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West Hartford Business Buzz: October 21, 2019

Harvest Country Store is now Harvey's Cafe Market. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

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

By Ronni Newton

That was quite a storm we had this past week!

When I looked out my bedroom window Thursday morning, I had awful flashbacks of the October 2011 storm because there was a huge tree limb across the road, and pieces of it had pulled down a neighbor’s power line. I had woken up to a message with information about the storm from the fire department and Public Works, and has asked both to send me photos of storm damage, but then when I looked outside there was an example right on my own street.

Thanks to all of our first responders and Public Works for their efficient handling of this storm – which thankfully was nowhere near as bad as the 2011 storm. Debris was cleared from most roads on Thursday, and most people had power back that day as well. My neighbor got her power back Saturday morning (probably one of the last ones, since the outage only affected one house), and the only lingering reminder of the storm is the “road closed” sign that I think someone forgot to remove from one end of our road!

Stormy weather has definitely been interspersed with some beautiful fall weather.

Millie is pushing her limit. She’s not “on” the furniture, just resting her front paws there. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Ted, Millie, and I hiked to Heublein Tower last Monday, and it was so beautiful. We were hoping Millie would be able to hike all the way to the top (she looks huge, but she’s only 5 months old!), and we were so happy she made it without any problem at all – and with a lot of bounce and enthusiasm. It was quite a contrast to the sadness we felt taking that hike last year without a dog, just a few days after our previous dog, Scarlett, had died.

I drove to Simsbury on Friday and although many trees lost their leaves due to the wind and rain, the color is still fabulous and I hope everyone gets a chance over the next week or two to enjoy the fall foliage.

I’m heading to Nashville later this week to attend the annual LION Summit. I’m really looking forward to meeting with other members of LION (Local Independent Online News) – and getting some great ideas to implement for We-Ha.com.

I’ve never been to Nashville, and am hoping to have a chance to explore the city a bit!

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:

Harvey Ayaz behind the counter at Harvey’s Cafe Market. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • Thanks to a reader for informing me that Harvest Country Store has now become Harvey’s Cafe Market! The shop at 161 Oakwood Ave., previously under the same ownership as Harvest Fine Wine & Spirits (locations on Farmington Avenue and New Britain Avenue), was purchased by Harvey Ayaz on Sept. 25. I met Ayaz last week, a South Windsor resident who said owning his own store has been a dream, and he’s very excited about taking over the business, and putting his own touch on it as well to ensure that there is a “smile on the face” of all customers. “We carry more organic products,” Ayaz said, procured through UNFI. There is a selection of fresh fruit every day and an assortment of smoothies, as well as more grab and go items. The shop had been known for its delicious sandwiches, and Ayaz has not changed those at all – the dressing included. “There are six different choices of cheese, over 17 different sauces with 10 made in-house, all the veggies you can think of and love, over 12 different kinds of freshly-sliced or prepared in house meat, and 14 specialty subs that are very popular – however, you can also build your own,” Ayaz said. He has also added gluten-free sandwiches, turkey or pastrami wraps prepared in a special “clean” area to avoid gluten contamination. Build-your-own breakfast sandwiches are also on the menu. The coffee comes from Free Trade Equal Exchange – obtained directly from farmers. A new benefit: “All first responders have free coffee at Harvey’s Cafe,” Ayaz said. The coffee syrups are all organic, and so are the energy drinks and bars. Bagels are delivered daily from Goldberg’s in Elmwood, and fresh hoagie and kaiser rolls are delivered daily from Aladdin Bakers in New York. The eggs are local, and the meats are from McKenzie’s grass-fed animals. Ice cream, available in 16 flavors, is from Shady Glen in Manchester, and can be topped with house-made fudge. There are also shakes and sundaes, as well as specialties like Affogato (ice cream and espresso milkshake) and Candy Land shakes with Kit Kats and Reese’s blended with a choice of ice cream. “Because of ShopRite Closing, we are carrying more household necessities,” Ayaz said. “We’d love to be more of a convenience to neighbors.” Ayaz is dedicated to being involved with the community, and is already signed up to sponsor a Little League team and has been hosting parties for various sports teams, including a fall baseball team and a soccer team. Next summer he plans to do more with sports teams, and with those who visit Kennedy Park across the street. Harvey’s also has a fairly extensive selection of beer, currently being sold through a provisional license and Ayaz said the permanent license should be in place shortly. Harvest wanted to focus more on their wine and beer business, and was happy to sell him the business, Ayaz said. On the Harvest Country Store’s Facebook page, the following was posted Sept. 24: “Thanks to all! We loooove yooou! Please keep up the vibes for Harveys Cafe Market!!! He is really gonna rock it- and he has all the hoagie recipes!!!!” See a few more photos below.

    Harc President and CEO Andrea Barton Reeves and West Hartford Mayor Shari Cantor (center), along with Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, State Sen. Derek Slap, Town Council member Liam Sweeney, Chamber Executive Director Chris Conway, and other representatives from the state, town, and Harc cut the ribbon at SockStarz on Wednesday, Oct. 16. Ronni Newton

  • SockStarz – the novelty sock store that is a social enterprise mission supporting Harc – opened a few weeks ago at 18 LaSalle Rd. in West Hartford Center, but had an official ribbon cutting on Wednesday, Oct. 16. Harc CEO and President Andrea Barton Reeves cut the ribbon along with West Hartford Mayor Shari Cantor, at a celebration also attended by Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, State Sen. Derek Slap, West Hartford Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Chris Conway, and other members of the Chamber, Harc, and town officials. SockStarz is one of 10 nonprofit businesses launched through the Hartford Foundation’s Social Enterprise Accelerator initiative, designed to help organizations expand beyond traditional grants and donations when looking for new sources of revenue. For more information, see this previous write-up. The socks make great gifts – for others or for yourself – and they support a great cause!
  • Ignite Fitness (137 South Main St.) will be hosting an “Art and Wellness Market” on Friday, Oct. 25, from 5-8 p.m. Vendors will include local artists, wellness professionals, and businesses offering products that include a variety of artwork, natural products, paintings, jewelry, recovery support, and much more. Additional information can be found here.
  • West Hartford-based blumshapiro is continuing to expand its operations, and announced a merger with SunBlock System’s, Inc. as of Oct. 1. SunBlock, which will operate under the blumshapiro name, posted the following on its website: “blumshapiro is one of New England’s most prestigious business advisory firms, with over 500 professionals dedicated to serving companies throughout the East Coast. Our decision to merge with blumshapiro was driven by our commitment to provide our clients with world-class service while maintaining our devotion to building a leading NexGen global security and intelligence company.”
  • WeHa HA Comedy Nights are back, at a new venue in the WeHa pop-up in the Edens shopping center at 2523 Albany Ave. in Bishops Corner. The next show, featuring headliner John Romanoff, is Oct. 26. Click here for additional information.
  • Also back – for its fifth(!!!) year – is Best of West Hartford. The votes are being tallied, and the annual awards show event will be held on Monday, Nov. 4, from 5:30-8:30 p.m. at Flemings (which is a presenting/title sponsor along with Edens), and will feature a special fifth anniversary cake courtesy of Carol Murdock from Classic Cakes, a specialty drink (included with ticket price) that will be chilled as it flows down an ice sculpture luge. There will be a raffle, and all attendees will be automatically entered to win a night out on the town. Finalists in the content will be announced shortly, and for more information as well as to purchase tickets online through EventBrite, click here.
  • Congratulations to Conard computer science/mathematics teacher Jackie Coricelli, one of 10 teachers from around the the world to earn a prestigious Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) Equity Fellowship. “As an Equity Fellow, Jackie will take part in a year-long program that elevates educators who have demonstrated success in disrupting the disparities impacting females, underrepresented students of color, English language learners, and students with special needs in order to bring their inclusive teaching practices and leadership to educators across the country and around the world at the 2020 CSTA Annual Conference,” the CSTA website states.
  • I haven’t been able to check this out, but Cake Gypsy (which currently has locations in Canton and Avon) posted on their own Facebook page that they are planning to open a location on New Britain Avenue in Elmwood. I’ll report back on this one as soon as I can get more information.

    Dogology is closing its West Hartford location. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • This week’s sad news – particularly for me since I have a new puppy and the store is walking distance from my house – is the closing of Dogology‘s West Hartford location (5 Sedgwick Rd.). Owner Marissa Garson posted the following on the Dogology website: “When Dogology first opened its doors in 2012, we could only dream of what we wanted it to become. Almost seven years later, we continue to grow in the amazing Canton community we are lucky to be a part of and have the very best clients who trust us to help their pets thrive with nutrition and training. In addition to our award-winning pet retail store, dog training, and classes, we offer puppy exclusive daycare, puppy playgroups and proudly opened our adult dog daycare in Canton this summer. By the beginning of the new year, we are excited to be expanding into online sales. To support all of our growth in Canton, we have made the decision to close our West Hartford location as of October 16th. West Hartford welcomed us with open arms, and we know this will be disappointing news for some. We hope to see you in our Canton location and to be able to continue to serve you! ​We appreciate all of your support and continue to feel honored in helping you create the very best lives for your pets. See you in Canton!” Millie and I hurried over the morning after hearing the news (and got to meet Ryan Keating’s dog, Agent, while we were there), and chatted with Garson. She said that the lease is up at the end of October, and she has been grappling with the decision for the past several months. Canton has continued to grow so much, she said, and has required extensive resources and time. Dogology may return to West Hartford at some point, Garson said. “It’s not goodbye for ever, but goodbye for now. I think West Hartford can be a really good market.” Everything is on sale, and while the planned closing was stated as Oct. 16, Garson said she will probably stay open a bit longer to liquidate as much merchandise as possible before the end of the month.
  • ICYMI, I had a chance to sit down last week with Alf Poor, CEO of Ideanomics and president of Fintech Village, to get an update on the company’s plans for the former UConn West Hartford campus. Click here for details.
  • A really cool – or more like hot (bad joke) – project underway at Westfarms is the construction of a $9.2 million solar installation that will generate enough energy to power nearly 100 percent of common area. Click here for the complete story.
  • This week’s Experience We-Ha podcast: Freezing away fat at the Medspa, now in its new (temporary) location in Blue Back Square. Click here to listen.

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!

Sandwiches at Harvey’s Cafe Market include the same offerings as Harvest plus a few gluten-free options. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Harvey’s Cafe Market offers Shady Glen ice cream and fair trade coffee, including cold brew. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

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