A round-up of openings, closings, and other news about West Hartford businesses.
By Ronni Newton
This has certainly been a whirlwind of a weekend – following a week that was also crazy busy.
My apologies in advance for this column being briefer than usual, but as many of you know I spent virtually the entire weekend working at Info Booth No. 2 at Celebrate! West Hartford, and this weekend followed a West Hartford LIFE deadline Friday, leaving very little time for gathering of information for this column.
I’ve been a member of the Celebrate! West Hartford Committee for about eight years, and always volunteer for Info Booth No. 2 because it’s really at the center of the event activity and a great way to see most everyone who attends and an excellent vantage point for people-watching, too. Thank you to all who stopped by to visit!
This was the first time Celebrate! has been held in person since 2019, and it was wonderful to see the return of the town’s signature festival. Thanks to Event Coordinator Linda Geisler, Event Chair Joan Karas, and all who worked so hard to make it a great success. We’ve got a write-up of the events and lots of photos posted here.
You may be seeing some new bylines and photo credits on the site, and that’s because We-Ha.com has welcomed interns back for the summer. I’m very excited for the return of last year’s interns, Lily Guberman and Sophie Christensen, and we’ve already published stories by rising Hall High School seniors Clara Sorkin and Baylee Krulewitz. Other students will be involved in future weeks as well.
With a late night Board of Education meeting last Tuesday mixed in among lots of other meetings and events, last week not a week of normal meals for me (lunch on Thursday was a cookie at the ribbon cutting for Marc’s Appliance Warehouse; please don’t judge). Ted and I ran the Celebrate 5K on Sunday morning (congrats to Ted on winning his age group – and I was excited to finish third in my age group!) and instead of going out we ate our traditional pre-race pasta dinner at home on Saturday night. We did have some delicious food for lunch at Celebrate! – and while I forgot to take a photo of my chicken pad Thai on Saturday before I ate it, I did take a few photos on Sunday. The sausage and peppers Bronx pizza from Joey’s that we had for dinner on Sunday night was fabulous.
A few housekeeping notes …
If you’re commenting on an article, you must use your full name, and provide a real email address. Once your comments are approved the first time, they go through automatically in the future, so you will see some partial names from those who were approved before we put the rule in place. And once in a while I will allow a “congratulations” or other innocuous positive comment to slip by without a full name. But in the past week or two there have been many who have attempted to post strongly-worded comments with partial or clearly made-up names, and while we welcome reader viewpoints, we ask that you not hide behind your keyboard. I can see the email addresses used to submit the comment in the back end of the site, and have reached out to anyone who has not used their full name, or has used profanity, and offered the opportunity for the comment to be posted properly.
We’ve had a lot of engagement on our Facebook posts over the past few weeks, which is great – but not great is the tone of many of the comments. “Why you gotta be so mean?” sings Taylor Swift, and the lyrics to “Mean” have popped into my head on many occasions in the past week or two. I know people have strong opinions, but it really is possible to state those opinions without calling people names, or without telling 15-year-old high school students that their logo design is awful, or without always trying to pin blame on whatever political party you don’t like.
Thanks for listening.
West Hartford is still in the COVID-19 red zone, and has been since April, but the case counts have been decreasing for the past several weeks. One day I hope to be able to delete this paragraph completely, but in the meantime, please have patience with each other and our choices, 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:
- Floor & Decor will be opening in the next few weeks in the former ShopRite space at 46 Kane St. (corner of Kane Street and Prospect Avenue). The construction fencing down, signage and even landscaping are in place, and the hours (Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.) are now listed on the website. The company “is a leading specialty retailer of hard surface flooring, offering the broadest in-stock selection of tile, wood, stone, related tools and flooring accessories at everyday low prices. Founded in 2000 and headquartered in Atlanta, Floor & Decor is one of Fortune’s 100 fastest-growing companies. At Floor & Decor, homeowners and professional contractors have access to superstore selection at warehouse prices with showroom quality,” with an extensive selection of in-stock products, the website states.
- I was hoping to have more details about Awaken180° Weightloss, but I can report that they are hoping to open around Sept. 1 in the former Kennedy’s Barber Club at 66 Memorial Road in Blue Back Square. According to their website, Awaken180° Weightloss provides “coaching, education, and support” for achieving healthy eating habits. “We believe that weight loss really can be EASY. We teach you how to eat out, drink out, and manage meals while traveling. We provide you with 80% of your food to eliminate fast food runs and grocery store headaches, so you can focus on everything else – including looking forward to fitting back into your favorite jeans! Awaken180° will be your last weight loss program because we’ll help you understand why making certain food choices works and how to create sustainable and smart food decisions for the long term,” the website states. This will be the first location in Connecticut. The company donates $1 per pound lost to Feeding America, up to $1,000 per location per year.
- Many people are anxiously awaiting the opening of Rosa Mexicano, which was announced in November 2021, and build-out is in the works for the space at 51 Isham Road. According to Blue Back Square management, they are targeting a late July opening. More details about Rosa Mexicano can be found here.
- Progress on the build-out for Oath Pizza in Blue Back Square (67 Memorial Road) is also in progress, and is on roughly the same schedule as Rosa Mexicano, with plans for a late July opening, according to Blue Back Square management.
- I’ve also been asked about the transition of the former Rizzuto’s space to Gran Gusto, and that is also in the works although there is no stated timeline for when the new restaurant will be opening. The Rizzuto’s name has been removed from above the entrance at 111 Memorial Road, and it looks like clearing out of the interior is in progress. There aren’t significant renovations planned, so hopefully it won’t take long. I’ll continue to follow up regularly on this opening, as well as the openings of the other restaurants in progress.
- And while we are on the topic of Blue Back Square, work is also underway for the transition of the first and second floors of the former New York Sports Club into office space (no tenant announced yet), and for the division of the former Charming Charlie into two separate space. The latter is just a white box renovation, with no named tenants yet.
- One more restaurant update for this week, and while there aren’t many details being shared yet, there are whispers of a fall opening for Back Door Kitchen – which will be operating out of the rear of the future Sparrow location at 977 Farmington Ave. It’s my understanding that Chef Adam Greenberg will be running this part of the business, and much more information about both Sparrow and Back Door Kitchen will be provided once they have opening dates scheduled.
- Congrats to Marc’s Appliance Warehouse on their official ribbon cutting with the Chamber of Commerce and town officials, held last Thursday at their new location at 80 South Street. I was hoping the fridge would wield the big scissors, but owner Marc Labrie got that honor.
- Congratulations to West Hartford residents Jeffrey B. Teitler and Rebecca Stewart for their work on COVIDLAND, A Documentary Short Film, produced in collaboration with Hartford HealthCare and Medscape, which received a prestegious Emmy Award from the Boston/New England Regional Chapter of the National Academy of Arts and Sciences. “In COVIDLAND, critical care physician, Megan Panico and her ICU team at Hartford Hospital selflessly care for on onslaught of COVID-19 patients. Sacrificing their own health and family needs during the height of the pandemic, COVIDLAND is an intimate portrait of courage and hope during the greatest healthcare crisis of our time,” states the description of the film, which runs 7 minutes and 48 seconds. The entire film can be seen on YouTune below.
- To clarify one item that was in last week’s column, it was not just 1049 New Britain Ave., but also 1045 New Britain Ave. that was was sold in April by The Sousa Corp & Sousa Investments LLC to JACSAR Partners LLC, owner of other properties in Elmwood as well as in the Park Road Area. Fitness with Jonathan, that was originally on New Park Avenue, will be one of the new tenants in the larger building at 1045 New Britain Ave., not 1049. The Sousa Corp. had already relocated to Newington in 2011.
- One closing to report this week: Trollbeads has closed their Blue Back Square store as of June 13. This is a corporate move, and the company is closing all of their New England locations, other than Holyoke, MA. Although a lease is not yet signed, negotiations are already in the works for another tenant to take over the space, according to Blue Back Square management.
- ICYMI, the Town Council will soon receive an application for a Center Park Place and 75 LaSalle, infill development in West Hartford Center – two separate buildings, one of which is luxury condominiums and garage parking, and the other a mixed-use building that includes workforce housing. Click here for the full story.
- Don’t miss this: The Celebrity Breakfast fundraiser for the Park Road Parade is Tuesday morning at Effie’s Place! You can also order food to go to support the fundraiser, and can watch/listen to the We-Ha Roundtable Facebook Live that John Lyons will be hosting at the breakfast. Details can be found 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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