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West Hartford Business Buzz: June 25, 2018

Scene from 'Starry Night' game at soon-to-open Skeleton Key. Courtesy photo

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

By Ronni Newton

Summertime …

Summer, my favorite season, officially began on Thursday, June 21, at 6:07 a.m. And while the “livin’ is easy” part hasn’t quite kicked in yet, as I look ahead to my July calendar there are very few meetings scheduled. There are quite a few businesses poised to open, but as of now, entire weeks stretch out ahead without meetings. And I am very much looking forward to next week when I’ll be spending some great family time away from the laptop and on the beach (fingers crossed for good weather) in Nantucket.

There were plenty of events crammed into last week, and a few more this week before things really slow down. Last Monday was the Morley Backpack Brigade, Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting, graduation and Safe Grad at Conard and Hall, The Travelers Championship (a few West Hartford stories there), my first meeting of the Connecticut Foundation for Open Government (I’ve just been named to the board), celebration of Legrand’s headquarters being LEED-certified (story coming), and the grand opening of 616 New Park – just to name a few of the events. Two important events among those coming up this week are a public hearing and Town Council vote Tuesday night regarding Berkshire West (I’ll have to miss this month’s We-Ha-HA which is also Tuesday night at World of Beer), the proposed 26-unit multi-family development at the intersection of Berkshire Road and New Britain Avenue, and a distracted driving panel discussion on Wednesday.

Then, I’m hoping we can all take it a bit easy.

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:

Scene from ‘Scarab’ game at soon-to-open Skeleton Key. Courtesy photo

  • I finally managed to get a peek inside Skeleton Key and Deadbolt (61 Raymond Rd. in Blue Back Square) on Friday, and I’m excited to report that both are nearing completion. Owner/founder Ray Weaver said he’s excited, too, and is hoping for an early July opening of both the escape room/adventure emporium as well as its associated restaurant. “It’s an upscale, immersive escape room, with lights, sounds, visual effects, cool sensors,” he said. There will be three games Scarab, Virus, and Starry Night. The special effects include a  pneumatic tube system called “Pneuman,” a “conduit to the spirit world,” Weaver said, through which guests can communicate. Write any question on a card, send it off to the “Other Side” in the pneumatic chamber, and wait for a response. Deadbolt will be a family-friendly restaurant as well as a lounge with a full bar, where participants can hang out either before their experience or debrief afterward. It will also be open to those who want to just come in for food or drink. Weaver said he is hopeful that both Skeleton Key and Deadbolt will open at the same time, but if not it will be close. Weaver, a former marketing professor at Harvard Business School, is already very familiar with operating a business in that area; he’s also the co-founder of Muse Paintbar, which has a location nearly next door at 69 Raymond Rd., one of 30 locations in nine states. Blue Back Square General Manager Robyn Rifkin said that she is also very excited about the imminent opening of what will be a “very nice upscale escape room experience.” See below for more photos.
  • Westfarms announced last week that a west coast brand, Lolli & Pops, will be expanding its retail footprint with the opening of five new permanent locations in Taubman shopping centers, including Westfarms. Lolli & Pops, according to the announcement, is “known for its expertly crafted artisan chocolates, candies and confections,” and will be the first location in this market when it opens at Westfarms in 2019. “Merchandising our shopping centers in a compelling way for consumers has never been more important, which is why we seek out unique brands that offer something fresh and exciting to consumers,” Paul Wright, executive vice president and global head of leasing for Taubman, said in the announcement. “Lolli & Pops selected the Taubman portfolio for its continued growth and we couldn’t be more pleased to welcome them to our centers.” Lolli & Pops launched in 2012, has 57 locations, and is known for its “experiential stores, high-quality, innovative sweets and a one-of-a-kind ambiance that delivers exceptional service and hospitality.” The store measures its success with “happiness counts,” tracking “how many people have been delighted on a daily basis.” CEO Scott Burger said, “The true power of brick-and-mortar retail is the ability to deliver an experience where we can connect with consumers both physically and emotionally. Our elevated in-store experience has been a key factor in our rapid growth, and we are excited to partner with Taubman in their efforts to delight customers in their shopping centers.”
  • West Hartford’s Shake Shack is holding a “Donation Day” to support the Alzheimer’s Association this Wednesday. Show the flyer (included at the end of this column) at the register and 25 percent of your total meal orderwill be donated to the Alzheimer’s Association. Shake Shack (for anyone who doesn’t yet know) is located at 1445 New Britain Ave. in the new Corbin Collection in Corbin’s Corner. The deal is good all day – from 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
  • WH Media Group, in conjunction with Blue Back Square and the West Hartford Center Business Association will present the third annual Taste of Blue Back Square & The Center on July 25, 2018, from 5:30-8:30 p.m. This event, which sold out in its first two years, has already gained quite the following, and gives attendees a chance to sample some of the top dishes from notable West Hartford restaurants throughout Blue Back Square and The Center. There is also entertainment, and prizes! Single tickets are $40, and bulk tickets are also available. Sponsorships are still available ranging in cost from $2590-$500, restaurant or non-food exhibitors options are available for $100. Contact Tom for information at [email protected], or call/text 860-508-4032.
  • Congratulations on a major milestone being celebrated by The Judaica Store (31 Crossroads Plaza), which on Sunday will commemorate 30 years of serving the Jewish community of West Hartford from its Bishops Corner location! The open house celebration, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., will include hors d’oeuvres, beverages, and special deals on merchandise.

    Dr. Susan Lewis provides a treatment. Submitted photo

  • Salons by JC located in Bishop’s Corner at 333 N. Main St. directly above Marshall’s/Home Goods is thrilled to welcome esthetician Susan Lewis and Skinlogica Spa to its family of suite owners. The goal of Skinlogica Spa is to: “Provide medically proven and holistic treatments that will improve the health and appearance of your skin and make you feel great about yourself. At Skinlogica Spa locations clients receive corrective skin services in a private setting as well as everyday maintenance spa packages for facial treatments and hair removal.” Treatments can be for just an extra “glow,” or can be targeted to address issues like acne, scarring, hyper-pigmentation, or for anti-aging. To reach Lewis, call 860-899-5533 or visit her website www.Skinlogicaspa.net.
  • The next We-Ha-HA! Comedy Night take place at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 26, at World of Beer at 73 Isham Road, thanks to host sponsor Dr. Steven A. Fischman Orthodontics. Come after work to eat and socialize, get in your seat by 7 p.m., and the acts will start around 7:30 p.m. World of Beer will have special event seating (near the stage). Event organizers with WHMedia encourage you to make your reservations now by clicking here (suggested donation is just $25). We-Ha-HA is intended for mature audiences. To read more about headliner James Dorsey and local comedian Heather Rancourt, click here.

    Elisha Defeo. Submitted photo

  • From a news release: YHB Investment Advisors, Inc., an independent investment advisory firm based in West Hartford Center, is excited to welcome Elisha Defeo, a Senior Portfolio Manager with 18 years of investment experience. Defeo began her career at Morgan Stanley in 2000 and was responsible for servicing and managing client investment portfolios. Through this position, she gained extensive investment experience including stock options and executive compensation. This position, along with her role at Northwestern Mutual, allowed her to utilize her skills in financial management and insurance planning to offer clients a holistic wealth management approach to ensure that they are meeting their financial objectives. Defeo has an MBA and FINRA Series 7, 63 and 66 designations, and is a Registered Investment Advisor Representative in the State of Connecticut.

    Elizabeth Barton has been named chair of the USJ Board of Trustees. Submitted photo

  • The University of Saint Joseph (USJ) Board of Trustees announced last week that current Trustee Elizabeth Barton has been elected to serve as Chair of the Board for a term that will run from July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2020. Additionally, the Board will be welcoming two new Trustees. “As the University of Saint Joseph begins a new chapter in its storied history with a coeducational undergraduate college, a thriving Women’s Leadership Center, record-breaking enrollment, and new academic majors and athletic teams, these three individuals – with their breadth of professional and personal accomplishments – will help guide the institution in its exciting future,” said USJ Board of Trustees Chairman E. Clayton “Skip” Gengras Jr. in a statement. “In addition, I want to thank the University of Saint Joseph Board of Trustees for its trust in my leadership over the years and in its selection of a very capable, dedicated, and focused new chair, Beth Barton.” Barton is an attorney with Day Pitney LLP, and has more than 25 years of experience in environmental and land use litigation, permitting, and consultation, all of which encompass involvement at the federal, state, and local levels, according to a news release. New members of the USJ Board of Trustees, who were elected to terms that run from July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2021, are: Rohan Freeman, founder and president of Freeman Companies, LLC; and Jeanne B. Merola, retired senior vice president, Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company.
  • There was lots of business news last week, including the news that West Hartford was awarded a $2 million grant for improvements to the New Park Avenue. Click here for all of the details.
  • ICYMI, congratulations to the fabulous 60 Over 60, many of whom are West Hartford residents or major contributors to this community! Click here for complete information.
  • Conard High School’s Safe Grad committee has issued a thank you to the many businesses that offered donations or contributions to ensure a successful substance-free post-graduation party for the Class of 2018. Complete details here.
  • The West Hartford Town Council will consider a proposal for a26-unit multi-family housing development at the intersection of New Britain Avenue and Berkshire Road on Thursday. The public hearing begins at 6:30 p.m. Click here for the more information.

Remember, if you have any business news to share, add it in the comments section below or email Ronni Newton at [email protected].

Like what you see here? Click here to subscribe to We-Ha’s newsletter so you’ll always be in the know about what’s happening in West Hartford!

Scene from ‘Scarab’ game at soon-to-open Skeleton Key. Courtesy photo

Interior of soon-to-open Skeleton Key. Courtesy photo

Interior of Deadbolt restaurant. Courtesy photo

Scene from ‘Starry Night’ game at soon-to-open Skeleton Key. Courtesy photo

Interior of Skeleton Key. Courtesy photo

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We-Ha

We-Ha.com is the place to go for the latest information about West Hartford – a town that "has it all"! We-Ha.com is part of and proud of our community, and we bring a hyperlocal focus to news and features about the people, schools, businesses, real estate, sports, restaurants, charitable events, arts, and more. Contact us at: [email protected] or [email protected]

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