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West Hartford Business Buzz: March 4, 2024

Beem Light Sauna will be opening soon at 76 Memorial Road in Blue Back Square. 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 want to thank all who reached out to me following my father’s death. I tried to respond to everyone, but if I missed sending you a personal message it was unintentional and please know that I appreciated all of the texts, Facebook messages, calls, cards, emails, etc.

I also thank everyone for your patience and kindness over the past few difficult weeks. I was away all last week (until very late Thursday night) helping with final arrangements and at the funeral in Florida. The week was cathartic, and the funeral was at the VA cemetery in Lake Worth, Florida, with military honors – and was a truly moving and beautiful ceremony.

We flew Avelo Airlines out of Tweed Airport in New Haven (both first for me) into West Palm Beach. It definitely won’t be the last time I fly on Avelo!

Boarding the Avelo plane at Tweed. We sat in the back and boarded through the rear door which I thought was nice and convenient. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Now I’m back (will eventually catch up on sleep) and ready to tackle the busy news cycle that will include a Town Council hearing on the 1700 Asylum Avenue parcel of the former UConn property (March 11), budget presentations, high school sports playoffs, and lots of business updates.

I did go to the friends and family event Friday night (and the grand opening on Sunday) for Soul Bowls. A full feature story is coming as I note in the bullet point below, but this is a photo of the bowls that Ted and I thoroughly enjoyed as our Friday night dinner.

Soul Bowl with chicken (left) and with fried shrimp. 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:

Beem Light Sauna will be opening soon at 76 Memorial Road in Blue Back Square. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • There are several new wellness-related businesses coming to West Hartford – including Beem Light Sauna which will be opening this spring in a roughly 2,500-square foot portion of the former Charming Charlie space (76 Memorial Road) in Blue Back Square. The franchise business offers “a light therapy studio concept where members can find innovative infrared, red light, and chromotherapy solutions” that according to their website offers holistic physical and mental health benefits. There is an existing location in Glastonbury and this will be the second in the state, according to the website. The following is the blurb that appears not the Blue Back Square website: “Experience the hottest Infrared Sauna Studio with all Private Suites! Dedicate 40 minutes to yourself and experience incredible health benefits, including burned calories, reduced stress levels, enhanced immunity, improved skin complexion, detoxification at the cellular level and more! Relax & unwind while you detox. Each sauna suite is equipped with chromotherapy lights to enhance your experience as well as an iPad with streaming services for movies, shows, podcasts, and music! Beem provides an elevated, spa-like experience while you sit back and reap the benefits of our science-backed infrared saunas or our medical-grade red light therapy room.”

Chip City will be opening soon at 67 Memorial Road in Blue Back Square. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • I haven’t been able to see the inside yet, but Chip City is getting very close to opening what will be their third location in the state at 67 Memorial Road in Blue Back Square. I sampled some of their cookies at the Blue Back Burger Bash last fall, and this is what the owner shared with me at the time about the business: Chip City provided the following details about their business: “Chip City was born in Queens, New York in July of 2017 as a hobby between two childhood friends who sought to recreate the simple taste of their childhood. What began as a fun challenge to see who could create the best cookie turned into the Chip City we know and love today. They rotate more than forty unique flavors every year, such as Peanut Butter & Jelly, the Everything Cookie, Oatmeal Apple Pie, Blueberry Cheesecake, S’mores, Lemon Berry, the Cannoli Cookie and more. Each week, the menu changes to offer classic flavors and seasonal varieties. The brand currently has 22 locations across Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Florida with plans to enter into new markets, including Massachusetts, Virginia and more. Learn more at www.chipcitycookies.com.” Oh, and they also ship the cookies nationwide, offer catering, and have a cookie truck available for rental!

Chip City cookies. Photo credit: Ronni Newton (we-ha.com file photo)

  • In other wellness business news, The Head Spa CT will be opening its second location (the first is at 202 New Britain Road, Berlin) at 604 New Park Avenue, in the former Oscar’s Tux space. The website provides the following description of the business: “A Head Spa includes, but is not limited to, deep scalp massage, herbal oil treatments, cleansing hair masks, scalp exfoliation, steam therapy, Ayurvedic hair rinses, and of course, an invigorating shampoo and conditioning treatment. These services will gently clean the scalp of any dirt, oils, product build-up, or aging skin cells. A head spa also increases blood flow to our hair follicles which encourages hair growth.” I was in touch with business owner Jenn Robin Ortiz, who said she has her fingers crossed for a late spring opening and is very excited about the location. “Once I heard of all of the new and upcoming business that I will be surrounded by I knew this would be a perfect location for our clients. From stopping bye the Perkatory coffee shop or GastroPark, and the new pottery shop coming soon it would be a perfect girls day/couples weekend or selfcare day for yourself. Our spa is true relaxation and experience overall,” she said in a text.

The Head Spa CT will be opening in the former Oscar’s Tux space at 604 New Park Avenue. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • JunkPot Studio was referenced in the above bullet point, and that’s because the community ceramics studio and educational business is going to be moving from 635 New Park Avenue to 602 New Park Avenue. Much more to come on this, but the build-out is underway in the former Argelia Novias Bridal Shop. JunkPot Studio owner Pedro Centeno shared that they have outgrown their current space after two years and he is very excited to be able to essentially double in size. “With the added space we will be able to add additional classes to our weekly schedule, giving those waiting to get in a better opportunity to join our studio,” he said. For more information about JunkPot, visit their website.

JunkPot Studio will be relocating to 602 New Park Avenue. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

JunkPot Studio will be relocating to 602 New Park Avenue. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • As noted in my introduction above, I was very lucky to attend the friends and family soft opening of Soul Bowls (1142 New Britain Avenue) in Elmwood on Friday night, and also attended the ribbon cutting and grand opening on Sunday. By the time they open again on Wednesday I will have a full feature story published, but I definitely wanted to mention it here and give a shout out and congratulations to owners Willie Fair, Hughann Thomas (aka “Chef Pop”), and Malik Golden. Willie and Thomas are both Conard grads, as is chef Issiah Percy. They have a great story to tell, and I’m so excited to have this business in town and can’t wait to sample another of their bowls (and another soul roll)!

Ribbon cutting on March 3 at Soul Bowls, 1142 New Britain Avenue, West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Interior of Soul Bowls at 1142 New Britain Avenue, West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

A “Soul Roll” is like an egg roll but filled with mac & cheese and candied yams. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Soul Bowl with chicken (left) and with fried shrimp. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • While driving around Elmwood on Sunday I checked out the progress of the construction of O’Reilly Auto Parts in the PriceRite Plaza at 984 New Britain Avenue. I had taken a photo a few weeks ago but forgot to include it in the column – and now there’s even more progress. The building is about 7,600 square feet, and in last week’s Town Council Community Planning and Economic Development meeting, Economic Development Coordinator Kristen Gorski noted that the approvals for this project were first issued about five years ago – which is why the appearance of the building has come as a surprise to some.

O’Reilly Auto Parts is under construction at 984 New Britain Avenue. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • Sally & Bob’s (10 North Main Street) is looking good and modern with their new sign (by ArtFX Signs). Thanks to Rich Rochlin for the photo!

Sally & Bob’s has a beautiful new sign! Pictured are owners Helen Brower (left) and Cesar Contreras (right) with their son, Alessandro. Photo courtesy of Rich Rochlin

  • Congrats to the West Hartford residents who are among the 22 nominated by Gov. Ned Lamont to serve as Superior Court judges. The West Hartford nominees are Maria C. Rodriguez and Matthew T. Wax-Krell. According to the announcement, Rodriguez, 59, graduated from Trinity College and obtained her Juris Doctor degree from Boston College. She is currently an assistant attorney general in the Connecticut Attorney General’s Office. She serves in the Employment/Workers’ Compensation/Labor Section and has practiced employment and labor law in this position for the last 32 years. Wax-Krell graduated from Emory University and obtained his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Connecticut School of Law. He is currently a partner at Rogin Nassau LLC, focusing on business litigation. In addition, he serves on the Connecticut Bar Examining Committee, the board of directors for Greater Hartford Legal Aid, and the board of directors for the West Hartford Little League.
  • Ten Thousand Villages is celebrating International Women’s Day, which is March 8. They shared the following in an email:  “When women thrive, communities thrive. When women gain financial independence, their daughters, families, and communities flourish. Here at Ten Thousand Villages, more than 60% of our artisan partners are women and we are honored to work with so many skilled, innovative women around the world.  We’ll share their remarkable stories and how they have improved their lives as well as their communities. We’ll be sampling treats from Women’s Bean Project, another great non-profit based in Denver that helps women learn job skills, and we’ll be kicking off our annual Soap Drive for My Sister’s Place!” More information can be found through the official IWD campaign here

Window of Ten Thousand Villages in West Hartford. Courtesy of Manager Teri Osborne

  • ICYMI, a great way to learn more about what’s going on in West Hartford is attending the Mayor’s State of the Town, which this year will be held on March 18, from 5-7 p.m. at the Mandell JCC and is hosted by the Chamber of Commerce. Click here for complete 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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