A round-up of openings, closings, and other news about West Hartford businesses.
By Ronni Newton
Today is Veterans Day, and I hope everyone will take a moment out of their day to give thanks – even if just in their thoughts – to those who have bravely served this country.
I’ll be covering the town’s annual Veterans Day ceremony at 11 a.m. at First Church (it’s often outside at the Veterans Memorial but the forecast originally was calling for really cold temperatures and the decision was made to move indoors – which makes me happy because it’s tough to take notes when your hands are numb). I’ll also be covering Veterans Day observances at several of the town’s schools, so look for those stories in the next day or two!
The fall is always busy in West Hartford, and last week was no exception with Best of West Hartford (see link below to the story about the winners), Election Day, Conard vs. Hall end-of-season sports competitions, Board of Education, and many other activities. I am still catching up with some of those stories! To top it off, Ted and I attended “A Shayna Maidel” at Playhouse on Park Friday night (an incredibly powerful performance) and we both volunteered at the Noah Webster House West Hartford Home Tour on Sunday. It’s no wonder I am feeling tired and run down …
One other thing happened this past week that I feel I need to mention here.
I published an article about the West Hartford boys travel soccer U-14 team winning the Connecticut Cup on Nov. 2. I probably would not have even known about their victory (I followed it closely back when my own kids were playing, but those days are now years in the past) except that one of the parents of the kids on the team sent this simple message through the “contact us” portal on the We-Ha.com site: “Hi. The West Hartford Boys U14 travel soccer team won the CT Cup this weekend. Can I send a picture of the team to have it posted on We-Ha.com to congratulate them? How do I do so?” I emailed the parent back and said of course, and asked for a photo, the names of the kids if possible, and any other details. I got the information and finally had time to post it on Friday. Before doing that, I checked the Connecticut Junior Soccer Association website, mainly to see if the team had a name (like “Thunder” or “Lightning”) or was just U-14. It’s always been one of the most cumbersome websites I’ve ever seen, but after poking around to find the information about the finals, I noticed that two girls teams had also won.
Rather than posting the information from the team parent as “submitted,” because that parent had not mentioned the girls teams, I added a few sentences, put my byline on it, and posted a very brief story. Nine short paragraphs, seven of which related to the boys game because that’s what the parent had submitted. A positive story, something appropriate for a community news site, and I certainly didn’t expect controversy.
When I got a few comments on Facebook and one on the story asking why there wasn’t more detail about the girls, I explained that really all I was doing was posting information submitted by a reader, with a little extra information I had discovered. It wasn’t meant to be an in-depth feature on youth soccer, but just a way to highlight success that had been brought to my attention. (Someone has since passed along contact information for the girls teams, and I followed up and got a response – not complete information yet – from one of the team managers but not the other.)
I was shocked, dismayed, and quite honestly furious, however, when one of the administrators of the Women’s March CT Facebook page posted the story about the soccer victory, called it “bizarre,” and incited a litany of comments from people – most of whom I don’t know personally – like “What the f …,” and “What the hell.” They called me “sexist,” “dismissive,” a “lame journalist,” and even after I explained what had happened, the negativity continued. Many thanks to Beth Kerrigan, who is one of the administrators of that page (NOT the one who had posted the story in the first place) for stepping up in my defense.
Seriously, people – I am not sexist, and I was not trying to highlight a boys team in lieu of a girls team. I was trying to do a favor to a parent who had taken the time to send me some positive news. My story was far from a Pulitzer Prize-winning piece, but it wasn’t intended to be more than what it was – highlighting success in the community. If I had only received information about one of the girls teams and noted the boys victory in passing, would the same comments have ensued?
We-Ha.com is a hyperlocal news site, and part of what I consider to be the site’s mission is publishing news that is not going to be found anywhere else – like a travel soccer championship. The news could be about girls, boys, animals, fish, whatever – and as long as there is a connection to West Hartford I will consider it. I can’t be everywhere, and I can’t take the time to do in-depth stories about everything, but that doesn’t mean I won’t pass along information to the community.
Rant over. It’s Sunday afternoon and time to turn on the TV and look for my son who is sitting under one of the baskets at the UConn women’s basketball game – ready to wipe up any sweat that gets onto the floor from one of those fabulous female athletes.
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:
- India Grill is now open in the former East-West Grille building at 526 New Park Ave. The owners, Krishna Paudel (who is also head chef) and Krishna Kandel (both West Hartford residents) – have extensive restaurant experience, and the building is owned by Paul Harpaldas, the former owner of Taste of India on South Main Street. Paudel, who trained in India and was a former sous chef at INDIA in Blue Back Square, met Kandel when he was working at Namaste in Greenfield, MA, and the two decided to partner to open India Grill. The dining area of the iconic building (which was constructed in 1940 and in the past housed the Yankee Flyer Diner and Webster’s Barbecue Cafe) still retains its booths and counter seating, but the kitchen has been completely renovated, now includes a Tandoor oven, and Paudel is cooking up some fabulous dishes from all regions of India as well as Nepal. “There’s a lot of history here,” Kandel said. Paudel said his favorite dish is the Shrimp Moilee, and employee Areal Valentin said the Chicken Masala and Lamb Shish-kabob have been customer favorites. I sampled one of the lunch specials (pictured – this was $10.99, and I couldn’t even eat half of it) which included Chicken Curry Thali, Aloo Gobi (potato and cauliflower), Chicken Tiki Masala, Dal Tadka (lentils), naan, and rice, and it was fantastic. I also sampled the Mango Lasi, but drank most of it before thinking to take a photo. The meat is 100% halal, and everything – including the spice mixtures – is made onsite. The restaurant has been in soft-opening phase since Oct. 22, and will likely have a grand opening in December. India Grill is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m., and will likely add Monday hours as well as perhaps breakfast. They are applying for a liquor license but right now India Grill is BYOB. More information, including a takeout menu, is available online at indiagrillhartford.com.
- WeHa Brewing & Roasting will be launching the roasting part of its business before the brewing part, the owner reports. Plans are to apply for a cottage food license through the town of West Hartford sometime in January, and then “hit the ground running” with selling home-roasted coffee at farmers markets beginning in the spring of 2020. Prior to that there may be an opportunity to have some pop-up appearances where coffee samples will be provided and beans will be sold by the found. Once a permanent location has been secured, both beer and coffee will be offered and sold.
- Another “WeHa” business, WeHa Wheels, has changed its hours of operation. WeHa Wheels, the community’s FREE shuttle to and from West Hartford Center and Blue Back Square (financed by its sponsors) is available Friday and Saturday from 4:30-11:30 p.m., and has replaced its Thursday hours with a Sunday brunch/shopping time and will be available Sundays from 10:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. The two-mile restriction has been dropped, and riders just need to be within West Hartford, and must be 21 or older to order the service. For more information, or to reserve a trip online, visit the website wehawheels.com.
- Freshii (54 LaSalle Rd.) in West Hartford Center will be having its grand opening all day on Friday, Nov. 15 and will be offering buy-one-get-one-free entrees throughout the day.
- The Old Guard said members are pleased to be able to work with Foodshare to continue the tradition of turkey collection for Thanksgiving in West Hartford. In previous years, the event was held at the now-closed ShopRite market on Kane Street in West Hartford, but this year will be held at the Stop and Shop at 176 Newington Road, West Hartford on Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 23 and 24. Old Guard members will greet customers and collect turkeys between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on those days.
- Union Kitchen (43 LaSalle Rd.) has announced the name of its pig mascot following a popular vote! BEANS the #GenerousPig appears on a hand-painted mural adjacent to the bar, and will be the symbol for a giving campaign. After the naming ceremony last Thursday, attended by Bean Restaurant Group’s Peter and Melissa Picknelly, Union Kitchen made the following announcement: “[F]or the month of November, take a photo in front of our pig and tag @UnionKitchenct on Instagram for a chance to win a $25 gift card each week as well as a matching donation to Connecticut Children’s and for December, a matching donation to Hartford Area Habitat for Humanity.” Union Kitchen will also be hosting a “Night of Sushi, Ramen, Poke & More at Union Kitchen!” with an IYA Sushi & Noodle Kitchen pop-up featuring Chef Narin Long of IYA in South Hadley, MA, on Wednesday, Nov. 13 from 5-10 p.m. Click here for menu details.
- Dr. Bruce A. Kaster announced last week that he has expanded his Needham, MA-based business and opened a second ketamine treatment center in West Hartford, CT. Ketamine West Hartford is accepting patients at the clinic at 345 North Main St., Suite 260, in Bishop’s Corner, and will hold a “meet the doctor” event on Nov. 19 at 6 p.m.. Learn more about Ketamine West Hartford at www.ketaminewesthartford.com, or by calling 860-461-0877. According to a news release, “Unlike antidepressants that require a minimum of several weeks to take effect, ketamine infusion therapy offers immediate relief from the pain and hopelessness of depression. Ketamine infusions are effective in over 70 percent of patients, including those who saw no improvement with pharmacologic or psychotherapeutic solutions. Studies have shown that ketamine produces long-lasting changes in the brain—changes that reverse the neural damage caused by stress and depression. Just one infusion can dramatically reduce the symptoms of depression within six hours, with effects that are equal to or greater than six weeks worth of treatment with other antidepressant medications.” Kaster, a former instructor at Harvard Medical School who has been practicing psychiatry for more than 25 years, said in the release, “In my experience as a psychiatrist it is heartbreaking to witness first-hand the pain and hopelessness of treatment-resistant depression. Since I opened my Boston-area clinic in 2015, I have seen ketamine completely change the lives of countless patients. The best way for me to continue to deliver hope to those who have none is by expanding my practice into other areas of the Northeast.”
- The Small Business Association (SBA) is now accepting nominations for the next Connecticut Small Business Person of the Year – and that person will then compete against nominees from other states for the SBA’s signature award: the National Small Business Person of the Year. According to a news release from the SBA, “Eligible businesses must have been successfully operating at least three years and must have received at least one type of SBA assistance such as, but not limited to, an SBA loan; SCORE, Women’s Business Center, Small Business Development Center or Veteran’s Business Outreach Center assistance; government contracting assistance; disaster loan assistance; and/or attended Boots to Business training. Further guidance on eligibility requirements can be found here https://www.sba.gov/national-small-business-week/.” Nominations will be accepted through Jan. 7, 2020 (can be made online by contacting Moraima Gutierrez at 860-240-4654 or [email protected].,), and winners will be announced the week of May 3-9, which is the SBA’s National Small Business Week. More info is available online or through one of the Board members. Award categories include: Small Business Person of the Year (flagship award), Small Business Exporter of the Year, Jeffrey Butland Family Owned Small Business (must have been in business for at least 15 years and had the business passed down at least one generation), Minority Small Business Owner of the Year, Veteran Small Business Owner of the Year, Women Small Business Owner of the Year, Home-based Small Business Owner of the Year, Microenterprise of the Year (5 employees or less, including the owner), Young Entrepreneur of the Year (must be under the age of 30), Small Business Manufacturer of the Year, and Financial Services Champion.
- Lyons Automotive, which has been located in Bishops Corner for 40 years and also operated the Phillips 66 gas station at the northwest corner of Albany Avenue and North Main Street, knew that the waste and fuel oil tanks and the gas pumps at the Bishops Corner location needed to be replaced – which would necessitate closing for a period of time – and when they found out the owners of Lou’s Automotive at 1056 New Britain Ave. in Elmwood would be retiring, they purchased the building this summer. They have gradually been moving their auto service business to Elmwood, and as of last week, when the landlord in Bishops Corner shut off the power, have completely relocated to Elmwood. “We don’t know what the landlord is going to do with us with the reopening date,” Amy Lyons McCarthy said Friday, even though they still have a lease and have been told that the gas pumps will be replaced and the station ready to reopen on Dec. 16. In the meantime, “everything is here now except the gas,” McCarthy said. McCarthy said they hope to be able to open the Elmwood location on Saturdays to even better accommodate customers and are willing to pick up and deliver customers and their vehicles at no extra charge. Call 860-236-2593 or 860-233-5541 for assistance. [Editor’s Note: This section has been updated.]
- Elmwood Dental Group (1132 New Britain Ave.) announced in a news release that “patriotic children sold back more than 155 pounds of their Halloween treats to Elmwood Dental Group in West Hartford to benefit U.S. soldiers overseas.” The Halloween candy buy-back, which was held Nov. 1-4, supported Operation Gratitude, a nonprofit organization that sends care packages to deployed troops and their families. More than 30 children who participated were able to earn $2 per pound of candy (some declined the payment!), plus received free oral hygiene products. “We were so impressed with the number of children who wanted to show their gratitude for the brave men and women who protect our country,” said Dr. Paula Gomes with Elmwood Dental Group. “We want to thank everyone who made this initiative so incredibly successful and are honored to show our support for those who serve.”
- Retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Dr. Michael Gutman has a special place in his heart for military veterans, and this Veterans Day his business, New England Urgent Care, will be offering free flu vaccines to all veterans. Bring your old Armed Services ID or DD214 to any New England Urgent Care location (including 21 North Main St., West Hartford) between the hours of 8 a.m.-7:45 p.m. “I know from personal experience, veterans make great personal sacrifices to protect our fellow combatants, families and our nation. That’s why I feel it’s important to give back to those who have given so much for our freedom,” Gutman said in a news release.
- Ideanomics, which purchased the former UConn West Hartford campus in October 2018 in order to construct Fintech Village, a global center for technology and innovation, has been ranked No. 11 on Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500, a ranking of the 500 fastest growing technology, media, telecommunications, life sciences and energy tech companies in North America now in its 25th year.
- From a news release: “The West Hartford Festival of Trees is coming on Dec. 5, so now’s the time to get creative! Businesses and individuals are encouraged to create and donate a decorated tree to support the event. You can decorate a tree to reflect your interest, business, or holiday theme. You can incorporate your products or services into your theme, taking advantage of the opportunity to enhance your organization or cause’s visibility on this night to many West Hartford residents when three to five thousand community members come out to enjoy West Hartford’s Holiday Stroll through Blue Back Square and West Hartford Center. The only cost to you is your donation of a tree with lights and decorations. All donated trees will be raffled to members of the public. Your participation will support community outreach programs that include Habitat for Humanity, Foodshare, Hands on Hartford and many others. First Church is a registered 501(c)(3). A donation receipt can be issued and your donation is tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. Trees are due on Sunday, Dec. 1. Register your tree here: http://www.whfirstchurch.org/events/trees/create/.
- The next WeHaHA Comedy night will be held Saturday, Nov. 16, from 7-9:30 p.m. at 2527 Albany Ave. in Bishops Corner, and will feature Israeli native Yael Gavish. Click here for more information.
- The We Care Card campaign is underway from now through Sunday, Nov. 17. A $50 donation goes directly to Foodshare and cardholders will get discounts at approximately 60 retailers and restaurants in West Hartford Center and Blue Back Square. For participating business go to West Hartford Center’s website – and don’t miss this Experience We-Ha podcast (featuring Karsky and Al Marino of Foodshare) about the effort. We Care Cards are available for purchase in most shops in West Hartford Center or can be purchased directly on Eventbrite. For any further information contact Kimberly Moster of the West Hartford Center Business Association at 860-523-4894.
- ICYMI, Best of West Hartford winners were announced at a networking event last Monday night. For a complete list of winners, and runners-up, click here. Congratulations to all!
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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