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West Hartford Business Buzz: March 7, 2022

The former Jared's jewelry store at 1459 New Britain Ave. in Corbin's Corner will be split to accommodate two new restaurants. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

A round-up of openings, closings, and other news about West Hartford businesses. 

By Ronni Newton

The snowmen have been banished and there was definitely a feeling of spring in the air on Sunday.

It’s been a busy week, highlighted by the presentation of the school budget, a visit to a movie set, and the Mayor’s State of the Town address. The weekend was very much focused on basketball.

As many readers know, I graduated from Duke University. I was a student when Mike Krzyzewski (I never need to look up the spelling of that name!) began coaching the Duke basketball team, and in addition to the academic education I knew I would be able to receive there, basketball was one of the other reasons I chose to attend the school. Not that I have ever played basketball (I am only 5 feet tall on a good day unless I am wearing heels), but I’ve loved March Madness since I was in high school, and that’s when I first aspired to be one of the Cameron Crazies – even before that’s what they were called.

If you follow college basketball at all, you know that Saturday was Coach K’s final game as coach in Cameron Indoor Stadium. I know I was at the very first game he coached at Cameron (I don’t remember anything about it, but a Google search informed me that it was a win against Stetson on Nov. 29, 1980), and other than a few during holiday breaks, I only missed one home basketball game while I was a student.

Ironically, because of the long-standing *issues* between UConn and Duke (very old news that really should be history now but persists, and although the brother of UConn’s coach was a standout player at Duke, Dan Hurley did tell me he hates Duke), I was at the UConn men’s basketball game Saturday while Coach K’s final home Duke vs. Carolina game was being played. I recorded it (but did regrettably find out the score before I watched) and was very sad to see UNC ruin the party. However, I really enjoyed the coverage of the event, the peek into the tent city that’s called Krzyzewski-Ville, the ceremony with more than 80 former players who returned for the event, and the classy speech that Coach K gave after the game. And as he said, only the regular season is over.

Ted and I are living proof that you can be both a UConn and a Duke fan, and we had a great time at win over DePaul on Senior Night, followed by a visit to Willington Pizza with both kids and their significant others (who were also at the game), and a few of Katie’s friends, for some great pizza and beer – pictured below. The sandwich photo is from lunch Tuesday at DORO Marketplace, and included because I didn’t want to leave out a West Hartford dining photo from this week.

Red Potato Pizza from Willington Pizza. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Buffalo Chicken Pizza from Willington Pizza. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Good cold beers from Willington Pizza after the UConn game. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Ted and I at the UConn vs. DePaul game. I was wearing a Duke shirt underneath my UConn sweatshirt!

Chicken salad sandwich from DORO Marketplace. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Look for coverage of the budget presentation to the Town Council this week

The universal indoor mask mandate was lifted in West Hartford as of Thursday, Feb. 10 (click here for the details) as of today masks will be optional in schools, libraries, and other town buildings (click here for details). Some business owners, however, may still ask that their customers wear masks. And many people will choose to wear masks in a variety of settings. Please have patience with each other and our choices, continue to look out for each other, support our local businesses – and stay safe and healthy.

If you have information to share about local businesses, please provide details in the comments or email Ronni Newton at [email protected].

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Here’s this week’s Buzz:

Renderings that indicate future tenants of the former Jared building will be Sally’s Apizza and CAVA. Town of West Hartford documents

  • I always post this column on Facebook on Monday afternoon or evening, and someone commented last week that “What West Hartford really needs is a CAVA.” Well … guess what name appears on the rendering for updated plans for the former Jared building in Corbin’s Corner? Yes, it’s CAVA, and that’s not all. New Haven-based Sally’s Apizza is planning a location in Corbin’s Corner, too!  The plans, being which have been submitted as part of the Town Council agenda indicating that Town Planner Todd Dumais plans to grant administrative approval for minor changes to the Special Development District, indicate that the former Jared building at 1459 New Britain Ave., rather than being demolished and rebuilt as was included in a plan approved by the Town Council in February 2020, just before the pandemic, is instead being divided for occupancy by two smaller restaurants, both with outdoor patio space. While I have been advised that the property owner is not able to make a public statement about the plans at this time, I am confident that the names are not just placeholders and that both restaurants are indeed planning locations in that space. For those unfamiliar with CAVA (tagline “for those who savor”), it’s a fast-casual Mediterranean restaurant featuring customized salads, bowls, pitas, and rice dishes. There are restaurants 19 states, but the only other Connecticut location is in Greenwich. Most people probably recognize the name of the iconic New Haven-based Sally’s Apizza, which also has a location in Stamford and announced plans last summer to begin an expansion into the Hartford area with a location in Wethersfield. The plans approved by the Town Council in February 2020 also included a façade update for the Corbin’s Corner shopping center, which has recently gotten underway. And in case you’re also wondering about the other Mediterranean restaurant that had been located in that same shopping center, Kouzina (formerly Simple Greek) has closed permanently following the death of owner George Chatzopolous a few months ago. Plans for a new occupant in that space are currently being finalized.

Town of West Hartford documents indicating repurposing of the former Jared building for two restaurants.

Town of West Hartford documents indicating repurposing of the former Jared building for two restaurants.

  • The sign is up at WeHa Fit, in the former Degras space at 261 Park Road. Owner Mike Walker has been training clients in other spaces while awaiting the completion of the space, and he said he is hoping for a May 1 opening. More information about his personal training and other programs can be found on the WeHa Fit website. More to come when they are ready to open!

WeHa Fit is currently building out the former Degras space on Park Road. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • I reported last summer that the former Goldroc Diner was going to be transformed into an IHOP, and work is finally getting underway on that project and multiple plans have been submitted recently for renovation work including signage, a new kitchen, and other interior improvements. There’s even a small sign on the door indicating that IHOP will be opening soon. Mustafa Ayaz, who lives in Southington and owns several gas station properties in Connecticut, purchased the building shortly after the Goldroc closed, and along with his family will be operating the IHOP franchise in that space.

The former Goldroc Diner is being converted to an IHOP. Note sign on door. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The former Goldroc Diner is being converted to an IHOP. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • Readers were very excited last week to read in last week’s column about plans for Chop’t to open in Bishops Corner, and I wanted to share the rendering below, which was included in documents that are part of the Town Council agenda because the signage is getting administrative approval. It makes it easier to visualize exactly where Chop’t will be located in the space that was formerly Maximum Beverage.

Rendering of Chop’t with signage. Town of West Harford document

  • IV therapy is coming to Essential Health in West Hartford starting March 10, when Joe Baczewski, RN, and his team from LIVationCT monthly IV therapy sessions by appointment at Dr. Allie Mendelson’s office located at Essential Health on Park Road. Mendelson said the wellness mission of LIVationCT aligns perfectly with the goals for Essential Health to help people develop wellness habits to achieve their health goals and support healthy immune function. “Every day I show and teach my patients the importance of healthy habits including chiropractic adjustments, exercise, smart food choices, and proper supplementation that become important to their overall wellness and longevity,” said Mendelson. “The therapies provided by nurses Joe Baczewski, Devin Hahn, and their team is exactly what I’ve been looking for to add to what we already offer patients at Essential Health.” LIVationCT will start seeing clients by appointment on March 10, 2022, by calling or stopping into Essential Health, 74 Park Road, 860-269-3228, x1. “Most people, no matter how healthy, are deficient in some core nutrients,” Baczewski said at a recent workshop. “Patients can receive necessary, and commonly deficient, vitamins infused directly through IV infusion therapy to maximize its bio-availability.” The IV therapy treatments are completely customized for each patient to meet their needs and include support for immunity, recovery, skin health, and symptom management. The ingredients are clean and the names are familiar, including B12, Minerals, Vitamin C, Aminos, and others. The delivery of these nutrients via IV makes them highly bio-available. LIVation was founded to execute high-quality nutraceutical IV therapy in CT. A nutraceutical is food, or in this case, an IV supplement containing health-giving additives and having medicinal benefits. Each session begins with a wellness consultation and health history to be sure the treatment matches the needs. A booking fee of $30 is due upon scheduling and is 55% less than the normal house call fee. The IV rates will vary by treatment and dose and is payable at the time of the appointment.

Dr. Allie Mendelson receiving an IV treatment. Courtesy photo

  • On Wednesday, March 9, from 11 a.m. to noon, senior nutritionist Neil Carcusa will be onsite at the newly-opened Pharmacy at Blue Back, 55 Isham Road, to answer all questions around stress and how to manage stress with supplements and self-care. “He will explain the different types of stress, the effect of stress on the body, how to manage stress with lifestyle management and how to utilize supplements to alleviate stress. Whether you feel sad, depressed, anxious, overwhelmed, fatigued, or hopeless, there is a supplement that can help your body fight against the stress to get you back to feeling like yourself,” the eventbrite invitation states. The event is free to attend and all are welcome.

Courtesy image

  • Tuesday, March 8 is International Women’s Day, and the celebration is taking place all month long at Ten Thousand Villages at 967C Farmington Ave. in West Hartford Center. “Not only are over 60% of makers women,  many or our artisan partner groups are led by inspiring women as well.  We’ll be celebrating their stories and how they have improved their lives and their communities,” Manager Teri Osborne said. A soap drive will be held through the end of the month to benefit local nonprofit My Sisters’ Place, she added. Handmade Palam Rural soaps will be donated to the Hartford-based nonprofit that is working to end homelessness. “We are hoping to duplicate the great success we had last year,” Osborne said.

Courtesy of Ten Thousand Villages

  • As part of Westfield Bank’s “Celebrate Connecticut” promotion, customers had the opportunity to nominate local organizations for a $1,000 donation at each of the Bank’s four Connecticut branches, for a total of $4,000 in donations. The charity raffle and other promotional activities celebrated the opening of the Bank’s new Granby, CT location at 12 East Granby Road. In West Hartford, the donation was presented to Friends of Feeney, a nonprofit organization with the mission to help children and families who need assistance after heartbreak and tragedy. Pictured below with Branch Manager Patrice Taffe and VP, Regional Manager Matt Cuddy (center) is Friends of Feeney President Eric Feeney (left) and Director Marty Keena (right).

Courtesy of Westfield Bank

  • Congratulations and best wishes to former West Hartford Town Manager Matt Hart, who began his new position on Monday as executive director of the Capitol Region Council of Governments (CRCOG)! He was sighted at the Mayor’s State of the Town luncheon on Friday!

Former West Hartford Town Manager Matt Hart attended the Mayor’s State of the Town luncheon on March 4, 2022 at the Pond House. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • West Hartford resident Lutz Labisch has been named president and CEO of TRUMPF Inc. effective March 1, 2022.  He is responsible for production, sales and service of TRUMPF’s machine tool and laser technology product portfolio in North America and for the strategy and business operations at its U.S. subsidiaries in Connecticut, California, Illinois, and Michigan. He also oversees TRUMPF operations in Mexico, Canada and Brazil. TRUMPF is currently the largest manufacturer of fabricating equipment and industrial lasers in North America and generated revenues of roughly $700 million in FY 2020-21. The company’s U.S. headquarters have been located in Farmington since 1969.

TRUMPF CEO Lutz Labisch. Courtesy photo

  • Congratulations to Robert Laraia, RFC, of North Star Wealth Partners, LLC in West Hartford, who has been named the 2022 recipient of the International Association of Registered Financial Consultants (IARFC),Founder’s Award. The award “is given in honor of the IARFC Founder John J. Gargan to those who have been a past or present Trustee, Chapter Board Director, or Committee Member, held a professional designation/credential awarded by the IARFC, possesses a clean regulatory record, and has been a member in good standing for a minimum of 5 years. They must have achieved a high ethical and professional standard and most importantly, helped expand the visibility of the Association,” a news release states. Laraia has worked since 1985 in financial services and holds the Registered Financial Consultant (RFC) designation from the IARFC. He has been a member of the industry’s prestigious MDRT since 1990. Since 1998 he was invited to become a member of MDRT Court of the Table, which represents the top 3%of the financial services representatives. In 1999, he became an elite member of MDRT Top of the Table. In addition, to being part owner of his own firm that is engaged in giving back to the community, Bob sits as a Director on the IARFC US Chapter Board. He is involved in the policy-making and active membership promotion to all prospective consultants who are looking for an Association that champions ethics, integrity, and continuing education. In seeing the need to nurture those upcoming in the profession, his firm has signed on for the second year as a Corporate Sponsor to the IARFC National Financial Plan Competition, open to college undergrads in a financial services field of study.

Robert A. Laraia, Founding Partner, Northstar Wealth Partners. (we-ha.com file photo)

  • Congratulations to Theresa Sanderson, CNHA, FACHCA, administrator of West Hartford Health & Rehabilitation Center in West Hartford, who has been honored with the American College of Health Care Administrators (ACHCA) 2022 Eli Pick Facility Leadership Award. Only 3% of facilities nationwide met the initial selection criteria. According to a news release, this year, 57 administrators in 17 states met all eligibility requirements and were awarded the facility leadership award nationally. The leadership award will be celebrated at ACHCA’s Annual Convocation and Exposition scheduled in New Orleans, Louisiana, from March 21‐24.

Theresa Sanderson. Courtesy photo

  • Jonathan Gearty, a financial services executive from West Hartford, has been a Big Brother (mentor) for just about a year. He’s matched with Little Brother (mentee) Jaden from Hartford, a 10-year-old who’s in the fifth grade at the Noah Webster MicroSociety Magnet School, and recently the two celebrated their match anniversary with an afternoon of sledding at Buena Vista Golf Course in West Hartford. In February, Nutmeg Big Brothers Big Sisters and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwestern Connecticut merged forming Big Brothers Big Sisters of Connecticut – the youth mentoring organization that created and monitors their match relationship.

Jonathan Gearty and Jaden sledding. Courtesy photo

  • Gov. Ned Lamont recently nominated 22 residents to fill vacancies on the Superior Court, and also two individuals as family support magistrates – including Ramona Mercado-Espinoza, 64, of West Hartford. Mercado-Espinoza graduated from Central Connecticut State University and obtained her Juris Doctor degree from the University of Connecticut School of Law. She started her career as a deputy assistant public defender in Hartford, GA14. Thereafter, she was in the private practice of law, while serving as a magistrate hearing officer for small claims in Connecticut. Currently, she is a staff attorney at Greater Hartford Legal Aid representing domestic violence survivors in family court.
  • ICYMI, Greg Sommer has been named West Hartford town engineer. Details can be found here.
  • A newly-launched West Hartford nonprofit, Tighed Together, has been raising funds through an art installation along Asylum Avenue that was intended to also raise awareness of their mission to provide experiences to help families deal with trauma. The complete story can be found here.
  • Taste of West Hartford-Elmwood is tonight. The details can be found here.
  • If you missed the Mayor’s State of the Town address on Friday, a summary can be found here.
  • Finally, a West Hartford-based company has just patented a nutritional therapeutic for pets. Read all about ZipZyme here.

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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