 Park Rd., has recently closed its doors for good.
- Several business stories that were published last week that should not be missed include a feature on Real Estate Agents Recycle, a West Hartford non-profit designed to help sellers properly dispose of their unwanted household items in an arrangement that’s a win-win for the seller as well as the environment, and for the otherwise unemployed or underemployed people who coordinate the company’s efforts. Click here for the full story.
- ICYMI, West Hartford Police Chief Tracey Gove revoked Los Imperios‘ entertainment license last week after continued violations. This story is far from over, but here’s the latest update.
- A West Hartford family that formerly owned a large section of The Center has now invested in a vodka company with a mission of supporting veterans’ organizations. Click here to read the story about the Sinatro’s new company, Salute American Vodka.
- The second annual Taste of Blue Back Square and The Center was held last week, and it was another extraordinarily successful event – another sellout. The food was fantastic, and enjoyed by close to 500 people. Click here for a photo gallery that will probably make you very hungry!
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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