West Hartford Business Buzz: September 19, 2016

The Raymond Road space formerly occupied by Cuvee has been leased to Fuji Mart. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

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

By Ronni Newton

Did you miss me last Monday?

We couldn't resist having our photo taken in this iconic Seattle location!

We couldn’t resist having our photo taken in this iconic Seattle location!

Major props to my husband who planned a mystery “empty nester” trip for us that departed on Friday, the morning after the Best of West Hartford awards. I’m very thankful to Creative Director Joy Taylor for skillfully taking over the Business Buzz duties, and reporting on other news that arose during the five days that I was away.

My husband planned the trip early in the summer and said when it got closer he would tell me where we were going, but although I wanted some clues, I decided it would be fun to be surprised! After a few weeks of asking yes/no questions, I did guess three possible destinations and he said it was one of those, so I wasn’t flying completely blind – pun intended. The flight attendant on the first leg of the trip (Bradley to Denver) thought the mystery trip was such a great idea that he treated us to free drinks!

When we were getting ready to board our flight from Denver, I finally learned that we would be spending three days in Seattle and two days in the “Bavarian” town of Leavenworth, WA. I had never been to Seattle before, and it was somewhere I had always wanted to go!

The trip was wonderful – great food and drink, lots of walking and hiking in towns and in the mountains, some biking (Seattle is way hillier than I imagined, and I had not packed the right clothes for that part of the adventure), and amazing weather. My fitbit registered close to 30,000 steps each day, and we managed to see virtually everything there was to see in greater Seattle: Pikes Place Market where we successfully avoided getting hit with a fish, original Starbucks, Space Needle, Kerry Park, Olympic Sculpture Park, Bainbridge Island. We toured the Seattle “underground” and although we didn’t go to the Seahawks vs. Dolphins game we hung out near the stadium right before it started and saw the excited fans and a fighter jet flyover. We tasted some great local wines both in Seattle and in Leavenworth – a town that looks just like the villages we visited in Bavaria years ago. An interesting note on Leavenworth is that it purposely became a replica of a Bavarian village in the 1960s as a way to develop the tourism industry when a railroad pass rerouting destroyed the town’s logging industry. It’s a bit kitschy, but beautiful and really looks like the Alps. And I had a great Hühner Schnitzel and Spätzle dinner.

The re-entry to West Hartford involved some delayed luggage, but picked up quickly after the bags were delivered the next morning with an immediate return to meetings, UConn football, and the Miracles Gala Saturday night. But no complaints here!

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:

The Raymond Road space formerly occupied by Cuvee has been leased to Fuji Mart. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The Raymond Road space formerly occupied by Cuvee has been leased to Fuji Mart. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • Big news about the former Cuvée space at 37 Raymond Road! Fuji Mart, a Japanese food store that already has a successful location in Greenwich, will open by the end of the year. The building is owned by the American Legion, and Post 96 Commander Moe Fradette said, “We’re very excited to have a great new tenant!” According to Fradette, Fuji Mart is owned by a young Japanese couple who have already cultivated an online customer base in the Hartford area and have been looking to open a brick and mortar location. Fradette didn’t have all the specifics, but said it will be a larger version of the Greenwich store which has gained a great following for its Bento and other ready-to-eat foods. The West Hartford store will include a coffee bar, and Fradette said they are hoping to be the U.S. distributor for a high-end Japanese coffee. Plans are to eventually include a sushi bar, he said. Permit applications have been submitted and build-out of the space should begin soon, Fradette said.
  • Harvest Fine Wines & Spirits is getting set to open its Elmwood location (1128 New Britain Ave., former Fred Astaire Dance Studio) in the next three to four weeks, Director of Operations Ian Halpern said. He said the new store, which just had a 30-foot granite counter installed on Friday, will be amazing. Offerings will include a great selection of boutique wines from family-owned businesses, with an emphasis on “sustainable, hand-selected fine wines.” The Farmington Avenue store has become known for its beer cave, but the New Britain Avenue store will take that to a whole new level with 1,000 different singles available – all cold! A full selection of artisan as well as regular liquors will be available as well, Halpern said.
  • BK&CO moved a few weeks ago and will hold a day-long grand opening celebration at their newly-restyled store at 983 Farmington Ave. on Saturday, Sept. 24, from noon until 8 p.m. The day kicks off at noon with informal modeling of must-have fashions – the “Five Key Pieces” that every woman should have in her fall wardrobe. From 2 – 4 p.m. the emphasis will be on color and texture and accessorizing strategies. Designer Charlotte Meyer will be on hand to showcase her one-of-a-kind statement necklaces. From 4 – 5 p.m. learn the secret of perfect proportions – pairing this season’s chunky sweaters and layered tunics with the right pant silhouette for an updated modern look. Meet artist Stephanie Molnar from 5 – 7 p.m. and be inspired to celebrate your home with tips to freshen your décor for fall. And, from 5 – 8 p.m., the celebration of friends, fashion, and fun will also include a cocktail party featuring live music, tasty treats and signature cocktails. Walk the red carpet, pose for a photo and tour the new store. A completed style scavenger hunt is your entry to win a $200 BK&CO gift certificate. Owners Barbara Karsky and Karen Herbert are thrilled with their new location. “The response from customers has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Karsky. Herbert added: “We are looking forward to our next 22 years!”14195367_1238008529556308_1205651990489287709_o
  • While we’re still talking cocktails, the WeHa Whiskey Festival is back for its fourth year – and sure to be bigger and better than ever with a new location and the return of the “restaurant battle” where local chefs compete to make the best dish using Bourbon as an ingredient. More than 200 types of Scotch, Bourbon, and Whiskey will be available for sampling, along with premium cigars. The event will be held on Oct. 15, from 6 – 9 p.m. at the Hartford Golf Club. The WeHa Whiskey Festival and We-Ha.com have been unrelated in the past, but we are one of the sponsors for the event this year, which benefits Camp Courant. Look for more details in a feature story later this week. You can also find more information on the WeHa Whiskey Festival website.
  • Arugula is located at 953 Farmington Ave. in West Hartford Center, but if you’re craving some of their Mediterranean-inspired fare, you don’t even need to leave your home. Arugula is now offering delivery through GrubHub, chef/owner Christiane Gehami said. To order, click the “Shop Now” button on Arugula’s Facebook page or the “Order on GrubHub” button on their website. “It’s funny … I have had tons of request over the years for delivery … then this company came along and it all made sense,” Gehami said in an email.
    Village Vitality has closed its West Hartford store but is still taking orders online. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

    Village Vitality has closed its West Hartford store but is still taking orders online. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • The one business closing to announce this week isn’t a complete negative because they are keeping an online presence. Village Vitality, which opened in West Hartford Center in May 2013, closed its 982 Farmington Ave. store last week, owner Neal Smoller said. “We’ve shifted from brick and mortar to online,” he said, citing “premium rent without premium traffic” as the reason. Operations are being consolidated in the Woodstock, NY, location Smoller said, but customers can still call the West Hartford number (860-760-1710) to ask questions or place and order, or can order online at www.villagevitality.com.
  • Work in Progress Fitness (WIP) has added to their menu of classes, with a noon class on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday providing extra workout opportunities for those who can’t (or don’t want to) take early morning classes. They’ve also instituted an Early Termination Forgiveness Program for those looking to transfer in from another gym where they may be under contract. Click here for details.
  • Congratulations to West Hartford resident David McGuire, one of 15 appointed to the Connecticut State Advisory Committee for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. McGuire was also named chairman of the committee which according to a news release is charged with evaluating and reporting on civil rights concerns in the state. “I am honored to chair this passionate and talented civil rights committee at a critical time where our rights need to be defended and preserved. The Connecticut State Advisory Committee will actively promote civil rights for all people in the state,” McGuire said.

Remember, if you have any business news to share, remember to add it in the comments section below or email Ronni Newton at [email protected].

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We-Ha.com is the place to go for the latest information about West Hartford – a town that "has it all"! We-Ha.com is part of and proud of our community, and we bring a hyperlocal focus to news and features about the people, schools, businesses, real estate, sports, restaurants, charitable events, arts, and more. Contact us at: [email protected] or [email protected].


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