A round-up of openings, closings, and other news about West Hartford businesses.
By Ronni Newton
I’m feeling a bit sentimental today. As usual I’m writing this column on Sunday, and it’s my youngest child’s 18th birthday. I have two children, and my oldest turned 21 just seven weeks ago.
Yikes. Where did the time go?
On Saturday I was looking through old photo albums, trying to find that “just-right” photo of Sam to post on Instagram and Facebook on his birthday – one that was the proper combination of cute and slightly embarrassing. If you’re my personal friend on Facebook, you’ve probably seen it, and you should know that we staged a similar photo after dinner tonight – sans booster seat, but with cake on the face.
I moved to West Hartford just over 18 years ago, on the weekend of my daughter’s third birthday and just weeks before my son was due to be born. We moved to this area from our home in suburban Washington, D.C. for a variety of reasons – including a new job for my husband and so the kids could really know their grandparents who all lived in Connecticut.
We looked at homes in other nearby towns but chose West Hartford, where my husband grew up, because we loved the feel of the town. We wanted a place where we could get to know our neighbors. We wanted sidewalks. We wanted an elementary school that felt like a community. We wanted the convenience of stores and restaurants that were either walking distance or a short drive. We loved the parks, and the classes available through Leisure Services and the library. Our kids have taken advantage of that and more – Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, soccer, baseball, lacrosse, basketball, music, art, drama.
I don’t remember this town the way some of those who comment on our “Thursday Throwback” do, but I do remember the West Hartford of the 1980s, when my husband and I were in college and dating and I would come to visit his family. Westfarms was relatively new and the Center was struggling. It’s changed a lot since then.
I also remember the West Hartford of the late 1990s when we moved here – before Blue Back Square was built, when there were at least three or four Friendly’s in town, when the library parking lot had a crazy hill in the back that was a challenge when you were negotiating a stroller, before the Sunset Triangle Stop & Shop was “modernized,” when the Adams Supermarket was the place to go grocery shopping on a rainy day because you could park in the garage, when there weren’t really any burger places, before Max’s Oyster Bar opened in the Center, and when the Fitness Clinic and Bally’s were really the only workout places. It’s changed a lot since then.
What I don’t think has changed about West Hartford is its essential character. Stores and restaurants come and go. Schools get new principals. Buildings get renovated. Yet I think this is such a great town – a fascinating combination of a large and diverse community that is at the same time very much a small town. It’s a place where the fabric of everyone’s lives is intertwined, and I think most of us like it that way.
I’ve said many times that West Hartford loves itself, and that’s why hyperlocal news works here. Things may be change in this town, but that’s just its evolution.
As I look ahead to the new reality of being an empty nester (I’m sure this is not the last time I will mention that), I’m excited to see what the future may bring. I’m excited for the future of this town, too.
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:
- Pure Barre opened for business in Blue Back Square on Thursday! Some construction delays pushed the opening back a few months, and in the meantime owner Stephanie Lin hosted some pop-up classes at Althleta at Westfarms. The Blue Back Square studio (former Santander Bank, right next to Rizzuto’s) is open daily with a full schedule of classes. Click here for details. You can also follow Pure Barre West Hartford on Facebook. More information about what Pure Barre is all about, and how Lin got involved and decided to open the West Hartford studio, are available by clicking here.
- Hartford Stitch will have a permanent home beginning June 1 – the second floor of 298 Park Road. Owner Laura Kaskowitz was thrilled to make the announcement a few weeks ago, as was Lisa Howard, the owner of the 298 Park Road building, of the arrangement that seems “meant to be.” Hartford Stitch has been nomadic, sharing space with Imagine Studio at 97 South St. but packing up at the end of every class. Howard said she was taking a Hartford Stitch sewing class at Imagine Studio, and learned that Kaskowitz had been talking about being tired of lugging her stuff around and was looking for space. Howard had just cleaned out the upstairs suite on Park Road and was looking for a tenant. Kaskowitz posted the following on Facebook: “The story of how this came to be is kind of crazy: I had been looking for a studio for months but everything has been too expensive or too big. Eventually I threw up my hands and said to myself that someday a student would walk into my class and say, ‘I have a building on Park Road do you want to rent the second floor?’ Thirty minutes a later a student walked in and said that, pretty much verbatim. And the kicker? It was the building I had been dreaming about earlier in the day! The world works in bizarre and wonderful ways!” For more information about Hartford Stitch, follow them on Facebook.
- Marguerite Rose took over ownership of Panache, the eclectic consignment shop at 485 New Park Ave., in December, and on Thursday enjoyed a ribbon-cutting celebration by the West Hartford Chamber of Commerce and Mayor Scott Slifka. Rose posted the following on the store’s Facebook page: “Friends and fans came out to celebrate, shop and snack on delicacies from our neighbor, A Little Something Bakery. Thanks for all of the support West Hartford and the Chamber!”
- The Big Idaho Potato Truck comes to Mooyah in Bishops Corner today! The Tater Team will be on site from 4 – 8 p.m., hosting special activities for the entire family, and free hand-cut fries will be available with every purchase. Funds are also being raised for Hall High School’s Safe Grad party at the event. More details are available here.
- The Town Council will hold a public information session on Monday night to engage in discussion and receive input from the community about purchase of the UConn West Hartford campus. Representatives from the town as well as West Hartford Public Schools and Weiming Education Group will be in attendance at the meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. in the Town Hall Auditorium. If the town does not indicate plans to purchase the UConn property by May 14, the university will sell it to Chinese-owned Weiming Education Group (pending due diligence already in progress) for use as an international academy. To read the entire story with details about the history of the proposal, click here.
- Mark your calendars for May 14. ICYMI, the “Home, Garden & Lifestyle Show” will take place that day in the Home Design District. Click here for details.
- Best of West Hartford is about to begin. Information about how to nominate your favorite businesses will be posted this week. Stay tuned!
Remember, if you have any business news to share, remember to add it in the comments section below or email Ronni Newton at [email protected].
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