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West Hartford Business Buzz: June 17, 2024

Trader Joe's has expanded its West Hartford store. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

A round-up of openings, closings, and other news about West Hartford businesses. 

Business Buzz is sponsored by NBT Bank, and we are very thankful for their support!

By Ronni Newton

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads and father figures out there!

Sadly this is my first Father’s Day without my own dad (and the second without Ted’s dad), but we were very happy to be able to spend time on Sunday with our kids and their significant others – including our son-in-law who is enjoying his first Father’s Day!

The Town of West Hartford held its Juneteenth celebration on Saturday, and We-Ha.com covered both the Hidden History commemoration (see story here by Kaily Martinez) and the festival at Town Hall (see story here by Bridget Bronsdon). The federal holiday is officially this Wednesday, and Town Hall and other town offices will be closed for the day. It’s also a bank and stock market holiday. Trash and recycling collection, however, will take place according to the regular schedule this week.

The summer is also this week, and officially arrives at 4:50 p.m. on Thursday, June 20. Of course I always consider summer beginning on either Memorial Day weekend, or at latest on June 1.

Last weekend was so busy with Celebrate! West Hartford, and the weeks continue to be full of activity as well (click here for the Hall High School graduation story and photo gallery by Kaily Martinez and Craig Rosenberg, and click here for the Conard High School graduation story by Bridget Bronsdon and photo gallery by me) – and this Saturday both Ted and I were ready for a stay-at-home night. It was a beautiful evening to just sit out on the patio before the heatwave arrives this coming week.

I actually had forgotten (horrors, my husband would say!) a few food photos that I meant to include in last week’s column – and along with that the official thank you to my daughter for treating me to a birthday lunch at bartaco. Tacos continue to be a theme here, because even though we stayed home on Saturday night, last week Ted and I did have dinner with a few friends on the patio at Salt + Lime, and I had the pastor tacos which were delicious. I’ve also got some pizza photos from last week, too – from an excellent lunch at Savoy on Monday with some friends!

Chips and salsa at bartaco. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Assorted tacos at bartaco. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Salad on a pizza crust at Savoy. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Arugula salad at Savoy. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Foraged chicken pizza at Savoy. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Dessert from Bridgewater Chocolate! Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Chips and salsa at Salt + Lime. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Guac at Salt + Lime. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

A variety of margaritas at Salt + Lime. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Sizzling fajitas at Salt + Lime. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Pastor tacos at Salt + Lime. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Birria tacos at Salt + Lime. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Chimichanga at Salt + Lime. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

And I can’t help but share a few photos from my Saturday morning run to the roses at Elizabeth Park. The display this year is truly stunning.

Elizabeth Park Rose Garden. June 15, 2024. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Elizabeth Park Rose Garden. June 15, 2024. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Elizabeth Park Rose Garden. June 15, 2024. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

If you are a long term, regular advertiser on We-Ha.com and have a 60 to 75 word submission for a future Business Buzz please send to Bob Carr at [email protected].

If you’re looking for news about West Hartford in print please note that many stories from We-Ha.com, as well as other local news, is published in the twice-monthly issues of the West Hartford Press.

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:

The rear of the Trader Joe’s store in Corbin’s Corner has been bumped out, providing about 1,400 square feet of additional retail space. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • A renovation project at the Trader Joe’s in Corbin’s Corner that has been planned and talked about (and needed!) for years is close to completion. The wall that formerly separated the storage area from the retail area has been knocked down, the restrooms have been relocated, and store employees are actively planning the rearrangement of product to best utilize the additional retail space and told me they hope to be done by the first week or two of July. “We are adding over 1,400 square feet on the sales floor to support the customer experience of our ever-growing community of customers. We hope these changes will be completed by next month,” Nakia Rohde, the public relations manager for Trader Joe’s, confirmed last week. Just before the pandemic, in February 2020, the Town Council approved multiple upgrades to the Corbin’s Corner Shopping Center, including the 2,500 square foot addition at the rear of Trader Joe’s. I shared some photos in this column back in January of the construction at the rear of the store finally getting underway and the photo below shows the addition – now being used for storage  – has been completed.

The rear of the Trader Joe’s store in Corbin’s Corner has been bumped out, providing about 1,400 square feet of additional retail space. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Rear of Trader Joe’s, where a 2,500 square foot addition has been built. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • I had a meeting with Michael Sinatro last week to hear about a senior living guide he has created and which he hopes will be a useful resource both to seniors planning their next move, as well as to adult children who may be involved in that process. Sinatro (yes, he’s related to the other Sinatros in town, and he actually occupies an office at 62 LaSalle Road that once belonged to his grandfather and his great grandfather!!) – a broker and owner of The Sinatro Company real estate – is a senior real estate specialist, and firmly believes it’s important to plan ahead for the next step and prepare. “It’s like going to college,” he said, when you spend time looking around, considering different types of programs and living arrangements, before making what is an important decision. The senior living guide he has created highlights nine different communities in West Hartford and the Farmington Valley, that offer all levels of care. “No one paid for this,” he said. It’s just something he thought would be an important resource that can be used by his clients, as well as seniors or others planning for their own or parents’ future. He personally toured all of the properties, Sinatro said. “I tried to pick out what differentiates them,” he said. “I thought when I started this it was going to be a really sad thing,” he said, and at 42, he hadn’t really spent much time in senior living facilities, but he said it was not sad at all. “There’s life to be lived,” he said, and he has been impressed with the food, the social activities, and the other aspects of many of the senior living communities. At home care is also highlighted in the guide, as are a variety of advisors. “The best thing is to do your due diligence and be ahead of it,” he said. He wants to empower people with knowledge, and to set himself apart from other brokers, even if nothing comes of it for business purposes for a long time, or ever. In West Hartford, there are many seniors who are living in homes that may be far too large for their current needs – homes that would be ideal for growing families, but selling can be scary. “Many people haven’t sold a home in 40 years,” he said. “Of course, my goal is to help more people sell their homes, and in that process I hope this resource paired with my real estate expertise will help individuals and families navigate what can be a stressful situation with ease.”  Click here to view the guide.

Michael Sinatro holds the senior living guide he has created. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • I completely forgot last week to share these up-to-date drone photos that Mike Mahoney of RLM Co. took on June 7. They provide aerial views of 950 Trout Brook Drive, where the Children’s Museum was formerly located as well as the The Byline which looks to be nearly complete at 920-924 Farmington Avenue and the work on The Camelot taking place at 900 Farmington Avenue.

Aerial view of The Byline at 920-924 Farmington Avenue. Photo credit: Mike Mahoney

Aerial view of The Camelot at 900 Farmington Avenue. Photo credit: Mike Mahoney

Aerial view of construction at 950 Trout Brook Drive. Photo credit: Mike Mahoney

Aerial view of construction at 950 Trout Brook Drive. Photo credit: Mike Mahoney

Aerial view of all three construction projects at the intersection of Farmington Avenue and Trout Brook Drive. Photo credit: Mike Mahoney

  • The work is progressing on the build-out of Caffè Nero in the former Sweet Frog space at 13 South Main Street that has been vacant since August 2022, and there are now “opening soon” signs in the windows. I’m not sure what “soon” means, but they are currently hiring, and there is also a pending application for outdoor seating for 28 that has been filed with the town.

Posters are now in the window of the future Caffe Nero at 13 South Main Street. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • I don’t have any details other than what appears on a land use application, but it appears as if Macy’s at Westfarms is looking to open a Starbucks inside the store, and also add some outdoor seating near the doors to the Macy’s store on the north side entrance. There is already a Starbucks in Westfarms’ Center Court, and also one across the street in Corbin’s Corner and another under construction maybe a mile away on South Main Street near the intersection with New Britain Avenue.

Plans submitted to the Town of West Hartford for outdoor seating for a Starbucks outside of Macy’s at Westfarms. Screenshot

  • There is a #givingtaco program underway at bartaco (971 Farmington Avenue), where, according to a news release, “fan favorite crispy shrimp taco is officially back, and community-driven restaurant group, bartaco has committed to donating $1 from every taco sold from June 12 through July 23 to Love Light + Melody, an organization founded by Brad Corrigan, the famed musician of the band Dispatch. bartaco has been dedicated to bringing good vibes, inspiration, and joy to as many people as possible with its flavorful fare, freshly squeezed drinks, and laid-back ambiance. Just in time for the summer season, bartaco has brought its crispy shrimp taco back, and this time, for a good cause. Anthony Valletta, President of bartaco forged a fast friendship with Brad Corrigan, lead singer of Dispatch, many years ago when the two both resided in Colorado. Now, with Anthony Valletta at the helm of bartaco, he’s excited to bring his friendship with Brad to a more meaningful spotlight by supporting his organization. Love Light + Melody was founded by Corrigan over 15 years ago when he took a life-changing trip to the La Chureca trash dump in Nicaragua, where he witnessed children and families living in unimaginable and toxic conditions. After years of making trips back to La Chureca, Brad started Love Light + Melody to be a force for good – to offer an opportunity for these children to grow and thrive through education, music, art, and sports. Over the years, the organization has built a vast global community of supporters and partners who are helping to fund their work at Ileana’s School of Hope in Nicaragua, and beyond. Their hope is that every child is able to flourish and create their own story. “As a dear friend of Brad’s, I’ve gotten to witness firsthand his love and dedication for Love Light + Melody. It’s truly remarkable how much time and resources he has devoted to the organization over the years. His passion for the organization’s mission exudes every day. I am so thrilled to be announcing bartaco’s partnership with Love Light + Melody and I feel so grateful we have the opportunity to make a big difference in this Nicaraguan community and Ileana’s School of Hope.” said Anthony Valletta, President of bartaco. As a community-focused restaurant group, bartaco prides itself on finding ways to use its platform to bring awareness to organizations that are making an impact. “It’s more than serving up bold flavors, delicious tacos and refreshing cocktails. bartaco is more than just a restaurant group. We are a fabric of our community, and it’s our responsibility to be good stewards of our community and find meaningful ways to give back. It’s how our #givingtaco program came to life.” bartaco’s #givingtaco program is an extension of Valletta’s love for giving back to communities. Earlier this year bartaco rebranded its viral social media campaign #bartacosecret to #givingtaco. “Our #bartacosecret campaign started years ago, it was a campaign that was designed to bring new flavors to the bartaco menu while also piquing the interest from our social media fans. Guests would have to search #bartacosecret on social media to find out what the new menu item was – it featured seasonal ingredients and rotated every couple of months. It became wildly popular and drove millions of people to bartaco – the social media impressions were through the roof. After eight successful years of #bartacosecret, we decided to capitalize on the popularity of this campaign and weave in a charitable organization tie. That’s how #givingtaco came about. We’re now proud to donate $1 from every #givingtaco sold to charitable organizations both locally and nationally supporting a vast variety of missions.” said Valletta. “Anthony is such a generous and inspiring friend of mine, and I love how he is always looking to serve and uplift whoever is around him with a smile and hand. I have so enjoyed our friendship and shared desire to be a rising tide together, doing whatever we can to invest in the communities we’re part of. Love Light + Melody is honored to be bartaco’s organization of choice for this next #givingtaco season, and we just can’t wait for all the fun and good to come in collaboration!” said Corrigan. The #givingtaco program is in place at all bar taco locations with the purchase of a crispy shrimp taco (it’s the taco on the top in my photo). According to bartaco’s Facebook page, Corrigan will be making an appearance, that includes a performance, in West Hartford on Monday, July 1, from noon-3 p.m. Click here to reserve a spot.  For more information, visit bartaco.com or social media @bartacolife.

    Assorted tacos at bartaco – with the crispy shrimp taco at the top. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

    Brad Corrigan. Courtesy photo

  • The build-out of Sichuan Alley in the former G-Monkey space continues to progress, and the green G-Monkey awning has now been replaced. I haven’t had a peek at the inside, but I have noticed activity when I drive by and will continue to follow up for an opening date.

Progress continues on Sichuan Alley (625 New Park Avenue) and the green G-Monkey awning has now been replaced. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • Congratulations to West Hartford residents Jeff Teitler and Rebecca Stewart, who won four Emmy Awards from The National Academy Of Arts And Television Sciences, Boston/New England Region. As noted in a news release, the prestigious Emmy Awards were received for Hartford HealthCare’s Community Campaign and Commercial work, which was televised throughout Connecticut and the region.  The Hartford HealthCare Community Campaign documented the collective strength and resilience of Connecticut communities as a healthcare system brought change, hope and engagement. The four Emmys were for: Best Commercial; Best Photography – Short Form Content; Best Public Service Announcement – Campaign; and Best Public Service Announcement – Single Spot. Teitler said in an email that “as a filmmaker and film professor, It is an extraordinary honor to capture the meaningful work of healthcare, community engagement and transformation in collaboration with Hartford HealthCare. The Emmy recognitions and national publications we receive, reveal the significance that local stories can have.  It is a privilege to be a part of that.”

    Courtesy image

  • Congratulations to Julie Booth of West Hartford, who has been named director of interprofessional healthcare education at Quinnipiac University. According to a news release, Booth, a clinical associate professor of physical therapy in the School of Health Sciences, had served as assistant director of interprofessional healthcare education. “In my new role, I am excited to continue to advance interprofessional opportunities for our students within Quinnipiac and in the greater community,” Booth said. “I look forward to collaborating with multiple schools within Quinnipiac, other academic institutions, healthcare facilities and community partners to continue to grow the center and create new partnerships. Booth earned her doctorate, master’s and bachelor’s degrees in physical therapy and health science from the University of Michigan-Flint, as well as a bachelor’s degree in human development from Colby College. She joined Quinnipiac in 2010 “Interprofessional education is essential for future healthcare practitioners as well as other professionals to provide clients with the best possible healthcare and outcomes,” Booth added. The overarching purpose of the nationally recognized Center for Interprofessional Healthcare Education is to give students in the School of Health Sciences, School of Nursing and Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine the opportunity to develop skills in hands-on, team-based healthcare environments, preparing them for all of the obstacles inherent in modern healthcare. Janelle Chiasera, dean of the School of Health Sciences, said Booth’s experience and scholarship in interprofessional education (IPE) led to her being nominated as a distinguished fellow of the National Academies of Practice. “She brings with her strong knowledge of the structure of IPE within Quinnipiac and provided forward-focused ideas on the structure, funding and future of IPE at Quinnipiac. I look forward to seeing where she takes the center as she leads the next phase of excellence in Interprofessional Healthcare Education at Quinnipiac University.”

Julie T Booth. Courtesy photo

  • We also have a few closings/relocations of West Hartford businesses, including WeHa Fit, which has moved out of the former Degras spot at 261 Park Road in West Hartford to 600 North Mountain Road in Newington. For more information, email owner Mike Walker at [email protected] or visit wehafit.com. I don’t yet know anything about another business moving into the space.

WeHa Fit has relocated from 261 Park Road. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • Also on Park Road, Edible Arrangements has closed their location and there’s a “for lease” sign in the window. Other Edible Arrangements locations remain open, with 244 Trumbull Street in Hartford probably being the closest.

Edible Arrangements at 282 Park Road in West Hartford has closed. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

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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