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West Hartford Business Buzz: November 26, 2018

Larsen Ace Hardware has expanded, and now occupies three storefronts on Farmington Avenue in West Hartford Center. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

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

By Ronni Newton

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

I looked back at the intro to this column from a year ago, and for the most part I could copy and paste it because so much of what I did this year for Thanksgiving was the same as what I did last year – including participating in the “The Run” which is Nicole Moleti’s West Hartford alternative to the Manchester Road Race. I’m not a fan of the cold weather, but refused to wimp out this year because of the arctic chill.

I have hosted Thanksgiving for at least the past 20 years, but this year I did not host Thanksgiving dinner. Thanks to Katie’s future mother-in-law, Shirley Redman, we had a combined family dinner which was so much fun! And I did still get to make one of the turkeys and my favorite mashed/sweet potato dish.

I love the beach at any time of the year, but this year we were really missing our kids and our dog on our Thanksgiving weekend beach walk in Nantucket. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Just like last year, we went to Nantucket the morning after Thanksgiving to visit my in-laws. We walked on the beach, went to the tree lighting and carol sing in town, ate lots of food, and did some Small Business Saturday shopping – but there were some stark differences this year. This Thanksgiving weekend only Ted and I went to Nantucket.

Both of our kids had weekend commitments, and neither could risk getting stuck on the island for an extra day (which seems to be a common occurrence at this time of year) because both have early morning commitments at UConn on Monday. The winds were gusting at about 50 mph on Sunday morning, and several of the ferries were canceled, including the one we planned to take, but we did manage to get off the island just a few hours later than planned.

We missed having the kids with us, and we also really missed having Scarlett with us. This was the first time since the late 1980s that we boarded a Nantucket ferry without a dog in tow. The house was really lonely without a pup curled up on the rug, and the beach walk was lonely, too.

As always, when we come back home on the Sunday night of Thanksgiving weekend, it’s clear that the transition has been made to a new season. Many of our neighbors put up their Christmas lights and trees right after Thanksgiving, and our street was brightly lit when we returned home.

There’s now no denying it – the holiday season is upon us.

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:

  • Have you seen the changes at Larsen Ace Hardware? “We’re really thrilled with how it looks and the response from our customers has been great,” said Manager Dan Hinman as he reflected on a busy and successful Small Business Saturday weekend and the official launch of the holiday shopping season. Larsen’s announced in September that it would be expanding into the former Village Vitality space next door, and over the past few months the work has been completed, the front door has moved to the east, and every department has had a bit of an expansion. Much of the original store appears unchanged, Hinman said, but even that area feels like there is more elbow room. The new section is currently the holiday decor department, as well as a new gift area. Hinman said that he is really looking forward to this week’s Holiday Stroll, during which Larsen’s will host a musical group from Farmington High School. On Saturday, the store will participate in an Ace Hardware national event – that includes a visit from Santa!

    The sign is up, and Bonchon should be opening soon in Corbin’s Corner. Photo courtesy of Barbara Kreitner

  • The build-out is continuing for Bonchon – the Korean-style fried chicken and Asian fusion franchise restaurant that will be opening in the former D’Angelos space right next to Trader Joe’s in Corbin’s Corner. Thanks to Barbara Kreitner for snapping this photo of the newly-installed sign.
  • West Hartford-based nonprofit A Hand Up has officially merged with Journey Home, and will now operate under the Journey Home name. A Hand Up has great warehouse space in West Hartford, and Journey Home has paid staff, and together there is a wonderful synergy which will benefit substantially more people transitioning out of homelessness and ensure that they have the necessities to thrive in their new living arrangements. Contact [email protected] with any questions.

    At the final meeting of 2018 for the Home Design District, a special ribbon cutting was held to welcome Gozzo Design and Remodel. Photo credit: Chelsea O’Donnell

  • The Home Design District of West Hartford has recently welcomed two new members and laid out plans for expansion ahead of a rigorous branding schedule for 2019. New member Gozzo Design & Remodel, located at 579 New Park Ave., hosted the group’s final meeting of 2018 and was inducted with a special ribbon-cutting ceremony and formal introduction to the association, along with a special send-off for outgoing Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Barbara Lerner. The group also proudly welcomed Value Office Furniture of 22A Andover Dr. in West Hartford. “We are very excited to be part of a group that’s dedicated to building a destination for home remodeling services,” said Gozzo Design & Remodel President Bill Gozzo. The members of this association are business owners that I know and respect, and they are people that I trust to refer my clients to. Being part of a collective such as the Home Design District gives me the ability to access resources to help me grow my business and I’m thrilled to be part of such a fantastic support network of like-minded business owners.” Looking forward to 2019, the Home Design District announced plans to launch a television advertising campaign in the spring, supported by local digital advertising, events, and social media advertising support for all member businesses. The group is also discussing opportunities to support a local charity through their future initiatives. “Between the election and changes in state government, there are a lot of promises floating around and a heightened sense of uncertainty amongst small business owners in our area,” Home Design District President Cathy Davis said. “With so much up in the air for the state, it only makes sense for us to take control and work together as a collective to secure our futures. Being a part of the Home Design District gives our business owners confidence and security, and as we continue to grow and welcome more business owners, we will create a stronger environment for new West Hartford businesses to thrive.” According to the Town of West Hartford Department of Community Development, the Home Design District and the New Park Avenue corridor have seen a considerable increase in interest in a relatively short amount of time. “Startups and seasoned businesses, from in and outside of West Hartford, look for storefronts and sites to call their home,” said Town of West Hartford Economic Development Specialist Kristen Gorski. “In addition to increased business activity, commercial and residential developers have a desire to continue growing the corridor. We consider ourselves fortunate to have a wide variety of enterprises, including many long-standing businesses, located here and we are excited about what’s to come.” For more information, visit www.homedesigndistrict.com.

    Union Kitchen Chef Zach Shuman (center) with culinary arts teacher Jessica Brand and Hall Principal Dan Zittoun. Courtesy photo

  • Zach Shuman, chef at the soon-to-open Union Kitchen (43 LaSalle Rd.), is very excited to be back in the community that he grew up in. After reconnecting with Hall High School’s culinary program, Shuman was asked to come in and talk to the students about his own successes in the restaurant industry. The week before Thanksgiving, Shuman visited Hall, and spoke with Principal Dan Zittoun and culinary arts teacher Jessica Brand and her students, discussing the path he took to end up as a partner and executive chef, the inner workings of the restaurant business, the current business scene in West Hartford, and his favorite dishes. He remarked that the classroom “hasn’t changed at all” since he was a student. Shuman also plans to help with Hall’s Junior Achievement program.
  • Tuesday is “Giving Tuesday.” There are so many nonprofits, both locally, nationally, and worldwide, that could really use the extra boost.
  • On Saturday, Dec. 1, Fleet Feet West Hartford will be hosting a “Stuff a Cruiser” event from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at the 1003 Farmington Ave. store. The goal is to stuff Hartford Police Officer’s Jim Barrett’s police cruiser full of boots and socks for Footwear with Care – an initiative that started several years ago when Barrett connected with the non-profit Community Partners in Action and Abby Moore, a long-time Fleet Feet customer and supporter who asked if Fleet Feet would donate some shoes. Boots for both children and adults (snow or hiking boots, not dress boots) in new or like-new condition (no holes or worn tread) are needed. Tax deductible cash donations will also be accepted so that brand new boots can be purchased. “Together we can make a difference in our community  – one sole at a time!” Fleet Feet wrote on its Facebook page.
  • This has been months in the making and looks incredible,” wrote West Hartford Center Business Association President Matt Banever as he announced the launch of The Center‘s new website, whartfordcenter.com, last week. “People come from far and wide to shop, dine, and stroll the Center and now they plan their days accordingly! Business owners can get a personalized icon, on a one of a kind map, with links directly to their website.This was a massive collaboration and I am so proud of the results,” said Banever. Any business looking to join should message The Center’s Facebook page, or contact Banever at [email protected].
  • In more West Hartford Center news, on Thursday night The Center and Blue Back Square will be overflowing with holiday spirit at the 31st annual Holiday Stroll. Click here for all of the details.
  • Don’t miss the latest Experience We-Ha podcasts, with guests who include Jonathan Celentano of the soon-to-open Spaces, Claire Zick of The Art of Improv, and a very special interview accompanied by many thank-you’s from people in the community for Patti Albee, founder and administrator of Neighbors and Friends in West Hartford Facebook page!

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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