A round-up of openings, closings, and other news about West Hartford businesses.
By Ronni Newton
I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!
I had a great start to my Thanksgiving morning by participating in “The Run” – West Hartford’s #runlocal alternative to the craziness of the Manchester Road Race. It was a beautiful morning for the 100 or so people who joined the 5K run (also open to walkers and bicyclists) through West Hartford’s Bishops Corner/Hartford Golf Club neighborhood. My husband (who came in second and missed earning the turkey trophy by about 10 seconds), daughter, and daughter’s boyfriend also ran. The race, organized by resident Nicole Moleti, was also a fundraiser for the American Red Cross Hurricane Maria relief efforts.
The rest of Thanksgiving Day involved cooking and eating, and eating some more.
My husband, kids, and I set off early Friday morning, but not for Black Friday shopping. We spent the rest of a mild and beautiful Thanksgiving weekend visiting my in-laws on Nantucket, walking on the beach, enjoying some spectacular sunsets, doing some Small Business Saturday shopping, and also engaging in quite a bit more eating.
One of my favorite parts about being on Nantucket for Thanksgiving weekend is the annual tree lighting, held on Friday night. It’s a true small town celebration – everyone gathered on Main Street as the town crier (yes, they have an official town crier) counts down from 10 and the large Christmas tree, and dozens of smaller trees that line the sidewalks, light up the night. Then the Nantucket High School choir (Meghan Trainor was a member not too many years ago!) leads everyone in a carol sing.
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:
- For the first time since it began 30 years ago, the Holiday Stroll moves to the first Friday Night in December. Join your friends, family and just about everyone else on Friday, Dec. 1, in The Center and Blue Back Square for the annual Holiday Stroll beginning at 5 p.m.. Both The Center and Blue Back Square will feature on-stage entertainment all evening long. The Center will utilize the Town of West Hartford’s Showmobile, and will park it on the corner of Farmington Avenue and LaSalle Road. Blue Back Square’s stage is located near Barnes & Noble. Near the end of the evening, Ryan Keating, and the members of FLOW (Future Leaders of West Hartford), will kick off the “After Stroll” on the Showmobile in The Center from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m., featuring special holiday karaoke. Watch for updates and more details, including a complete schedule of entertainment, on we-ha.com this week.
- Noble & Co. opened last November, its secretly glitzy and opulent interior shuttered from the street, accessible through the “LaSalle Road Station” entrance in true speakeasy fashion, but owner Mike Ladden said that he has listened to customers and a few weeks ago made some changes – most notably opening the windows to the streets so that passersby can see inside and diners can see out. The menu has also undergone a transformation, and is now under the direction of Executive Chef Zach Shuman, a West Hartford native with an extensive resume that includes working with celebrity chef Todd English in sous chef and chef de cuisine roles. “It’s gastro-cuisine, chef-inspired comfort food,” Ladden said of the new menu, more casual and at a lower price point but maintaining its “metropolitan edge” in food and cocktails. The menu is also fluid, Ladden said, with three to four specials as well as mainstays. In the spring, Ladden said Noble & Co. will become even more open with plans to replace the windows so that they open to the street.
- “Yesterday I noticed the West Hartford Town Green and few other areas on South Main, which is the entrance to West Hartford Center, were not fully lit up with the holiday lights and decorations, Maurice Kaoud, one of the owners of Kaoud Rugs, said early last week. Kaoud purchased, at his own expense, additional garland, lights, and bows, and the Department of Public Works installed them so that Town Green and the island in the middle of South Main Street now look just as festive as the rest of The Center. “The Kaoud family was happy to be able to help finish decorating West Hartford Center,” Kaoud said. See photos below.
- Beginning this Wednesday, and just in time for those holiday gatherings, some of your favorite local craft brews will be easier to keep on hand in the fridge. West Hartford’s highly successful New Park Brewing has been sold in growlers, but the brewery is now getting set to release its first brews in cans. The details about which beers will be canned are still being kept secret, but follow New Park Brewing’s Facebook page for the reveal this week,
- ShopRite is continuing to donate the proceeds from bottle redemption to the Park Road Parade! Through the end of December, bring your cans and bottles to ShopRite of West Hartford, 46 Kane St., for recycling and donate the nickel refund to the Park Road Parade. At the kiosk, simply push the “donate” button. ShopRite will present all of the proceeds to the Park Road Association at the end of the year. The Park Road Association thanks patrons for their thoughtfulness.
- In other generous Park Road news, the Park Road Association, in conjunction with WDRC Talk of CT, is participating in the annual Toys for Tots Toy Drive. New, unwrapped toys can be dropped off at any of the participating businesses/collection locations (A Strand Ahead, AC Petersen Farms, Anthony Nicole Salon & Spa, Body and Sole, Budget Printers and Embroiderers, Cricket Press, Effie’s Place, Farmers Insurance, Joey’s Pizza Pie, Park and Oak Restaurant, Park Lane Pizza, Park Tavern, Plan B, Playhouse on Park, and ShopRite) now through Dec. 21, or brought to Effie’s Place during the live broadcast on Friday, Dec. 22 between 5-10 a.m.
- Among the other drives taking place right now is Connecticut Family Acupuncture’s holiday clothing collection for the House of Bread in Hartford. Needed are new hats, gloves and long underwear in all sizes for the men, women, and children served by the non-profit which offers “daily meals, shelter, transitional living, affordable housing, education, a Thrift Shop, and job training programs to city families.” Donations are being collected through Dec. 17, and can be dropped off at Connecticut Family Acupuncture at 173 Oakwood Ave in West Hartford. For information call 860-809-1125 or visit www.ctfamilyacupuncture.com.
- The WeHa Unified Business Club is currently operating as pilot club at Hall High School, pairing teens without disabilities with teens with disabilities who then work together to build micro-businesses based on their interests, hobbies, and skill levels. “For example, one student with autism who was very challenged was able to shred paper. Through interacting with him we learned he loved to sit with friends around a fire pit. Combining his interests with his skill set we were able to create a firestarter business. The student shreds paper which is combined with wax and sawdust. This product is currently being sold at Blaze & Bloom in West Hartford,” Darlene Borre, one of the club organizers, said in an email. She said that another student involved in the program enjoys Thomas the Tank Engine and will be setting up an online shop to sell gently-used Thomas the Tank Engine items. “The student will learn to take and resize pictures, setup and maintain items in the shop, postage and mailing, etc. This can lead to a larger eBay-type business reselling items for others where he earns a percentage,” said Borre. “Since 85-90 percent of adults with autism are unemployed, the students believe they can do better for our West Hartford young adults.” More information about the program can be found in the student blog posts, and to read those and support the businesses, visit www.studentmicrobiz.com.
- Tuesday is “Giving Tuesday.” There are so many non-profits, both locally, nationally, and worldwide, that could really use the extra boost.
- West Hartford resident Jay Nolan was among the three state residents appointed last week by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to serve a six-year term on the state’s recently created Municipal Accountability Review Board. According to a press release from the governor’s office: “Nolan currently serves as counsel for Day Pitney, LLP in Hartford. Since joining the firm in 1969, he has tried most type of commercial cases to juries and courts in state and federal courts around the country. He has extensive experience in cases involving disputes between owners and businesses, and he has also represented institutional clients who have been victimized in sophisticated frauds perpetrated by debtors, investors, and advisors. Nolan started the firm’s insolvency practice in the early 1970s, and has represented institutional creditors, committees, and debtors over the last 35 years. Most recently, he represented electric utilities in the bankruptcies that followed the deregulation of that industry.”
- This week’s bad news: Pizza Hut at 1037 Boulevard has closed.
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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