Bishops Corner Blue Back Square Business Elmwood Park Road The Center

West Hartford Business Buzz: July 8, 2019

Pokeworks will be opening in The Corbin Collection next month. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

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 just re-read my column from the Monday after Fourth of July weekend last year, and I could have probably copied almost the entire thing word-for-word.

Just as I wrote a year ago, I just returned returned from a week on Nantucket, where it was hot by Nantucket standards (high 70s) and extremely humid – but nothing like the heat wave we had back in West Hartford.

Home viewed from the ‘Sconset Bluff Walk. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

It was sunny almost every day, and we got some great beach time, and when it wasn’t good beach weather we biked and hung out at Cisco Brewers. Katie’s fiancé, Matt, and a few members of his family came out to visit, and we enjoyed showing them the island, including the ‘Sconset Bluff Walk where the roses and hydrangeas were just spectacular.

We decided to avoid the crowds and watch the fireworks from our widow’s walk. It wasn’t quite the same because they were far away, and I hope to catch a fireworks show later this summer to get the full experience.

Just like last year, there were some big stories that popped up while I was away, so I did do a bit of work, but I am very thankful to my interns and John Fitts and Ted Glanzer at Turley Publications for helping out.

I’ve got some more traveling to do this summer, and am hoping things remain somewhat quiet in town when I’m away – particularly this coming weekend when we are picking up OUR NEW PUPPY! Expect to hear much more about her, and expect this column to include at least a photo or two next week!

Today I’ll be back on CT Live on NBC Connecticut at 11:30 a.m. talking more about West Hartford Business Buzz, so don’t forget to tune in if you can!

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:

Max Condron (left) and Sonny Chen in front of the soon-to-open Pokeworks in The Corbin Collection I West Hartford. Courtesy photo

  • Poké has gotten much more popular in the past year, when I first wrote about the fast casual dish that originated in Hawaii and most commonly includes marinated and sliced raw fish, such as tuna, served over rice and assorted toppings (you get to choose just like at Chipotle) like vegetables and umami sauce. West Hartford now has a poké restaurant in Blue Back Square and in Bishops Corner (both Poké-Man and Poké City are owned by Audrey Chen), but a completely different poké franchise business is getting set to open in another part of town, in  The Corbin Collection, with a grand opening planned the week of Aug. 19 – just as everyone is returning to town from their summer travels and getting ready for back-to-school. “We’re excited to bring Pokéworks, the nations leading healthy, fast-casual poké restaurant, to West Hartford and are anticipating a grand opening the week of Aug. 19, said Sonny Chen (not related to Audrey Chen). “During the grand opening we will offer a taste of the islands with a special all day buy-one, get-one free deal, during normal business hours. In addition to exclusive giveaways and prizes, the first 50 guests in line will enjoy a coveted Pokéworks branded coconut.” Chen, who also owns West Hartford’s Black Bamboo, co-owns Pokéworks with his childhood friend, Max Condron. The two have been friends since they attended elementary school together in Hartford, and are now teaming up for this venture. Pokéworks franchises have recently opened in Wilton and Westport, and plans are for locations to open in Greenwich as well as West Hartford. For more information, including a menu, visit the Pokéworks website.
  • Blue Back Square is partnering with WHMedia for the fourth annual Taste of Blue Back Square on Wednesday, July 31 from 5:30-8:30 p.m. (rain date Aug. 1) for an evening of food sampling, entertainment, shopping, beverages by Two Pour Guys (cash bar), and the first-ever VIP experience. Early bird tickets are still available and are priced at $30, general admission $40, and VIP $50. Valet parking is included in the price of all tickets. Raffle tickets will be available for purchase at the event with special prizes, with proceeds benefiting Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. As of now, participating restaurants and food samples include: Balos (chicken souvlaki, pita and tzatziki); Bar Louie (blackened fish tacos, chipotle chicken tacos, voodoo pasta, hot honey chicken); Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse (tenderloin sliders); Poké-Man (cold shrimp or chicken with lettuce and warm rice); Rizzuto’s Restaurant & Bar (penne alla vodka); SPoT Coffee (iced coffee, chocolate chip cookies, snickerdoodle cookies, and oatmeal raisin cookies); Vinted Wine Bar & Kitchen (truffle popcorn and tuna tartare); World of Beer (boneless buffalo or truffle parmesan chicken wings with ranch or blue cheese); The Green Teahouse (iced tea, bubble tea, and tea slushies); The Cheesecake Factory (cheesecake); Artisan West Hartford (Artisan tomatillo gazpacho, avocado sorbet, and breakfast radish); Flora Plant Food + Drink (vegan “burnt ends” and greco salad. Early bird ticket specials are still available through Eventbrite here.
  • Much, much more to come, probably in next Monday’s column, but very soon West Hartford residents will have a new option for getting to and from the Center. The WeHa Express, a free luxury custom coach, is tentatively scheduled to launch on Thursday, July 18, and will bring people to and from the Center during prime weekend hours, free of charge.

    Courtesy Hartford Baking Company

  • Hartford Baking Company has announced plans to offer discounts during the month of July for service members. A 20 percent discount for police officers, firefighters, teachers, and active duty military, and veterans will be offered for Service Appreciation month at both Hartford Baking Company’s New Park Avenue location (625 New Park Ave.) and West Hartford Center location (965 Farmington Ave.). Each week, upon showing ID, a different group of service members will receive the 20% discount off their order. The police officers discount missed this column (it ended on Sunday), but July 8-14 is a discount for firefighters, July 15-21 for teachers; and July 22-28 active duty military and veterans. Hartford Baking Co., 965 Farmington Ave., will also be offering buy-one, get-one-free prepared drinks from 3-7 p.m. all summer until Labor Day! For more information about Hartford Baking Company follow on Instagram (hartfordbaking) and direct inquiries to [email protected].

    Mr. Chow Asian Fusion will be opening at 179 Park Rd. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • Have you seen the “coming soon” sign for Mr. Chow Asian Fusion in front of the former Chengdu location at 179 Park Rd.? Build-out is nearly complete for the new restaurant being opened by Hecheng Chen (of Ichiro, Icy Rolls, and The Chosen 1), and look for an announcement of the opening date in this column very soon.
  • April Beaman, CTT, RDH a Certified Thermographic technician from CT Thermography is offering a free presentation on Wednesday, July 10 at 6:45 p.m. at Essential Health, 74 Park Rd. in West Hartford. Breast Thermography can help detect functional changes within the breast years before other screenings methods. Learn why this non-invasive, radiation-free screening procedure should be added to assess your breast health. Hosted by Dr. Allison Mendelson, DC of Essential Health. Event is free, but registration is requested:

    These condos at the corner of Arlington Road and Farmington Avenue are nearly complete. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • Construction is complete on the eight units at Arlington Place, residential condominiums at the corner of Arlington Road and Farmington Avenue, and the units are now being offered for sale, with prices beginning at $479,000, according to the project’s website.
  • According to a press release, the West Hartford Auxiliary of The Village for Families & Children has started on a high note! “Since their opening in January 2019, the completely volunteer-run Auxiliary has raised $30,000 for The Village through sales at its Second Chance Shop. The Village provides a full range of children’s behavioral health treatment, foster care and adoption, and community support services for children and their families in the Greater Hartford region, serving nearly 20,000 clients each year. The Auxiliary supports this life-changing work by selling new and gently used clothes, accessories, antiques and collectibles and household items in its Second Chance Shop. The four Auxiliaries of The Village in Glastonbury, Simsbury, Suffield, and West Hartford contributed a combined total of more than $342,000 to The Village this year, and over $5.5 million since their inception. ‘I am constantly amazed by the dedication of the over 400 volunteers that run our Glastonbury, Simsbury, Suffield, and West Hartford Auxiliaries,’ said Galo Rodriguez, The Village president and CEO. ‘They give their time, talent and heart to these Shops – and their tireless efforts make real change possible for the children and families served by The Village.'” The Second Chance Shop is located at 175 Park Rd. in West Hartford and hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Thursday through Saturday. See photo below of check presentation.
  • ICYMI, this week’s sad news is the closing of The Cook & The Bear in Blue Back Square. Owners Tyler Anderson, A.J. Aurrichio, and Jamie McDonald made the announcement on Tuesday, and the restaurant will close for good on Sunday, July 14. Read the full story 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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West Hartford Second Chance Shop check presentation. Galo Rodriguez, president and CEO of The Village (center) accepts a check for $30,000 from Carol Waxman (second from left) and Angela Miller (second from right), co-chairs of the new West Hartford Auxiliary. Also pictured is Barbara Laurain, corresponding secretary and day manager (far left), and Jill Scully, scheduler and day manager (far right). Courtesy photo

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