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West Hartford Business Buzz: June 24, 2024

Moon Nails & Spa is now open at 1020 Boulevard, West Hartford. 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

I’ll admit to complaining a bit about the hot weather over the past week, but I still prefer summer to winter and want to slow time down during this season. It was just Memorial Day, and we blinked and it’s the last week of June.

There has definitely still been a lot going on in town – including multiple Pride events. I covered the Pride rally on Saturday morning – and if anyone finds a gold necklace with a straight bar of small colorful stones, I believe I lost it somewhere on the grounds of Town Hall. I think my camera strap must have pushed open the clasp and although I retraced my steps I couldn’t find it.

I am looking forward to some solid beach time after this coming week – which is going to be as busy as ever with meetings, the Chamber of Commerce awards dinner, and other activities.

I want to take a moment to thank our readers, especially those who read beyond the headlines. I’ve seen some articles posted by other media outlets that generate a lot of comments, but many of those who comment admit that they can’t read the story itself because of a paywall. We-Ha.com does not have a paywall, and as long as I am the editor of this site we will not have one. I am very adamantly in favor of keeping our content free to readers (although we do welcome financial support and appreciate those who have provided some extra funding), and because it’s free, I do encourage people to do more than react to a headline or a sentence that precedes a social media post. We try very hard to ensure our stories are complete – and include available data and context to answer the “why” questions readers may have.

While it’s not always the case, most of the blurbs that are in this column aren’t quite at the point where I believe they are ready to be standalone stories. I think the appeal of this column has always been that the information it contains has been verified; it’s more than just rumor, or based solely on a permit application, and if I don’t have the details that I’d like to have, I’ll be sure to state that. And sometimes I am asked by a business owner to hold off giving them a mention in this column because they aren’t quite ready to deal with an onslaught of customers that may result from a very public announcement, and I am very much committed to honoring those requests.

I also know that this column often serves as a story list for other media outlets, and it also often gets used by sales reps from service businesses. I’ve even had a few reps ask to meet with me to try to get the “in” with the businesses mentioned in this column, and that’s definitely not ever going to be happening. I get the information for this column from a wide variety of sources, and it’s hard work, and I continue to be committed to being as up-front as possible, and that includes mentioning other media if that was the source of my information.

Ted and I enjoyed a fabulous anniversary dinner at Bricco last Monday – a wonderful treat from our kids and their significant others! We had no room for dessert – with the exception of the cannoli that we split six ways that I forgot to photograph before I totally mangled it.

Pizzetta from Bricco. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

from Bricco. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Porcini Dusted Maine Day Boat Scallops from Bricco. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Roman Carbonara (with pasta from MORE Italian Pasta Lab down the street) from Bricco. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Rustichella Rigatoni Bolognese from Bricco. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Penne ala Vodka from Bricco. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Friends and I also got together for a girls night at Max Burger last week, where we ordered nearly every item on their Happy Hour menu.

Spicy pineapple margaritas and a cosmo from Max Burger. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Crispy chicken wrap from Max Burger. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Loaded tots from Max Burger. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Kale salad from Max Burger. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Spinach artichoke dip from Max Burger. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Fries from Max Burger. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

On Saturday night, Ted and I went to Zaytoon Mediterranean Kitchen (the one in Elmwood) and actually sat outside because it had stopped raining by then and it wasn’t oppressively hot.

Kibbeh from Zaytoon Mediterranean Kitchen. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Jordanian Mansaf at Zaytoon Mediterranean Kitchen. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Lamb gyro with hummus at Zaytoon Mediterranean Kitchen. 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:

Moon Nails & Spa owner Namuna Arial (left) stands with (from left) West Hartford Economic Development Coordinator Kristen Gorski, Mayor Shari Cantor, and Economic Development Specialist Lauren DeLisa Siegal at the grand opening on June 18. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • Congratulations to Moon Nails & Spa owner Namuna Aryal on the grand opening of her brand new salon at 1020 Boulevard in West Hartford, which had a ribbon cutting Tuesday morning with town officials and Mayor Shari Cantor. Aryal’s husband is owner of Taste of India (139 South Main Street in West Hartford) and she is excited to be realizing her dream of owning her own business after spending the past five years learning the trade at Lavish Nail Studio on New Britain Avenue in West Hartford. Moon Nails &. Spa offers manicures and pedicures; acrylic, liquid gel, and deep powder nail treatments, foot reflexology, threading, waxing, and more. Rupesh Parajuli, a member of Aryal’s extended family, who spoke at the ribbon cutting, said the grand opening “marks a significant milestone for Moon [Namuna’s nickname] who has dedicated countless numbers of hours and even years to really learn and master her skills. Her journey to this moment has been filled with hard work, perseverance, and unwavering commitment to excellence,” he said, and she has a passion for nail art, and top-notch service to clients, he said. And, he added that she has inspired women serving “as a beacon of hope and motivation for others to pursue their dreams with the same passion and dedication.” The salon is not just a place for beautiful nails but also for exceptional experience, said Parajuli. Cantor agreed, wishing her great success and adding that the community is very proud. “It takes incredible amount of passion, and an incredible amount of support to open a business,” said Cantor, stating that nail are “not just nails, they’re therapy,” and self-care is very important. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 9:30 a.m. until 7 p.m., and Sundays from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. For further information, or to book an appointment (they do take walk-ins, Aryal said) visit their website or call 860-206-0040. In honor of the grand opening, those reading this can receive 15% off their first service, Aryal said.

Moon Nails & Spa is now open at 1020 Boulevard, West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Moon Nails & Spa is now open at 1020 Boulevard, West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Moon Nails & Spa is now open at 1020 Boulevard, West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Moon Nails & Spa is now open at 1020 Boulevard, West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • I’ve been in touch with Matt DuPlessie, the CEO and founder of Level99, for more than a month (most recently last week), and although the company has not signed a lease yet, I am cautiously mentioning this item here because there is an application to amend the Special Development District for Corbin’s Corner, and at Tuesday night’s meeting it will be set for public hearing later this summer. DuPlessie told me that their team wants to complete their due diligence to the extent possible before signing their lease, and he is hopeful an agreement will be executed this summer. The application submitted to the town is to amend the façade and signage, and to make other minor improvements at 1445 New Britain Avenue “to allow for proposed indoor recreation or amusement facility with restaurant in the upper-level space previously occupied by Sears,” according to a June 17, 2024, letter from Meghan Alter Hope of Alter & Pearson, LLC, that accompanied the application. The 41,428-square-foot space – between REI, Club Pilates, and Crumbl Cookie and Saks OFF 5th in the Corbin Collection, above World Market and buybuy Baby – has been vacant since the shopping center that replaced the former Sears store opened roughly six years ago. According to the application, Level99 will include a “first-of-its-kind social gaming playground feature[ing] over 50 real-world physical and mental challenges and games, craft drinks, and elevated dining.” The Town Council adopted an “experiential retail” ordinance back in 2017, and this is the first business which would make use of the updated regulation, and town staff has expressed excitement about this potential use of this space for a unique business that will attract people of all ages. Level99 has two existing locations, in Natick, MA and Providence, RI. Visit their website for more details. I’ll definitely be following this application closely!

Rendering of Level99 prepared by Phase Zero Design. Screenshot from Town of West Hartford website

Rendering of Level99 prepared by Phase Zero Design. Screenshot from Town of West Hartford website

The Town Council will be considering an application for Level99 to open a location in the Corbin Collection. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • People have been asking about the future plans for the former Elm Theater space at 940 South Quaker Lane, which was most recently a Walgreens (from 2006 until it closed last November, as reported in the Oct. 30 Business Buzz column), and the answer is that permit applications have been filed with the town for Dollar Tree to open in that space. The property has not changed hands since Walgreens closed, and this is replacement of a retail use with a retail use, so other than obtaining permits for what appear to be fairly minor renovations and signage (the marquee is remaining), there are no special permissions needed. I have reached out to the property owner, as well as to Dollar Tree, for comment and additional information, but have not received any response. There is already a Dollar Tree store in the same strip as the Stop & Shop at 176 Newington Road (that’s my go-to place for paper goods, wrapping paper, etc.), but I don’t know if they plan to keep that store open. I’ll update further if/when I hear back.

The former Elm Theater, that was Walgreens until last November, will become a Dollar Store. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

There are still light-up. letters that say “ELM” in the former Elm Theater. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • Planet Fitness has announced that its “High School Summer Pass” program has returned, allowing teens, ages 14-19, to work out for free at any of its locations in the U.S. or Canada through Aug. 31. The pass applies to the location at 52 Kane Street in West Hartford’s Prospect Plaza. Click here to register for a pass, and please note that those under 18 must register with a parent or guardian either online or in person in the club. In their announcement of the program, Planet Fitness states that the company has invested more than $200 million in waived membership dues to promote youth health and wellness and improve the physical and mental health of millions of teens. “As the leader in fitness with locations throughout the U.S. and Canada, Planet Fitness is proud to continue to invest in today’s youth by providing free access to fitness during a critical time in their lives,” Craig Benson, interim Chief Executive Officer at PlanetFitness said in a statement. “Many teens continue to be impacted by the long-term mental health impacts from the pandemic, yet studies show that exercise can have a significant, positive impact on teens’ overall wellness. We look forward to welcoming High School Summer Pass participants into our clubs to support them in their health and wellness journeys.”

Planet Fitness is located in Prospect Plaza. Photo credit: Ronni Newton (we-ha.com file photo)

  • FYI, if you have been following the plan to develop the former UConn campus, there was supposed to be a hearing on the wetlands application submitted by WEHA Development Group LLC for 1800 Asylum Avenue tonight. The hearing before the Town Plan & Zoning Commission, in their capacity as the Inland Wetlands & Watercourses Agency, will be opened and immediately continued to July 17, at 6 p.m. I’ll continue to provide updates on this project and plan to be at the July 17 hearing.

West Hartford 1 LLC submission of 1800 Asylum to DRAC. Town of West Hartford website (we-ha.com file image)

  • Barall & Konover Floors will be relocating from Bloomfield to 94 Reed Avenue in West Hartford, according to a recent report in the Hartford Business Journal. The vacant building, which measures 19,200 square feet, was sold on June 7 for $1,178,289, according to town records. The 87-year-old family business, now owned by David Konover, grandson of the company founder and namesake, hopes to move in completely by the end of the year, according to the HBUJ.

94 Reed Avenue. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • Express Strategies, a local public relations consultancy founded by West Hartford communication professional Bernard Kavaler, announced in a news release that they have produced the latest in a series of quick-read booklets that provide insights for businesses, nonprofits and organizations of all sizes and stripes. The latest booklet, published this month, is “8 Rules of Effective Communication.” Noting that “if you strive to be noticed, you must do something noticeable,” the booklet suggests that organizations “differ in tone, in timing, in attitude, in approach,” to break through to audiences, and “be ready, willing and able to seize opportunities and react to events.” The first booklet in the series, 6 Secret Benefits of Collaboration, highlights how collaboration can be achieved within or across organizations, and the impact it can have on those organizations.” It was published in 2022. The second, published last year, was 7 Ways to Boost Your PR Profile.  Businesses and nonprofits are urged to “connect the dots in interesting and innovative ways that will ring true, and make your presence felt,” suggesting that organizations “tell effective stories grounded in solid stats. Sprinkle numbers generously, without drowning a great story.” The three booklets can be obtained free of charge, either as a PDF download from the Express Strategies website or in hard copy by contacting [email protected].  Additional booklets are planned for the insight series. More information about Express Strategies can be found on the company website.

Courtesy image

Bernard Kavaler. Courtesy photo

  • Including this announcement here because it’s good news that should be shared: Congratulations to West Hartford Travel Soccer U15, winner of the Connecticut State Cup!

West Hartford Travel U15 State Cup champions. Courtesy photo

  • G.W. Crane Hair Designs, which has been located at 997 Farmington Avenue for several decades, will be closing at the end of the month. Owner Glen Crane has announced his retirement, and confirmed that June 29 will be their last day in business.

G.W. Crane, at 997 Farmington Avenue, will close for good on June 29, 2024. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • ICYMI, Ballet Theatre Company has dissolved their professional company and plans to focus on the school. Click here for the complete story.
  • West Hartford’s wayfinding project is nearing the implementation stage, and new signage will be put into place in collaboration with some of the infrastructure updates that are taking place across town. Read all about it 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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