A round-up of openings, closings, and other news about West Hartford businesses.
By Ronni Newton
I forgot to mention last week that Business Buzz would be taking off the Memorial Day holiday – and hope everyone figured that out when the We-Ha.com Monday newsletter was instead headlined by a post about the meaning of Memorial Day.
I hope everyone had a great long weekend, and enjoyed the mix of seasons that the weather offered. Saturday was certainly steamy, and I spent the day planting what seemed to be 8,652 flowers, herbs, and other plants. A shower, barbecue, and a cold beer were very welcome by evening. We went to a barbecue at a friend’s house in Westbrook on Monday afternoon, and it was great to be at the beach, even though it got a bit chilly.
But along with the fun activities associated with the unofficial start to summer, I also hope that everyone also took the opportunity to pay tribute to our veterans, especially those who have made the ultimate sacrifice – which is the intent of Memorial Day.
There has been an abundance of pomp and circumstance in West Hartford, beginning with the parade on Monday morning (finally not rained out after missing two years in a row) followed by the Memorial Day ceremony at the Veterans Memorial.
Patriotism was still running high on Tuesday, when West Hartford’s new police chief, Vernon L. Riddick, Jr., was given the oath of office in the bunting-swathed Town Hall auditorium. Members of his former department, the Waterbury Police Department, as well a representatives from police departments throughout the state were in attendance.
On Tuesday night, the bunting still in place, 23 high school graduates or soon-to-be graduates who have committed to military service were honored by the American Legion Hayes-Velhage Post 96 with a ceremony and dinner.
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:
- Harry’s Pizza has been undergoing a transformation over the past several months, with the final piece, the new black and white sign, installed Tuesday afternoon. The 39 South Main St. restaurant was open for takeout only on the weekends while renovations were ongoing, and has now reopened as Harry’s Pizzeria and Tavern. The walls are now brick and barn wood, and there is new seating including a 15-seat bar with high-top tables. To show off the changes to the interior as well as the upgraded menu, a grand opening will be held on Wednesday (today) from 3-8 p.m. It’s open to the public, and there will be samples of new food items and specials that can be ordered from the full bar! Click here to view the food, craft beer, and wine menus. The food and drink menus are also included below (along with several photos) as a PDF. A group of investors, including Bob Hagmeier and West Hartford resident David Palten purchased the business in 2017, and back in March, Palten said that the new owners were honoring the legacy started by Harry’s more than 30 years ago, but were doing the renovation “to revitalize the inside and bring Harry’s back to the glory days – and do more.” The same great pizza has remained a staple of the menu, with cooking overseen by Hagmeier’s wife MaryAnn, whose family hails from Naples, Italy, Palten said. Beverage offerings include a combination of hyperlocal craft beers, specialty whiskeys, and craft cocktails, and new food items include personal pizzas and mini-calzones.
- The Tempur-Pedic retail store opened for business on Friday in West Hartford’s Blue Back Square, at 107 Memorial Rd. (former NoRA Cupcake and Kennedy’s Barber Club space). The store manager is Karin Montiel, and according to a news release, “The location displays Tempur-Pedic’s new Adapt and ProAdapt mattress lines, our Ergo and Ergo Extend adjustable bases, and the latest line of Tempur-Pedic pillows. Stearns & Foster mattresses are also available at the location,” which is Tempur-Pedic’s 34th retail store in the U.S. The stores showcase the products, and “are modeled around a sales experience representative of a premium brand, where customers can try our products and obtain a thorough understanding of the features and benefits in a low-pressure, educational sales environment. This allows customers to make a purchasing decision based on what they feel is best suited to their individual needs, at a pace that they are comfortable with,” the news release states.
- Town Manager Matt Hart announced the good news last week that West Hartford’s New Park Avenue corridor has been approved as an Opportunity Zone, one of 72 in the state nominated by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and approved by the U.S. Department of Treasury. In his Town Manager’s report, Hart wrote, “The federal government’s new Opportunity Zone program is designed to encourage long term investment in low-moderate income areas. The program provides a federal tax incentive for investors to re-invest unrealized capital gains into opportunity zones through opportunity funds. Qualifying investments may include a wide range of commercial and residential investments, such as transit-oriented development, affordable housing, and mixed-use development. In exchange for these investments, opportunity fund investors are able to decrease their federal tax burden through the preferential treatment of capital gains.” This could be even more of a boon to the area. “We’re hopeful that this will lead to further investment in our New Park Avenue corridor,” Hart told the Town Council at its May 22 meeting, and he expressed his appreciation to Economic Development Specialist Kristen Gorski and Director of Community Development Mark McGovern for putting together the Opportunity Zone application.
- The Greater Hartford Legal Aid Foundation (GHLAF) will honor leaders in the legal industry who have dedicated their time, expertise, and financial resources to help the organization at a special fundraising event Wednesday, May 30, at the Pond House in West Hartford. Keynote speaker will be U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy. Honorees are law firm leader Robinson + Cole and individual leader, Paul Belval, of Day Pitney. According to a news release, “The evening also celebrates 25 years of fundraising success by the corporate and law firm leaders of the GHLA Foundation, which was founded in 1993 in order to raise funds to preserve and expand civil legal services for low-income people. Also being commemorated are 60 years of life-changing impact by the lawyers at GHLA. Since 1958, GHLA’s advocacy has helped people in our community meet their basic human needs for safety, shelter, food, health care, educational and employment opportunity, and basic subsistence.” To purchase tickets, contact Kathy Tracy at 860-541-5007 or [email protected]. To find out more about GHLA and GHLAF go to ghla.org.
- A major stake in West Hartford’s newest shopping area, The Corbin Collection, was sold last week. According to a news release from Seritage, which redeveloped the former Sears and Sears Automotive buildings into a modern shopping area that now includes Shake Shack, REI, Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5th, and will soon add Cost Plus World Market and buy buy Baby, “the transaction values The Corbin Collection at approximately $52 million, including costs remaining to complete the project. Seritage sold a 50 percent interest in the project to an affiliate of First Washington Realty, and received proceeds of approximately $23 million at closing, which it utilized primarily to repay existing mortgage debt associated with the property.” Seritage Growth Properties President and CEO Benjamin Schall stated in the release, “The strength of our platform and high quality portfolio continue to be recognized by institutional investors who seek to partner with Seritage to participate in the value we are creating in communities across the country. We are very pleased to join with First Washington Realty on the redevelopment of The Corbin Collection, where we have curated a diverse group of national, growing retailers in West Hartford, CT. Further, through this transaction we were able to incrementally enhance our balance sheet, having deployed the proceeds toward the repayment of existing mortgage debt while the partnership concurrently locked in project financing.” First Washington Realty Co-President and Managing Director Alex Nyhan said, “We believe The Corbin Collection is set to be a key element in the main retail hub of the West Hartford community. We are very pleased to be part of this transformative project and delighted to kick off our first partnership with the strong team at Seritage.”
University of Saint Joseph graduate student Allison Butler, who is pursuing her masters in special education, has just published “Autism & Me,” a book geared toward elementary and middle school students on how a student with autism experiences the school day. Butler collaborated on the book with one of her students who has autism, on the book. “It’s written from his perspective on what autism is to him, how he sees the world, and how he wants people to see the world of autism/him. It also explains what challenges he has to overcome to make it through a typical school day,” she said. “I think this will help so many teachers, students (with or without autism), and even parents with an understanding of how these children perceive things and how to understand the world from their eyes.” The book can be found on Amazon by clicking here.
- Props to Sheehan Hillborn Breen, which over Memorial Day weekend gave out more than 300 American flags and Tabletop Apple Pies to area veterans, families of fallen soldiers, assisted living facilities, and churches. “We recognize and appreciate all who serve our country,” said Charles Hilborn, owner of Sheehan Hilborn Breen Funeral Home. “We are especially indebted to those who risked their lives for our freedom.” Pictured (from left): Charles Hilborn and Rick Koza, Sheehan Hilborn Breen; Zachary Hilborn, Martin Keena.
- ICYMI, BlumShapiro organized the fifth annual Junior Achievement Career Walk through West Hartford Center, giving students a behind-the-scenes look at a variety of businesses. Details here in this story from intern Ryley McGinnis.
- Intern Maddie Geerlof took on the challenge of covering a Town Council meeting last week where a three-item change to a special development district was proposed, bifurcated, and passed following a good deal of discussion. In the end, a few changes were approved to the Delamar West Hartford Hotel. Click here for the story.
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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