Bishops Corner Business Park Road The Center

West Hartford Business Buzz: May 22, 2017

The barrier is up, build-out has commenced, and Vineyard Vines will open at Westfarms this fall. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

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

By Ronni Newton

Well that was certainly a quick transition from a cold and damp spring to summer!

It was downright hot for a few days last week, but since I complain about the cold, I will never (okay, rarely) complain about the heat.

Our house (a 1930 Tudor with old-fashioned radiators) doesn’t have central air, and although we do have one large and permanently-installed unit in the family room, none of the other window units have been put in yet this year. Sleeping was rather tough on Thursday night when it was quite toasty, but that was really because of our dog, Scarlett, sleeping our room and panting – quite loudly – all night long.

My weekend was highlighted by the chance to be a soccer mom again!

After at least 17 years of watching my kids play a plethora of sports, one of the things I missed most about being an empty nester was being on the sidelines of a field watching a game and cheering for my kids’ team. And of course socializing with the other parents. Sam is playing his last eligible year with the U19 boys travel soccer team (which opened their season with a first-round overtime 1-0 State Cup victory Saturday vs. Milford – yay!) – and the other parents of college students on the team were just as thrilled as I was to be back on the sidelines.

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:

The barrier is up, build-out has commenced, and Vineyard Vines will open at Westfarms this fall. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • A Vineyard Vines store is coming to West Hartford! The news officially announced Friday – once the leased was signed – is that Vineyard Vines will open a 4,000 square foot store at Westfarms in the former BCBGMAZAZRIA on the upper level near near the Macy’s Furniture and Men’s store – the part that is even technically in West Hartford. Westfarms spokesperson Amanda Sirica said that while Vineyard Vines is a brand that some other mall retailers already carry, having a dedicated store will mean a much greater variety of men’s, women’s, and kids’ merchandise. “It’s such an iconic brand and to have a location in central Connecticut and not have to travel to other Vineyard Vines destinations is amazing,” Sirica said. Vineyard Vines has stores in Greenwich, New Canaan, and Westport, as well as an outlet store at Foxwoods. “We’re just thrilled and looking forward to welcoming them to the Westfarms family in the fall. It’s a great complement to our existing lineup,” Sirica said. Adding to the excitement for my kids, who are both fans of the brand, is the fact that there’s a 15 percent student discount at Vineyard Vines – but only in the stores, not on the website. “We’re excited to welcome a brand with Connecticut roots to our lineup,” Ray Lamoureux, Westfarms marketing and sponsorship director said in a news release. “With stores that reflect the uniqueness of the area and timeless attire that embraces a carefree spirit,vineyard vines is sure to resonate with our customers.” Vineyard Vines was founded in 1998 by Greenwich natives Shep and Ian Murray. For more information about the brand, visit the Vineyard Vines website. For more information about Westfarms, visit their website.
  • And while we’re on the subject of Vineyard Vines, there is limited edition custom label We-Ha Vineyard Vines merchandise available through the We-Ha.com store – with pick-up now available at Lux Bond & Green on LaSalle Road. It’s now perfect polo weather, right? And new to the line-up is an absolutely adorable pale blue We-Ha Vineyard Vines baseball cap. You will definitely find me around town wearing one of these as soon as the orders come in! Click here to see what’s in the We-Ha store.
  • This one will be deserving of a complete feature story, but in the meantime I’m sharing the announcement that Conard graduates (I believe all Class of 2012) Josh Levitan, Anthony Lugo, and Willie Fair, held a grand opening Sunday for The Lost Breed, a new athletic training center at 635 New Park Ave., Building 2H in West Hartford. These guys are amazingly fit and have developed quite a following for their brand that includes workout programs and apparel (they have more than 224,000 Instagram followers), and are now bringing it home with a location offering athletic training in West Hartford. For more information, visit their website, or click here to view some YouTube videos and prepare to be amazed.
  • Congratulations to West Hartford-based Companions for Living, which according to a news release was recently the recipient of both the 2017 Best of Home Care “Provider of Choice” and “Employer of Choice” awards from Home Care Pulse. These awards are granted only to the top-ranking home care providers, based on client and caregiver satisfaction scores gathered by Home Care Pulse. “The importance of winning these awards from Home Care Pulse is that demonstrates our dedication to provide an exceptional working experience for our employees and the highest quality care for our clients,” Julianne Roth, founder and president of Companions for Living, said in the release. Companions for Living recently broke ground for its new home on North Main Street in Bishops Corner.
  • Ocho Cafe Tacos & Tequila is in the home stretch of preparing to open in the former Bertucci’s at 330 North Main St. in Bishops Corner. Owner Edgar Brambilla said early last week that they were about 10 days out, so stay tuned for more details and perhaps an opening over the Memorial Day weekend! For more information about Ocho Cafe, click here.

    Walker Group VP of Operations Jessica Rich presents Luc Dang of West Hartford-based Phood with their Tech Impact Award (one of two awards they took home for a total of $14,000). Submitted photo

  • Congratulations to West Hartford-based Phood, a major winner at social enterprise trust reSET’s 2017 Venture Showcase held May 17 at the Mark Twain House. Phood, which was established in West Hartford in 2015, will receive a total of $14,000 in funding Walker Group’s Tech Impact Award ($10,000) and an Impact award ($4,000). Phood has developed a software program that to allow foodservice professionals to more effectively manage the food usage and reduce waste in the kitchen. “With the data collected, it provides actionable insights on how, where, and when waste can be reduced. This leads to decreases in the purchasing and labor costs and the overall environmental impact of food production,” according to a news release.
  • For the past 30 days, We-Ha.com was promoting the Second Annual Taste of Bishops Corner with hopes you would join us at the event set in a new outdoor venue at Edens patio, in between Maximum Beverage and Blue Plate Kitchen, and you did! Thank you to all who came, and you can see photos by Todd Fairchild and video clip by Directline Media included in the story here. NBC Connecticut Meteorologist Kaitlyn McGrath joined us at the Taste  (thank you, Kaitlyn) and we also wanted to share with you their “spotlight” on Bishops Corner.
  • Sally & Bob’s Eatery, which was purchased by West Hartford residents Helen Brower and Cesar Contreras in late 2016, has continued to serve the traditional breakfast and lunch favorites made popular when the Zieky’s owned the cafe, and also added some new specialties, will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony with the Chamber of Commerce on May 25 at 3:30 p.m.  
  • On Wednesday, May 24, KeyBank (55 South Main St.) employees will be participating in the company’s 27th annual “Neighbors Make the Difference Day.” Connecticut employees will volunteer more than 1,120 hours total on Wednesday, and the West Hartford employees will be engaged in gardening and trash clean up at Elizabeth Park. The West Hartford location will still be open according to a press release from KeyBank.
  • Now for just a bit of bad news … Wednesday, May 24 will be the last day for the Cumberland Farms store/gas station at 141 Park Rd. While we could neither confirm nor deny a rumor posted on Facebook that it will become a smoke shop, a frequent customer has told We-Ha.com that Cumberland Farms will try to keep as many of the Park Road employees as possible and relocate them to other locations.
  • In the ICYMI department, West Hartford’s Wise Old Dog has moved into a new and much larger space right next door. Owner Jacob Studenroth wanted a larger space, but didn’t want to lose the charm and intimacy of the original location – and definitely seems to have succeeded with the beautiful and light-filled new store which opened five years to the date after the orignal store opening. Click here for the complete story plus lots of photos.

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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