A round-up of openings, closings, and other news about West Hartford businesses.
By Ronni Newton
I hope everyone had a very happy Fourth of July!
I finally took a few days off (didn’t touch my computer at all on Saturday or Sunday) and have spent an extended holiday weekend on Nantucket. We had a large group here for the first few days and it’s been wonderful to spend some quality time with family – and visit with some old friends – as we gear up for Katie and Matt’s wedding next week!
Fourth of July on Nantucket was definitely much different this year than it was last year. Although we were still minus the annual Firecracker 5K race and fireworks display, there are so many more people – probably more than I’ve ever seen – everything is open without capacity restriction, and those who are vaccinated don’t need to wear masks. Last summer we had to be masked even while running on the bike trail, or risk a $300 fine.
Despite a few rainy and chilly days (quite the contrast from the weather a week ago, and the weather in West Hartford yesterday and today) that weren’t ideal for sitting on the beach, we got in some good beach walks during which Millie had plenty of space to do her beach zoomies chasing seagulls, hung out at Cisco Brewers (Millie was welcome, too), and visited with my in-laws.
We didn’t go out to eat at all while on Nantucket, but I did have a great lunch at Artisan last Wednesday before I left town.
Keep on reading below for the the details about the new business – owned by Tim Covello and his daughter, Ally Covello – that has created a new brand of rosé wine. I just learned about this business last week, and was glad to be able to purchase a bottle in West Hartford to bring to Nantucket, because the timing was just perfect. I’ve always said that there is just a half-degree of separation between anyone with ties to West Hartford, and I knew my mother-in-law and Tim Covello’s late mother had been good friends, but when I told my in-laws about this new business, I learned that Tim Covello’s father (who is a judge, and also a pilot), flew my in-laws out to Nantucket in 1969 to purchase the land where our house sits today.
Please continue to support our local businesses, wear your masks indoors if you are not vaccinated – and even if you are when required – 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].
Here’s this week’s Buzz:
- Tim Covello was a senior executive at AXIS Insurance Company, and when he took an early retirement package a few years ago, the West Hartford resident was able to pursue his dream – and to team up with his daughter, Ally Covello, at the same time. Tim and Ally formed Covello Wines LLC (headquartered in West Hartford) and their first product Amarose, a 2020 vintage artisan rosé produced in Lodi, California, has just been released. “I’ve always wanted to do something in wine. It’s been on my radar screen for a while,” Tim said. In the summer of 2019, after leaving the insurance industry, he said he took a class at U.C. Davis focused on wine marketing and distribution. “It was an incredible class, all about selling wine,” Tim said, and he met experts from many facets of the wine business, and made contacts with people from France as well as those in the California wine ecosystem. He didn’t necessarily plan on becoming a winemaker, but after learning that he could create a custom brand without an enormous capital outlay by contracting with a winemaker and vineyard, the dream was born. “I’ve always liked rosé,” Tim said, and his market research indicated that rosé (which includes a broad spectrum of pink-colored wines) is currently the fastest growing segment of the wine market. Tim went about his plan with a high-level business approach – engaging wine industry expert Christian Miller to create a white paper before deciding to move forward. “The millennial cohort has not been embracing wines as much, and rosé tends to skew younger, and it skews female,” Tim said. “It just so happens that I am related to a millennial woman, who became my partner.” Ally, 27, a 2012 Hall High School graduate who has now graduated from NYU Medical School (and began her residency in internal medicine at NYU last week), partnered with her dad, and her friends were glad to help as well. “When my dad decided he was going to develop wines in the rosé space, I got 20 people together,” Ally said. In her dorm at NYU, in December 2019, they did a blind tasting of 10 still and five sparkling rosés. “We were able to refine the taste profile and color profile,” she said. Tim knew he wanted a Provence-style rosé, but wanted it to be from California, and he and a few other family members went to Lodi and spent several hours tasting various combinations before deciding the blend of 25% Grenache, 25% Cinsaut, 25% Carignan, 25% Mourvèdre resonated the best in terms of color, body, and richness. They use the whole cluster process to create the rosé, which is more traditional, Tim said. “I knew Tim would do a great job in the wine trade, but being able to gather input from the target demographic made it more authentic,” said Ally, not to mention fun. They also provided feedback when it came time to choose a label for the wine – which was ultimately developed by a designer in the UK whose response they chose after an RFP process. Ally said they’re also committed to the label providing transparency about the product – which the label states is vegan and gluten free, and contains 106 calories per 5 oz. Although her residency will keep her busy, Ally, who worked as a management consultant before deciding to go to medical school, said she’s good with time management, and will be involved with the social media and other sales and marketing functions with the business. Tim said it was a challenge to produce a small run of the wine (300 cases), but is very pleased with the relationship he’s developed with the winemaker and the vineyard in Lodi. It will be sold in areas where they have connections – New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. In West Hartford, Amarose is available at Tilted Bottles on Raymond Road. The Covellos may not have the typical background to enter the wine industry, but the combination of experience in the legal, insurance, business, and medical industry gives them unique perspective, and a methodical approach. The 2021 vintage is now on the vines, and the grapes in the Central Valley of California should be ready to be picked in early- to mid-August. The blend – which may include the same grapes but may also include Syrah – will be decided in September or October, Tim said, and this time they plan to produce 1,500 cases. Also in the future plans – a red blend, and perhaps a license in Washington state. “Diversity is important,” Tim said. Visit the website amarosewine.com for more information.
- Restore Hyper Wellness and Cryotherapy had its soft opening on June 25 at 345 North Main St. in Bishops Corner. A franchise business with Chris Gray as the owner of the West Hartford location, Restore, which has 12 employees, offers a broad spectrum of wellness services including mobility, a hyperbaric chamber, compression therapy, an infrared sauna, hydro-facials, slimming and toning treatments, IV drips, estheticians, and a cryo-chamber – which involves spending three minutes in a very cold chamber (cold as in negative 200–300°F) and, according to the company’s website, “has shown to reduce inflammation and releases endorphins that help alleviate pain, boost energy and metabolism, and increase the body’s natural healing abilities.” For more information, visit the Restore website.
- Dining options are about to expand even further in the Corbin Collection, with a second new restaurant announcing plans to open. “We’re super excited to come to West Hartford,” said John DeVoie, owner of Hot Table which will be located between Shake Shack and Tavern in the Square, which recently announced plans to open in early 2022. “We’ve been looking for a long time,” said Devoie. Hot Table, which specializes in made-to-order panini sandwiches (the Chicken Pesto Panini is a best seller) launched in Springfield in 2007 and has eight locations in Massachusetts and Connecticut (including Glastonbury and Enfield), will be applying for permits this week, and plans to open in late October or early November, DeVoie said. In addition to paninis, Hot Table also offers “made-to-order salads, and delicious soups. Hot Table is also committed to being good neighbors in each community that they operate in. They support local charities and organizations, especially those that serve individuals with food insecurity,” a news release states. The West Hartford location will be 2,500 square feet, seat about 50, employ about 25 people, and will be open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Hot Table locations are closed on Sunday, DeVoie said. Visit hottable.com for more information.
- Father-daughter legal team Bart and Kaitlin Halloran, both West Hartford residents, have recently merged their family book with BBB Attorneys to add an Education Law Division to the West Hartford and Stratford based firm’s practice areas. A seasoned litigator with several high-profile cases over his 45-year career that also included a role as counsel with the MDC, Bart’s work with his Kaitlin is what inspired him to go back to school and become certified in special education law. His elementary school-age grandson is autistic and he saw the struggles his daughter was going through to get the services mandated by law for him. However, they knew their family’s struggle wasn’t unique; it’s happening in school districts across the country. So today, they work on behalf of children and their parents who can’t afford legal representation, particularly against well-funded districts. Bart has served as the lead attorney in over 2,225 mediations, arbitrations and other civil matters and has tried in excess of 200 cases to verdict. He has also been recognized as a Hartford Magazine Greater Hartford Top Litigation Attorney and served as president of the Connecticut Trial Lawyers Association. Advocating for children with disabilities is the most rewarding, he said.
- Also in local legal news, congratulations to West Hartford resident Bruce Louden of family law firm Louden, Katz & McGrath LLC who wasrecently honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Connecticut Law Tribune. “The very tenet of our firm — that couples can divorce with dignity and emerge from the process positively — stems from Bruce’s personal philosophy,” said Robert Katz, partner. “I have known Bruce for 38 years, and know him to be one of the best family lawyers in the state.” Partner David McGrath said, “Bruce treats every individual with dignity and respect, regardless of the circumstances. He is a formidable litigator, but he seldom relies upon those skills to resolve even the most complicated cases in a fair manner. He is the epitome of civility and professionalism.” Louden, who has practiced matrimonial law for more than 40 years, has a national reputation as both an effective advocate and a leader in a constructive approach to divorce. Throughout his career he has served as an adjunct faculty member for the University of Connecticut School of Law and a member of the Standing Committee on Professional Discipline for the American Bar Association, and has spoken at numerous family law seminars in Connecticut and nationally. He is currently a member of the Connecticut Bar Association and the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. He has had three cases decided by Connecticut Supreme Court: Hunter, 177 Conn. 327 (1979); Blake, 207 Conn. 217 (1988); and Seymour, 262 Conn. 107 (2002). Since 1977 he has had the highest rating an attorney can have in the standard lawyers’ directory, Martindale- Hubbell, and has been listed in national publications among the top divorce lawyers in the country. A native of Iowa, Bruce received his undergraduate and law degrees with honors from the University of Florida. Prior to practicing law in Connecticut, he was a partner in the Florida firm of Holland & Knight, which interestingly now has offices worldwide, including Connecticut. He was admitted to the Connecticut Bar in 1971.
- Congratulations to Jim Burns and Marc Sack, both associated with the West Hartford-based firm Northstar Wealth Partners, have been awarded professional designations as a Registered Financial Consultants. This action was taken by the International Association of Registered Financial Consultants, a non-profit educational and professional association established in 1984. Robert Laraia, RFC and founding partner of Northstar Wealth Partners, said that both are “a great example of our team’s commitment to always providing the most comprehensive, independent advice and holding to the highest ethical standards.”
- From a news release: In just one year, ShopBlackCT.com, a volunteer initiative and free not-for-profit website, has grown eightfold, now listing 1,600 CT Black-owned businesses in 99 towns across all of Connecticut including West Hartford. To celebrate its one-year anniversary since launch on July 1, 2020, ShopBlackCT has teamed up with Planet Fitness/ECP-PF Holding Group to host a virtual Best of ShopBlackCT Awards, which will encourage Connecticut residents to “shop Black” this summer. “We’re excited to partner with Planet Fitness – of which 30 locations in Connecticut are Black-owned – to bring a fun and interactive way for people to visit and support Black-owned businesses across Connecticut,” said Sarah Thompson, founder of ShopBlackCT. “The businesses with the most votes will receive special recognition and prizes. We hope this encourages people to try something new, be intentional about where they’re spending their dollars, and truly see what these incredible businesses have to offer.” Voting will take place from July 15 through Aug. 30, and participants will be able to vote up to once per day for their favorite businesses across a number of categories, including beauty and cosmetics, restaurants, photographers, barbershops and everything in between. “We’re also asking voters to use #BestofSBCT to supercharge their votes,” explained Thompson. “If you visit a CT Black-owned business or purchase a product and post a photo using this hashtag on social media, that business will receive bonus votes.” Full details and entry forms can now be found on ShopBlackCT.com/awards.
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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