Bishops Corner Blue Back Square Business Corbins Corner Elmwood Park Road The Center

West Hartford Business Buzz: March 25, 2024

The Byline, at 920 -924 Farmington Avenue, should be ready for occupancy this summer. 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

Last week I totally missed remarking on the forthcoming arrival of spring – and the past few days have felt anything but springlike!

With a full schedule of March Madness to watch, I would not have ventured out of the house at all on Saturday except that my sister was away and I needed to feed her cat. Good thing I wore my rain boots because the puddles were unbelievable!

Another thing I was sure to wear this weekend are my shamrock socks – that I wore for every UConn men’s basketball game in last year’s NCAA tournament. The socks continue to bring luck (yes, I do wash them between wearings) and as I write this sentence I am very happy about the basketball results from this weekend.

We actually did fit in several activities in between and while watching the Huskies (men and women) and Duke men over the weekend, including supporting Greg Hammond and the CT Beer Tour at Five Churches Brewing in New Britain on Friday night. (The story about his quest to become Visionary of the Year for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society can be found here.) We also were in search of comfort food on Saturday night, and Portobello Restaurant (132 Park Road) was the perfect choice. We had a nice chat with the owner – who brought over some pistachio Baileys for us to try – and he told me they have great plans for the patio, which opens April 1 (weather permitting) and I look forward to returning!

When at a Brewery … this brew from Five Churches is called the “Pew Pew.” Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Greg Hammond with “Ted Lasso” at the CT Beer Tour at Five Churches Brewery. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Ted and I posed with “Ted Lasso” at our visit to the CT Beer Tour at Five Churches in New Britain.

Calamari at Portobello Restaurant in West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

House salad at Portobello Restaurant in West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Portobello with chicken at at Portobello Restaurant in West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Tortelleni Zingarella with chicken at Portobello Restaurant in West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Pistachio Bailey’s at Portobello Restaurant in West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Sunday morning was way too cold and windy for my liking, but I layered up and covered the annual Johnny’s Jog for Charity 5K and it was a great morning. A wonderful crowd running, sponsoring, and supporting the community event. (Story and lots of photos can be found here.)

It was a chilly but fun morning at Johnny’s Jog. Thanks to Eric Feeney of Friends of Feeney and Dillon from the Hartford Athletic for the self!

Last week was packed with activities (seems like every week is very busy this time of year), starting with the Mayor’s State of the Town, which is what inspired this week’s column.

This week’s housekeeping note: Please, when you submit press releases, send more than just a flyer (Word documents, Google docs, or even just text pasted into the email), email it to [email protected] (no one else has access to that email and it will go right to me), and send the photos separately. Please avoid PDFs if possible because when they are copied and pasted sometimes there is embedded coding that creates funky spacing on this site, and the only way I can fix it is to go into the html version of the site and delete the coding line-by-line. Thank you!!

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].


The Byline, at 920 -924 Farmington Avenue, should be ready for occupancy this summer. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Here’s this week’s Buzz:

  • I have a really long list of businesses that are in the process of getting ready to open or relocate, and I followed up with many of them this week, but this is more a week of incremental updates with quite a few photos of progress, prompted by West Hartford Mayor Shari Cantor’s information-packed State of the Town address last Monday evening at the Mandell JCC. I attended, and wrote quite a detailed article about it (I’d rather be thorough than leave out something important). The first part of her address focused on housing availability, so I have some updated photos of the construction of several of the developments. According to Brian Zelman, one of the partners in the development team for The Byline at 920-924 Farmington Avenue, the work is “progressing well and according to schedule.” He said the plans are for occupancy beginning this summer. They are also planning to lease the 10,000 square foot ground floor space to a commercial tenant. I am looking forward to a tour of the property in a few weeks!

The Byline, at 920 -924 Farmington Avenue, should be ready for occupancy this summer. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • I also walked over and took a photo of the progress at The Camelot – in the former West Hartford Inn and Los Imperios space at 900 Farmington Avenue. Don’t worry; the construction site is still fully fenced, but I managed to hold my camera in between the links of the chain link to get the first photo. The Maui convenience store and gas station right in front/adjacent to The Camelot appears fairly close to complete.

Work is progressing on The Camelot at 900 Farmington Avenue, and the Maui gas station and convenience store is almost complete. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Work is progressing on The Camelot at 900 Farmington Avenue, and the Maui gas station and convenience store is almost complete. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • Cantor provided an outline of some of the business updates taking place in town, and that included the news that Aria Nail Spa at 80 Memorial Road in Blue Back Square is relocating – but thankfully not very far. I have been getting my nails done by owner Sue Quan since Aria opened in December 2020, and she gave me the scoop about the move two doors down Memorial Road to the remaining portion of the former Charming Charlie space at 72 Memorial Road. Aria will be more than doubling their space (from 1,200 square feet to 2,500 square feet) and will be doubling both manicure and pedicure chairs from seven to 14 each. Beem Light Sauna, which was mentioned in the March 4 edition of this column, is taking another portion of the former Charming Charlie space, and Muse Paintbar opened in January in the portion of the former Charming Charlie space that fronts Isham Road.

Aria Nail Spa will be relocating from 80 Memorial Road a few spaces to a larger space two doors down at 72 Memorial Road. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Aria Nail Spa will be relocating from 80 Memorial Road a few spaces to a larger space two doors down at 72 Memorial Road. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • I keep getting questions about Park Lane Pizza (337 Park Road), and they really are still working on the space, but as things often go, the project has gotten much larger than anticipated. I have not made contact personally with the owner, but reliable sources say it’s going to be at least an other two or three weeks before Park Lane can reopen. I stopped by last week, and while unfortunately I didn’t find anyone working at that time, I did peek through the window and saw a lot of work in progress. The town’s permit records indicate that after the ceiling was damaged due to the impact of a storm in January, they embarked on a renovation project because once a ceiling is opened up, the need to comply with current code becomes a requirement. The records indicate that they are also making the space more accessible by removing the door and wall from the Quaker Lane entrance, updating restrooms, adding new hoods in the kitchen, etc. I’ll keep following the progress and announce the reopening as soon as that information is available.

Repairs and renovation continues at Park Lane Pizza. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Repairs and renovation continues at Park Lane Pizza. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Repairs and renovation continues at Park Lane Pizza. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • While in the Park Road neighborhood I also checked on Iron Horse Sports Pub at 14-16 Oakwood Avenue. I reached out to the owner of the business but we haven’t connected yet, but I could see from peeking in the window (I promise I only peek in the windows of businesses –  not into private residences!) that work is well underway of the build-out. There’s a sign out front indicating that the liquor permit is pending, and I also saw the below sign rendering on the town website (it has not yet been approved). I don’t know an opening date yet, but unfortunately – since this will be a great place to watch basketball – it won’t likely be before the end of March Madness.

Renovations continue at the future Iron Horse Sports Pub at 14-16 Oakwood Avenue. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Rendering of signage for the future Iron Horse Sports Pub at 14-16 Oakwood Avenue. Town of West Hartford website

  • The West Hartford Center Business Association will be hosting its annual Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday, March 30, from 10-11 a.m. The following is their announcement: “Come celebrate Spring in The Center by finding eggs filled with candy, prizes and discounts at all participating stores [while egg supplies last]. Find an egg in every color (8 total) and bring your complete set to Fleet Feet West Hartford to be entered to win 1 of 2 $100 gift cards to use anywhere in The Center. The drawing will happen at 11:15 a.m. inside Fleet Feet.” Click this link to get registered as soon as possible. Participating businesses include Kimberly Boutique, Mosaic Sun Studio, Daswani Clothiers, BK & Co., Ten Thousand Villages in West Hartford, The Fix IV Therapy, Bohdii, Good Cause Gifts, Bridgewater Chocolate, Fleet Feet West Hartford, Cookshop Plus West Hartford, Pompanoosuc Mills West Hartford, and Keating Agency Insurance.

Easter Egg Hunt map. Courtesy of West Hartford Center Business Association

  • MORE Italian Pasta Lab (54 LaSalle Road in West Hartford Center) announced in a news release last week the addition of online ordering, making it easier than ever to reserve and take home their authentic Italian pasta and sauces. “The pasta we offer our customers every day is produced with only Italian durum wheat semolina. It is quality product, and provides enormous health benefits.  Italian wheat is grown with much fewer chemical agents, and this affects people’s well-being,” explained founder and owner Anna Landi. “We appreciate the warm welcome we’ve received and the wonderful customers that havehelped us become a vibrant part of central Connecticut. We are pleased to continue expanding our delicious choices, featuring genuine fresh ingredients and authentic Italian recipes, made right here on-site,” said Landi who was born in Italy, and lived in Rome before moving to West Hartford just over a year ago. “Here in America, we have noticed that many people are sensitive to gluten, which causes them discomfort and fatigue – which is why they decide to eat ‘gluten free.,'” said, but noted that sometimes gluten-free products have ingredients that can be even more harmful to the human body. “Our pasta is simple and natural, just water and semolina, nothing else. … The shorter the list of ingredients, the fewer chemical elements and preservatives there are in the products. We only have 2 ingredients – three, including the eggs. And we’ve heard many testimonials from gluten-sensitive customers who have not had any health problems by eating our pasta,” explained Landi. Featured items include egg dough pasta and water dough pasta, and include Rigatoni, Ricotta Gnocchi, Mezze Maniche, Gnocchetti Sardi, Casarecce, and Fusilloni. Filled pastas include Meat Ravioli, Porcini Mushroom Ravioli, Truffle Ravioli, Lemon Ravioli, Basil Ravioli, Spinach & Ricotta Ravioli, Cacio & Pepe Ravioli, and Butternut Squash Ravioli. In addition, fully prepared Ready-to-Bake Pasta is also available, made on-site, including Lasagna Bolognese, Basil & Cheese Lasagna, Eggplant Parmigiana, and Baked Cavatelli. For information, call 860-726-4705  or email [email protected].  There is additional information on the web at www.morepastalab.com, and on Instagram and Facebook.

MORE Italian Pasta Lab, 54 LaSalle Road. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Ravioli from MORE Italian Pasta Lab. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • Congratulations to West Hartford resident Emily Daly on the opening of Verve Dance on March 4, located in the Simsbury Town Shops at 928 Hopmeadow St. in Simsbury. Verve Dance is a dance studio that offers classes for all ages and levels in lots of different genres like contemporary, hip hop, ballet, jazz, creative movement, and cardio dance, and values high quality dance education and training in a non-competitive environment, she said. Daly is a professional dancer and dance educator who has performed for the past 14 years with dance companies in New York City and San Francisco (Parsons Dance, Bryn Cohn & Artists, and more.) She was the program manager for a youth dance organization in Marin County, CA for 10 years before relocating back to West Hartford, with her partner, Cara, and two sons, Beau and Ozzy. Since returning, she has been on dance faculty at Miss Porter’s School and Ballet Theatre Company, is a teaching artist with Moving Matters! in the Hartford Public Schools, and has taught master classes at Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts. For more information, visit their website www.vervedancect.com.

Emily Daly has opened Verve Dance. Photo courtesy of Emily Daly

Emily Daly has opened Verve Dance. Photo courtesy of Emily Daly

  • Welcome to West Hartford resident and attorney Shaun J. Moloney who shared that he has travelled 3,265 miles around the world to help local immigrants – documented or not – to put themselves in the best position to build their futures in the United States. He now works at the Law Offices of James A. Welcome (welcomelawfirm.com) at 24 Arapahoe Road in West Hartford Center. Moloney, originally from Leeds, England, knows the trepidation and sleepless nights that trying to navigate a complicated and sometimes confusing immigration system can cause and hopes to lend an empathic ear. He said, “When people step into my office and I hear their stories, it is hard not to think back to my own. I would be told a path to take that was contradicted immediately if I sought a second opinion, or told what I wanted to achieve was unlikely or impossible. There are pathways to achieving stability and status in the United States for people who want to live here, work hard, pay their taxes and add to the rich tapestry that is these United States.” Moloney has experience handling immigration matters ranging from marriage petitions to complex asylum cases. He added, “In extremely stressful times, it feels good to try and help someone take one of those stresses away. It can feel frustrating when all you want to do is build a life and provide for your family and you can’t see a road to do that.” He also has experience in commercial matters, personal injury, criminal defense and general litigation.

Shaun Moroney. Courtesy of Shaun Moroney

  • West Hartford native Paul Slade Smith will appear in the Goodspeed Musicals’ first production of the 2024 season, The Mystery of Edwin Drood. “You’re invited to solve a crime in an uproarious murder mystery at The Goodspeed from April 5 to June 2 in East Haddam,” notes a press release announcing the show. Paul Slade Smith, whose credits include: Broadway – Finding Neverland, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and My Fair Lady – will play the role of Crisparkle/Cedric Moncrieff. For more information, visit www.goodspeed.org.

Paul Slalde Smith. Courtesy photo

  • Congratulations to Carly Norman, who has been appointed to the position of Development Officer at the West Hartford-based Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Hartford. In a news release, the organization noted that her responsibilities include cultivating, soliciting and stewarding gift prospects and donors, and encouraging strong partnerships with community-based organizations. She also coordinates Greater Hartford’s Life & Legacy program, a partnership with the Harold Grinspoon Foundation to promote after-lifetime giving to build endowments that will sustain Jewish organizations for generations. “Carly brings to the Foundation a depth of Jewish communal experience, teaching experience and knowledge of our Jewish community,” said Walter Harrison, Interim President and Chief Executive Officer of the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Hartford. “Her unique skill set in education and program development will help us educate donors and Jewish lay leaders about the power of endowment and legacy giving.” Prior to her current role at the Jewish Community Foundation, Carly served as Educational Director at Congregation B’nai Tikvoh-Sholom in Bloomfield, and as Program Director & Experiential Learning Coordinator at the University of Hartford Hillel. Norman also taught classes at the Jewish Teen Learning Connection in West Hartford. She is an Executive Board Member and President Emerita of Congregation Adath Israel in Middletown, and was a Founding Member and Community Organizer for the Moishe House in West Hartford. A former teacher for the Manchester Board of Education, Norman earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Human Development & Family Studies, with a concentration in Social Work, from the University of Connecticut. She also earned her Master’s Degree in Elementary Education from the University of Hartford. Norman resides in Rocky Hill with her husband, David, and their dog, Maya.

Carly Norman. Courtesy photo

  • There are a lot of signs posted in the windows and doors of the former Division West on LaSalle Road, including warnings that no one is permitted to enter the premises – and now there’s a “for lease” sign, too. The tables remain set, untouched, since they closed abruptly on Jan. 18.

The Division West space at 36 LaSalle Road has multiple signs on the doors and windows, including a large “for lease” sign. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • This week’s sad news is the announcement that City Steam Brewery will be closing as of March 31. Owner Jay DuMond, a longtime West Hartford resident, shared the following in an email I received on Thursday: “It is with humble gratitude and a heavy heart that we announce the closing of City Steam Brewery on March 31 – after 44 years in business (26 as City Steam and 18 as Brown Thomson and Company). We opened in 1980 as Brown Thomson and Company, carving out a space in the newly renovated historic circa 1877 HH Richardson Building, regarded as the most famous example of Romanesque Architecture in America. We created an interior area with 5 flights of stairs on two levels with a fifty-foot ceiling, including original wrought iron railings salvaged from the dumpsters as fast as the landlord could fill them. We then filled the space with Victorian antiques with period tin ceilings throughout. We brought new life to downtown. We were packed from the time the doors opened until they closed seven days a week for years. Our 100-item menu was almost impossible to put out, but we did it with speed and flair. Our bartenders had to pass a 100+ item drink test before they could blend their first Banana Split! The Brew Ha Ha Comedy Club soon followed in the lower level. In 1997 we had the vision to open a brewery, so we converted BT to City Steam, the second brewery/pub in CT (now there are over 130!). City Steam was named after our source of power, which is the steam that runs below the streets of Hartford. Our Staff – We give thanks to the thousands and thousands of wonderful loyal staff members that made us the most fun place to work in downtown Hartford for over 4+ decades! Working at 942 Main Street was a steppingstone to success in life for many as they learned how to work hard and treated customers as they wanted to be treated. Our customers – It has been a pleasure and honor serving the greater Hartford community all these years! You trusted us with your most treasured events: Birthday celebrations, graduation dinners, first dates, marriage proposals (!), engagement parties-the list goes on and on! Come back over the next two weeks with your wife/ husband or a good friend you met here and enjoy some casual food or a comedy show in the Brew Hall Ha (circa 1987), or just come by for a cold Naughty Nurse! We will continue to distribute our craft beers at over 1,500 grocery and liquor stores, and bars/restaurants throughout Connecticut. A special thanks to the City of Hartford for their efforts in supporting the downtown restaurant scene and for working to help us get back up and running, but we could not recover from the aftereffects of a 4-month half million-dollar closure due to a burst sprinkler pipe and the resultant flood. We have had an incredible run, but it is now time to hand the reigns over to another talented and creative restaurateur. This iconic space at the head of the rejuvenated Pratt Street Historic district is ripe with opportunity.  We are looking for a restaurateur who may have an interest in buying the business and putting in a new concept- brewery or not- in our incredible 150+ year old historic structure. If you have an interest or know someone who may have an interest, have them contact:  [email protected]. Once again, we thank all our staff members and customers alike for your loyalty over the past 44 years!” I personally remember the old Brown Thomson from my days as a trainee with the Travelers, when I was just out of college and long before I moved to the area. City Steam will be missed.

Courtesy of City Steam

  • As noted above, Mayor Shari Cantor gave her State of the Town address last Monday. To read that full story, click here.
  • ICYMI, the town has chosen an architect for the new Elmwood Community and Cultural Center – a transformational project that is expected to start construction in 2025. For the complete story, click here.
  • Former West Hartford Town Council member Judy Casperson, CEO of Casperson Consulting LLC, led a panel discussion on “Empowering Women in Business” on March 13 that was organized by West Hartford Equity Coordinator Adrienne Billings-Smith, Economic Development Specialist Lauren DeLisa Siegal, and Farmington Economic Development Director Rose Ponte. Click here for details. You can also view the entire panel discussion via WHCi’s YouTube recording below.

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! Click the blue button below to become a supporter of We-Ha.com and our efforts to continue producing quality journalism.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About the author


We-Ha.com is the place to go for the latest information about West Hartford – a town that "has it all"! We-Ha.com is part of and proud of our community, and we bring a hyperlocal focus to news and features about the people, schools, businesses, real estate, sports, restaurants, charitable events, arts, and more. Contact us at: [email protected] or [email protected].

Leave a Comment

Translate »