A round-up of openings, closings, and other news about West Hartford businesses.
By Ronni Newton
I hope everyone had a great Fourth of July weekend!! I escaped West Hartford for a few days (did you notice?) and my husband, kids, my daughter’s boyfriend, and I spent some time on Nantucket visiting my in-laws.
Although it’s great to be back in town it was a wonderful break, and other than Monday night when we got nearly 6 inches of rain, the weather was spectacular and we spent hours on the beach. I can’t resist sharing a sunset photo I took from the house’s widow’s walk on Monday.
Just because I was out of town doesn’t mean I wasn’t keeping tabs on business openings and closings. I collect business news all week, but today’s lead business buzz story was something I learned about through social media while I was away. My family always knows vacation is coming to an end when the laptop comes out and they hear me on the phone doing something than ordering a pizza.
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:
- This new restaurant is not quite in West Hartford, but it’s in a space just across the line that was a favorite hangout for many residents, and has some direct connections to town as well. Han Restaurant – Connecticut’s first hot pot restaurant – opened on June 26 at 310 Prospect Ave., in the space formerly occupied by Damon’s Tavern which closed last July. Han Restaurant is owned by husband and wife team Xingyu Huang and Sally Zhu – who also own Shu Restaurant in the Shield Street Plaza in West Hartford. The first thing I asked their son Daniel, who answered the phone when I called, was what “hot pot” is. Although hot pot is apparently a big trend in cities like New York and Boston, it hasn’t hit the Hartford area – until now. Daniel explained that the presentation is similar to a “shabu shabu” (a Japanese dish, but I didn’t know what that was either) so he used the analogy of a Korean barbecue restaurant, but using broth as the basis for the meal. Han offers a choice of eight different flavors of soup/broth, to which raw ingredients like meat and vegetables are added. “It’s all about what you do to your food, a personal experience,” Daniel said. When the soup is cooked – and you can prepare it as leisurely as you like and enjoy the opportunity to relax with your dining companions – there is a large “sauce station” where extras such as sesame oil, cilantro, and other toppings can further personalize the dish. “Hot pot is one of the traditional foods in China. It’s a unique taste and very popular,” Sally said. They are excited to be the first to bring to Connecticut an element of Chinese culture and a traditional food that dates to the Han Dynasty (the inspiration for the restaurant’s name) and has been around for 2,000 years. I personally can’t wait to try it! For more information, visit their website.
- Woof Gang Bakery and Grooming is set to open in the next two weeks. I met the regional manager and took a peek inside last week, and the space is nearly ready. Woof Gang will offer “salon style” grooming and according to its website will also sell gourmet treats, healthy pet foods, pet supplies, and accessories.
- A proposal by Tecca Ventures is in the works for construction of an 8-unit condominium complex with underground parking at 3 Arlington Rd. The property at the corner of Farmington Avenue and Arlington Road was originally constructed as a single-family home, is located in a multi-family zone, and has been occupied as a professional office for many years. The project has been approved by DRAC and Town Planner Todd Dumais said he is waiting for some plan revisions in response to questions raised by his office before issuing an approval for the project. Notice has been given to abutting property owners.
- The pace of development at the Delamar West Hartford Hotel was a topic of discussion at last week’s Town Council meeting, prompted by a request for some minor changes to the hotel’s architectural elements. Many have remarked that it doesn’t appear as if much has been happening on the site. Director of Community Services Mark McGovern said that the contractors are completing the work that had been authorized under their existing permits, and the vote by the Town Council (which was a unanimous approval) was needed to allow for the next round of permits to be issued. McGovern said that work is expected to ramp up in the next few weeks and the hotel is still projected to open in the spring of 2017.
- The Bridge Family Center in West Hartford announced in a news release that Amanda Aronson has been named director of Marketing & Communications and she will oversee all strategic marketing and communications efforts. “Amanda has been involved with The Bridge for over ten years as a volunteer, board member, and supporter,” Executive Director, Margaret Hann said in the release. “She has a proven track record of success bringing existing initiatives to the next level and launching new ones. As The Bridge enters its next phase of strategic planning, we are thrilled to have Amanda as part of our leadership team as we all strive to advance our mission.” Aronson brings nearly 20 years of experience in education, marketing, and communications to the role, and she has also held many professional and volunteer leadership roles in the Greater Hartford community.
- Congratulations and best wishes to Harriet Dobin, longtime director of the Jewish Film Festival and marketing professional at the Mandell JCC who retired effective June 30. Committee member and festival chair Nicole C. Greenblatt takes over as Jewish Film Festival director.
- West Hartford-based BlumShapiro was recently honored with a 2016 “When Work Works Award” from the Families and Work Institute (FWI) for its use of effective workplace strategies to increase business and employee success. “BlumShapiro’s culture supports employee health, well-being and engagement both in the workplace and in their personal lives,” Joseph A. Kask, chief executive officer of BlumShapiro said in a news release. “Developing and retaining a best-in-class organization is a top priority at BlumShapiro. Our job is to ensure they have the knowledge and skills, plus the necessary mentoring and training to unlock their true potential. We are committed to providing our employees with opportunities for growth and helping them advance their careers in an environment that treats everyone equally, while respecting diversity.” Award winners must be ranked in the top 20 percent of the country and a large factor in the assessment process is an employee survey that evaluates: “opportunities for learning; a culture of trust; work/life fit; supervisor support for work success; autonomy; and satisfaction with earnings, benefits and opportunities for advancement — all factors associated with employee health, well-being and engagement.” For information on winning organizations by state, click here.
- Tickets are selling fast for Taste of Blue Back Square and The Center! The list of participating restaurants for the July 27 event is impressive and there should be a good variety for all to enjoy. Some specialty stores are also getting in on the action, and offer special promotions for the evening. Click here for details.
- Last but not least … Be sure to vote for Best of West Hartford from among the more than 275 finalists selected in nearly 50 categories – all determined by nominations from the community. The winners which will be honored at a gala awards show on Sept. 8. A list of all of the finalists and the link to voting can be found by clicking here. Some area businesses are doing a great job making their customers aware of the competition, so don’t forget to support your own favorites. Voting is easy, and you can even do it from your phone while sitting on a sunny beach somewhere!
Remember, if you have any business news to share, remember to add it in the comments section below or email Ronni Newton at [email protected].
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