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West Hartford Business Buzz: May 20, 2024

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

It’s been another week packed full of activities and events – and lots of sports to cover as the regular seasons wind down for high school sports. You can find stories about all of the games that We-Ha.com has been able to cover under the sports tab here, and we will do our best to get to as many post-season contests (home games) as possible once those schedules are released.

I’ll be out of touch most of the day Monday, in Stamford at the funeral of a long-time family friend (she was 94, and had been the last survivor of a best friends foursome that included my parents and her and her husband), but I’ll be back in time to report on the Conard vs. Hall Mayors Cup baseball game.

It’s almost Memorial Day – official “white pants season” although I have already been wearing mine for weeks. You can find details about the West Hartford Memorial Day parade here, and there will be more information about holiday closings coming later in the week, as well as full stories and photo galleries from the Memorial Day parade and ceremony.

Housekeeping note: We are not planning to publish a newsletter next Monday – which is Memorial Day – unless there is serious breaking news to report. Look for the next Business Buzz to appear on Wednesday, May 29.

Ted and I have been going to fundraisers every weekend for the past several weeks, and our final one for a while was quite the event! We were at Playhouse on Park’s “Madly Marvelous” Encore gala on Saturday night at The Hartford Club, and the mid-century modern-themed event was so much fun and extraordinarily successful in supporting the Playhouse. Look for a complete story and photo gallery coming very soon. I was very excited to wear the dress shown in the photo below, which is vintage from the late 50s/early 60s, and was lent to my by my college roommate who owns and operates a business in North Carolina that performs murder mystery shows.

Ted and I enjoyed Playhouse on Park’s “Madly Marvelous” themed Encore gala on Saturday night at The Hartford Club.

Dinner at Encore was surf and turf! Photo credit: Ronni Newton

A late night “French fry station” at Encore featured waffle fries and sweet potato fries. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

No restaurant dining last week, although I had several meetings over coffee – including one also included large (and still warm) chocolate chip cookies from DORO Marketplace. I neglected to take a photo, however, and didn’t even think about it until the cookies had been devoured and there was nary a crumb left on the plate.

I was at the Chamber of Commerce After Hours last Wednesday night (see bullet point below with information about the 2024 Chamber Award winners!) and Bob Carr, one of the owners of We-Ha.com and our business manager, did agree to pose with me in the photo booth. I never got photos of the food because much of it had been eaten by the time I arrived.

I can’t pass up a Photo Booth, and We-Ha.com Business Manager Bob Carr agreed to pose with me.

If you are a long term, regular advertiser on We-Ha.com and have a 60 to 75 word submission for a future Business Buzz please send to Bob Carr at [email protected].

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:

Kitchen Plate will be opening soon at 1234 Farmington Avenue. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • The sign was recently installed for Kitchen Plate, and it’s clearly quite visible because I don’t know if I have ever received more tips/questions about business opening. Kitchen Plate will be opening soon in the former Boston Market space at 1234 Farmington Avenue, in Sunset Triangle, right across the street from Stop & Shop – which is probably why so many people noticed it. Only minor updates were being made to the physical space, based on town permit records (essentially just painting and the installation of new kitchen equipment) and it should be ready to open soon. For those missing rotisserie chicken, based on the signs in the window it will be on the menu at Kitchen Plate, and offered as a family meal option, and the Mediterranean-American cafe will also offer bowls, sandwiches, salads, falafel, and gyros. I very much look forward to connecting with the owner and sharing the complete details as soon as possible.

Many of the winners of the 2024 Chamber of Commerce awards were at the Business After Hours on May 15, 2024 at Warehouse 635. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • Congratulations to the 2024 West Hartford Chamber of Commerce award winners, all of whom will be officially recognized at the Annual Meeting and Spotlight Awards dinner on Thursday, June 27, from 5:30-8:30 p.m. at the North House. The winners were announced at the Business After Hours event last week, and everyone in the room was incredibly touched by the announcement that this year’s Noah Webster Award – the Chamber’s prestigious award which is given each year to the person, persons or organization exemplifying an extraordinary commitment to the West Hartford community – will be awarded posthumously to Earl Exum. I could not think of a more deserving person to receive the honor. All of the award winners are exemplary choices – including Judy Casperson (Elizabeth Gustin Basil Women’s Leadership Award); Cailin McBee of Balance Massage and Wellness Center (Entrepreneur of the Year); Erica Smith-Rapaport of Home to Home Moving Specialists (New Business of the Year); One Park West Hartford Apartments (Economic Driver of the Year); Seniors Job Bank (Legacy Award); Tony Sisti of the Ron Foley Foundation (Chamber Volunteer of the Year); Victor Gonzalez of NBT Bank (Young Professional of the Year); and West Hartford Pride (Nonprofit of the Year). For more information about the annual meeting and dinner, including the link to registration, click here.

Courtesy image

  • I’m not putting this at the end of the column, even though it’s an announcement that Halfway (37 LaSalle Road) closed its doors for good on May 8. A sign on the door indicates that “it won’t be a mystery for long,” and plans for the replacement business, which will still be part of Bean Restaurant Group, are definitely in the works and will hopefully be able to be revealed very soon!

Halfway has closed at 37 LaSalle. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • The barrier is up (thanks to Connecticut Scoop for the tip!) and MINISO will be opening at Westfarms this summer, spokesperson Amanda Sirica confirmed. It will be located on the lower level, near Center Court. According to its website, “MINISO has collaborated with world-famous brands including Coca Cola, Marvel, Hello Kitty, Sesame Street, Mickey and Minnie, Pink Panther, We Bare Bears and Beijing’s Palace Museum, releasing playful crossover products that have been hugely popular with our young shoppers.” There are not currently any MINISO stores in Connecticut, although there are stores in the Boston area and in New York. Visit their website for more information.

MINISO is opening this summer at Westfarms. Photo credit: Kate Novak

  • Also at Westfarms, according to spokesperson Amanda Sirica, Icing opened a new location in Center Court this weekend, and JD Sports will be opening soon.

JD Sports will be opening at Westfarms. Photo credit: Ronni Newton (we-ha.com file photo)

  • Christiane Gehami, owner of Arugula (953 Farmington Avenue) has shared that lunch service has resumed. Lunch is now available Thursday through Saturday, beginning at 11:30 a.m., with a menu (see PDF below) that has many of the dinner favorites but also what looks like a great assortment of handhelds (burgers, dogs, panini, and fish). I haven’t been in the Center to check it out, but Gehami said a few days ago that “by the end of this week, le petit Jardin should be all planted as well.” More information can be found here.

Outdoor dining corral at Arugula in 2023. Photo credit: Ronni Newton (we-ha.com file photo)

  • I get multiple emails every week with lists of the top destinations in the country for all sorts of things – some of the strangest are the best towns for naked gardening and for surviving a zombie apocalypse (not the same towns, and these are actual lists that have been compiled) – but Mixbook has listed West Hartford Center as No. 149 among the top 150 locations in the country for nightlife. Las Vegas was No. 1 on the list and New Haven (No. 122) and Stamford (No. 140) were the only other two Connecticut towns on the list. The description accompanying the list stated: “West Hartford Center offers a lively mix of bars, restaurants, and occasional street performances that make its nightlife vibrant and engaging. The area’s bustling atmosphere is perfect for an evening out with friends or family.”

Outdoor dining on LaSalle Road in West Hartford Center. Photo credit: Ronni Newton (we-ha.com file photo)

  • Congratulations to West Hartford’s Greg Hammond – whose extraordinary fundraising efforts through the Connecticut Beer Tour earned him the honor of becoming the 2024 Greater Connecticut Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Visionary of the Year. His team, the Hammond Hoptimists, has now raised $118,571. When the contest ended, the six LLS Greater Connecticut Visionaries of the Year candidate teams had raised a total of $316,605 – and the fundraising page remains open until June 3o, 2024. In a letter to supporters, Greg and his wife, Karen, wrote: “One aspect we did not see coming is the way this campaign so richly blessed us. We met and talked with many, many people who generously shared their stories, their struggles, their losses, their successful treatments, and their money. We also spent time with the AMAZING, hardworking and very small LLS staff (most of your donations go to research, advocacy, and patient support, not staff). They were fantastic in supporting and motivating us along the way. Hearing stories from patients in remission and learning about new treatments provided us with so much hope for the future – a world without blood cancers is possible! … Thank you for your support.  Your donations and your words of encouragement were invaluable – YOU fueled our spirits and effort. We can not think of a better way to honor the memory and legacy of Greg’s dad.” More about the inspiration for the Connecticut Beer Tour, the 23 breweries included, and Hammond’s fundraising can be found here.

Greg Hammond. Photo credit: Beth Brown

Courtesy of Greg Hammond

  • The Bridge Family Center announced in a news release that Heather Clifford, a lifelong West Hartford resident and long-time Children’s Charity Ball committee member, has been welcomed to its distinguished Board of Directors for a three-year term. Clifford is the owner of GET ORGANIZED a local business that helps students and young adults learn the organizational skills and tools they need to succeed in the classroom and in their busy lives. She is an active community volunteer who has served on the planning committee of the Bridge’s signature event, the Children’s Charity Ball, for the past 13 years. She also served as Parent Association President at Kingswood Oxford School for two years. She holds a BA in Health Science from Simmons University and an MA in Occupational Therapy from Boston University. “The Bridge is very excited to welcome Heather to the Board. Through her tremendous efforts on the Ball committee, she has helped raise important funds to benefit our children and families while increasing awareness of our programs and services. In her role as a Board Member, she will continue to serve as a community ambassador as we work to meet the ever-evolving needs of those we serve,” stated Margaret Hann, Executive Director of the Bridge Family Center.

Heather Clifford. Courtesy photo

  • Scott B. Franklin & Associates has announced that Aaron Frankel has joined the law firm as an associate attorney. Frankel’s work will focus on all areas of the firm’s practice including business law and transactions, commercial and residential real estate, and estate planning and probate. “I am so excited to welcome Aaron to the firm,” said Scott Franklin, founder and owner of Scott B. Franklin & Associates. “Aaron brings a wealth of knowledge to our practice, having worked at large firms in Boston, representing companies large and small as they formed, grew, raised money, acquired other companies or were acquired themselves. As a West Hartford native, Aaron knows this community and is already making a positive impact in the lives of our clients. With Aaron on board, we can continue to expand the valuable services we offer to clients throughout the region.” “I’m thrilled to be a part of Scott B. Franklin & Associates,” Frankel said. “Scott has been providing strategic advice and valued counsel to Connecticut businesses and individuals for decades. I am proud to be joining Scott and excited at this opportunity to serve our clients and work with people and businesses right here in my community.” Frankel received his J.D. with high honors from the University of Connecticut School of Law. After law school, he joined the international law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, where he represented companies in commercial litigation, before joining the Boston firm Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky, and Popeo, P.C., where he represented small, large, public and private companies in various commercial transactions. He lives in West Hartford, CT with his wife and daughter.

Aaron Frankel. Courtesy photo

  • West Hartford-based Environmental Systems Co. (ESC), a Fidelity Building Services Group company and leading provider of building technology solutions throughout the Northeast, has announced in a news release the acquisition of Compressor Energy Services (CES). With over 30 years of experience in the compressed air systems industry, CES specializes in optimizing the efficiency of compressed air systems in large industrial facilities. From steam assessment services to AIrAnalyticsTM, CES provides turnkey design and implementation services, offering unique professional solutions that match customers’ specific needs with utility requirements. “We’re excited to add the knowledge and expertise of the Compressor Energy Services team to our Energy Solutions Group,” said ESC President Michael Mullin. “Bolstered by 30 years of experience in the industry, CES brings a unique approach to compressed air system optimization using metering and analytics to identify solutions that produce energy savings and operational efficiency for our customers.” CES’s team of compressed air efficiency specialists have conducted over 2,000 assessments and have worked closely with over 25 different utility companies to secure over $30 million in utility incentives for turnkey projects. CES’s drive to create energy savings aligns with ESC’s commitments to reducing energy costs and consumption, supplementing the services currently offered by the existing Energy Solutions Group, and supporting ESC’s ability to perform comprehensive facilities assessments.

ESC logo. Courtesy image

  • The sad news spread rather quickly last Monday, when Tisane announced that the popular and eclectic cafe, tea house, and bar just over the line in Hartford closed for good. I know it’s not in West Hartford, but was certainly frequented by many residents, myself included. Below is the announcement that was posted on Tisane’s Facebook page.

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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We-Ha.com is the place to go for the latest information about West Hartford – a town that "has it all"! We-Ha.com is part of and proud of our community, and we bring a hyperlocal focus to news and features about the people, schools, businesses, real estate, sports, restaurants, charitable events, arts, and more. Contact us at: [email protected] or [email protected].


  • Any update on the old CVS in the center? I know it’s been 8 months since it shut down and when walked by the other day seeing a “for lease” sign up I realized how long it had been. Am surprised it’s been empty so long with a prime spot, but who knows.

  • There is a Miniso USA in Norwalk, CT, but having another one further up is a welcome addition.

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