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Blue Back Square Business The Center

West Hartford Business Buzz: November 20, 2017

74 LaSalle Rd. will be home to Song. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

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

By Ronni Newton

Does anyone else think it’s been abnormally windy lately?

It’s been kind of a crazy weather week of wind, rain, a few snowflakes, and a beautiful double rainbow on Thursday, but as I wrote this on Sunday afternoon, the chairs on my patio (the ones that I begged my husband not to put away for the season until after Thanksgiving, because when I am cooking a turkey and the fixings it gets so hot in the kitchen that I need to go sit out there to cool off, and also because it means winter is coming) have blown over. Again. And the sections of our fence that were blown over in the late-October windstorm, that the fence company has not yet showed up to repair, have fallen over. Again. Luckily Scarlett has not yet noticed or we would have to retrieve her from the neighbor’s yard. Again.

This photo of a double rainbow over Blue Back Square, viewed from First Church, was provided by Kelsey Gray.

On Saturday I attended two full football games, which I don’t think has ever happened before.

My husband, Ted, and I had a great time teaming up for the third year in a row to cover the Conard vs. Hall Mayor’s Cup game and then we hopped into the car and headed to Boston’s Fenway Park for the UConn vs. Boston College game. Luckily my sister agreed to drive to Boston, and we wrote/edited photos the whole way there! The UConn game didn’t quite have the end result we would have liked, but it was fun to be at Fenway, especially because we moved to some seats that were covered when it really started pouring down rain.

Please note that we will only be sending out two newsletters this week, on Monday and Wednesday. The news doesn’t take a holiday, but the We-Ha.com team is trying to take Thursday and Friday off for some much-welcome family time, and we hope our readers can do some relaxing and/or holiday shopping. Of course we will be responding if there is breaking news.

Or one more unexpected budget story to write … (Click here to read the one that I did not expect to write this weekend.)

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:

  • Another space on LaSalle Road that has been vacant for quite some time is now a bevy of activity, as construction begins on Song Restaurant, which will be taking over the former Labrazel Home storefront. Song, at 94 LaSalle Rd. will be the latest venture for Sallyy Zhu and her husband Xingyu Huang, who also own Shu Restaurant in the Shield Street Plaza in West Hartford and Han Restaurant – Connecticut’s first hot pot restaurant – which opened on June 26 at 310 Prospect Ave., in the space formerly occupied by Damon’s Tavern just over the line into Hartford. Zhu said that she hope to open the restaurant by February or March 2018, and said the name “Song” is derived from the Song Dynasty, during which Chinese cuisine began to encompass the variety of types of foods for which it is still known today. While Shu is Szechuan – and has developed a great reputation for the authenticity of its menu – Song will not feature quite as spicy a menu, Zhu said. Dim sum, noodles, dumplings, and wontons, will be the feature of the menu, she said. Traditional Chinese food will also be served, she said. “We are excited,” said Gary Fogg, of property owner LaSalle Road Partners.
  • Shop Small” is happening all over West Hartford on Small Business Saturday, Nov. 25. Even if you’re doing the Black Friday thing and visiting the big box chain stores, don’t forget about the many local, family-owned businesses in the Center/Blue Back Square as well as Elmwood, Park Road, Bishops Corner, and Home Design District neighborhoods – and the small family-owned businesses in other nearby towns as well. West Hartford Deputy Mayor Leon Davidoff, co-owner with his sister Susan of The Paper Station in Newington, has for years been an ambassador for #ShopSmall. He knows and appreciates the profound impact small businesses have on the local economy, and urges people to shop small and shop local not just on Small Business Saturday, but throughout the year.

    Becker’s Diamonds & Fine Jewelry. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • I received quite a few texts/emails/Facebook messages last Thursday from people who were concerned that a local business, Becker’s Diamonds & Fine Jewelry at 65 LaSalle Rd. in West Hartford Center, was going out of business. Becker’s had big signs posted indicating that they were having a “liquidation sale,” which many people took to mean they were closing. “We are absolutely staying open,” Margie Sneideman, a 28-year employee of the business, said when I popped in to check out the rumor on Friday. Sneideman said that Becker’s is not going anywhere, but rather is having the largest sale in its 39 years in business because they have too much inventory. “We are passing on an incredible value to the community, and it’s such a thrill to be able to do this,” Sneideman said. The sale will be ongoing until they have liquidated enough inventory, and Sneideman said Sunday that the weekend was very busy.
  • Fleet Feet Sports is one of the most community-minded locally-owned businesses I have ever seen, and since early 2016 has helped more than 1,500 needy people in the area through coordinating the donation of warm socks and sturdy shoes. The effort started when Fleet Feet customer Abby Moore, working with the non-profit Community Partners in Action, asked if the store would help out Hartford Police Off. James Barrett, who was trying to help homeless people he met on his beat have proper footwear. Since then, Footwear with Care was launched, and at an upcoming clinic in Hartford on Dec. 9, about 500 people are expected to receive sturdy boots and socks for the winter. Fleet Sports owner Stephanie Blozy said in her most recent newsletter to customers. On Saturday, Nov. 25, Fleet Feet will be hosting a “Stuff a Cruiser” event from 10 a.m-1 p.m. at the 1003 Farmington Ave store. “Our goal is to stuff Officer’s Barrett’s police cruiser full of boots and socks. We need both children and adult snow or hiking boots (no dress boots) that are in NEW or LIKE-NEW condition (no holes or worn tread). We will also be accepting cash donations (tax-deductible) that will be used to purchase brand new boots. Together we can make a difference in our community – one sole at a time!” Blozy wrote in her newsletter.
  • Congrats to West Hartford resident Ryan Hanrahan, who last week was named NBC Connecticut’s chief meteorologist! Hanrahan, 33, has been with the West Hartford-based station since 2005 – when he was just 21. He can now be seen on the air at 4 p.m., 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. To read more about Hanrahan’s background, click here for a profile I wrote about him in 2015.
  • West Hartford-based Hughes Health & Rehabilitation announced in a recent news release that for the seventh consecutive year it has been named a Best Nursing Home in America by U.S. News & World Report. According to the release, the survey “rated nearly 15,000 nursing homes across the United States in measuring nursing home safety, health inspections, staffing and more.” Hughes Health & Rehabilitation Vice President Mark Finkelstein said in the release, “To be recognized by U.S. News & World Report for the seventh consecutive year is a testament to the day in, day out quality of care our skilled nurses and others provide to our residents. We don’t rest on our laurels; rather, we seek to continuously improve our level of health care and comfort. We are very grateful that U.S. News & World Report recognizes, again, our ongoing efforts.”
  • We do have some sad news about a West Hartford business closing. Persian Rug Gallery, which was located at 66 Memorial Rd. in Blue Back Square, decided not to renew their lease and recently closed for good. Marketing Director Elizabeth Zigmont said that while Persian Rug Gallery had been in Blue Back Square for many years, they were technically a “temporary tenant” that had moved spaces several times.

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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