A round-up of openings, closings, and other news about West Hartford businesses.
By Ronni Newton
It was a very exciting weekend of West Hartford sports!
The annual West Hartford Mayor’s Cup game between crosstown rivals Conard and Hall is much more than just a football game. It’s a true community event, bringing thousands of people from the community together on the sidelines. Traditionally held the Saturday before Thanksgiving, the crowd includes hoards of recent high school graduates who have returned from college to catch up with their high school friends, as well as parents of current high school students or those whose children graduated years ago who fill the bleachers and line the fence as they catch up with old friends.
This year’s weather was excellent for the 63rd edition of the rivalry, and the game did not disappoint in terms of excitement, with the teams trading scores until Conard senior captain Peter Simplicio’s 31-yard field goal gave the Chieftains the win. (I kind of can’t believe I typed “Conard senior captain” in front of Peter’s name. My son, Sam, has been friends with Peter’s oldest brother, Phil, since middle school, when Peter was about 8 years old. Even though Peter was probably at least my size by then, I still think of him as a little kid.) In case you missed it, the complete story by Marlon Pitter, with lots of photos by me, Hunter Marotto, and David Heuschkel can be found here.
Although Hall fans may have been sad about their team losing the football game, the Warriors had much to celebrate later Saturday when the boys soccer team won the Class LL state championship, beating Greenwich 3-1! Hall lost to Glastonbury in the championship game last year, and I’m quite sure the entire town (Conard fans included, especially since Greenwich is the team that beat the Chieftains in the first round this year) is thrilled for and proud of coach Zeke Seguro and the team for winning it all this year. David Heuschkel and Hunter Marotto provided We-Ha.com’s complete story and plenty of photos of the game and celebration.
It’s the week of Thanksgiving, and we (most definitely including Millie) are happy to have Sam home for the week!
Please note that we will only be sending out two newsletters this week, on Monday and Wednesday. While the news doesn’t take a holiday, the We-Ha.com team is trying to take Thursday and Friday off for some much-needed family time, and we hope our readers will also be relaxing and/or holiday shopping. Of course we will be responding if there is breaking news.
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:
- I’ve heard rumors for years about this restaurant looking to locate in West Hartford, and now it’s finally going to happen! There is a sign on the door of a portion of the former Toy Chest storefront at 975 Farmington Ave. indicating that Mẹcha Noodle Bar has applied for a liquor permit. They will be located in the western portion of the space, which was already subdivided as construction is getting underway for Arethusa in the eastern portion. Mẹcha Noodle Bar currently has locations in Fairfield, South Norwalk, New Haven, and Stamford, and while I was not successful in reaching the owner by phone over the weekend, I did get confirmation from an employee that a West Hartford location is in the works. “Mẹcha” means “mom and pop,” and according its website, Mecha Noodle Bar is not “fusion,” but rather emphasizes a take on Southeast Asian street food in a style that is “American-Vietnamese-Japanese-Thai-Chinese-Korean-New England-Momofuku-Totto-and-Ippudo-inspired” as a nod to the owners’ backgrounds. Much more info to come as soon as I can get it.
- The space that was formerly Per Se Aveda at 58 Memorial Rd. in Blue Back Square will soon be home to Casper. A sign is on the window, along with a message that says “Waking up early 2020 – The Casper Sleep Shop.” According to its website, Casper sells innovative bedding products, and the company got its start “by creating an outrageously comfortable mattress and shipping it to your door in a tiny box.” They have expanded to also sell bedding, frames, sleep-related gadgets – all scientifically-designed to encourage great sleep – and Bloomberg News called Casper the first “end-to-end sleep company.” The company launched in 2014, and unlike many others in the industry that are seeking growth through online sales, an article in the Wall Street Journal in August 2018 noted that Casper is instead focusing on marketing through brick and mortar stores, and is in the midst of a 200-store, three-year expansion. Blue Back Square management is not yet able to provide more details about an opening date.
- In other noodle news, right next to the future Casper store, Kaliubon Ramen’s construction is well underway at 54 Memorial Rd. (former INDIA location) in Blue Back Square. I’ve sampled the food at the Wethersfield location, and am really looking to this restaurant. When I met with co-owner Kevin Xu a few weeks ago, he said he was hoping for a mid-December opening. The photo at right is of the beef ramen with short ribs – just one of the delicious menu items I tasted in Wethersfield. Updates to come!
- There has been plenty of speculation and rumors galore about what is going into the former Grant’s space at 977 Farmington Ave. All I have been able to confirm at this point is that permits have been secured by the building owner for a “white box build-out,” essentially stripping out the existing improvements so that it becomes a clean slate ready for the new tenant to add their own improvements. As soon as the new tenant is ready to announce their intentions, I’ll share that news.
- West Hartford-based Futures, Inc. recently held a fashion show fundraiser at the Aqua Turf for Good Cause Gifts, their social enterprise business. Models included (from left in photo) EDENS Property Manager Karen Fillian, former Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Barbara Lerner, Mayor Shari Cantor, and West Hartford Economic Development Specialist Kristen Gorski. Good Cause Gifts will have a holiday pop-up in West Hartford, and look for a separate story on that very soon.
- Max’s Oyster Bar, Max Burger, and Savoy Pizzeria & Craft Bar in West Hartford, along with other Max locations in Connecticut and Massachusetts, will be participating in the annual Max Cares Foundation’s “Roasts for the Holidays,” a fundraiser encouraging donations to provide holiday meals for area shelters and kitchens that will then be matched, up to $10,000, by Max Cares Foundation. Locally, Loaves and Fishes, House of Bread, and Open Hearth in Hartford will receive the meals. The in-restaurant giving drive will run from Sunday, Dec. 1 through Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019, and for those who are unable to visit a restaurant during that time, a tax-deductible donation can be made via www.maxcaresfoundation.org. Last year’s fundraiser netted $30,000, plus the $10,000 match, for “Max-quality” holiday dinners, the company said in a news release. Richard Rosenthal, president of the Max Cares Foundation, said in the release, “Guests of the Max restaurants went above and beyond last year to raise funds to provide food for a holiday meal for those in need. For the Max Cares Foundation to be able to donate additional funds made it possible for us to give a top-notch meal to many deserving people in our communities.”
- Macca Plumbing hosted their annual tailgate before the Hall vs. Conard football game on Saturday. The tailgate is open to the public and they provide the food, but ask that guests make a donation to Foodshare – and last year collected more than $3,500! Foodshare Executive Director Jason Jakubowski (who is a West Hartford resident) stopped by Saturday’s tailgate, which took place during the organizaton’s “Turkey+$30” campaign. Donations can be made at foodshare.org.
- Vince Valvo, publisher and CEO of American Business Media, based in Bishops Corner, recently got a shout-out by Monica Lewinsky in People Magazine. Lewinsky, who is now an anti-bullying advocate, credits Valvo for standing up for her in 2014, when sponsors of an event were threatening to pull out if she was going to be one of the speakers. “Had he not stood up for principle and what was right, the damage it would have done to me emotionally and professionally at that point would have been immense. His profound kindness wrapped in a strong sense of fairness meant more to me than I could ever express in words,” Lewinsky wrote in a personal essay in the magazine. Read the article here.
- Keating Agency/Berry Insurance is holding the fourth annual Pops for Patients through Dec. 15, continuing an annual Berry Insurance tradition that has provided kids with hundreds of toys. See the flyer at the bottom of the column for details on how to contribute.
- Congratulations to West Hartford resident and recently-retired Probate Judge Paul J. Knierim, who received the National College of Probate Judges highest honor, the Treat Award for Excellence. Knierim served as Connecticut’s Probate Court administrator for 11 years, and oversaw the consolidation of the state’s probate courts from 117 to 54, according to a news release, and also presided over expansion of continuing education for judges and staff and overhaul of the rules of procedure; established standards of practice, online training and a system of random audits for conservators; enacted a stronger judicial code and modernized the probate court system with IT initiatives such as electronic billing and the soon-to-be-deployed eFiling system. Knierim’s father, Judge Glenn E. Knierim, received the same award 30 years earlier. “The event was really a recognition of the fact the all the judges and court staff in our state have worked so hard over the past decade to modernize Connecticut’s Probate Courts,” Judge Knierim said upon receiving the award. “Thanks to those efforts, and thanks to the support of the General Assembly, the Probate Court system today is now more professional, more efficient and more user-friendly than ever before.” Paul Knierim now practices with Czepiga Daly Pope & Perri, where he concentrates on estate planning and probate litigation.
- ICYMI, Finders Keepers, the WeHa Artists Emporium annual rock hunt, has recruited business sponsors for some of the special rocks that will be part of this year’s event. Click here for details.
- Check out this week’s Experience We-Ha podcast, a great interview featuring Park & Oak chef/owner David Borselle.
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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