A round-up of openings, closings, and other news about West Hartford businesses.
By Ronni Newton
Wasn’t it a beautiful weekend?
In fact most of last week was spectacular, and even I ate almost every meal outside. This is the kind of weather I dream about all winter long.
In our quest to expand our visits to a variety of West Hartford restaurants, and because we definitely had to find a place where we could eat outside, Ted and I enjoyed a few cold beers and a great dinner (fish and chips for him, and pesto-crusted cod with asparagus and mushroom risotto for me) on the patio of the Prospect Café on Saturday night.
There were so many heartwarming stories to tell this past week – from the Morley Backpack Brigade delivering donated backpacks to Town Hall for needy West Hartford children, to the Law Enforcement Torch Run and rally in West Hartford that led up to this weekend’s Special Olympics games, to Bugbee’s Fill-A-Bus which resulted in the collection of more than 4,000 items for the West Hartford Food Pantry. On the 75th anniversary of D-Day, World War II veteran and West Hartford resident Ben Cooper was presented with the Connecticut Wartime Service Medal by Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Commissioner of Veterans Affairs Tom Saadi. Butterflies were released at the Children’s Museum, and many people walked all night long at Northwest Catholic, raising money for Relay for Life West Hartford.
We-Ha.com could not have possibly brought all of those stories – and all of the others that were published last week – to our readers without the great contributions of interns Lauren Cohen, Dexter McCann, Zoe Pierce, and Hunter Marotto!
Although I am sure there will continue to be plenty of business news to report, this will probably be the last jam-packed week of activities for a while, and includes graduation at Hall and Conard on Thursday.
I, for one, am ready for the lazy, hazy days of summer.
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:
- Bear with me … and read what’s included in the next several bullet points, because they are all very much intertwined as a shuffling of space in West Hartford Center is underway. One of the most significant moves will take place when Cookshop Plus, which has been located at 977 Farmington Ave. for nearly four years, moves to 58-60 LaSalle Rd. early this fall. They will occupy the current Exclusive Furs space (more on that below), as well as the long-vacant space that was home to GenY. “It will have the same look, same feel, same product selection,” co-owner Jimmy Hines said, but will allow for an expansion of operations. The move is not just a relocation, he said, but also a chance to expand cooking classes and partner with local coffee roaster J.René. The space, while slightly smaller, Hines said, is “more usable,” and will allow for the creation of a commercial kitchen on the main floor, where cooking classes for up to 20 students at a time can be held, while fulfilling the desire to have teaching facilities and space for community gatherings and team-building events. “We wanted to have a space that we could then offer to community groups,” said co-owner Terry Ryan. The layout will be able to accommodate the commercial kitchen in one corner of the main level. “It’s great to have this opportunity to stay in the Center,” Hines said. There will likely be some downtime while to move takes place, Hines said, noting that there are 7,00o different products sold in the store, but he said that moving just around the corner will minimize it. Cookshop Plus’ original store, in Bowral, New South Wales, Australia, will also remain open. Details and updates on the move will be posted in the store, as well as communicated through Cookshop Plus social media channels (@cookshopplus on Facebook and Instagram) and website (www.cookshopplus.com). Email [email protected] with any questions.
- J.René Coffee Roasters, which recently was honored as the Small Business Association’s Minority-Owned Business of the Year, will be partnering with Cookshop Plus to open an additional location (their third, since the second location at 616 New Park, in partnership with BiCi Co., will likely open first) at 58-60 LaSalle Rd. J.René owner Jose Rene Martinez said that when he and Hines first met several years ago, they realized they had a common acquaintance, someone highly-regarded in the barista community. “We realized we both had an appreciation for coffee … and we had a sense of understanding of what is important to me, what they want to accomplish, a common understanding and a sense of respect,” Martinez said. There is already a partnership between J.René and Cookshop Plus, because Cookshop Plus sells J.René coffee at their coffee bar, but the new arrangement will also include a J.René barista, and will allow customers to sample artisanal coffee in the cafe, and then take that experience home by purchasing supplies at the retail establishment. It will also provide the opportunity for J.René to expand into West Hartford Center, in a highly visible area, building on the success of their Park Road cafe. Customers will be able to entire directly into the cafe (through the door at 58 LaSalle Rd.), and there will also be access into the Cookshop Plus retail store. Cafe hours will be set to complement the retail hours of Cookshop Plus, Martinez said, but they will probably be open earlier and later, and will take advantage of the vibrancy of the Center. Martinez said that the design is being fine-tuned, and while there will not be as much seating as on Park Road, there will be a similar “cafe experience,” with coffees as well as savory and sweet food offerings. He added that he is very excited to be able to add to the neighborhood feel of LaSalle Road. Hines said, “We are really excited to have the coffee experience at the front, where the furrier is now, with a combined space so that customers can experience each [part of the business].” As for entertainment, Martinez said, “There is always a chance for more coffee-related experiences.”
- The new Cookshop Plus location will be displacing Exclusive Furs, which is currently located at 58 LaSalle Rd., but the longtime West Hartford Center furrier isn’t going far. Ramon, the owner, said he didn’t need quite as much space as he has now because most of the coats are in cold storage at the business’ second location, 120 Washington St. in Middletown. “It was heaven sent, it just happened that Matthew Phillips was looking for someone to take space … it’s a brand new space which suits us to a ‘T,'” Ramon said of 70 LaSalle Rd., the space he is in the process of moving to. By the middle of the month, i.e., within the next week, Exclusive Furs will have completed the move down the street.
- Shari Phillips said that she is also thrilled about the way the reshuffling has worked out. “This is our original footprint. We started out 45 years ago right here, just like this,” she said of the newly sub-divided space for Matthew Phillips Salon at 68 LaSalle Rd. Matthew Phillips has gone back to its roots (pun somewhat intended) with a focus on hair, and has closed the spa operation. Phillips said that after Song Restaurant opened, the kitchen was located underneath the spa – which was not a good combination – and in addition spas have been getting so much more specialized. “That coincided with me considering not having such a big space any longer,” she said. When speaking with landlord LaSalle Road Partners, they discussed reverting back to the original footprint and what could work for the 70 LaSalle Rd. space. She knew that Exclusive Furs was looking to downsize. “I put them on hold and ran up to Ramon and he said, ‘Yes!'” Phillips said. “I’m glad to see other people in the Center having the opportunity to relocate in the Center. It’s nice to have such a vibrant business community which allows us to do this,” she said. “Now we can concentrate on hair, which is how we started out and where we really wanted to be.”
- So what about the large Cookshop Plus space on Farmington Avenue? We-Ha.com spoke with Gary Fogg of landlord LaSalle Road Partners, who provided the following feedback: “LsSalle Road Partners (LRP) is excited to announce a new store for Cookshop to be built at 58-60 Lasalle Road and to welcome Westfield Bank to the community at the same time. For some time, LRP and Cookshop have been discussing possibilities for a full commercial-style kitchen for their cooking classes. The new store will allow for a professional-grade dedicated cooking area, a reconfigured coffee bar run in partnership with J.René, and a freshly-merchandised store. J.René is extremely passionate about coffee and the highly regarded name is a great fit with Cookshop’s strong local brand,” Fogg said. “Westfield will be moving into the current Cookshop space following buildout of the new store for Cookshop. Westfield’s community-oriented business will be a great addition to the Center, and offer a full suite of services. The team at Westfield Bank was a true pleasure to work with as we aimed to meet numerous tenants’ timelines and evolving real estate needs.” Fogg said that Matthew Phillips and Exclusive Furs are both “fantastic longstanding community businesses” that were able to have their needs met through the re-shuffling. “Lots of communication and coordination was required to meet the evolving business needs and timing of our new and existing tenants. We are fortunate to have such a wonderful mix of local and regional tenants serving the Town Center,” said Fogg.
- As for the now-vacant former Grant’s space, right next to Cookshop Plus at 977 Farmington Ave., Fogg said there has been a lot of interest. There isn’t a signed lease yet, he said, but “we have had some serious talks.”
- Union Kitchen and McLadden’s in West Hartford Center, are thrilled to announce a new partnership with Connecticut Children’s in support of the upcoming Concorso Ferrari & Friends event on Sunday, June 23, 2019, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.. Both restaurants will open their doors beginning at 9 a.m. for patrons to enjoy food and beverage specials. In addition, both restaurants will offer guests of the event a special donation voucher to bring with them when they dine at either Union Kitchen or Mcladden’s West Hartford, which will give 10 percent from their check to Connecticut Children’s Foundation. Concorso Ferrari & Friends was created by a group of owners who wanted to use their exotic automobiles to put smiles on the faces of patients at Connecticut Children’s. Now in its 19th year, Concorso Ferrari & Friends is the signature automobile event for Southern New England. It celebrates all makes and models of Italian automobiles – from vintage Alfa Romeos, Fiats and Lamborghinis to the supercars of Ferrari, Pagani and Maserati – while raising awareness and critical funding to support patients and families at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. “We are so excited to be a part of the community and are thrilled to partner with Connecticut Children’s Foundation, a charity who is doing incredible things for families all over New England,” says Krista Siana, director of operations for Bean Restaurant Group. “We are passionate about bringing the community together and uniting families to support a great cause.” Charity Vouchers will be distributed to guests at the event and can be redeemed when guests dine at either restaurant. “We look forward to seeing the smiling faces at this event year after year, and to see first-hand how the community rallies to support our patients is just incredible,” says Dave Kinahan, president of Connecticut Children’s Foundation. “We are so thankful for all of our supporters, sponsors, volunteers, friends and families who come together in West Hartford for this event. We expect this 19th annual Concorso will be the best yet.” For more information, guests can visit Union Kitchen on Facebook @UnionKitchen and on Instagram @UnionKitchenCT and McLaddens in Facebook @McLadden’sWestHartford and on Instagram @McLadden’s. The car at right, and those shown below (photographed by intern Hunter Marotto) were taken at a Concorso sneak peek preview held at Blue Back Square on Saturday.
- Master Esthetician Betul Adiguzel opened BBorganics on June 3, offering Organic European Facials as well as customized treatments such as LED light therapy, microneedling and dermaplaning. BBorganics is located in the Salons by JC in West Hartford’s Bishops Corner, behind Marshalls/HomeGoods. Betul has a hands-on, holistic approach to support balanced, glowing skin. For more information and to book an appointment, visit www.thebborganics.com.
- It’s beginning to look a lot like Target in Bishops Corner. One large exterior wall of 333 North Main St. has been painted bright red, and there is a “hiring” banner posted on the building (see photo below). We don’t have an opening date yet, but rumor is that it’s planned for mid-summer, before back-to-school shopping begins in earnest.
- As readers likely know by now, I am a sucker for dogs (really all animals). Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage (992 Farmington Ave.) is holding an event on Wednesday, from 5-7 p.m., that will benefit the Fidelco Foundation. “Please bring a donation of any items on the Fidelco wish list. Stay and enjoy wine & cheese with (wo)man’s best friend,” the flier (see copy at end of column) reads.
- The West Hartford Chamber of Commerce welcomed Wagging Tales Pet Resort and Spaw to West Hartford with a ribbon cutting ceremony last Monday. Wagging Tails offers dog sitting, and grooming – as well as Connecticut’s only indoor dog park with diving pool. For more information visit the Wagging Tails website.
- PriceRite Marketplace recently presented $200 gift cards to the lucky winners of its grand re-opening celebration giveaways in Cromwell, New Britain, West Hartford, Wethersfield and Windsor. Customers who attended in-store grand re-opening celebrations in March were invited to enter, with three winners selected from each store. The winners were invited to their respective stores, where store managers of PriceRite Marketplace presented the prizes. PriceRite Marketplace debuted its rebranding efforts at the five Connecticut stores on March 29, introducing a redesigned store concept with programming focused on special deep discounts and enhanced fresh offerings. Pictured (below) is Pedro Rosalin, left, accepting his $200 gift card from John Figueiredo, store manager at PriceRite Marketplace of West Hartford.
- Wendy Payton and Deby Van Ohlen announced in a news release that they have welcomed Dan Lam and Mairi Harvey to Nurturing Hands, their therapeutic massage practice. “Dan combines deep tissue, Swedish, myofascial, and sports massage techniques to address an individual’s needs and goals. His compassion, enthusiasm and intuitive skills enable him to customize sessions for each client. Dan is also a National Academy of Sports Medicine certified personal trainer (NASM-CPT) and group exercise instructor. He is an active member of the American Massage Therapy Association and his Connecticut license number is 10376. Mairi specializes in orthopedic massage, deep tissue/sports massage and manual lymphatic drainage. She is a registered nurse with over 25 years of experience. Mairi integrates her extensive healthcare experience, her massage skills, and her caring client-focus to provide overall wellness as well as provide more specific work when needed during the session. Mairi is an active member of the AMTA and her CT license number is 7855. We are so pleased that Dan and Mairi will be joining us, Nikki Arel, and Carol Nakagawara at Nurturing Hands, llc located at 777 Farmington Ave. in West Hartford. They will expand our modalities and our availability especially on the weekends. We can be reached at 860-570-0268and our website is www.nurturinghandsllc.com.”
- I had my first floating experience last week at Imagine Float in Avon, and there will soon be a chance to experience float therapy in West Hartford. Build-out is underway and Float 41, at 345 North Main St. (next to the Yoga Shop in the back of the EDENS shopping center in Bishops Corner where Marshalls/Home Goods is located, will be opening this summer.
- ICYMI, congrats to West Hartford resident and Foodshare President and CEO Jason Jakubowski, who has been awarded a Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management (SPNM) scholarship from the Harvard Business School Club of Connecticut Community Partners. Jakubowski will be one of 150 nonprofit CEOs from around the world to study at the Harvard Business School this summer through SPNM executive management program.Read the full story here.
- The West Hartford Chamber of Commerce will hold its annual meeting next Monday, and will honor recipients of the Noah Webster Award (which this year goes to Billy Grant III) as well as Spotlight Award winners. More details and a list of all award winners can be found here.
- I’d love to serve you coffee, as well as eggs, pancakes, or waffles, as one of the participants in the annual Celebrity Breakfast for the Park Road Parade, which is Tuesday between 7-10 a.m. at Effie’s Place. The list of celebrity servers, and other details, can be found here.
- Volunteers from West Hartord-based blumshapiro spent Friday in the classroom, teaching age-appropriate financial literacy concepts to students at Webster Hill Elementary School as part of Junior Achievement’s “JA in a Day.” Read the full story here.
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!