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West Hartford Business Buzz: June 28, 2021

Kevin Masse, owner of Small State Provisions, stands behind the counter of his new space at West Hartford's GastroPark. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

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

By Ronni Newton

And just like that it’s the end of June …

I’m still trying so hard to savor every moment of this summer, and of the final weeks leading up to my daughter’s wedding which is now less than three weeks away.

I think this past week went by so quickly because it was so busy, packed full of the type of activities that we experienced prior to the pandemic and which we are finally getting to experience again.

I had way more meals outside of the house this week than I’ve had in months, and attended events that did not happen last summer. I had lunch with a friend on Monday at Àvert, a box dinner from Black Eyed Sally’s while watching the live performance (!) of Playhouse on Park’s “Kill Move Paradise” in Bushnell Park on Friday night (very timely and powerful play, and still available for live-streaming), dinner at the Yard Goats (!) game at Dunkin Donuts Park on Saturday night, and breakfast at Sally & Bob’s with one of my oldest friends (we have known each other since the age of 3 when her family moved to a house two houses away from mine) on Sunday morning. Food photos are below.

I went running with friends, went to the gym with my daughter, and went to Winding Trails for a few hours on Sunday afternoon. I went to Town Hall twice on Tuesday (just like old times) as well as to a promotion ceremony at the police station. On Saturday I covered the West Hartford Pride Festival. I shook hands with people, hugged people, listened to live music – and felt so grateful for the “normalcy” of every one of those actions.

This coming week will feature several live and in-person events, followed by some beach time. I haven’t decided for sure yet, but we will likely skip next Monday’s newsletter since it’s the official federal Independence Day holiday, and postpone Business Buzz to Wednesday, July 7.

Lunch at A’vert included “Frisee aux Lardons,” with fried egg, smoked bacon, garlic roasted shrimp and sherry vinaigrette. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Barbecue, beans and rice, and cole slaw from Black-Eyed Sally’s. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The Daym Trio (at left) includes a footlong hot dog cut into three pieces, one with “goat relish,” one with “Boom sauce,” and one with whole grain mustard; and the Chicken Tender Fender Benders which includes chicken tenders topped with rendered bacon bits, seared pineapple, sweet and sour chili sauce, and tricolor tortilla chips. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Omelette special with home fries and 7-grain toast at Sally & Bob’s. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Please continue to support our local businesses, wear your masks indoors if you are not vaccinated – and even if you are when required – 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].

Here’s this week’s Buzz:

Kevin Masse holds up a loaf of cold-fermented sourdough. The starter he uses is called “Mother Teresa,” Masse said, “because it’s always giving back.” Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • Kevin Masse obtained a Cottage Food License from the Town of West Hartford in 2019 – and he has now passed through the incubator stage of baking sourdough bread and granola in his home oven into opening up a brick and mortar location, a true micro bakery where people can see the process and know exactly what they are buying and see who is making it. Masse’s business, Small State Provisions, will be the first vendor operation to be housed at GastroPark (637 New Park Ave.,) and while some baked goods were offered on Sunday, Masse plans a full opening by Fourth of July weekend, with hours from 9 a.m.-2 p.m., Thursday through Sunday. He has hired his first employee – Jonah Gershon, a 2020 Hall High School graduate who is attending the School of Hotel Management at Cornell University – and is ready to ramp up business to the next level. “I’m no longer a cottage food operator,” Masse said, as he showed off the new kitchen, where Gershon was hard at working chopping up chocolate to prepare his own recipe – chocolate babka. Masse is holding onto his day job doing publicity for Alabama-based “Bake from Scratch” magazine, but is excited about the direction Small State Provisions is taking. “All bread is made here,” he said of the new kitchen and is 100% sourdough made from his “Mother Teresa” starter that has been nurtured for years. Masse received his starter from cookbook author Terry Walters, and he said naming a starter is very common. He chose “Mother Teresa” as the name for the starter because “it’s always giving back.” Masse said he’s proud to use 100% organic flour, and the bâtard is simply flour, water, and salt. He also noted that sourdough bread is easier to digest for those who have a gluten sensitivity. The bread he was working on when I interviewed him on Thursday was rising through a 36-hour cold-fermentation process, and would not be ready until Sunday. Small State Provisions, along with the soon-to-open Perkatory Coffee Roasters, will bring the breakfast crowd to GastroPark with seating outside for now, but also inside once that space passes all its inspections (which should not be long). In addition to bread, Masse makes granola (olive oil/maple and another version that includes curry), and there will be scones, cookies, the chocolate babka, and several other items. Small State Provisions also offers jams from a small farm in Alabama, and Fix & Fogg peanut and almond butters. Pre-orders through the website (www.smallstateprovisions.com) are accepted, and the bread subscription service will continue to operate, as will his collaboration with Suffield-based Feather and Bloom Marketplace, which features a combination of bread and flower delivery. GastroPark owner Tate Norden had a bread subscription, which is how the two first met. “I’m super excited to be part of GastroPark. It’s so unique,” Masse said.

Olive oil and maple granola is made from scratch at Small State Provisions. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Jonah Gershon, a recent Hall High School graduate and hospitality student at Cornell University, chops dark chocolate for his own “Chocolate Babka” recipe. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Jonah Gershon, a recent Hall High School graduate and hospitality student at Cornell University, chops dark chocolate for his own “Chocolate Babka” recipe. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The menu will eventually be expanded to include scones, cookies, and more fresh baked good. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Small State Provisions also sells jams from a small farm in Alabama and Fix & Fogg peanut and almond butter from New Zealand. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Small State Provisions will be the first vendor to open inside the GastroPark space. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Kitchen of Small State Provisions at GastroPark.

Kevin Masse (right) and his employee, Jonah Gershon, knead the sourdough bread before returning it to the refrigerator for additional rising. The dough started on Thursday will be baked into bread on Sunday. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • As noted in the introduction above, I went to the Yard Goats game as part of an event hosted by The Miale Team at Keller Williams. I had the opportunity to go down onto the field before the game, as Realtor (and West Hartford resident) Deb Ortega presented CT Food Bank/Foodshare CEO Jason Jakubowski (also a West Hartford resident) with a check for $5,000 that the company recently raised. The Miale Team also got to hold the large flag on the outfield, while team member Chris Grant sang the National Anthem.

Deb Ortega from The Miale Group presents a check for $5,000 to Jason Jakubowski, CEO of the CT Food Bank/Foodsjare. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Members of The Miale Team and their guests hold the large flag in the outfield at Saturday’s Yard Goats game. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Members of The Miale Team and their guests hold the large flag in the outfield at Saturday’s Yard Goats game. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Chris Grant of The Miale Team sings the National Anthem at the Yard Goats game on Saturday night. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • While I was on the field I also had the opportunity to photograph a check presentation by another group – West Hartford Rotary – which presented a check for $6,000 to Children’s Reading Partners.

Kyle Egress (left) and Bennett Forrest present a $6,000 check from West Hartford Rotary to West Hartford Reading Partners. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • The Sunoco service station at the corner of Arnold Way and Farmington Avenue (right next to the West Hartford Inn, just east of the Trout Brook Drive intersection) is being sold, owner Joe Gomes said. The new owner will convert the property into a convenience store and gas station, but will not have a repair shop, he said. Gomes said his father-in-law started the business in 1962, and he has owned it since 1989, but will be retiring. The closing should take place sometime this week.

The Sunoco station on Farmington Avenue, just east of Trout Brook Drive, is being sold this week and the new owners will have a convenience store and gas pumps, but not a repair business. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • Congratulations to University of Saint Joseph’s Karen Myrick, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, ONP-BC, FAAN, Associate Professor of Nursing and Track Coordinator Ortho/Sports, who has been awarded a $10,000 grant from the the National Association of Orthopaedic Nurses (NAON) to promote and support orthopaedic nursing research to advance the specialty of Orthopaedic Nursing. Myrick’s research will focus on ways to improve patient outcome for individuals with intra-articular hip pain.  “The implications for orthopedic nursing practice are large. Having a nurse designed and studied physical exam techniques that can save healthcare dollars and provide a safer and less painful alternative will improve patient care. Inductively, the nursing art of hands-on physical examination has discovered a new method to diagnose labral tears without costly, painful and invasive procedures,” Myrick said.

Karen Myrick. Courtesy photo

  • In other USJ news, Dr. Ahmed Abdelmageed has been named the new dean for the Pharm.D. and Physicians Assistant program, effective this fall semester. “Following a national search, USJ selected Dr. Abdelmageed to lead the School of Pharmacy and Physician Assistant Studies. His prior faculty, administrative and clinical experiences will be assets as he joins USJ. He will lead a faculty and staff committed to providing high-quality education of future health care professionals and uphold the mission and values of USJ. Dr. Abdelmageed will also be an active and engaged member of the greater Hartford community. I look forward to Dr. Abdelmageed building upon the solid foundation already in place at USJ and joining leadership team,” said Provost Michelle Kalis, Ph.D. Abdelmageed, who received a Pharm.D. at Ferris State University College of Pharmacy and earned a bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of Western Ontario, was most recently Associate Professor of Pharmacy Practice and the Assistant Dean of Experiential Education and Community Engagement, Manchester University College of Pharmacy, Natural and Health Sciences in Fort Wayne, IN. Upon being selected for the position, he said, “What drew me here is how USJ lives its mission and core values. The focus on the development of the whole person is palpable, pride in service is admirable and diversity is visible. Everyone has been extremely hospitable, and I am excited to be the latest member of the USJ family.”

Ahmed Abdelmageed. Courtesy photo

  • We reported just 10 days ago that the financing had closed for the One Park Road project, and to add one more piece of information to that story, according to town records the property was sold to the developers by the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Chambéry for $5.35 million.
  • Congratulations to West Harford resident Dylan Cabrera, winner of the National Association of Oil and Energy Service Professionals (OESP) 2021 Dave Nelsen Scholarship. Cabrera ttends NYC College of Technology in Brooklyn, NY and resides in Bronx, NY. This scholarship was sponsored by R.W. Beckett.
  • ICYMI, the building where Whole Foods is located at 50 Raymond Rd. has been sold for $40.5 million. Click here for details.
  • Lots of things are happening at Blue Back Square, where Summer in The Square kicked off last Wednesday, followed by the West Hartford Pride Festival and DragFest on Saturday. More details can be found here and here.
  • Ideanomics reportedly has a contract with a buyer for the former UConn campus property, but neither the name of that buyer nor the type of business have been disclosed. The grounds are not being properly maintained and the Town of West Hartford has started issuing citations for violations of its ordinances. Click here for the full story.

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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