A round-up of openings, closings, and other news about West Hartford businesses.
By Ronni Newton
I hope everyone enjoyed their summery weekend – the last weekend before the official arrival of fall.
Last week included the annual Breakfast on the Bridge – which I always view as a right of passage into fall and the new school year. Summer is over for the Town Council as well, which only meets once a month during the summer. Last week the Council resumed its regular busy schedule – although the meeting was Wednesday due to the Rosh Hashanah holiday.
On Friday night Ted and I attended a very engaging and energetic performance of “Peter and the Starcatcher” – the opening show of Playhouse on Park’s 10th season.
My Saturday was spent sweating – with a 10.5-mile training run for the Hartford Half Marathon, followed by tailgating and a very exciting UConn vs. URI football game. For a nightcap, we enjoyed the West Hartford Fire Department’s Grill and Beer Tasting at Town Hall.
Sunday is typically a work day for me (although this week it was preceded by a delicious brunch at Park & Oak), and this week I had to get even more done than usual because very early on Wednesday I am heading out of town and will be gone through Sunday. And I won’t be able to take my laptop with me.
I don’t actually know yet where I am going because Ted has planned another surprise trip! (Two years ago, when we first became empty nesters, he surprised me with a trip to Seattle, and I didn’t know the final destination until we changed planes in the Denver airport.)
The only clue he had given me until a few days ago was that it involved “exercise, beer, and wine.” He assured me that the “exercise” would be something I knew how to do, and that it would not involve something that would freak me out – like rappelling, or spelunking. Because we had to purchase some appropriate attire, I have since learned that we are going on a bike trip, but I don’t know where.
Here’s the only other clue I was given: “Our daughter asks, ‘Show me a different way to spell my name.'”
Does anyone have any idea where we are going from that clue? Please let me know if you do!
I have my fingers crossed that things will be quiet at the end of this week – and I’ll be taking my iPad (and phone) with me, and will do my best to keep people informed. I do have some feature stories scheduled, and there won’t be any interruption in newsletters, but please bear with me as I’m off the grid for a bit.
I’m going to give my profuse thanks in advance to Katie and Matt for house- and dog-sitting while we’re away!
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@example.com.
Here’s this week’s Buzz:
- Jake’s Wayback Burgers – has finally reopened at 450 South Main St., at the intersection of South Main Street and New Britain Avenue. Jake’s closed temporarily on July 15 because its space is being renovated for Dunkin Donuts – which will be moving from its current location diagonally across the street – and a sign posted back then said it would reopen in its new spot in the back of the same plaza on July 28, but it took quite a while longer. According to an employee of Jake’s, the fast food restaurant reopened on Tuesday, Sept. 11. The space is about the same size, and there are no changes in operation.
- News at Westfarms includes the expansion of Bath & Body Works with the addition of White Barn. (Thanks to one of our dedicated readers for the photo!) According to spokesperson Amanda Sirica, White Barn will open in October. Sirica said that the construction of Texas de Brazil is also continuing, and the “authentic Brazilian steakhouse as bold as Texas” is expected to open in early to mid October.
- People have been asking, and I have continued trying to get estimates for the opening of Cost Plus World Market and buybuy Baby at The Corbin Collection. I got an email response this week, but no more specifics other than that the estimated opening is “this fall.” Economic Development Specialist Kristen Gorski said that build-out is still underway, with a possibility of opening in October. Both should open at about the same time, with buybuy Baby occupying 24,000 square feet and Cost Plus World Market occupying 15,000 square feet in the lower level of the building where REI and Saks Off 5th are located.
- Today’s sad news is the closing of Chengdu at 179 Park Rd. I had a chance to chat with Ida Shiu on Thursday, and she said that her parents, Albert and Irene Shiu, are retiring and the restaurant would close for good on Saturday night. The family has owned the restaurant for more than 12 years – and the same chef has been there the entire time it’s existed – and were the third owners, but decided to close rather than try to find a buyer and didn’t really want to make a big deal about it. “My parents always talked about retiring to the West Coast,” Ida said. Her sister lives in Hong Kong, and that would make it easier to visit. She said that her mother has worked every day but Thanksgiving since taking ownership of the restaurant. “It’s time to retire. They’ll get to sleep in,” Ida said. “We’d like to thank everyone who came by through the years for their patronage.”
- The closing of Chengdu adds another vacant parcel right next to the Clothes Horse, which has also just closed for good. The businesses were next door, but have different landlords. “There is quite a bit of interest,” Economic Development Specialist Kristen Gorski said. “There continues to be an incredible amount of interest on Park Road and I don’t anticipate those properties being vacant for a long time.”
- When I was going to take a photo of Chengdu and Clothes Horse, I found the new location for Standish Clock & Watch Shoppe, which just relocated from New Britain Avenue. It wasn’t open at that exact time, but it looks like Jim Standish has moved in to the space right next to J. Rene at 322 Park Rd., where Brick Walk Bookshop was previously located.
- Dispelling a rumor that a few people have mentioned: According to the owner, Elmwood Pastry Shop (1136 New Britain Ave.) is NOT closing and the owners are NOT retiring!
- While we’re on the subject of bakeries, Hartford Bakery recently celebrated its eighth birthday, and has now launched beer and wine sales at the West Hartford Center location. According to a news release, they have also added a roster of small plates and a new seasonal breakfast and lunch menus, including a new salad, buddha bowl, and six new sandwich options. Visit their website for more details.
- Congrats to Cook and The Bear owner Tyler Anderson, who has had a lot of excitement going on in his life! Anderson just got married two weeks ago, and last week announced that he and former “Top Chef” rival Bruce Kalman will be opening a new fast casual restaurant in Los Angeles. “West,” a “fast-casual restaurant centered around wood-fired cooking and local ingredients.” will open in the Los Angeles area in 2019, according to BravoTV. Anderson is a California native, but reportedly will be staying in Connecticut.
- Do you prefer to read We-Ha.com in another language? We’ve added a translation option. Click the “translate” button on the bottom left of any story, and you can read it in Spanish, Chinese, or Russian!
- Have you voted for the Best of West Hartford yet? Local business owners are counting on their loyal customers! Click here for the link to this year’s easy-to-complete ballot.
- Not really Business Buzz but definitely worthy of an announcement here: The West Hartford Police Department is holding a food drive for the Food Pantry on Wednesday, Sept. 19, from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. at Stop & Shop at 176 Newington Rd. Please help out and ensure that your fellow West Hartford residents get enough to eat.
- As I hope you know, the Experience We-Ha app has launched! It’s a one-stop click on your smartphone or tablet for everything you need to know about West Hartford. Read more about Experience We-Ha here. And businesses – you’re eligible for a microsite on the app. They are being built out gradually, but if you’re anxious, email Jeff Lovanio at experience
- Finally, ICYMI, change is on the way for two West Hartford Center eateries. Noble & Co. is transitioning into an as-yet named restaurant that will be much more open and casual, and there are a few tweaks coming to the McLadden’s menu now that Mike Ladden has sold the restaurants to Bean Restaurant Group. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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