A round-up of openings, closings, and other news about West Hartford businesses.
By Ronni Newton
As I headed to the airport on Friday morning I was feeling rather guilty, knowing I was skipping town just as West Hartford (and the entire region) was getting battered by a major nor’easter.
My sister and I, who are visiting our dad in Delray Beach, felt pretty lucky to fly out of Bradley at noon on Friday without any delays and only minor turbulence, and a strong tailwind that landed us in Fort Lauderdale 40 minutes ahead of schedule.
I have enjoyed palm trees (they’ve been an obsession for years), and turquoise water, and daily high temperatures in the 70s and 80s. It’s been great to visit my dad, and recharge a bit in the sunshine, but I am sorry (really) to have missed reporting on the storm, downed trees, and power outages. I have been keeping track, sharing posts on Facebook and Twitter, and as I write this column (from Florida, even on vacation I am still working) there are still 84 Eversource customers in West Hartford without power.
It has been great to get away, and very nice to see my dad for the first time since late June. But I’ll be back in West Hartford on Monday night, ready to report on the Board of Education budget presentation, the Conard vs. Hall-Southington hockey game, and whatever awful weather takes place on Wednesday and Thursday.
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:
- Every time I drive or walk down Raymond Road I try to catch a glimpse of what’s going on at Skeleton Key and last week had a chance to catch up with Regional Manager Derick Janness. He provided some details about the escape room and associated restaurant which will be opening this year at 61 Raymond Rd. “Skeleton Key is the evolution of the escape room concept. In addition to three immersive games, we offer a family-friendly lounge with food and beverages, including beer and wine, and cocktails,” Janness said in an email. In West Hartford, the food and drink will be served in the associated but separate full-service restaurant next door, Deadbolt. “We think this is really important because after you play, what you want to do is hang out with your group and talk about the experience … Skeleton Key is different in other fun and exciting ways, too. One of these is a pneumatic tube system called ‘Pneuman’ through which guests can communicate with the Spirit World. Write any question on a card, send it off to the Other Side in the pneumatic chamber, and wait for a response. Another is an electromechanical flip-dot display that shows upcoming showtimes and available tickets. All of this is why we call Skeleton Key an Adventure Emporium. We want to be a fantastic, fun time for friends, family, social groups, and corporate outings,” Janness said. Deadbolt will likely open before Skeleton Key, and both will open no later than the end of this summer, but “likely sooner,” Janness said. Owner Ray Weaver, seen in the photo with a camel that will appear in the game Scarab, is the founder of Skeleton Key and also the co-founder of Muse Paintbar, which also has a location in Blue Back Square, one of 26 locations in nine states. He is a former marketing professor at Harvard Business School.
- A few notes from the Elmwood Business Association include that there will be a new 7,500 square foot building constructed on the former Piper Brook Restaurant site at 977 New Britain Ave. that will be home to O’Reilly’s Auto Parts.
- We reported last week that WH-ELM LLC will be turning the former Bally’s Gym at the intersection of South Road and New Britain Avenue into a self-storage facility, but in addition the owner plans to convert the parking lot at 29 South Rd. into garage-style self-storage.
- A developer is interested in creating a multi-unit development from several parcels at 9 Berkshire Rd., at the intersection of Berkshire and New Britain Avenue. The plot is presently zoned R-6, so a zoning change and creation of a Special Development District would be required for the project, which is still in the conceptual stage.
- Resident Luke Frey has launched “Pop Talk with Luke Frey,” a brand new series that premiered Thursday on WHC-TV in West Hartford. The first episode was a recap of the nine films nominated for Best Picture this year at the Academy Awards, including more insight into the main three films that would likely do best. The second episode will feature the creator of Hartford Flavor Company and Wild Moon Liqueurs and cocktails will definitely be created, Frey said. The show will cover everything from pop culture to entertainment news to local hot spots, and more, and Frey said he is open to suggestions of any businesses or people who would be good to have represented as guests on the show. (Contact him at [email protected]) Frey has quite the show biz background already, and said he previously interned at The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and The View, and also created, executive produced, and hosted a talk show in Philadelphia called Temple Talk on TUTV. He has also held small roles on VEEP and House of Cards and was also most recently a studio coordinator for QVC network where he worked on set with hosts, guests, and celebrities during live shows. (IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/
- Real Estate Agents Recycle is in search of birdhouses to auction off at its inaugural fundraiser. From a Facebook post: “We need your birdhouses! Birdhouses of all shapes, styles, sizes and colors. Be crafty. Be fun. Be sporty. Be part of our auction with your clever creations designed for our feathered friends. Birdhouses will be auctioned off on Tuesday, April 24 to benefit Real Estate Agents Recycle and Community Partners in Action Culinary Training.” For more information and ideas on how to create your own unique birdhouse to donate, visit the Real Estate Agents Recycle Facebook page. For more information about the organization, click here for the link to the story I wrote about the organization last summer.
- Panera Bread announced in a news release last week that as part of its Community Breadbox program, nine Hartford area Panera Bread cafes, including the location in West Hartford’s Bishops Corner, members of the Howley Bread Group franchise, recently donated $7,869 collected from its customers to Foodshare, an organization dedicated to feeding the food insecure in Hartford and Tolland counties. “We are very grateful to Howley Bread Group for the generous support and commitment provided each year through the Community Canister Program,” said Al Marino, manager of Corporate and Community Giving for Foodshare said in the release. “On behalf of the 127,000 people who are food insecure in Hartford and Tolland counties, Foodshare says thank you.”
- Robison+Cole advised in a news release that lawyer Kathryn N. Mullin, a West Hartford resident, has been named to the Board of Directors of the Discovery Center, an organization committed to building an equitable and just world where everyone has what they need to grow and thrive. Mullin concentrates her practice on commercial real estate development, general real estate matters, affordable housing, and finance. “Founded by Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward Newman, The Discovery Center is an award-winning educational diversity, team-building, and academic program serving more than 4,000 students from grades 4 through 8 in Connecticut. The organization works in partnership with youth, families, schools, and communities to facilitate nurturing spaces where people can understand and challenge systemic racism and oppression. Since 2002, over 20,000 Connecticut students have participated in The Discovery Center programs.”
- ICYMI, the Town of West Hartford held three identical Community Visioning Forums for the former UConn West Hartford campus last Wednesday night. The forums, part of the overall engagement process that also included an online survey, gave town officials valuable feedback that will be used as a vision statement is created in advance of plans to collaborate with UConn to attract development partners. Click here for details about what was discussed as well as links to the presentation and survey results.
Remember, if you have any business news to share, add it in the comments section below or email Ronni Newton at editorial[email protected].
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