A round-up of openings, closings, and other news about West Hartford businesses.
By Ronni Newton
I hope everyone had a good Fourth of July holiday!
Trash and recycling are delayed this week, and West Hartford Business Buzz appears today in a rare, holiday-delayed Wednesday edition.
We’re spending some family time on Nantucket, visiting with Ted’s parents, and it was great to have both of our kids and their significant others join us over the weekend, too.
The annual fireworks display was back this year, and while we decided not to battle the crowds to watch them close up, we were able to see the display from the widows walk of our house which gave me a chance to test out the close-up capabilities of my new iPhone camera – not too bad capturing fireworks that were roughly 3.5 miles away!
The Firecracker 5K returned this year as well, and Ted and I were pretty excited to earn the same age group placements as we did in the Celebrate! West Hartford race, and both with faster times than we had last month!
Millie was happy to have some quality Fourth of July time in her happy place, too! It was a bit too crowded for her to run around chasing seagulls on the beach on Monday, but she got a good chance to run free during an early morning walk on Tuesday.
My only dining out last week was for a few work-related events, but one of those was covering opening day at G-Monkey. The full story can be found here, and below are a few photos of the dishes I sampled!
My daughter, Katie, has just completed West Hartford Yoga’s teacher training program, and she is one of the instructors for this summer’s Yoga in the Parks! I’m excited to take her class this Sunday at Beachland Park.
The state has changed its COVID reporting, and the most recent report indicates 59 positive tests over the previous seven days. The positivity rate is high, but the case counts are much lower than they had been. One day I hope to be able to delete this paragraph completely, but in the meantime, please continue to have patience since not everyone has the same level of comfort, continue to look out for each other, support our local businesses – and stay safe and healthy.
If you have information to share about local businesses, please provide details in the comments or email Ronni Newton at [email protected].
Connecticut Physical Therapy Specialists is the sponsor of this week’s Business Buzz!
Here’s this week’s Buzz:
- The Floor & Decor warehouse store and design center had a soft opening Thursday morning at 46 Kane St., the former ShopRite location (and also formerly a temporary regional vaccination center), and I was able to stop by and take some photos and meet with a member of the design team and management – and take lots of photos – before heading out of town. The store employs a team of about 50 full-time and part-time associates led by Chief Executive Merchant Kim Bova. Designer Kathleen Kennedy, a West Hartford resident, is excited to be one of those new employees. She said the company is on a positive growth trajectory, with plans to add more than 200 stores over the next several years, and offers free design services with “dedicated attention to their projects” for customers. They also have an extensive “pro department,” with a separate entrance and parking area to expedite service to contractors. Product prices “can’t be beat,” and items are imported directly from sources throughout the world. Floor & Decor specializes in all types of hard surface flooring (wood, engineered wood, vinyl, porcelain and ceramic tile, etc.), and they also offer bathroom vanities, showers and shower doors, light fixtures, trim, installation materials, and stone and other products for outdoor patios and steps. They partner with a company that handles the installation for those who don’t want to do it themselves. All employees receive extensive advance training – and Kennedy said she even learned how to assemble a shower. They offer interest free financing, and as a grand opening special – there are multiple giveaways including $5,000 makeover and a pick-up truck. “We’re definitely excited to be in the community,” said Karla Chancey, senior manager of Learning with the Store Support Center. The only other Connecticut locations previously were in Danbury and Fairfield, and they are excited to open the third store in the state, “and to show the community all of the options for hard-surface flooring. “Floor & Decor is thrilled to open our doors in West Hartford,” Bova said in a news release announcing the opening. “We are excited to introduce both professional customers, as well as homeowners, to our one-stop solution for their flooring needs with an extensive selection of in-stock, trend-right flooring options. We offer unmatched service and quality flooring at unbeatable prices. With our free design services, we look forward to helping every customer turn their vision into reality.” A ribbon cutting will be held at 10 a.m. on July 7, and that time people will be able to register online at www.floormakeoverwesthartford.com for the $5,000 makeover. Registration ends on Aug. 3. The truck and other prizes like an iPad, Nintendo Switch, Otterbox, GoPro Hero, and more that will be given away on July 14, at a grand opening celebration that will be held from 6-8. p.m. Click here to register to win. More photos can be found below.
- There’s quite a bit of Westfarms news to report, including the opening last week of Torrid – a new-to-market retailer which offers women’s clothing, a great selection of accessories, and shoes, including “trendy and chic outfits” and jackets “to celebrate your curves,” in sizes 10 to 30. The 3,500 square foot store is located in space E106, on the lower level near Center Court.
- Gong Cha, a Taiwan and New York City-based franchise bubble tea shop, should be open within the next week at Westfarms Center Court, according to spokesperson Amanda Sirica.
- The branded barricade is up in the Nordstrom corridor, where Abercrombie and Fitch, a popular specialty retailer for women, men, and kids, is returning to Westfarms with a 7,400 square foot store that includes Abercrombie Kids. The store will be opening later this summer.
- Go! Calendars, Toys and Games will be opening at Westfarms in the former Abercrombie Kids space on the lower level near Macy’s. The opening date has not been set yet, but it should be by this fall at the latest.
- I usually save the closings for the end, but while we are on a Westfarms roll I’ll include the news that Origins, which was located on the lower level near Center Court, closed last week. A new store for the space will be announced soon and I look forward to sharing that news.
- West Hartford resident Kevin Masse is a perfect example of how starting off with a cottage food business can lead to a new career. Masse launched Small State Provisions as an incubator, working out of his home in October 2019, and continued to grow throughout the pandemic. Just over a year ago, he became the first vendor to open inside GastroPark in West Hartford, and now he has just secured a second location which will allow for even greater expansion. “I’ve been looking for a while now, probably the last five or six months,” he said. Masse knew he needed a larger kitchen that what he has been using at GastroPark, and was looking for property in West Harford, when his realtor, Lee Pollock happened upon a space in Avon, which formerly served as the baking facility for Truffles, and although it wasn’t on the market it had been vacant for the past two years. “Then I could keep the space at GastroPark,” Masse said, and bring his organic sourdough breads and other baked goods (95% of the menu is organic) to a new community. The Avon space, located on Old Farms Road, is 2,200 square feet, located directly in front of Hopmeadow Brewing Company and near the bike trail, and will be a bakery and retail operation with some indoor seating. The expansive windows will look out at Talcott Mountain. Masse said Small State started with just him and some assistance from his husband, but has now expanded to six employees, all women, all of whom were formerly home bakers. Masse left his day job doing publicity for Alabama-based “Bake from Scratch” magazine at the end of 2021, which he said seemed like the right time. “If these employees are willing to work for me, then I need to be willing to work for me for my livelihood, he said. In addition to the retail sales, Small State also services multiple area restaurants, including Millwright’s, Present Company, Union Kitchen, the cafe at Hartford Flavor Company, and Blue Plate Kitchen – which has been a customer since the very beginning. Masse said he hopes to open the new space by October. He has already secured an oven and a walk-in refrigerator, and since the space formerly housed a bakery he is hoping the transition isn’t too difficult. When asked about the most popular items at Small State Provisions, Masse immediately said the sourdough cinnamon buns. “People are queuing around the corner for it,” he said. The savory galette is a popular summer item. which includes Dijon, cheddar cheese, thyme, and honey. For more information, visit www.smallstateprovisions.com.
- Artisan at the Delmar West Hartford is thrilled to announce that they have been awarded Wine Spectator’s 2022 Best of Award of Excellence. According to Wine Spectator’s website, Barcelona and Union Kitchen have also been recognized this year. All award-winners will also be featured in Wine Spectator’s August issue, which hits newsstands on Tuesday, July 12.
- Congratulations to West Harford business Unique Detail CT, which is celebrating their 10th anniversary. Unique Detail CT provides premium mobile automotive detailing services through a meticulous multi-step process that includes the highest quality products to preserve a car’s exterior and interior, applied by fully trained professionals who are attentive and committed to going above and beyond our clients’ expectations. “Our auto detailing specialists are trained in upholstery cleaning, spot removal, carpet shampooing, and advanced detailing skills to help make your vehicle look new again,” said owner Brian White, who is also a West Hartford resident. “Our customers are fully involved in the process – we listen to your wants and will efficiently answer your questions. Once detailing is complete, each vehicle is thoroughly inspected to guarantee that you’ve received the best-detailing work and that you are completely satisfied.” First time customers are eligible to save 10% and appointments can be made by calling or text 860-752-0913 or booking online at uniquedetailct.com.”
- Àvert (35 LaSalle Road) has announced the hiring of a new executive chef, Ryan Van Grouw. “Coming from New York City, Chef Ryan has over 10-plus years in the kitchen and thrives off bringing your culinary experience to life. With that being said, we’ve made (many) adjustments to our current menu,” the restaurant, owned by DORO Restaurant Group, announced in an email. The new menu (click here) includes a selection of small plates, “allowing you the freedom of not having to stick to only one dish and sharing with whomever you’d like.”
- In this week’s interesting real estate transfers, property on the West Hartford-Farmington-Newington line, near Westfarms, sold last month for $26.4 million. The Newington Westfarms Center, where Dick’s Sporting Goods, Ulta, and Pure Hockey are located (the West Hartford portion of the property is located at 1559 New Britain Ave.) Agree Realty is the new owner.
- ICYMI, G-Monkey is now open at 625 New Park Ave., and in just a few days already has an avid new following to add to the original customer base that loved G-Zen and the G-Monkey food truck. Read about the launch of the flagship location for this new brand here – and see a few of the food photos in the intro above.
- The Town of West Harford has launched a new COVID Recovery Grant program for small businesses and nonprofits, and the first of two free webinars is scheduled for today. 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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