A round-up of openings, closings, and other news about West Hartford businesses.
By Ronni Newton
It’s hard to believe another month has gone by, and now it’s June.
The past few months seem to have run together, and other than the weather getting warmer and the landscape coming alive, there haven’t been the usual events to punctuate the weeks.
I look back at my calendar, and see everything that has been canceled – races I was supposed to run, my first year as a chef at West Hartford’s Cookin’, shows at Playhouse on Park, basketball and baseball games, a conference in Boston, a trip to Florida to see my dad, Celebrate! West Hartford, wedding dress fittings with my daughter. There was no Memorial Day Parade to photograph, and none of the spring events at the schools like the annual Conard vs. Hall games, the Morley Backpack Brigade, and other celebrations.
Saturday was the original date for Katie’s bridal shower. Sam was supposed to be in Las Vegas this past weekend at his future brother-in-law’s bachelor party.
I’m feeling even more wistful as I write this on Sunday afternoon because we just closed another major chapter. Sam’s lease on his UConn apartment ended on May 31, and we finally moved out the rest of his stuff. He was the last of his roommates to move out, and it’s been a move I have been dreading since he learned back in March that he would finish his senior year online and graduate in a virtual celebration.
It would have been sad moving Sam out of his apartment even if he had gotten the chance to finish the semester as planned, but sad in a different way. He is not sentimental, but he actually said to the empty apartment, “Thanks for the memories,” and agreed to pose for me just before he shut the door for the last time.
It’s a chapter closed, a book closed for my family and UConn, where between two kids there have been a cumulative 11 years of study.
The campus looks beautiful, flowers are blooming, the grass is bright green, the trees have their leaves. But it’s empty, eerily empty. I insisted on driving there and back through the main part of campus (no traffic to worry about), past the UConn sign that Mayor Shari Cantor and her husband donated, past the water towers with the “UConn” and the giant husky logo, past Horesbarn Hill and the old UConn sign, past Jorgenson and Gampel Pavillion and the new student rec center. It’s so strange to see the campus almost completely devoid of life.
But there is hope, and I am hopeful that we are adapting to our “new normal,” and that we will continue to safely be able to enjoy more social interactions as that normal changes, and that one day something resembling the old normal will return.
Please continue to support our local businesses, and please wear your masks if you are in public places, and stay safe and healthy.
If you have information about businesses changing their operations due to COVID-19, 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:
- Here’s some news that many of us have been anticipating for more than a year: Arethusa is opening this month! Every time I go by the location in the Center (975 Farmington Ave., in the eastern portion of the former Toy Chest space), it looks more and more complete, and I did peek in the door one day and saw the flooring and cases had been installed. “If all goes to plan we hope to open on June 15th!” a company spokesperson told me in an email last week. She said the store will likely open in phases. “First, with the dairy store portion where you can purchase our ice cream, cheese, and other dairy products and then phasing in the cafe offerings of coffee, baked goods, sandwiches, and salads.” Arethusa is one of the establishments that has applied to the town for an outdoor dining permit.
- Our local businesses do so much for this town – including the planter projects that are being sponsored in Elmwood and Bishops Corner. Props to the Kaoud family, which not only owns Kaoud Rugs and Carpet but also a stretch of buildings along South Main Street, and has been sprucing up the Center. “We are doing our part with beautifying West Hartford Center by planting flowers in front and rear of our buildings from 11 to 17 South Main Street including the entrance to The Landmark Apartments in the rear. We love flowers and it was truly a family affair!” Maurice Kaoud said. More photos can be found below.
- One more note about Kaoud Rugs and Carpet, which has just reopened as part of Phase 1, and will be donating to Foodshare throughout June to help the organization’s vital efforts to help residents of Hartford and Tolland counties – school children, the elderly, the unemployed and so many others – who are hungry or food insecure. “Kaoud Rugs has been a part of the Connecticut Community for over 65 years. This is our home. As we work to re-open our stores and return to business again, we are very aware that many of our neighbors do not yet have work to return to. Now, during our Re-Opening Sale and thru the month of June, Kaoud Rugs will donate 10% of the profits from every rug or carpet sold directly to Foodshare. For many, the need is very real. We hope this helps, in some small way, in these troubled times”, said Maurice Kaoud.
- Be on the lookout for a new calendar – not just for We-Ha.com but for the town as a whole, combing the events that are normally listed separately on our calendar, on the town’s calendar, on the Chamber of Commerce’s calendar, and more, all into one place. More to come in a separate story this week, but here are the basics: “2020 Media, a new strategic marketing entity that is the joint effort between Ledger Publications and WH Media, has announced the launch of WeHaCal.com, a comprehensive calendar of community-wide events serving West Hartford and its surrounding areas. The first of its kind in West Hartford, WeHaCal.com automatically uploads event information listed in the individual calendars of participating local organizations and also welcomes non-participating organizations to upload their own events – thus creating one all-inclusive resource that community members can easily access to find out what’s happening around town. Events listed on WeHaCal.com and participating organizations link to one another – giving each organization the perfect opportunity to reach an even broader audience. Offered as a community service, listing events in is absolutely free of charge.”
- It rarely happens, but this is one of those weeks where so much of the business news has already appeared in a separate story. Many retailers that were forced to close for several months began reopening as of May 20, and with the assistance of Dexter McCann (one of We-Ha.com’s fabulous interns, who is back for his second summer!), we have spoken with some of the newly-reopened businesses and put together a searchable list. Click here for details. And if you know of a business that has reopened and is not on the list (I don’t mean the essential businesses that never closed), please email [email protected] with the details including the address, website, phone number, and hours if available.
- Dexter and I also accompanied Mayor Shari Cantor and Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz on Thursday on a tour of West Hartford restaurant and retailers in the Center. Some of what we heard was rather surprising, and our local businesses need our help more than ever! Click here to read the full story.
- The town has ordered barriers and will soon begin erecting the dining corrals along LaSalle Road, Farmington Avenue, and South Main Street. LaSalle Road will become one-way northbound. More details to come in a separate story, but here’s a sneak peek at what LaSalle Road will look like.
- Hair salons and barbershops open today! I have an appointment Tuesday, and I am so grateful to my hairdresser for doing what she has done to ensure my safety, her safety, and the safety of all of her clients. She has been cutting my hair for more than 20 years, and I have complete trust in her and look forward to supporting her business once again.
- The town and the Chamber of Commerce are hosting a small business forum with Mayor Shari Cantor on Tuesday at noon. Click here for more information and to register.
- The list of West Hartford restaurants available for take-out and delivery has been updated to include those with outdoor dining. Click here for the full list. Any further updates are welcome!
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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