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West Hartford Business Buzz: March 18, 2024

Be You Beauty Advising Med Spa is now open at 998 Farmington Avenue in 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 hope those who celebrate St. Patrick’s Day had a fun and safe celebration! I don’t have any Irish genes (that I know of) but I’ve always enjoyed this fun holiday – and I’ve been wearing green pretty much every day for the past week.

Thanks to my son-in-law and his mom for preparing some great corned beef (and cabbage, and carrots, and potatoes, and Irish Soda Bread) that we enjoyed Saturday night! It was not only a delicious meal but also beautiful – but I forgot to take a photo.

No restaurant dining Saturday night, but last week was my daughter Katie’s birthday and we had lunch at bartaco to celebrate – which included a margarita – which I very much appreciated toward the end of a very busy week! My grandson, “Champ,” had a great time joining us at the table for Happy Birthday cheers with his plastic cup (that contained only an ice cube, because he likes the noise that it makes).

Cheers to Katie’s birthday at bartaco – and “Champ” got into the action with his plastic cup. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Assorted tacos from bartaco. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Last Monday seems like a month ago, but to start off the busy week I was prepped for a marathon hearing and Town Council deliberation about the 1700 Asylum Avenue portion of the former UConn campus – but it was postponed until April 15. The details on what happened and why can be found here.

On Tuesday night I was back at Town Hall for the presentation of the FY25 budget by Town Manager Rick Ledwith – and headed to the scene of a fire on Edgemere Avenue right after that.

Congratulations to the Conard boys hockey team and the Northwest Catholic girls basketball team – both winners of state championships this past week!

Last week’s other activities included a presentation to this year’s Parent Leadership Training Institute on harnessing the power of the media. I enjoy having the opportunity to speak to the PLTI group every year, and Jennifer Evans from West Hartford Community Interactive also spoke to the class on Wednesday night.

PLTI class 2024.

I also hung out with Chompers last week at the launch party for Addison McKnight’s latest novel, “The Vineyard Remains.” The feature story is coming soon, and “may” provide some insight into why a Yard Goats mascot was at the event – or you may have to read the book to find out.

Addison McKnight (aka Nicole Moleti, left, and Krista Wells) and I posed with Chompers for this selfie at the launch party for “The Vineyard Remains.”

Friday night we saw stop/time Dance Theater’s “Unpacking” at Playhouse on Park. It was such a fun and energetic performance that will definitely have you tapping your toes as well – though likely not as skillfully as the team of dancers. Details about the show can be found here – and it runs through March 24.

Darlene Zoller, co-artistic director and co-founder of Playhouse on Park, speaks to the audience before the performance of stop/time dance theater’s “Unpacking,” which she directed (and in which she appears). Photo credit: Ronni Newton

And just because …

Millie enjoying the weekend. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

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:

Amelia Grzelka has opened Be You Beauty Advising Med Spa at 998 Farmington Avenue in West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • Amelia Grzelka said her dream has come true with the opening of Be You Beauty Advising Med Spa at 998 Farmington Avenue in West Hartford Center. She is a nurse, currently studying to become an APRN, and has been working in the operating room at Manchester Memorial Hospital. She moved to the U.S. from Poland nearly 20 years ago, but trained in Europe on various beauty enhancement and rejuvenation techniques, and had also been training and working under the direction of a Massachusetts-based med spa medical director when she decided to make the leap and open her own business. Some of her specialties include “Baby Doll Lips” – a technique she said she learned in Europe that includes more than 200 injections rather than the typical 20 injections, and adds height rather than just volume to the lips to create a very natural appearance. (She said they use “very good numbing cream” in response to my question about whether or not that hurts!) “We try to make the experience as good as possible,” she said. They also offer PRP (platelet rich plasma) injections and micro-needling – a double approach that’s done in one combined session. Be You also offers dermal fillers and is planning to add other treatments. Their website is still being built out, but you can find out more by calling 860-478-0997 or emailing [email protected]. or following Be You Beauty Advising Med Spa on Facebook. “Thank you very much to everybody for being here with me when my dream is coming true,” she said at the ribbon cutting, which was held Friday with the Chamber of Commerce and town officials. The grand opening was celebrated throughout the weekend. Lewis Real Estate purchased the 994-1000 Farmington Avenue building last May (their offices were already in the building) and they have really done a great job sprucing it up and adding new tenants. I’ve gone to a number of ribbon cuttings there over the past several months.

Amelia Grzelka has opened Be You Beauty Advising Med Spa at 998 Farmington Avenue in West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Ribbon cutting for Be You Beauty Advising Med Spa at 998 Farmington Avenue in West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Amelia Grzelka has opened Be You Beauty Advising Med Spa at 998 Farmington Avenue in West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Interior of Be You Beauty Advising Med Spa at 998 Farmington Avenue in West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The grand opening was celebrated this weekend for Be You Beauty Advising Med Spa at 998 Farmington Avenue in West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • It’s been more than a year since the Arapahoe Group received approval by the Town Council for their application for Center Park Place, and a mixed-use building (the project was first proposed in 2016 but has been modified many times since then) and a sign is now up in the Webster Bank Parking lot at the corner of LaSalle Road and Arapahoe. While I don’t seen any permits in place yet, I expect that the work on this project will commence this spring. The plan is to build the overall project in phases, beginning with the six-story U-shaped building that includes 58 condominiums, a mix of one- and two-bedroom units, in a building to be constructed in what is currently an asphalt parking lot behind 27-43 and 53-65 LaSalle Road and 1001 Farmington Avenue. for Center. Four levels of the building will be residential, and three levels – some of which will be below-grade – will be parking. Amenities will include a pool and other outdoor and indoor amenities, including pollinator gardens. Once that building is complete, the next phase is 75 LaSalle Road, to be built on what is currently the asphalt surface parking lot for the Webster Bank building at the corner of LaSalle Road and Arapahoe Road. Plans call for a five-story structure, with four stories comprising 25 rental units above ground floor commercial space. Four of the rental units will be designated as 40-year deed-restricted workforce housing, a level of affordable housing open to those who earn 80% or less than the area mean income (AMI).

Signs for Center Park Place have now been posted in the Webster Bank parking lot at the corner of LaSalle Road and Arapahoe. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • The sign is now up for Chip City, which is getting very close to opening what will be their third location in the state at 67 Memorial Road in Blue Back Square. I have heard that they are aiming for an early April opening and will definitely plan on taste testing as soon as possible!

The sign is now up for Chip City in Blue Back Square. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • Black Bamboo plans to move to its new location at 766 Farmington Avenue this spring, owner Sonny Chen confirmed to me. He purchased the building, formerly occupied by Anna’s Hair Perfection, in the fall of 2021, and is completely updating the space. It’s right down the street from the existing location, and is slightly larger, with more on-site parking, and will also allow Chen to make a long-term commitment to the business.

Black Bamboo will be relocated a few blocks to the east this spring. Their new space will be at 766 Farmington Avenue. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • There has been a lot of chatter and rumors flying on social media about what will be taking over the former McDonald’s space in Bishops Corner, as well as the former Esquire Cleaners just to the west along that same strip of storefronts. I have been working diligently through multiple sources to get the scoop, but I would not expect there to be any announcements until leases are signed – and there are no leases in place as of now.

Former McDonald’s in Bishops Corner. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Former Esquire Cleaners in Bishops Corner. Photo credit: Ronni Newton


  • Congratulations to live-in caregiver Charlotte Kyere of West Hartford, who has been named the Platinum Caregiver of the Year for 2023 by Assisted Living Home Care Services (ALS). The ALS team presented Kyere with the prestigious $5,000 award at Hoffman Summerwood, an assisted living facility in West Hartford, on March 7, 2024. Kyere was chosen from the company’s 55 monthly winners providing outstanding care for her client, residing at Hoffman Summerwood. “We are thrilled to recognize Charlotte’s stellar support and unwavering dedication to her client,” said Mario D’Aquila, MBA and Chief Operating Officer of the family-owned homecare agency with offices in Cheshire, Westport, and Putnam. “Charlotte exemplifies the spirit of the award for home caregivers who become devoted, extended members of the family.” Kyere is originally from Ghana, most recently from Atlanta, and has provided live-in care to Hoffman Summerwood resident Mina Rosenberg since Oct. 13, 2021. According to ALS, she has received letters of praise from the executive director and the life enrichment department of Hoffman Summerwood, Rosenberg’s daughter, and the family’s rabbi, detailing how above and beyond Kyere goes for her client.

Assisted Living Services, Inc. (ALS) recently honored Ghanaian native Charlotte Kyere as the Ultimate Platinum Caregiver of the Year 2023 at Hoffman Summerwood in West Hartford, Conn. Pictured from left: Mario D’Aquila, chief operating officer at ALS, Charlotte Kyere and Nicholas D’Aquila, chief information officer at ALS with the $5,000 award. Photo credit: Assisted Living Services, Inc.

  • The Max Cares Foundation, Inc. has announced that the application period is now open for the charitable organization’s scholarships for graduating high school or currently enrolled college students pursuing a secondary education in culinary arts or hospitality/restaurant management for the 2024-2025 school year. Students residing in the Greater Hartford and Greater Springfield regions are encouraged to apply. Interested applicants should refer to the Foundation’s website for the list of eligible towns. The application, requirements and more information are available online at maxcaresfoundation.org/scholarships/ with an application deadline of May 15, 2024. Applicants are eligible to receive up to $5,000 in funds to be used toward their Culinary Arts or Hospitality educational expenses. In 2023, 12 students – including West Hartford residents Brendan Kaufmann and Laura Turner – were provided scholarships totaling $30,000. Since 2017, Max Cares Foundation has awarded 50 scholarships to students furthering their education in the field.
  • Now for some sad news, this one from just outside the West Hartford border in Hartford, from a business that would desperately like to find the right spot to open in West Hartford. I spoke to Michelle Maturo, who with her husband, Mark, owns Twisted Italian Cafe in Parkville Market, at length several weeks ago, and they have made the difficult decision to close their booth – but haven’t given up hope of reopening elsewhere and welcome suggestions. This is what they posted on Facebook last week: “It is with heavy hearts that we announce Twisted Italian Cafe will not be renewing another lease term at Parkville Market. There are multiple contributing factors for our decision, including, but not limited to our operational expenses in our current location. Since we opened September 1st, 2020, we have faced many challenges and survived the economy during the Covid Pandemic. We can say that we have built a solid reputation with amazing reviews and some awards along the way for our CRAZY GOOD FOOD. We are incredibly grateful to have served you, our guests who have become friends and like family. For the past 3 1/2 years, we have been proud to serve our authentic and TWISTED ITALIAN cuisine. We treasure the shared experiences with you and appreciate your patronage greatly. A big shoutout to our incredible staff for your loyalty and support over the years, we could not have done it without you! We have searched high and low for the right space to scale our operation to a full-service brick and mortar location. Some spots are too big, some too small and others just too expensive to build to suit. This is also paired with financial constraints that include extraordinarily high interest rates to provide funding in our industry. Should an opportunity present itself and circumstances allow, we would love to open our doors again and welcome you back. With that being said, our last day to serve you, our valued guests, will be Easter Sunday, March 31st. We encourage you to visit us in these last weeks for some Bolognese, meatballs, and grinders. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we scale down our menu. Thank you for contributing to the great memories we have made at the Twisted Italian Cafe. We are going to miss you too! … P.S. We might have to start a new support group called… BOLOGNESE ANONYMOUS!! Please direct all inquiries to [email protected]. Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end! Mark and Michelle Maturo”

Meatball grinder from The Twisted Italian. Photo credit: Ronni Newton (we-ha.com file photo)

  • Updated: Exclusive Furs has closed its doors at 70 LaSalle Road and a “for lease” sign is in the window of the 760 square foot property. Only the West Hartford location is closed. The main location and store in Middletown remains open and will continue to serve West Hartford customers.

Exclusive Furs has closed its doors at 70 LaSalle Road, and there’s a for-lease sign in the window. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • ICYMI, and as noted above in the introduction, the Town Council hearing and vote on 1700 Asylum (eastern portion of the former UConn campus) has been delayed until April 15. Complete details can be found 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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