A round-up of openings, closings, and other news about West Hartford businesses.
By Ronni Newton
It was certainly a scorcher of a weekend, but I make a point of not complaining about the heat since I complain about the cold.
Our furnace (affectionately known as “Old Bessie”), which is original to our 90-year-old home, was given a death sentence this week by the guy who came to perform the annual service, and it’s looking like my central air conditioning plans may need to be delayed since a new furnace will ultimately be more of a necessity. The window A/C units are now cranking nicely, if noisily.
As I looked through the photos on my phone I realized just how many times I had eaten out in the past week. I even forgot to take photos of my lunch at Artisan (that was a meeting) and dinner at Union Kitchen (a get together with close friends).
Thanks to our friend and Coldwell Banker real estate agent Tracey Hollerbach for inviting me and Ted to her spring open house at WeHa Brewing & Roasting, which happened to coincide with the opening of Phatty Wagon Kitchen. I mentioned the plans for the business to open in last week’s column, and photos of just some of what we consumed (it was a large group of people!) are below.
Ted and I also attended the Journey Home fundraiser at Talcott Mountain Collective in Simsbury – a very cool place that opened several months ago and has a West Hartford connection – which will be a story for another time.
On Saturday night, after a day that included running, planting what felt like 500 flowers, vegetables, and herbs, weeding, and cleaning the house, Ted and I enjoyed a fabulous dinner on the patio at Arugula. Thankfully I’ve been able to get in a number of runs and other workouts this week since there has been quite a bit of eating!
A few weeks ago I noted that I eliminated my standard paragraph about mask mandates in this column since they have been lifted virtually everywhere except in most health care settings, but COVID-19 has not gone away, and West Hartford has been back in the red alert zone for the past six weeks. Last week, with positive cases continuing to surge, the West Hartford-Bloomfield Health District issued a warning urging the community to take precautions and to utilize available resources to avoid contracting the virus. 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].
Here’s this week’s Buzz:
- I get tips for this column from many different sources, and this one came via an Instagram message from my daughter who last week sent me a video announcement Central Rock Gym – a place she often goes with friends. The video started off with scenes from West Hartford Center and then included the exciting news that their newest location, featuring 22,000 square feet of space and 400 linear feet of bouldering, and including fitness and weight rooms and a yoga room – will be opening in town. “We wanted to introduce a West Hartford location because of the vibrant community and charming town center. We want to make climbing more accessible to anyone in the Hartford area,” Lynnea Rochez, a manager and climbing instructor from Central Rock Gym’s Glastonbury location told me. Brothers Joe and Ed Hardy opened the first Central Rock Gym in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 2009, and there are now 15 locations in New England and New York, with Glastonbury currently the only Connecticut location. Central Rock Gym will be located at 99 Shield Street, where WOW! (Workout World) is currently located. WOW plans to close on June 30, and according to an employee memberships will be canceled as of that date. While there are also WOW locations in Cromwell and Glastonbury, memberships will not transfer. Central Rock plans on an opening in late fall of 2022, and more information about the business can be found on their website.
- I don’t have much detail yet about specific plans to open, but West Hartford Economic Development Coordinator Kristen Gorksi said the broker for The Corbin Collection (1445 New Britain Ave. in Corbin’s Corner) has confirmed the signing of two new leases. Both Crumbl and Club Pilates will be moving into the vacant storefronts between REI and Saks OFF 5th! Crumbl, a family-owned franchise business dedicated to the perfect cookie and featuring a rotating weekly menu of deliciousness served in an iconic pink box, was founded in Utah in 2017, now has more than 300 locations in 36 states, according to the website. The closest Crumbl is currently in Buckland Hills. Club Pilates has a website for the West Hartford location that says “coming soon,” as does the Facebook page, but I don’t have any further information yet. Noting my comments in the intro about food and working out, there’s probably a great synergy between these two businesses!
Sparrow, which has been in build-out mode in the former Grant’s space at 977. Farmington Ave. for quite some time, has now launched a website and social media accounts under @sparrowpizzabar for both Facebook and Instagram. The sites all include the message “(finallly) landing soon – June” and they are also hiring according to the website and a banner across the windows of the future restaurant. Sparrow is on the list of participants in Wednesday’s job and resource fair at the Elmwood Community Center (see bullet point below). The website is sparrowpizzabar.com – which offers some indication about the fare, but no menu has been provided yet. I was pretty excited to be the first Facebook follower and am very committed to narrowing down what “soon” means as soon as I can!
- Congratulations to Kate Kobs! Kobs, the director of Development and Programs for the West Hartford Chamber of Commerce, is the recipient of the Connecticut Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (CACCE) Staff Innovation Award. She was presented the award as part of CACCE’s Annual Meeting which was held on Wednesday, May 18 at the Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington. The award is presented to a staff person who has started or conceived a new initiative for his or her Chamber. “I’m honored to be given this award,” Kobs said about receiving the award. “There are so many distinguished Chamber of Commerce professionals across the state, I am humbled I was even in consideration let alone the chosen winner. It validates the hard work I have put in to provide the best for our community.” Kobs was nominated by West Hartford Chamber President & CEO Chris Conway. “Since joining the Chamber staff over three years ago, Kate has brought an energy and creative solutions mindset to our organization,” he said. ‘The pandemic introduced countless challenges to the ways we serve our local businesses and community. Kate took each obstacle and collaboratively created programs, initiatives and processes for the benefit of our members.” Conway said he nominated her for the distinction in part because of the innovative ways she approached virtual technologies to keep members connected and informed, living up to her nickname “Zoom Queen.” She also created and still acts as administrator of the Facebook groups “Take Out Time West Hartford” and “West Hartford Works,” launched during the pandemic to allow businesses to market services, stay connected to customers, and assist in filling open jobs. Kobs is also one of the founders of YPLCT (Young Professionals Leadership of Connecticut), a statewide collaboration of young professionals groups across the state that focuses on providing programs and resources for those in the early part of their careers. CACCE is supported by CBIA (Connecticut Business and Industry Association) and works with chambers of commerce across the state with a variety of programs, resources, and collaborations.
- West Hartford residents, husband and wife team Adam Kinson and Emily Walsh had a grand opening last week of btone Fitness Studios, located at 111 Pearl Street (corner of Trumbull) in Hartford. According to a news release, the 2,128 square foot Hartford location is the franchise company’s 12th location, and features a 45-minute full-body workout. More information, including the link to registration for classes, can be found on the website. Walsh and Kinson are both devotees of the btone workout, and were approached by the company founder, Jody Merrill. “We were the first people that Jody talked to about franchising and we couldn’t be more excited to be opening in Hartford, which is where I’m from originally,” Walsh said. “And although our process was delayed because of COVID, we think our opening timing now is even better since workers, commuters and local residents are all itching to return to a normal health and wellness routine. Btone makes it easy to squeeze in a 45-minute, total-body workout during the day or after work, and our location is easily walkable from nearby residential buildings and major downtown offices.”
- American Eagle Financial Credit Union, which has a location in West Hartford, has just made a $1,000 donation to the West Hartford-based Connecticut Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) “in recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month and the importance of destigmatizing and addressing mental health issues in the community.” NAMI provides support groups, community education programs, and advocacy that are open to individuals of all ages and the loved ones of those with mental health conditions. “Good financial health and good mental health are integral parts of a person’s overall well-being,” said American Eagle President & CEO Howard Brady. “Our employees are working every day to help people reach or maintain good financial health – and so we want to recognize and support NAMI’s amazing and important work in assisting individuals and families in our communities who are affected by mental illness,” he said in a news release. “These are challenging times, but the generosity of American Eagle Financial Credit Union will help us provide support, education and advocacy for people in Connecticut affected by mental health conditions,” said Liz P. Taylor, Executive Director of NAMI Connecticut in the release. “Our support groups and education programs are needed more than ever, and every gift helps us reach those who need us the most.”
Care at Home by JFS announced the appointment of a Elaine Reid as its new director. In a news release, the West Hartford-based homemaker and companion agency said it is ushering in a post-pandemic caregiving era and is pleased to announce that Reid will sit at the helm for this new chapter in the agency’s history. “I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to lead Care at Home and continue to honor the wishes of people as they age on their terms,” said Reid of her appointment. Reid served as the Director of Outreach and Engagement at Care at Home since January of 2020. Her role included working with families to assess needs, outline services, and benefits to closely match appropriate care. She has become a vital member of the team and of the broader community. Katie Hanley, the CEO of Jewish Family Services of Greater Hartford said of Reid’s appointment, “We are so excited to have Elaine lead Care at Home by JFS. Not only will she carry the high standard of care that our clients and partners know us for, but she will also help us meet the growing needs of people looking to age in place.” During the global COVID-19 pandemic, Reid was instrumental in adapting to the community’s shifting needs and staying on top of local and national healthcare recommendations as it pertained to the evolution of how public health officials understood the virus. Reid brings with her over 25 years of professional experience working in the U.S. and internationally. Before joining the Care at Home team, she has worked as a Senior Living Advisor supporting people with dementia, and managed and directed a local home care agency specializing in memory support care working with older adults and their families. Care at Home’s previous Director, Patricia Kiely, was leading the organization for over 16 years until it grew to its current position. Though she has stepped down from her executive director position within Care at Home, she will continue to serve the community as a part-time Project Manager for Jewish Family Services.
- Murtha Cullina LLP has announced that West Hartford resident Michael G. Curley has joined the firm as an associate in the Trusts and Estates Department. He advises clients on wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and advance directive documents, as well as legal counsel related to estate planning and probate law. According to the news release, Prior to joining Murtha Cullina, Curley spent much of his career in public service, including serving the State of Connecticut as a Social Worker with the Department of Children and Families and as Chief Legal Counsel of the Office of Early Childhood. His past experiences allow him to bring a unique perspective to trusts and estates law, as he truly cares about his clients’ well-being and works hard to ensure that their legal needs are met. Curley earned his J.D. with honors from the University of Connecticut School of Law and his bachelor’s degree from Saint Michael’s College. He also received his Mediation Certificate from Quinnipiac University School of Law.
- ICYMI, West Hartford’s ArtBarrier murals have now been completed in both the Center and Blue Back Square. Check out these photos of the progress from early Sunday afternoon!
- Also ICYMI, the Town of West Hartford and West Hartford Chamber of Commerce are partnering for a job and resource fair – open to job seekers and companies at NO COST – scheduled for Wednesday, May 25. Details, including a list of participants, can be found here.
- New Street in Blue Back Square will soon have a new name. Click here for the details about the recent Town Council action.
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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