A round-up of openings, closings, and other news about West Hartford businesses.
By Ronni Newton
Meteorological spring arrived on Sunday!
While it hasn’t been an awful winter (yet – we are not out of the woods) signs of spring always make me happy.
When I ran by Rockledge Golf Course on Saturday morning, I could see a perceptible haze of yellow-green on the weeping willow trees, and there are small tufts of green beginning to form on my lawn. The crocuses are blooming at the house across the street, and my daffodils are getting even taller and some have buds.
I’m actually writing this column on Saturday night, because in an uncharacteristic celebration of the first day of meteorological spring, my family planned a ski day in Vermont for Sunday, March 1 – the day I typically dedicate to purging all snowman decorations from my house.
Sam even came home for the weekend and Katie joined us, too! I haven’t skied in a few years, so if a photo of the ski trip has been included in this column, you’ll know that I survived without serious injury.
Someone emailed me a few days ago after hearing that people have been avoiding Chinese restaurants in New York and Boston because of the coronavirus, and there have been posts about it on Facebook, too. The person asked if any local Chinese restaurants have seen a decline in business due to [completely unfounded and ridiculous] fears, and wanted to make sure to patronize any restaurants that are suffering as a result. I haven’t heard about this happening in West Hartford, but if anyone has, please let me know so we can all be sure to support our local businesses.
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:
- I wasn’t familiar with Fabletics, but when I heard that the athletic wear retailer is going to be opening in West Hartford, I went to their website and am so excited! Fabletics, which is currently building out its 3,170 square foot space and hopes to open this summer on the lower level in Center Court of Westfarms (the part that’s in West Hartford), launched in 2013 as an e-commerce, subscription-based business and opened its first brick and mortar store in 2015. Fabletics is a global active-lifestyle brand “designed with every woman in mind” that was co-founded by actress Kate Hudson, along with current Co-CEOs Don Ressler and Adam Goldenberg, who “saw a gap in the activewear marketplace: there were plenty of luxury brands, but none that offered stylish and high quality gear at an accessible price point.” Fabletics brings new monthly collections—in sizing ranging from XXS-4X—to a loyal community of over 1.9 million members across ten countries, including the US, Australia, Canada, Germany, Spain, France, UK, Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark. The company offers clothing and accessories, including shoes, for women and men, and currently has 42 stores in North America – but this is the first in Connecticut. “We’re really thrilled to add another new-to-market retailer to complement our existing merchandise mix,” said Amanda Sirica, spokesperson for Westfarms. Visit the website for more details about the company, and look for much more information as the opening date nears.
- Eyes on Park is now open at 262 Park Rd., in the former Max & Lily’s Closet space! I knew the space was being built out as an eye care business, but had been told the name was going to be L.A. Vision – which I thought was the case until I drove by last week and saw the sign on the building. I stopped in and chatted with Dr. Afua Antwi, who runs the office along with Dr. Brittany Strebig, and she told me that Eyes on Park began seeing patients Tuesday and is in soft opening mode, with a grand opening planned for a date TBA this spring. She said they do routine eye exams and also manage ocular conditions like glaucoma, macular degeneration, and dry eye. They also do specialty contact lens fittings. For more information visit the website, or call 860-206-8818. Walk-ins are also welcome.
- Plans were approved by the Town Council in November that paved the way for Ulta to sign its lease and open a store in the former Babies R Us space on New Britain Avenue, and Economic Development Specialist Kristen Gorski said plans have now been submitted for approval and build-out will soon be underway.
- Work is progressing on the the build-out of tenderwings in the former 0 Degree space at 120 Park Rd., Brandi Morgenthau-Killoran, who co-owns and co-founded the business with her husband, Phil Killoran, said last week. In addition to renovation of the existing building, the project includes a 1,080 square foot addition on the back – nearly doubling the size of the building. The concept for tenderwings concept is based on chicken tenders and the menu will be similar to the chain Raising Cane’s, with “quick service, fast casual, lower price point, in-and-out – but quality food,” she said previously. The hope is to have a soft opening for tenderwings sometime in April, Morgenthau-Killoran said.
- If you’re wondering what’s going on with Ideanomics and the Fintech Village project, they are still working through the permitting process for demolition of the former UConn campus buildings – work that is complicated by the fact that much of the campus is in wetlands, require extra permits for the abatement work. The next step, before any construction can begin, will be applications for a zoning change.
- Local philanthropic organization Friends of Feeney is teaming up with Donut Crazy for a fundraiser to help support a West Hartford family that had a house fire. The event will be held at Donut Crazy (993 Farmington Ave.) Sunday, March 8, from 1-4, and will feature celebrity servers behind the counter. I am honored to have been asked to be a server, and please come visit me or one of the other servers! The lineup so far, according to Eric Feeney, who heads the organization, includes (subject to change): 1-1:30 p.m. Shari G Cantor – Mayor, Steven King Jr. – OtherDesigns and Dave Pilon– The Miale Team at Keller Williams; 1:30 – 2 p.m. Derek Slap – Senator and Troy W. Jones PE Teacher, Bristow Middle School; 2-2:30 p.m. Matt Banever– Daswani Clothiers, Nancy Wallace-Sohn– Secretary, Friends of Feeney, and Chris Conway and Jessie Read Bouclier – West Hartford Chamber; 2:30-3 p.m. – Ryan Michael Keating– Keating Agency Insurance & Kelley Elizabeth, Tom Newman and David Todd – High Meadow Day Camp (Official); 3 – 3:30 p.m. – Mike Golic Jr. – ESPN, Wendy Allen McGrath – Elmwood Maker Space, Scott MacGilpin – West Hartford Youth Football League Director and Dennis House – WFSB – Channel 3 Eyewitness News; 3:30-4 p.m. – Mary Fay – Town Councilor and Ronni Zimbler Newton – We-Ha.com. Sonar from Hartford Wolf Pack will make an appearance at some point. #FriendsOfFeeney is on a mission to help children and families who need assistance after heartbreak and tragedy.
- Congratulations to West Hartford resident Kathy Fishman, who was recently named executive director of Voices of Hope. “Kathy has been an integral part of Voices of Hope since 2012 and has helped build it into a successful and independent non-profit organization. Until now, she has served as our Director of Operations and has ensured high-quality, meaningful programs for the community. Her passion and dedication to our mission is appreciated beyond words. Thank you, Kathy, for your years of incredible service and congratulations on becoming our Executive Director!” the organization announced in its February newsletter.
- The American Cancer Society is looking for more volunteers like West Hartford resident Karl Kuhn, a person they call a “driving force” alongside the organization. In a news release issued last week, the American Cancer Society said, “When Karl Kuhn of West Hartford retired, he was looking for a good use of his free time. He was interested in doing more than just helping an organization with office work. It wasn’t until he learned of the American Cancer Society’s Road To Recovery program that he knew he found a perfect match. The program utilizes volunteers to drive cancer patients at risk of missing their appointments to lifesaving treatment. Road To Recovery has been a great fit for Karl who is able to help his neighbors while he is out and about. The benefit to this program is that it’s usually multi-beneficial. Not only are drivers helping patients, but they are developing relationships that will continue beyond treatments. ‘I enjoy meeting people, talking with them, and learning their life stories. It’s very special when they complete their treatment,’ Karl states. ‘Drivers who volunteer their time and energy to our Road To Recovery program are unique, selfless people. This simple act of kindness is an amazing way to meet your neighbors who share similar stories. The Society welcomes anyone who’d like to open thei rhearts up to becoming an amazing driver like Karl,’ commented Samantha Martinez, program manager with the American Cancer Society.” The American Cancer Society is in need of more volunteer drivers to support the Road To Recovery program, which provides cancer patients with free rides to treatment. For more information, visit cancer.org/drive or call 1-800-227-2345.
- In West Hartford commercial real estate news, Sandy Strickling and Anne-Marie Dube of Sky Realty Group of Broder Commercial brokers were excited to announce the recent sale of Clarendon Apartments, 39 apartment units at 806 Farmington Ave. in West Hartford. NY investors acquired The Clarendon for $6,400,000 which equals $164,103/unit, Stricking said. Other details she provided: “The property is comprised of three brick, Jacobean-style buildings consisting of 39 charming apartment units. The 3-story apartment complex offers 43,296 rentable square feet consisting of (13) 2 bedroom, 1 bath apartments | (6) 1 1/2 bedroom apartments, with the ½ room allowing for a small bedroom or office space | and (20) 1 bedroom apartments. Each spacious unit features high ceilings and hardwood floors, as well as fully renovated kitchens and bathrooms including cherry cabinets, porcelain tile and stainless steel appliances, all while maintaining the building’s original charm. Additionally, every unit has a working, wood burning fireplace. Of the 39 apartments, 32 units have formal dining areas, 12 units have outdoor decks and 12 units have west-facing, outdoor screened decks.”
- The Connecticut Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (CTASLA) has announced the winners of its annual Connecticut Professional Awards competition, recognizing excellence in landscape architectural design, planning and analysis, communication, and research. “To be eligible, applicants must be a landscape architect or designer in the state of Connecticut, and the entrant or project location must be based in Connecticut,” CTASLA said in a news release. Among the winners was Langan, which received a merit award for the Delamar West Hartford hotel project.
- ICYMI, changes are coming to Corbins Corner! The Town Council approved an application Tuesday that will include façade updates, some changes to the parking lot, demolition of the Jared building and construction of a new building for a restaurant (lease not yet executed, but the discussion publicly focused on BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse), and an addition to the back of Trader Joe’s to be used for storage. Click here for the complete story, and look for more details as the work begins this spring.
- The West Hartford Community Fund – which is part of the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving – is seeking volunteers to serve on its advisory board. More details can be found here.
- The latest Experience We-Ha podcast is a great interview with Mayor Shari Cantor. Click here to listen.
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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