A round-up of openings, closings, and other news about West Hartford businesses.
By Ronni Newton
It’s March – meteorological spring – and even though I have banished the snowman decorations from my home, Mother Nature seems to be stuck on winter.
This is only the second snow day of the school year for West Hartford Public Schools, but it seems like there have been many more delays than in most years. But even if it’s rather wintery when people wake up Monday morning, I’m hoping that the strong March sunshine will make quick work of the white stuff.
Those who know me personally, or who read this column on a regular basis, know that I am not a fan of winter weather. My Instagram story on Monday morning will likely include a photo of my “Bah Humbug” coffee mug. I do, however, actually enjoy winter sports as long I can stay warm – and on Saturday morning, just as the snow was winding down, Ted and I had a great time cross country skiing.
We live very close to Rockledge, and as we skied the perimeter of the golf course, I couldn’t help but reflect on how lucky we are to live in a town that has such a beautiful facility – a space that is available for use year round. And for the record – my Garmin watch calculated that the perimeter of the golf course is 1.65 miles, and cross country skiing counted as a “vigorous” intensity workout.
The snow was pretty much gone by Saturday afternoon, and Sunday was a great morning to get out for a run before winter weather returned.
I took this daffodil photo on Sunday morning. As you read this, the poor daffodils are likely covered by a white blanket, but although every year they get covered with snow and I fear it will deal a fatal blow, I know that they will survive.
If you enjoy reading this column, please tune in to NBC Connecticut at 11:30 a.m. today. I’ll be appearing on CT Live! – talking about West Hartford business news. At least that’s the plan, unless the need to have continuous weather news pre-empts the show.
I’m very excited about the stories in this week’s column, and also looking forward to reaching an even broader audience to share the news through CT Live!
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:
- It’s been close to a year since the closing of Tapas, which had occupied its space at 1150 New Britain Ave. in Elmwood for 32 years, and there has been plenty of speculation about what might take its place. I’m so excited to announce that Frida will be opening in the next few months! Named in honor of the the artist Frida Kahlo, the restaurant will serve authentic Mexican cuisine, said Sandy Sanchez, co-owner of the business with Xiomara Zamudio. The partners, who got to be friends while working at Plaza Azteca and Puerto Vallarta in Newington, are both West Hartford residents. Zamudio, who will be the executive chef, has been running the West Hartford-based catering business “Frida on the Road,” but was looking for a permanent location. Sanchez’s husband, Juan Salazar, who is a contractor (owner of SLP Contractors LLC – named after San Luis Potosi, the place in Mexico where he was born), initially asked Zamudio if she was interested in opening a taqueria in a building he was renovating in Winsted, but she had her eyes on the former Tapas location. Sanchez and Zamudio met with building owner Robert Udolf, and have just recently signed a lease for the space. Salazar, and Zamudio’s husband, Daniel Chavez, will be doing the build-out of the space – with design input from Udolf’s wife, Danielle, based on plans by architect Sheldon Crosby of L’Arc Architects. Both the interior and exterior of the space will be completely renovated, with a sleek modern design that incorporates a “used brick” wall inside and on the bump-out where the Tapas porch was located, Udolf said. “We are working as a team, so the first impression will be ‘Wow,'” said Sanchez. The restaurant will seat 52, and include a full bar – featuring margaritas and other speciality cocktails prepared by a skilled bartender (name to be announced at a future date) – that affords a view of the new open kitchen. Everything will be house made – including the tortillas and the chips – and the recipes will be authentic and prepared by Zamudio as well as another local chef (whose name will also be announced at a future date) who also has an extensive background in Mexican cuisine. Sanchez is from Colombia, and said that in a nod to her culture, Colombian-style empanadas will be on the menu as an appetizer. It will truly be a family business, said Sanchez, who is a preschool teacher at Charter Oak International Academy but will be waitressing at the restaurant when school is not in session. Her 16-year-old son will be busing tables, and even her 10-year-old daughter is excited to help out. Permits are already in progress. “We are planning, if everything goes the way it should, to be open at the end of May or June,” said Sanchez. “We’re very excited, and I know we have a great tenant,” Udolf sai
- West Hartford will soon be getting its own float spa! Sarah LaTeano and her husband, Ryan LaTeano, will be opening Float Forty-One at 345 North Main St., next to the Yoga Shop on the back side of the EDENS Bishops Corner West Shopping Center – a 3,000 square foot space that has been vacant since the shopping center was redeveloped, property manager Karen Fillian said. “Securing our new home at Bishops Corner has been a six-month process and we are thrilled to be moving forward into the construction phase,” Sarah LaTeano said in an email. Plans are for a summer 2019 opening. I have never tried floating (in fact I had not heard of it until recently), but it is intended to provide relaxation as well as healing through almost complete sensory deprivation. Floating takes place in a tank (there are separate cabins) in 10-inch deep water, saturated with 1,000 pounds of Epsom salt, and heated to 93.5ºF. Adjustable lighting and music help set the mood.
“Floating is a beneficial practice that can take on many forms. Floating incorporated into a wellness routine can ease stress and anxiety, aid in sports recovery, and it could be utilized as a recurring digital detox and mental reset from all the constant stimuli in our everyday lives. I personally consider floating as my mental and emotional maintenance, allowing me to be at the top of my game throughout all aspects of my life as a wife, mother, and member of the military … being able to ‘keep it all together,'” said Sarah. She said that she and her husband learns about floating through a Joe Rogan podcast, and after their first float in January 2018, they were hooked. “We instantly knew that this is what we were meant to do, floating has become such an integral part of our lives and we want to share it with our community,” said Sarah. For more information, visit Float Forty-One’s website or Facebook page.
- If you haven’t driven down Ringgold or Crescent streets lately, you’ll likely be surprised to see the progress of the Ringgold Estates construction. Rising from the grounds of the former Patrissi Nursery off Park Road, the 25-unit townhouse condominium development is really taking shape, with several of the units completed and even sold. It’s hard to believe that it has been more than three years since the nursery closed, nearly six years since Richard Patrissi – who was known as the “Mayor of Park Road” – passed away, and a full year since the project was approved by the Town Council. See below for a few more photos of the development.
- Check back or be sure to follow We-Ha.com’s Facebook page for a story on a topic that many are very interested in! I had a chance to sit down with Ideanomics CEO Alf Poor and Vice President of Corporate Development Drew Colvin last week, and will have some updates on the progress of their plans for the former UConn property.
- Heading back to food – and back to Elmwood – NALA’s Kitchen is moving, and as of March 1 is temporarily sharing space with Cafe Louise at 1156 New Britain Ave. NALA’s Kitchen, which offers a selection of meals that can suit special diets and food sensitivities – including Whole 30, paleo, gluten free, dairy free, and vegetarian – has been operating out of a storefront at 774 Farmington Ave., but has outgrown that space according to owner Beca Tuinei. A new, permanent location in West Hartford is under construction, Tuinei said, with the address to be revealed at a later date. During the transition, meals will still be available to purchase on normal pick-up days, she said, and delivery can be arranged if needed. Contact [email protected] with any questions.
- Congrats to restaurateur and West Hartford resident Tyler Anderson (Millwright’s in Simsbury, The Cook & The Bear in West Hartford, and Porrón&Piña in Hartford) who has been named a James Beard semifinalist for “Best Chef Northeast” for the sixth year in a row!
- On a more serious subject, April Beaman of CT Thermography has announced a free information session on March 27 about a screening that can be used to detect subtle changes in a person’s breasts. In a press release, Beaman states: “Breast thermography is a radiation free screening procedure that can be used by women of all ages with all breast sizes and types. Unlike traditional screening methods that use x-rays, thermography utilizes a thermal camera to capture images of the breasts to detect early physiological or functional changes. Changes in the breasts can be viewed at times years before a disease diagnosis is made or a tumor is formed.” The discussion will take place at Essential Health/Dr Allie Mendelson, DC, 74 Park Rd., on March 27, from 7-8 p.m. Tickets are free and strongly encouraged as seats are limited, and can be obtained through Eventbrite or by RSVP’ing to [email protected] or calling 860-415-1150.
- “I find that the universe of food writing has so many reviews and recipes but I saw a need for a guide to locate interesting ingredients and flavors that occupy a place in our kitchens and tables that may not be located in reviews, said Roger Desmond, a West Hartford resident who has launched the blog, www.findingfantasticfood. “There are so many unsung heroes of the food world in our region that need to be supported and enjoyed and people need to know about them. In terms of restaurants, I have the philosophy that in each one there is one dish that stands out as unique. Even if you only remember that dish it’s a reason to visit,” he said. Desmond is Professor of Journalism Emeritus from the University of Hartford, and the blog is not just interesting, but also well-written and enjoyable to read!
- Darin Reisler is excited to announce that Plus One Defense Systems (9 Tolles Rd., West Hartford) is opening another FiG Yoga (Christian Yoga) class. In addition to Monday night, at 5:30 p.m., they will now have a session on Friday mornings at 6:30 a.m. with Dori. “This class will help you start your day out on the right foot … and the left!” he said in a social media post.
- A unanimous vote by the West Hartford Town Council to permit some changes to the special development district – essentially just the façade and signage – has paved the way for Edge Fitness to begin build-out for opening a new gym in the former Toys R Us space in Corbin’s Corner later this year. Click here for the complete story.
- Finally, don’t miss this week’s Experience We-Ha podcast – especially if you are looking forward to spring and the return of golf season! Jeff Lovanio and Ryan Keating speak with Dave Souza, owner of the GOLFTEC franchise in Elmwood. Click here for details.
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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