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West Hartford Business Buzz: October 22, 2018

Poké-Man is now open at 67 Memorial Rd. in West Hartford's Blue Back Square. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

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

By Ronni Newton

I’m rarely at a loss for an opening theme for the introduction to this column, but this week I don’t have one topic but rather a bunch of random thoughts …

It looks pretty outside my window on Sunday afternoon, but 44 degrees (36 degrees with the windchill) is just not pleasant for this time of year.

I was sick this week – some type of virus that I initially thought was allergies when I was sneezing uncontrollably all day last Sunday and Monday. When the fever hit late Monday night and lasted all day Tuesday, I knew it was more than that and I actually stayed home sick on Tuesday night and covered the Board of Education meeting and discussion on changing school start times by watching it on WHC-TV. I watched live, but I still feel guilty when I don’t attend in person although I knew in this case no one would have wanted to sit next to me. I had not really been sick in a few years and am finally feeling better now, but I guess that running a half marathon in the rain, plus staying up late several nights watching the Red Sox win the ALCS didn’t exactly help my immune system.

I loved covering the story Thursday about West Hartford firefighters delivering a healthy baby boy at a Park Road home!

Sam was home for dinner on Friday night and it was great to spend some quality time with him. I did not appreciate that he brought home several weeks worth of laundry (he has a washer and dryer right in his apartment) and dumped it all into my washing machine as one giant load, causing the washer to go off balance for the first time ever.

Finally, congratulations to my niece, Sarah Newton, on her engagement on Saturday to Matt Adkins! We were already looking forward to the addition of Katie’s Matt to our family, and now the Newton family will soon be adding two Matts! (Just to make it more confusing, Sarah’s brother’s girlfriend is named Maddy. Sam is the unique one among the four cousins, with girlfriend named Evelyn.)

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:

Courtesy of Audrey Chen

  • West Hartford officially has its first poké restaurant, and as far as I can tell it’s the first true poké restaurant in the Hartford area. Poké-Man (pronounced “pokey” – as in “hokey-pokey” – man) opened Saturday, at 67 Memorial Rd. in Blue Back Square, and I am very much looking forward to trying it this week! Don’t know what poké is? It’s been ubiquitous in Hawaii for years and is now one of the hottest food trends to hit the mainland U.S. Essentially it’s cubed and seasoned raw fish, eaten either on its own or on top of sushi rice, another grain, or greens. Along with a business partner, Audrey Chen, a Farmington resident who is also an owner of Hibachi Grill & Supreme Buffet on Kane Street in West Hartford, has already opened several poké restaurants under the name “Poké-World” over the past year in Maryland, New York, New Jersey, and Ohio, is very excited about bringing this healthy cuisine to West Hartford. “The concept is that you pick your own toppings,” Chen said last week, as she was finalizing all of the details for the Saturday opening. “Only what you like, all made like you want,” she said. The base can either be rice (white or brown), lettuce, or a sushi burrito, and then you add your proteins and toppings. The proteins include raw selections (ahi or white tuna, red snapper, or salmon) as well as cooked options like chicken, shrimp, crab, tofu, and eel. Sauces – and there are quite a few varieties – as well as fruits and vegetables are added next. For a final topping, there are “crunch” options like wontons, almonds, fried shallots, or wasabi peas. The bowls are $9.99 with two proteins and unlimited other toppings, and each additional protein is $2. There are plenty of choices that work for vegetarians, vegans, and those who are gluten-free. There are also six different “signature bowls” on the menu, including the Hawaiian Classic, Shiso Salmon, and Sweet Chili Shrimp, priced from $8.50-$9.50Nothing is cooked on site at Poké-Man, but rather are delivered daily from local suppliers. “Fresh and high quality is our concern,” Chen said. In addition to poké, Poké-Man also offers a selection of traditional Chinese teas, fruit teas, and bubble teas. Counter seating is available for about a dozen people, and Poké-Man currently has four employees. “It’s a great spot for a healthy and quick lunch,” Chen said. “My kids love it, too.” A grand opening celebration is being planned, and will be held in a few weeks. For more information, a menu, or to order take-out, visit the Poké-Man websiteYou can also follow Poké-Man on Facebook.
  • The complete details will be released later this week, but get ready for a chance to enjoy discounts from participating West Hartford Center and Blue Back Square merchants and restaurants while supporting Foodshare with the return of the WE CARE Card. This is the third year for the program, which in the past two years has raised $25,000 for Foodshare. Cards are $50 each – and that equates to 125 meals for someone in Hartford or Tolland counties who is hungry or food insecure. The cards will be available online through Eventbrite, and can be picked up at BK&Co. Only 350 cards will be sold and the promotion will run from Thursday, Nov. 1 through Sunday, Nov. 11. WE CARE Card is presented by the West Hartford Center Business Association, Blue Back Square, and WHMedia.
  • Another opportunity to support Foodshare is through “PB & Burpees,” an event that West Hartford residents Betsy and Matt Udal are conducting as a collaboration between their financial management business, Fleet Feet, and CrossFit Hartford. Jars of peanut butter can be dropped off through Nov. 9 at either Great Point Financial Management (One Mountain Rd. in Farmington, right over the West Hartford line just off Farmington Avenue), Fleet Feet Sports (1003 Farmington Ave.), or CrossFit Hartford (221 Newfield Ave. in Hartford). On Friday, Nov. 9, those who have signed up for the “Burpee Challenge” will do as many burpees as jars of peanut butter that have been collected. See details of the event in the PDF below, along with the list of some great raffle prizes that participants can win. Betsy Udal said she’s hoping for 100 participants – and that she has to do lots and lots of burpees!
  • FLOW, the Future Leaders of West Hartford, will be holding a panel discussion and lunch at West Hartford Town Hall on Monday, Oct. 29, highlighting four local organizations that have ben in business for more than 10 years. Representatives from Crown Market, Legrand/Wiremold, Playhouse on Park, and Larsen Ace Hardware will share how they have evolved, grown, and remained relevant in an ever-changing business environment. The event will take place from noon-1:30 p.m., and is free to FLOW members and $20 for non-members (free for first-time non-member attendees). To register, visit www.whchamber.com, email [email protected], or call 860-521-2300.

    Futures Inc. held a ribbon cutting with the Chamber of Commerce and town officials on Oct. 18 at its new headquarters at 902 South Quaker Ln. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • The West Hartford Chamber of Commerce and town officials joined staff of Futures Inc. on Thursday night for a ribbon cutting at the new Futures Inc. headquarters at 902 South Quaker Ln. Futures, a nonprofit that supports individuals with disabilities, recently moved its headquarters from Middletown to the renovated 1865 Italianate building that is also in close proximity to Futures School which was already located at 1030 New Britain Ave.in West Hartford. Futures School is a community based school that specializes in individualized education programs for students with special educational needs. Along with corporate headquarters, the South Quaker Lane space is the center for Futures Community-based Transition Program for students ages 18-21 who have completed their academic requirements for high school, but may remain in school to age 21. Futures Inc. also operates Good Cause Gifts, a gift store with locations in Berlin, CT, and at the Hospital for Special Care in New Britain. Good Cause Gifts was Connecticut’s first social enterprise and the stores are staffed by people with various disabilities. For more information about Futures Inc. visit their website futures-ct.org.
  • Yet another opportunity to help those who don’t have enough to eat is through this unique event that will benefit the West Hartford Food Pantry. On Sunday, Nov. 4, members of the Rockledge Men’s and Women’s Clubs will be playing “Greenskeepers Revenge,” where the course maintenance staff will place obstacles on each hole along with other tricks and treats making it difficult for the golfers to play each hole in this benefit event. “It is all for fun in appreciation of the staff’s hard work keeping Rockledge one of the best maintained golf courses in our state,” said Men’s Club Board member Bob Palmer in an email. The general public is invited to also make donations to the West Hartford Food Pantry by dropping off food products or monetary donations at the Rockledge Golf Shop, 289 South Main St., from Oct. 28 to Nov. 4. Any non-perishable food items that have not expired will be accepted.

    Courtesy photo

  • The West Hartford Chamber of Commerce announced in a press release that the official ribbon cutting at SDSS Martial Arts, 772 North Main St. in Bishops Corner, was held on Thursday, Sept. 27. Attending this event and helping with the ribbon cutting were Mayor Shari Cantor, SDSS owners Andrew and Hailey Collard, SDSS Regional Director Mikael Meyer, Edens Property Manager Karen Filian, Chamber members Billy Grant, Tony Leesha, Rezi Mucha, Matt Cuddy, Dave Calibey, Nancy Brecher, Jessie Bouclair, and Chamber executive Director Barbara Lerner. SDSS specializes in the Shaolin Chuan Fa system of self defense.

    Companions for Living President, Julianne Roth (left) and Director of Operations, Frank Day (right) congratulating Cereta Tyndale. Courtesy photo

  • Congrats to Hartford resident Cereta Tyndale, a 10-year employee of West Hartford-based Companions for Living, who received the 2018 Caregiver of the Year Award at the Annual Leadership Conference of the Homecare Association of America held on Sept. 24 in Washington, DC.  Selected from more than 50 nominees, Tyndale received a cash prize of $1,000 in addition to a travel stipend to cover expenses to attend the annual conference as part of her award. “We are thrilled that Cereta is being recognized for her dedication to caregiving,” said Julianne Roth, president of Companions for Living.  “She is a dedicated, hardworking and patient caregiver who is a great advocate for her clients.”

    Avery Kahn. Submitted photo

  • Ruane Attorneys announced in a press release that attorney Avery Kahn, a West Hartford resident, has joined their team and will be based in the firm’s Wethersfield office. Attorney Kahn comes to Ruane Attorneys after a career as a pilot in the Air Force, and has a bachelor’s in history from Central Connecticut State University and a law degree from Western New England University. “Attorney Kahn already has an advanced understanding of the law and a wonderful ability to connect with clients. He is a great asset on cases, and we will continue to help him grow as a lawyer,” said Jay Ruane, founding partner at Ruane Attorneys.
  • Megan Marino and Julie Oberholtzer, who are both ceritfied teachers, have recently founded LIFE Tutoring, located at 45 South Main St. in West Hartford Center. According to their website: “The LIFE Tutoring approach honors each learner’s specific needs, and builds relationships to strengthen learning. Brain research shows that every child can connect to learning if their academic, social and emotional needs are honored. This builds confidence and can lead to long-term success. Additionally, children who learn strategies specific to their needs can make significant growth in a reasonable amount of time. Confidence plus effective strategies are the underpinnings of independence and achievement.  Sometimes, a learner is only one strategy away from success!” For more information, visit the website or email [email protected].
  • ICMYI, we learned this week that a new application is in the works to develop the Sisters of Saint Joseph property at the intersection of Park Road and Prospect Avenue. The plans, developed by architect Amenta Emma, are being submitted by Hartford-based real estate developer Lexington Partners LLC, and include 294 apartments. The Town Council unanimously approved a Special Development District for this parcel back in January 2016, after more than six hours of public hearings, but the developer’s financing fell through. The new developer has been chosen by the Sisters of Saint Joseph, and this application will be approached as an amendment to that SDD. Read the full story here.
  • Balos Estiatorio is now open at 46 South Main St. (former Besito location), serving authentic Greek cuisine with an emphasis on seafood in surroundings designed to transport you to a seaside restaurant on a Greek island. Complete details and photos can be found here.
  • Comedy returns to World of Beer, with another installment of We-Ha HA this Tuesday. Click here for details.

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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