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West Hartford Business Buzz: March 14, 2022

Work is well underway for the Mexican restaurant El Santo, which plans to open this spring at 970 Farmington Ave. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

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

By Ronni Newton

Twenty-seven years ago today my life changed forever in a very wonderful way, and I would like to wish my daughter, Katie, a very happy 27th birthday!

Two years ago today we celebrated Katie’s 25th birthday a day after Friday the 13th – which ironically many have called the last “normal” day of pre-pandemic life. That Friday was the day my son, Sam, came home from UConn for his senior year spring break, and never went back to an in-person class as an undergrad. March 12, 2020 was the last day my husband set foot in his office at MassMutual in Springfield – and to this day he has not yet been back. (I’m imagining it’s rather dusty, and if it were my desk there would definitely be petrified food in the drawers. He’s actually planning a visit this week, and I’ve asked him to take a photo, including of his wall calendar still showing March 2020.)

What looked at the time to be a two-week disruption in “normal” activity – which we all found rather horrifying – but it quickly turned into many months and, as we of course now know, it’s been more than two years since COVID-19 changed our lives.

I do feel much more of a sense of normalcy now than I’ve felt since early March 2020 – other than that brief respite last summer before the delta variant – with most people going back to enjoying daily activities even if there are a few extra precautions.

It’s been a very “sporty” week in my household, and maybe the return of March Madness added to the sense of normalcy. Not only have we watched a lot of college basketball (and Sam even went to the Big East tournament), but Ted and I teamed up to cover the Conard vs. Westhill basketball on Thursday night, and then we went to the UConn hockey game on Saturday before coming home to watch our Blue Devils sadly lose in the ACC tournament finals (although the game was accompanied by some great takeout from Taste of India).

Added comment after watching Selection Sunday: Not happy that Duke and UConn men are in the same bracket …

Lamb biryani and garlic naan from Taste of India. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Katie and I had a chance to catch up over a delicious lunch at Toro Mexican Street food last week, too!

Chicken tinga and pork al pastor tacos from Toro Mexican Street Food. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Chicken Tinga bowl from Toro Mexican Street Food. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

I love the salsa from Toro Mexican Street Food. There was ots left over! Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The universal indoor mask mandate was lifted in West Hartford as of Thursday, Feb. 10 (click here for the details) as of today masks will be optional in schools, libraries, and other town buildings (click here for details). Some business owners, however, may still ask that their customers wear masks. And many people will choose to wear masks in a variety of settings. Please have patience with each other and our choices, continue to look out for each other, support our local businesses – 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:

  • I had a chance to get an. update last week from Yessenia Masias, one of four partners (the others are her husband, Luis Araujo, Alejandro Polanco, Lilian Salinas, and Daniel Chavez) who will be opening El Santo in the former Cosi space on Farmington Avenue. The restaurant will feature the tastes of Mexico City in a cosmopolitan atmosphere, with the name a nod to the Mexican luchadores El Santo, a masked professional wrestler (and an actor) whose legendary career lasted more than five decades. Masias said the build-out is about 80% done, and they are planning for an opening this spring. The menu is still being finalized, but a few items Masias said will definitely be featured include nachos libres crafted at the table, tacos luchadores with made with ribeye steak, a grilled butterfly cut pescado zarandeado seasoned with Mexican spices, grilled peppers, and much more. And, of course there will be great drinks, including the “El Santo Tequila & Mezcal” served at the bar – a full bar featuring margaritas, infusions, and mescalitas – to honor the namesake.

El Santo plans to open this spring at 970 Farmington Ave. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • The Corner Pug (1046 New Britain Ave.) is diversifying its menu and adding some favorites that many are missing since its sister restaurant, Tapas, had to close its doors in Bloomfield last month because Trinity Health is taking over the building. Corner Pug Manager Dawn Walden said the first additions are to the lunch menu, which now includes a gyro and Greek salad, but more of the Tapas items are going to be incorporated within the next month, she said, and there will be dinner specials as well. She said there have been four staff members from Tapas who are now working at the Corner Pug, including head chef John, prep cooks Joel and Julio, and Dominique, who is one of the managers.

The Corner Pug. Photo credit: Ronni Newton (we-ha.com file photo)

  • Congratulations to Arch Dental, which had its official ribbon cutting with the West Hartford Chamber of Commerce and town officials last Wednesday. Owner Rabia Kaur DMD, BDS, is very excited to open her own practice, and to be serving patients in the West Hartford area. The office, located at 901 Farmington Ave., Suite 201, has room to grow, with 3,000 square feet that includes a lab.

Arch Dental owner Dr. Rabia Kaur and officials from the town and Chamber of Commerce celebrated a ribbon cutting on March 9. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Arch Dental owner Dr. Rabia Kaur with Mayor Shari Cantor. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • It’s Women’s History Month, and that makes it even more appropriate to highlight the multiple achievements and milestones reached by West Hartford resident and West Hartford business owner Dr. Jessica Tagliarini of Tagliarini Chiropractic (836 Farmington Ave., Suite 211). She is the first female appointed to the Board of Directors in the history of the Connecticut Chiropractic Council. Currently she is vice president, and on track to be promoted to president in January 2023. In September 2021, she was also the first female to receive the “Doctor Of The Year” award from the Council. And, in December 2021, she was named “Best Chiropractic Physician” from Natural Nutmeg in their “10 Best of Reader’s Choice Awards.” Congratulations!!

Dr. Jessica Tagliarini

  • The West Hartford-based Maximilian E. & Marion O. Hoffman Foundation, Inc. has awarded a $100,000 grant to Gaylord Specialty Healthcare, a nonprofit rehabilitation-focused healthcare system headquartered in Wallingford, to support the purchase of essential rehabilitation technology. The generous grant has been used to purchase two Bioness L300 Go systems for use in Gaylord’s inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation programs. According to a news release from Gaylord Specialty Healthcare, the Bioness L300 Go utilizes functional electric stimulation to build strength and conditioning in the upper and lower legs, and improves muscle and nerve reaction for walking and standing. It helps with foot drop caused by conditions including post-polio and post-COVID syndromes, peripheral neuropathic damage, or stroke, and is used with patients with chronic conditions such as multiple sclerosis. The equipment is instrumental in helping patients adapt and adjust to their new reality in order to reach the highest level of independence while decreasing fall risk. The grant was also used towards the purchase of a Meditouch wearable biofeedback system integrated with video game software for use with patients with a spinal cord injury, stroke, brain injury, or other neuromuscular disorder. The system’s motivating and challenging tasks disguised as video gameplay create a high-intensity therapy workout. “The Bioness and Meditouch technologies are important tools that will enhance the function of our inpatients and outpatients as they recover from devastating illnesses and injuries,” said Roslyn Gilhuly, Associate Vice President, Development Operations and Campaign Initiatives.  “We thank the Maximilian E. and Marion O. Hoffman Foundation for their significant gift which validates our daily work of healing the human body, restoring function and inspiring longevity. Their generous support of our patients and clinicians help us to transcend the boundaries of technology, recovery and rehabilitation.”

From left: physical therapist CJ Connors PT, DPT, NCS, and Megan Palmer, OTR/L, demonstrate the Meditouch wearable biofeedback system that was purchased with the help of the generous Hoffman grant. Courtesy photo

  • Best of luck to Jessie Bouclier, whose last day with the West Hartford Chamber of Commerce, where she served as member services coordinator, was Friday. “While I am sad that Jessie will be leaving the Chamber team, I am excited for her and wish her great success,” Executive Director Chris Conway said. “I am confident that she will bring the same passion and energy to her new role as she did working with our members, and community.” Bouclier will be working in partnership management with software company Logic Melon.

Jessie Bouclier. Courtesy photo

  • Congratulations to West Hartford native Aubrie Souza, a 2012 graduate of Hall High School and third-year law student at Suffolk University, who has been named one of 10 “Law Students of the Year” by National Jurist. Souza has been working on the development of mobile-friendly “smartforms.” Details can be found here.
  • ICYMI, there was big news in the area restaurant industry announced Monday with the retirement of Rich Rosenthal and the transition of Max Restaurant Group to Max Hospitality. The new holding company is led by Scott Smith as CEO and Steve Abrams as COO, and also owned by the operating partners of the various restaurants. Click here for complete details.

Rich Rosenthal. Courtesy photo

Scott Smith (left) is CEO of Max Hospitality and Steve Abrams has been named COO. Courtesy photo

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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