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West Hartford Business Buzz: November 5, 2018

The new awning is up, and Union KItchen is preparing to open at 43 LaSalle Rd. later this month. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

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

By Ronni Newton

In last week’s column I said it had been a rotten week. For my family, this week was even worse.

One of my all-time favorite photos of Scarlett, on the beach in Nantucket.

Early in the week we made the incredibly difficult decision to put our dog to sleep. Scarlett would have turned 16 this week. And while over the past several months she had lost most of her hearing and her sight, she was still our beloved, gentle, whimsical, loyal dog.

She was only 9 weeks old when when we brought her home in January 2003. Sam was just 4, and Katie was 7. They barely remembered life without Scarlett as part of our family.

The whole family was able to be together with Scarlett on her last night. And we were with her Thursday morning, at the very end.

We all knew that she was suffering, that she was physically a shell of her former bouncy self and that her kidney disease had advanced and she had other insurmountable physical problems, but even knowing that we would be giving her what we were told was a “loving release” did not prepare us for how empty our lives would feel without her.

View from overlook on the way to Heublein Tower. Lots of flooding visible in the valley from Saturday’s rain. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

I sensed the quiet immediately. I work out of my home office most of the time, and while Scarlett was rarely noisy, she followed me around the house, and if she wasn’t in the same room I could hear her when she got up and shook. Now it’s as quiet as when the power goes out and you no longer here the hum of the refrigerator and other electronics.

Ted and I have hiked to Heublein Tower every fall since we lived here. I even made the hike one year with a broken foot (while wearing a walking boot), but even if one of the kids couldn’t come, we always had a dog with us. Although the fall foliage is beautiful, I didn’t want to go this year because I knew Scarlett couldn’t walk that far. On Sunday, for the first time ever, Ted and I hiked to the tower alone.

It’s going to take a long time to get used to this new normal.

There is, however, lots of great business news to share.

And don’t forget to vote on Tuesday! We will have all of the local and statewide results available on We-Ha.com as soon as possible after the polls close.

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:

Glass has replaced a solid wall, opening up the kitchen at Union KItchen, which is replacing Noble & Co. at 43 LaSalle Rd. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • Almost exactly two years to the date after Noble & Co. opened with its speakeasy concept, Union Kitchen will open in its place at 43 LaSalle Rd. Mike Ladden recently sold his three McLadden’s restaurants as well as Noble to Springfield-based Bean Restaurant Group, and since July the windows of Noble have been covered with paper and a sign that said the restaurant was closed while it was “powdering its nose.” Zach Shuman, a West Hartford native and Hall High School graduate, is corporate chef for Bean Restaurant Group and one of the partners as well as the executive chef for Union Kitchen. “Union” was included in the name to signify a “place where people come together,” Shuman said, and it’s also a nod to Bean Restaurant Group’s headquarters in Union Station in Springfield. The interior has been completely transformed, with the striking marble bar, backed with a wall of copper, virtually the only vestige remaining of the former Noble & Co. The gray and white floor tile was also retained and the tile area was actually expanded. The kitchen has been opened up and is now visible behind a wall of glass. The vestibule is also glassed in, and brand new windows will be delivered next week that will be able to open fully to the sidewalk in nice weather, a concept being adopted by many restaurants in the Center. Rather than glamour and glitz, the decor now has a much more urban vibe. The bar area will feature high-top tables, and there will be booth seating against the dining room wall. (See additional photo below.) Shuman said that the menu can best be described as “American fare comfort food,” and while he said it’s chef-driven, it’s very much casual and approachable. Dishes will be affordably priced so that the restaurant can be someplace that families with kids, recent college grads and those who are still students can enjoy on a regular basis. There will be six pastas on the menu, he said, including a short rib mac and cheese, a pork and sausage with Sunday sauce, and braised veal with pasta. They will serve a half chicken, and a variety of steaks, as well as the Union Kitchen burger, a patty melt, and a fried chicken sandwich. The same menu will be available for lunch as well as dinner. Shuman said he personally very excited about the new restaurant. “I always had visions of coming back to the Center,” he said. Mike Ladden, who is now the beverage director for Bean Restaurant Group, is finalizing a drink menu based on the classics as well as wines that will match up really well with the food, Shuman said. Beers will be as local as possible. The bartenders will wear button downs and jeans, with aprons in a burnt orange/coppery color. Union Kitchen will be “eclectic, without being outrageous,” Shuman said. The restaurant plans to open its doors to the public in the beginning of December. [Editor’s note: This is an update.]

    Some of the grilled meats at Texas de Brazil. Courtesy image

  • If you’re not already hungry after reading the above, here’s some more food news: Texas de Brazil Churrascaria is now open at Westfarms! I have not been able to check it out in person yet, but it opened Thursday, and according to a news release, “The family-owned Brazilian steakhouse offers guests authentic churrasco, rodizio-style service and the generous Southern hospitality that makes this a standout dining destination for large and small parties alike. The 6,500 square-foot restaurant features a vibrantly-decorated dining room and seating for over 200, an open grill kitchen, expansive salad area, intimate lounge, and an award-winning wine cellar.” There are 50 items – hot and cold – in the “salad area,” including artisan breads, imported cheeses, sushi, and Moqueca (Brazilian Coconut Fish Stew). When diners are ready, they flip a tableside disc from red to green and the “gauchos” (servers) will carve a selection of perfectly-grilled meats tableside. Selections include Brazilian picanha (sirloin), lamb chops, filet mignon, leg of lamb, Parmesan-crusted pork loin, bacon wrapped chicken breast and more. Right now Texas de Brazil is serving dinner only, and is open Monday-Thursday from 5-9:30 p.m., Friday from 5-10 p.m., Saturday from 4-10 p.m., and Sunday 4-9 p.m. Happy Hour is Monday-Friday from 4:30-6 p.m. and features specialty cocktails from $3.  The restaurant is located on the lower level near JCPenney. For more information or to make a reservation call 860-744-2300 or visit the website
  • A few tickets are still available for tonight’s 4th Annual Best of West Hartford. Come to network, and to show your love and celebrate this great town and the small and large businesses who make it awesome! The event is from 5:30-8:30 p.m. at Fleming’s, and there is free valet parking on Isham Road. Some of the items on the Fleming’s menu for the night include: Prime rib station, lamb chop lollipops, Prime meatballs, bacon wrapped scallops, crab puffs, sweet & sour eggplant crostini, apple & blue cheese flatbread … and then some special desserts by Hartford Baking Co. and Potbelly. Click here to purchase tickets.

    From left: Andrei Brel, State Rep. Bobby Sanchez, State Sen. Beth Bye, and Anton Brel at the Juniper reception. Courtesy photo

  • Juniper Homecare, headquartered at 1086 New Britain Ave., is one of the Best of West Hartford finalists, and this has been quite a week for the business which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year (more on that to come soon in a feature story). They recently received a citation award from the state, and on Thursday hosted a thank you reception for colleagues, partners, employees, and clients in New Britain. A thank you reception will be held soon in West Hartford as well, said Vice President of Operations Anton Brel.
  • Arugula Bistro (953 Farmington Ave. in West Hartford Center) will be hosting a special fundraiser on Tuesday, Nov. 6, from 5-9:30 p.m. During that time, Arugula will donate 20 percent of all dinner proceeds to the Victims of Terror Fund via the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford, chef/owner Christiane Gehami said. The only restrictions are that gift cards cannot be used, and the We Care Card discount will not apply.
  • Speaking of the We Care Card, this year’s benefit program for Foodshare launched on Thursday, and the cards, which are a donation to Foodshare, are usable through Nov. 11 and also offer savings at about 70 West Hartford Center and Blue Back Square merchants. Click here for details.

    Carol Waxman (left) and Angela Miller, co-chairs of The Village’s new West Hartford Auxiliary and Second Chance Boutique, accept the keys to the Boutique from Donna Jolly, Vice President for Advancement. Courtesy photo

  • The Village for Families and Children has appointed Carol Waxman of West Hartford and Angela Miller of Enfield as the co-chairs of the new West Hartford Auxiliary and the Second Chance Boutique. which will be opening on Jan. 9, 2019, in the space at 175 Park Rd. formerly occupied by the Clothes Horse. Waxman is Children’s Services Librarian at the West Hartford Public Library and Miller is a certified TLS Health & Wellness Coach and Internet Franchise Owner. The Boutique is now accepting donations of new or gently used women’s, men’s and children’s clothing, as well as accessories, antiques and collectibles, books, holiday items, household items, and jewelry. Drop-off hours at the store will take place from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. on Saturday, Monday, and Wednesday through Saturday, Dec. 15. The shop will not be open for donations the week of Nov. 19. Anyone with questions or who is interested in volunteering should contact Jennifer Meligonis DeJohn at [email protected] or 860-297-0519.
  • Some great news about 616 New Park – the mixed-use transit-oriented development, which includes 54 apartments  of workforce, veterans, and market rate housing and had its ribbon cutting in June, will be fully leased by the end of November. Economic Development Specialist Kristen Gorski also noted that leases for two tenants in the commercial space on the ground floor are very close to being finalized.

    ‘Bottoms Up’ event. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • More to come about this event, but I didn’t want to miss timely congratulations to West Hartford resident and surgeon Dr. Steven H. Brown, who was recognized as Humanitarian of the Year by the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation’s Connecticut Chapter at the organization’s “Bottoms Up” fundraiser on Friday night! Brown, posing with family and friends, is in the back row, third from left.
  • West Hartford attorney Leah Chatinover, of Stanger Stanfield Law, LLC, will be participating in a free panel discussion for nonprofits on Wednesday, Nov. 7 focused on how organizations can assess and improve their financial footing through donor enhancement, legacy giving, and properly managing endowments. See the PDF below for details.
  • Congratulations to West Hartford-based law firm Shipman, Shaiken & Schwefel, LLC for earning a ranking in the area of commercial litigation, litigation-real estate, and real estate law in the U.S. News & World Report Best Lawyers and Best Law Firms, for the ninth consecutive year. According to a news release, “receiving a tier designation reflects the high level of respect a firm has earned among other leading lawyers and clients in the same communities and the same practice areas for their abilities, their professionalism, and their integrity.”
  • ICYMI and if you haven’t been there yet, here’s a peek inside Cost Plus Work Market!

Remember, if you have any business news to share, add it in the comments section below or email Ronni Newton at [email protected].

Like what you see here? Click here to subscribe to We-Ha’s newsletter so you’ll always be in the know about what’s happening in West Hartford!

Renovations are nearly complete at Union Kitchen, with new walls coverings, lighting, tables, and more. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

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