A round-up of openings, closings, and other news about West Hartford businesses.
By Ronni Newton
I hope I’m not jinxing it, but I think it’s really, truly, actually going to be spring in West Hartford.
The official first day of spring was on Tuesday, and the threatened “four’easter” did not even qualify as a snowstorm in this part of the state.
There’s a subtle return of color to the bleak landscape – some tufts of green sprouting up in brown lawns, a pale yellow tinge to the weeping willows, and forsythia and crocuses beginning to bloom. One of my daffodils even looks like it may bloom this week, if the weather is warm enough and sunny enough. I’m ready to consign the snow boots to the basement closet.
As usual, I’ve covered a wide variety of stories this past week. Some were stories that most everyone would consider positive, like the Foundation for West Hartford Public Schools annual West Hartford’s Cookin’ fundraiser (for which I was honored to serve as assistant auctioneer alongside John Lyons) and a Hall student’s collection of prom dresses for charity. Others raised the hackles of readers with varying political viewpoints.
This week there was a forum on gun violence and school safety at Conard, attended by Connecticut’s two U.S. senators, who both happen to be Democrats. There was a March for Our Lives event in West Hartford on Saturday. The Board of Education voted to replace Columbus Day on the calendar with Indigenous Peoples Day. A West Hartford resident, an immigrant from Russia, is facing deportation. The stories involve a host of complex issues about which many have strong opinions. I have done my best to be objective in the reporting of all.
I mention the controversial stories because, while discourse and an exchange of viewpoints is very much welcome on We-Ha.com, many of the comments, particularly on Facebook, have been vitriolic. Note: If you’re calling someone names, making racial or ethnic slurs, or throwing out f-bombs, your comments are going be deleted.
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:
- Seafood lovers rejoice! Some people were sad about H&B Seafood in Elmwood turning into Noodie (which has the same owner and has been very well received) because they said West Hartford was lacking in the seafood restaurant department. All should be very glad to hear that The Hungry Crab will soon open right in that very same Elmwood shopping center, in the former Mt. Everest Spice space. Jason Chen currently manages the popular Cajun Boiled Seafood in New Haven, which opened last year, and said in a phone interview Sunday that he will also manage The Hungry Crab for the owner, who lives in California where he also has several restaurants. Chen said that The Hungry Crab will be a very similar concept to Cajun Boiled Seafood, described as “Asian-Cajun,” a combination of the owner’s Vietnamese and southern U.S. backgrounds, with menu items that include crabs, lobster, shrimp, and crawfish, served with a choice of sauces and at a heat level ranging from mild, to spicy, to “fire.” The concept, said Chen is “seafood in a bag” – and it’s meant to be eaten with the hands. “No fork, no plate, no rules,” Chen said. “It’s okay to get a little messy,” he said, and they do provide bibs and gloves. The menu will also includes sliders and po-boys. The West Hartford restaurant will also include a full bar, with beer, wine, and cocktails. “We’re pretty excited,” Chen said, and if there are no snags, he’s hoping The Hungry Crab will open in June. Click here to see the Cajun Boiled Seafood menu, which Chen said is similar to what will be offered.
- Thank you to a few alert readers for making me aware of another new business coming to West Hartford. I don’t have many details, but The Fix is preparing to open at 1000 Farmington Ave. where Connecticut Custom Clothiers was formerly located. At first I thought it was another location for the cellphone repair shop that’s located at Westfarms, but the full name of the business is The Fix IV Therapy, and will be a “boosting boutique” offering IV infusions of vitamins delivered by registered nurses. I haven’t been able to track down the owner, who appears to be Dr. John Salerno, a family physician who has an IV therapy practice in New York City. I peeked in the window and it appears that build-out has begun. More details definitely to come!
- Every time I drive by Corbin’s Corner these days I’m amazed at how rapidly the construction seems to be progressing on The Corbin Collection. In my Feb. 12 column, I provided the update that Shake Shack is planning a “likely late April” opening. I thought that was going to be the first of the openings, but now it appears that several businesses will open in the main building even earlier. The Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th website states that the store will have its grand opening on Thursday, April 19! And REI states on its website that the Blue Back Square store will close at 4 p.m. on Sunday, April 22 and open the Corbin Collection store at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, April 24. Neither location will be open on Monday, April 23. I didn’t quite peek in the windows (there are still some barriers) but I got pretty close and I saw shelving ready to be installed at REI, and they were working in the Saks space on Sunday. I don’t have any updates about Cost Plus World Market or buy buy Baby, both of which are owned by Bed, Bath and Beyond, but NBC Connecticut anchor Heidi Voight reported last week that she was informed both would open “this summer.” See end of the column for for additional photos.
- Northstar Wealth Partners a financial and wealth management firm headquartered in West Hartford, announced last week that Jeffrey Sargent has been appointed Chief Compliance Officer. According to a news release, Sargent has more than 18 years of comprehensive compliance supervisory experience, and more than 25 years overall experience in the financial services industry, most recently at Westport Resources Management & Investment Services. Robert Laraia, Founding Partner of Northstar, said of Sargent: “At Northstar Wealth Partners we pride ourselves in the quality and commitment of our people. I knew when I met Jeff, that his commitment and demonstrated belief in the importance and value of thoughtful compliance management would change our firm for the better. He is the type of Compliance Professional that has the unique ability to balance regulatory requirements with the best interests of our clients at the highest level. We feel privileged to welcome him to our management team.”
- Congratulations to West Hartford resident and Robinson+Cole lawyer Michele L. Maresca, who has been appointed to the to Board of Directors of The Aurora Foundation, a West Hartford-based organization committed to addressing the needs of women and girls to ensure a level playing field for all. Maresca is a member of the firm’s Real Estate and Development Group who handles the full range of commercial real estate transactions.
- The Tile Shop opened in Corbin’s Corner in January, and on Feb. 28 the West Hartford Chamber of Commerce gave the store its official welcome with a ribbon cutting. The press release states: “This beautiful store in the Corbins Corner Shopping Center provides all the space they need to display their wide array of floor and wall tiles. Since their founding in 1985, The Tile Shop has committed itself to inspiring and realizing home decor ideas and creating beauty both indoors and out. Our associates travel literally across the globe, exploring the latest styles and innovations available in materials such as porcelain, glass, ceramic, travertine and other natural stones. With a network that comprises more than 100 stores, we offer a wide selection of high-quality tile products, exclusive designs, expert staff and amazing customer service. Pictured in the photo at the end of this column are Chamber of Commerce members including Chairman Dave Calibey, Executive Director Barbara Lerner, Mayor Shari Cantor, Bob Kulakowski, Robyn Rifkin, Sue Steinberg, Dave Mullins, Tony Sisti, Tony Leesha, Chip Janiszewski, Len Diana and Tile Shop Store Manager Steve Veccherelli.
- Laughter is the best therapy, and that’s as good a reason as any to attend the inaugural “We-Ha-HA” at World of Beer in Blue Back Square on Tuesday night, from 5:30-7 p.m. Five comedians (including Paul Gregory and West Hartford’s own Dr. Steven Fischman) will perform, and there are drink and food specials. Click here for all of the details.
- Also ICMYI, in other spring-related news the Bishops Corner Neighborhood Association has announced plans to bring back its planter program. Click here for more information. Other West Hartford business associations, including Elmwood, Park Road, and the Home Design District, will also be bringing back the beautiful Knox Foundation planters this year.
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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