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West Hartford Business Buzz: September 13, 2021

Pink Flamingo will be opening at 1001 Farmington Ave. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

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

By Ronni Newton

I hope everyone enjoyed the beautiful weather this weekend and had a chance to decompress from what seemed like a very long week (to me) even though it started off with a holiday.

Saturday was the 20th anniversary of 9/11, a day that is forever etched in my mind, as it is for most of us who are old enough to remember 2001. There was not a cloud in the bright blue sky this past Saturday morning – the sun was strong but the air was crisp and cool to start the day – pretty much exactly the way the weather was on Sept. 11, 2001.

I started my day by attending a solemn yet beautiful memorial ceremony at Fire Station 2, where there were heartfelt speeches from leaders of our fire and police departments, Mayor Shari Cantor, and Town Manager Matt Hart about the tragedy of 9/11 and the significance of the day. My story, and photos, can be found here.

We-Ha.com published several other stories over the past few days, and a column by Professor Matt Warshauer, about 9/11. I shared my own recollections of the day in an essay entitled “Turning Points” that I wrote back in 2001. I’ve considered rewriting it over the years, but decided that would detract from the impact. You can find it here.

To segue into a more cheerful milestone, Sept. 9 was the seventh anniversary of the official launch of We-Ha.com. We started posting content to the site during the summer of 2014, but officially launched the site on the day after Labor Day, Sept. 9, 2014. I dug into the metrics, and am thrilled to report that as of Sunday, since the launch we have tallied 14,344,471 page views! Yes, that’s more than 14 million, with about 2.8 million of those page views taking place over the past year to date. I’m pretty proud of those numbers!

After tailgating at lunchtime Saturday (no need to mention the score of the UConn football game, but it was a great tailgate) and having been out in the sun all day, Ted and I decided we didn’t have the energy to go out to dinner, but we got some fresh and delicious bowls from Pokéworks as takeout.

Pokéworks bowls. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

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:

One of the services offered by Pink Flamingo Party Co., which will be opening in West Hartford Center next month, is the creation of balloon installations like this one for the West Hartford Pride Festival and DragFest on June 26, 2021. Photo credit: Sophie Christensen (we-ha.com file photo)

  • We’re going to start off this column today with something upbeat, and you can’t get much more cheerful than pink flamingos. New retailers are always great to announce, and I’m excited to report that founder and CEO of Pink Flamingo Party Co., Ashley Sodipo, is preparing to launch the brand’s first brick and mortar store at 1001 Farmington Ave. in West Hartford Center. The store will be in the space formerly occupied by Face R-X, a medspa that relocated just over the town line to South Road in Farmington. “Pink Flamingo Party Co. is the party store for personalized and customized party supplies including epic balloon art installations to elevate all of life’s big moments and special occasions,” she said. Pink Flamingo Party Co. started as an online business about two years ago with curated party decor, event styling, and installations, helping people and organizations throughout Connecticut and New York celebrate their special moments. You’ve probably seen their balloon displays (including the one above from Pride Day in West Hartford), without realizing it. There’s more information on their website, and much more to come about the store when they open.

Zephyr Street Pizza plans to open Sept. 23 in the at 968R Farmington Ave., n the Brace Road parking lot in West Hartford Center. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • Zephyr Street Pizza is getting close to opening day – which they have indicated on social media will be Sept. 23. They’re currently running a contest on their Facebook page, with free pizza for the winner who best describes their location announced on opening day. I describe the location as “in the former Barb’s Pizza, aka former Backstage Pizza space in the Brace Road parking lot,” but I know that’s not the kind of creative answer they are hoping to get. The website should be up and running in the next few days, with more details about the menu and opening plans.

Temporary structure outside Sparrow at 977 Farmington Ave. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • I’ve gotten quite a few questions about the wooden structure that is currently extending out of the former Grant’s space (soon to open as Sparrow) at 977 Farmington Ave. It’s not an addition under construction, but rather a temporary structure to protect the façade from the weather, and for security purposes, while improvements and renovations are being made to the front entryway and new windows are being installed. Sparrow was featured in this column two weeks ago, and here’s the link in case you missed it.

Ryan Keating. Courtesy photo

  • Voting lines are open through Tuesday to choose the winner of “The Protégé” – an insurance YouTube reality show – and West Hartford’s own Ryan Keating, of Keating Agency Insurance needs our support. Voting is live at theprotege.show for the competition which started with 11 insurance professionals from all over the U.S. and is now down to the final three candidates. The winner of the contest receives a lifetime membership to the Killing Commercial Insurance program featuring a national network of other sales professionals who provide and support  education, training, advice and overall success of each other. Below you can see his video application!
  • The Town of West Hartford hosted a meeting recently for members of the Elmwood Business Association, Design District, and Park Road Association to discuss public safety matters, and participants found it educational and productive. A similar virtual meeting will be held for members of the Bishops Corner Neighborhood Association and West Hartford Center Business Association on Tuesday, Sept. 14, from 8-9 a.m. The discussion will be led by Police Chief Vernon Riddick, Mayor Shari Cantor, and Town Manager Matt Hart, and they will address any questions or concerns. You can join the Webex meeting here: Join meeting or connect through the following: https://townofwesthartford.my.webex.com/townofwesthartford.my/j.php?MTID=ma5deb20b63df502914aceefaabbe808f Join by meeting number Meeting number (access code): 2633 858 7061  Meeting password: TM310  Tap to join from a mobile device (attendees only)  +1-408-418-9388,,26338587061## United States Toll  Join by phone  +1-408-418-9388 United States Toll  Global call-in numbers  Join from a video system or application  Dial [email protected]townofwesthartford.my.webex.com  You can also dial and enter your meeting number. Join using Microsoft Lync or Microsoft Skype for Business Dial 26338587061.[email protected]webex.com
  • Some disappointing news to share (this isn’t West Hartford, but includes many West Hartford organizers and participants): The Hartford Rib Off, a nonprofit organization committed to raising funds and supporting local charities through safe and enjoyable BBQ-themed events, has announced that the 11th Hartford Rib Off event, planned for Oct. 15-16, 2021, is officially postponed until further notice due to the rise of COVID-19 cases throughout the state. “In keeping with our commitment to the health and safety of our community, it is with heavy hearts that we announce the postponement of the 2021 Hartford Rib Off,” says Guy Neumann, Hartford Rib Off Founder. “This fundraising event centers around family fun, entertainment, food, and drink, and we feel that the rise in COVID-19 cases throughout the state makes our decision to postpone unavoidable. Due to the commonly accepted COVID protocols necessary at this time, and the uncertainty of future guidelines, we find that we are unable to manage the 2021 event from both logistical and financial standpoints. Additionally, one of our main beneficiaries this year, The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, supports children with significant underlying health issues. This, coupled with the fact that children under the age of 12 aren’t eligible for vaccination, makes maintaining the family-friendly atmosphere of The Hartford Rib Off untenable.  The risks are just too high, and the continued health and safety of everyone involved with The Hartford Rib Off is our top priority.” Neumann said he appreciates all of the support from sponsors, the board of directors, cook teams, and volunteers, and hopes to have the event return in person in 2022. More information about the Hartford Rib Off can be found online at http://hartfordriboff.com and on Facebook, and Instagram. For questions please email: [email protected].

Previous Hartford Rib-Off. Courtesy image

  • Another non-West Hartford piece of information I wanted to share here because I know that many residents have traditionally bought their firewood from Open Hearth, which has announced they are having a “Firewood Fire Sale,” as they prepare to close the wood yard for good and focus on other programs. The sale (see flyer) will be held on Saturday, Sept. 18, from 8 a.m. through noon. “For over half a century The Open Hearth Wood Yard has provided practical work experience for hundreds of local men learning how to maintain employment and rediscover their self-worth,” said Marilyn Rossetti, executive director of The Open Hearth. “Last year, we made the difficult but necessary decision to close the wood yard due to COVID-19. Given the growth and success we are experiencing with our Working Man’s Center in Hartford, we have decided to close the wood yard and devote our energies to the Center, a place where men with little or no job experience can develop the skills or earn the certificates they need to achieve sustained employment—particularly in roles that incorporate computers, digital tools and remote work.” With a $40 cash donation, The Open Hearth will fill your trunk with firewood and you won’t even need to leave your car. Supplies are based on a first-come, first-served basis, and only cash donations can be accepted. All proceeds from the sale will support the organization’s mission to help local men experiencing homelessness. “The wood yard has been a terrific program for us, but given the growing success we are having with The Working Man’s Center and the complications associated with COVID and firewood restrictions, this is the perfect time to make a transition,” added Rossetti. “We encourage everyone to stop by and stock up on discounted cords of wood, which will support our mission and the evolution of our Working Man’s Center and its important mission to connect the men we serve with continuous employment.”

Courtesy image

  • Congratulations to the four West Hartford residents – Megan Carannante, Eliot Gersten, Alan Parker, and Richard Robinson – who are among the 36 attorneys from the firm of Pullman & Comley to be recognized in the 2022 edition of “The Best Lawyers in America.” The firm provided the following details in a news release: It’s the first time Carannante has been honored by Best Lawyers. Her practice area is labor and employment litigation. She was previously a recipient of the Hartford Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” and the Connecticut Law Tribune’s “New Leaders in the Law” awards. She’s been a Super Lawyers “Connecticut Rising Star” since 2012 in the area of business litigation, construction litigation, employment & labor. Gersten has been listed in Best Lawyers in the area of commercial litigation since 2013. He’s been selected to the Connecticut Super Lawyers list since 2007 in the areas of business litigation, general litigation and real estate and was named one of the “Dozen Who Made a Difference” by the Connecticut Law Tribune in 2010. Parker made his first appearance on The Best Lawyers in America list in the area of trusts and estates in 2013 and has been a part of it each year since. He was also selected to the Connecticut Super Lawyers list from 2006-11 in the areas of estate planning and probate law. Robinson has been in The Best Lawyers in America in the area of litigation – construction since 2010. He’s been selected to the Super Lawyers list since 2006 in the areas of business litigation, construction litigation and employment & labor and was a 2015 Lexology Client Choice Award – Connecticut Litigation. Robinson was also appointed by the judges of the Federal District Court in Connecticut as a special master. He regularly serves in that capacity in employment and construction cases.
  • Meet the West Hartford Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and committee leaders. The people who are working hard – often behind the scenes – to facilitate support for our area businesses were profiled in the most recent issue of West Hartford Magazine. You can find their headshots and bios (beginning on page 48) by clicking here.

Courtesy image

  • The West Hartford Fire Marshal’s Office is helping businesses comply with the town’s mask mandate, and anyone who wants a free “Wearing is Caring” sign can contact Fire Inspector Marsha McCurdy Adell at 860-561-8316.
  • ICYMI, I’ve shared a few stories online this past week that were also printed in West Hartford LIFE. Some people enjoy print, which others may have missed the print version (or may not live in West Hartford to receive the paper). The stories include a feature about Hall’s 2 Go written by Tracey Weiss (click here to read the complete story) and a story about School of Rock (click here to read the full story) by Ted Glanzer.

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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