A round-up of openings, closings, and other news about West Hartford businesses.
By Ronni Newton
If you’ve got today off, I hope you have a chance to enjoy the great fall weather! It’s certainly my kind of fall weather with daytime temperatures in the 70s and I’m glad to see it’s going to be like that all week.
We’ve been enjoying a nice weekend visiting with Ted’s parents on Nantucket. It’s a rare year that I don’t run the Hartford Half Marathon but I was dealing with a nagging foot issue all summer and couldn’t get in the needed mileage, and Ted didn’t train for the race either, so we decided it was a good weekend to get away. It was great to have Katie and Matt join us, too, and Millie of course enjoyed some good seagull chasing opportunities and a visit to the dog-friendly Cisco Brewers.
We missed our usual Saturday night dinner out in West Hartford, but enjoyed some takeout from the newly-opened Toro Mexican Street Food earlier in the week (story about the new restaurant will be published shortly). I also got to sample the coffee and beer at WeHa Brewing and Roasting Company, which had a ribbon cutting on Friday afternoon. Those photos can be found below.
We did go out to dinner Saturday night on Nantucket, to an Italian restaurant named Fusaro’s.
We spent this same weekend in Nantucket last year – where we did a virtual Hartford Half Marathon and socially distanced visits with Ted’s parents – but as we left a COVID surge was beginning on the island. We had planned to return for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but due to travel restrictions which would have meant the need for two-week quarantines on both ends of travel, we didn’t make it back until May. While conditions are constantly changing, I’m hopeful that the holidays will be very different this year.
Please continue to support our local businesses, wear your masks indoors (regardless of vaccination status) – and stay safe and healthy.
If you have information to share about local businesses, please provide details in the comments or email Ronni Newton at [email protected].
Here’s this week’s Buzz:
- The iconic building at 526 New Park Ave. will soon be home to a vibrant breakfast and lunch spot when Pepe Burby – co-owner of the popular Fiddleheads Cafe, which lost its lease on Farmington Avenue in Hartford over the summer – opens a new restaurant called Sunrise Country Kitchen with business partner Bob Dignoti. Dignoti’s wife, Sueli Gomez, is also a partner, and they hope to open in the next three to four weeks. Burby described the restaurant, which will retain the Fiddleheads flair, as “American food, up a notch, with a whimsical twist,” and said he’s really excited to bring his version of scratch-made, farm fresh foods to the space in West Hartford. He is looking forward to having parking on site as well. Dignoti, who grew up in West Hartford and has owned multiple restaurants over the past 35 years, said he has always loved the building, which was constructed in 1940 and in the past has housed the Yankee Flyer Diner and Webster’s Barbecue Cafe as well as East-West Grille and, very briefly, India Grill. Sunrise Country Kitchen will serve breakfast and lunch, and seat 46 inside and 24 on the patio. The heated patio will be surrounded by wooden planters, that next year will be filled with tomatoes, green beans, and herbs that will be used at the restaurant, Dignoti said. Some cosmetic changes have been made to the interior as well as the exterior, including the replacement of some of the tile with wood – and some metal touches in the shape of fiddleheads, Burby said. Dignoti said his first restaurant, in Granby, was called Sunrise Cafe, and he wanted to use the “Sunrise” name in what he plans as his last restaurant as well. Dignoti said he signed a lease for the 526 New Park Ave. space a year ago, but has been waiting for the right opportunity to arise to open a restaurant there – which he believes he has found now. “This restaurant is badly needed,” Dignoti said.
- Right next door to the future Sunrise Country Kitchen, AutoZone is continuing build-out of space for a new retail operation in the former Coastal Tool space at 510 New Park Ave. AutoZone has also taken over the space next door, which will be used for parking. The space will serve as a retail operation, and there will be some regional warehouse operations on the site as well.
- Congrats to WeHa Brewing and Roasting, which hosted a ribbon cutting with Mayor Shari Cantor and the West Hartford Chamber of Commerce at the 141 Shield St. location on Friday, and had a grand opening Saturday. I’ve sampled the coffee, and the Mo & Lo IPA (named for owner and brewer Will Gorry’s dog, Mosaic, and owner and roaster Cody McCormack’s dog, Logan) and both were excellent! Cantor said at the ribbon cutting that she was excited to invest in the business when it was still a dream nearly three years ago. “I shared your passion for bringing this wonderful, artistic place, welcoming and vibrant, [to the town],” Cantor said. The business was featured in this column a few weeks ago as they were preparing to open, and some photos from the ribbon cutting are directly below – and even more are at the end of the column. WeHa Brewing and Roasting is now open Monday and Tuesday from 7 a.m.-3 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday from 7 a.m.-9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 7 a.m.-10 p.m., and Sunday from 7 a.m.-6 p.m. A kitchen will be opening onsite in the next few weeks, and look for a feature story to come once the full food operation is in place.
- The Corner Pug (1046 New Britain Ave. in Elmwood) has renovated and reopened the back room – which has been closed for several years – and has designed the space for sports viewing. They will be showing NFL Sunday Ticket on several new large screen TVs in the back room (and a few in the main bar area), and have also updated the menu and added more outdoor seats on the patio.
- When I arrived at Toro Mexican Street Food to interview owner Tony Camilleri last week (story coming soon), I was amazed to see the property next door at 18 Raymond Rd. What had been a blighted property for years, the main building torn down after a fire in January 2005, now has a mural created by Ben Keller – the artist behind the Elmwood mural on the Juniper Homecare building on New Britain Ave. Keller is beginning a mural (with a sugar skull and Day of the Dead theme) at Toro Mexican Street food this week, but Camilleri also got permission from the new owner of the 18 Raymond Rd. to have the front of the building “dressed up” while it is awaiting a future use that is not yet ready to be revealed. “Something amazing will be coming down the pike,” West Hartford Economic Development Coordinator Kristen Gorski said of the 18 Raymond Rd, space.
- Laura Hutchinson, WTNH News 8 morning co-anchor, will host the annual fundraiser for West Hartford-based Futures Inc. “Once again, Laura brings star-power to this Nov. 4 event at the Aqua Turf Club in Plantsville, CT that will benefit community members with disabilities, and we appreciate the commitment of our media partner WTNH News 8 to get the word out,” said Futures Inc. President Pamela DonAroma. Good Cause Gifts – located in West Hartford Center, Berlin, and at The Hospital for Special Care – is one of the organization’s social enterprises. West Hartford’s NBT Bank is the title sponsor of the event. Visit https://www.goodcausegifts.org to learn more and register.
- This is not quite in West Hartford, but it’s right over the line in that area where the town line meets Newington, New Britain, and Farmington, so it gets a mention here. Thanks to a reader who advised me that a Popeye’s Louisiana Chicken franchisee has signed a ground lease at 587 Hartford Road (aka New Britain Avenue, Brittany West Plaza, where existing tenants include Seoul BBQ and Arthur Murray Dance.) A pad that was the former location of a TD Bank branch will be demolished and an approximately 2,200 square foot free-standing restaurant location with a drive through will be constructed, with a planned opening in summer/fall of 2022. OR&L Commercial LLC of Rocky Hill, CT co-brokered this transaction with Trinity Realty of New York and Reno Properties Group LLC of Newington, CT.
- There are several pieces of news related to the Delamar Hotel, including the announcement last week by Greenwich Hospitality Group that Israel Benyair has been named vice president of operations and general manager of Delamar West Hartford. According to a news release, Benyair is a seasoned hospitality professional with more than 27 years experience who brings a wealth of experience and leadership from luxury hotels in the USA and Europe. He comes to Delamar Hotels from The Mayflower Inn & Spa, Auberge Resort Collection, located in Washington, CT, where he most recently served as general manager. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree from Institut Vatel Hotel School in Lyon, France, and is fluent in English, French, and Hebrew. “I am thrilled to join the Greenwich Hospitality Group and Delamar Hotels,” said Benyair. “I look forward to contributing to a sense of unique destinations with special experiences and memories for our guests and travelers at each of the Delamar Hotels. Creating a fantastic sense of space, a new paradigm of luxury, and best-in-class attentiveness by our warm team members throughout our guests’ stay will be our focus.”
- The other Delamar news involved a four-legged furry creature! “It’s been noted that dogs have a way of calming people during stressful times in their lives. Recognizing that COVID-19 continues to impact many people, Delamar West Hartford will have Douglas, a trained therapy dog, welcoming guests in the lobby to put a smile on their faces and help them feel at ease while traveling. Wine and cheese will be served,” the Delamar announced in an email. Douglas, a 7-year-old Goldendoodle, can be visited every Thursday, from 3:45-4:45 p.m. in the lobby. “His favorite treat is Greenies, favorite toy is a play spider, and favorite hobby is searching for rabbits,” Delamar management said.
- PeoplesBank employees, including several from the newly-opened West Hartford location at 102 LaSalle Road, lent a hand at a recent Hartford Area Habitat for Humanity home renovation.
- From a news release: Wealthspire Advisors, an NFP company and independent investment adviser, announced the signing of a definitive agreement on Oct. 5, 2021, to acquire Private Capital Group, LLC, a leading wealth management firm based in West Hartford, CT, offering comprehensive wealth management and retirement planning services. “Private Capital Group has a talented team providing clients with comprehensive financial planning, robust wealth management solutions, and passionate client service,” said Wealthspire CEO Mike LaMena. “They are a natural cultural fit, and I am confident that combining their accomplished group with Wealthspire’s deep investment platform, sophisticated technology, and middle/back-office support structure will enhance value for Private Capital Group’s clients. We are excited to expand our presence in Connecticut while continuing to look for opportunities to grow our wealth management platform with top quality firms throughout the United States.”
- Employee shortages have been all over the news, and the Town of West Hartford and the West Hartford Chamber of Commerce recently hosted a very successful job and resource fair at the Town Hall auditorium with about 150 attendees and dozens of employers participating. Some people were offered jobs on the spot! Job openings exist at many local businesses, including at The Bridge Family Center where they will conduct on-site job interviews on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2012 from 2-6 p.m. at the main office, 1022 Farmington Ave. in West Hartford. Appointments are not necessary, attendees should bring their current resume. Applicants will have the opportunity to apply and interview for several full and part time direct care positions in residential and independent living programs as well as the Quality Parenting Center. In addition, a Front Office administrator position is available, the Bridge advised.
- West Hartford Community Interactive has long been a vital part of this community, but since the pandemic has had even more critical contributions, including streaming town meetings and high school sports events – while also dealing with reduced fundraising opportunities. If you missed the Park Road Parade on Oct. 2, WHCi was there, and the recording of that signature event has now been released. Click on the YouTube link below to watch.
- ICYMI, The Next Chapter, a used bookstore that also serves as a job training site for West Hartford Public Schools post-secondary students, opened last week at 13 South Main St. in West Hartford Center. Click here for the complete story.
- In an effort to highlight the hard work that goes on behind the scenes at our local restaurants, Eat IN Connecticut has launched a social media campaign #BEKINDtoRestaurants. Details can be found here.
- The Town of West Hartford is beginning to process of deciding how to spend its American Rescue Plan Act funds, which total more than $37 million. Click here for more information.
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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