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West Hartford Business Buzz: September 2, 2019

Lovesac has opened at 99 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

“Nobody on the road. Nobody on the beach. I feel it in the air. The summer’s out of reach. Empty lake, empty streets. The sun goes down alone …” (Don Henley’s “The Boys of Summer”)

Sunset at Winding Trails. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

This sunset photo was actually taken last weekend, when Ted and I decided to watch the sun go down while enjoying a glass of wine on the beach at Winding Trails. The lake was pretty much empty.

Yes, it’s cliché, but as Labor Day approaches every year I start humming that song, and getting sad. Yes, the weather is still nice, and I will say I loved the cooler and crisper weather we had last week, but I really love summer – the long days, the warm weather that doesn’t require wearing a jacket (except inside Stop & Shop), the relaxed atmosphere, eating almost every meal outside, and so many other things about the season. There are even fewer town meetings!

Labor Day is also the unofficial end of summer, but those who know me know that I will hang on to summer before letting go, kicking and screaming, at the autumnal equinox at 3:50 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 23. I’m hoping I will be asleep at that point – and not still awake writing a Business Buzz column. And while later that day you might find me crying into a cup of pumpkin spice coffee, I may still be holding onto summer by wearing my white pants.

Millie hanging out on “her” chair on our patio. She’s already huge, and very furry. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Millie, I think, will enjoy fall, and will probably love winter as well since she is so thickly-furred already.

Last week the mums returned to Stop & Shop, it was back-to-school week in West Hartford, and it was (unrelated to the end of summer) also a very busy week of fire and police news.

The Board of Education returns from summer hiatus this Tuesday (7 p.m. at Town Hall), and the Town Council will be back to meeting twice a month.

There is a trash and recycling (and yard waste) pick-up delay this week due to Labor Day, and also some schedule changes you can find by clicking 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:

  • Lovesac is now open at 99 Memorial Rd. in Blue Back Square! (I’m not sure if they would appreciate knowing that I have been humming “Love Shack” by the B-52’s ever since I heard this news. It’s been alternating with “The Boys of Summer” – see intro above – as the song stuck in my head.) This was a rather fast turnaround since the renovation of the former Janie & Jack space just began in late June. Lovesac, one of the country’s fastest growing furniture companies, specializes in “sactionals” and other types of endlessly adaptable couches. According to Blue Back Square Marketing Director Amy Cholowa, Lovesac is currently in their soft opening phase and plans to have an official grand opening at the end of September. More info from the Lovesac website: “At Lovesac, we believe that you should Live in Total Comfort. No matter what stage of life you’re in, your furniture should adapt to fit your needs and stay with you as your family grows and your taste changes. Whether you’re looking for a sectional couch, bean bag chair, outdoor furniture or even just an ottoman, our West Hartford, Connecticut showroom has something to fit your needs. In addition to Sacs and Sactionals, our West Hartford, Connecticut showroom offers accessories as well. We have everything from You-Products, like tables and drink holders, to our take on ottomans, Squattomans. Looking for a little extra coziness? We also carry luxurious throw pillows and throw blankets for an added layer of comfort and décor.” Lovesac is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m.-9 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
  • “It’s going to look amazing,” said co-owner Sandy Sanchez of the soon-to-open Mexican restaurant Frida at 1150 New Britain Ave. in the former Tapas location. Xiomara Zamudio, the other co-owner, said that much of the interior work will be done in the next week or two, and the interior will include a brick wall with a mural of Frida Kahlo (the Mexican artist, and the restaurant’s namesake). It will have a casual/modern look, a full bar with innovative margaritas, and will feature homemade tortillas, fresh seafood, and “special meat dishes you won’t find elsewhere,” said Zamudio, who has been working at Zohara and is grateful for the mentorship she has received from DORO Restaurant Group. They are hoping to open in early October, and are very thankful to West Hartford-based SLP Contractors (which is owned by Sanchez’s husband and employs Zamudio’s husband) for the great work they have been doing getting the space ready. I should have a sneak peek at the interior in a week or so!

    The sign is now up at Edge Fitness in Corbin’s Corner. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • Things are moving along with the transformation of the former Toys ‘R Us store into Edge Fitness in Corbin’s Corner. When I went to Trader Joe’s over the weekend I notice that the sign is up on the building, and they happened to have a tent set up in the parking lot. Sales Manager Brooke Steneck can’t give exact details about an opening date, but said it would be “winter 2019.” The exact date will be released within 30 days of the opening, she said. In the meantime, they are signing up founding members and a preview center will open on Sept. 28 at 601 Hartford Rd. (which is just down the road, in the same strip as Seoul BBQ and Sushi). According to a flyer that Edge is distributing, the new gym will offer group exercise classes (Les Mills classes as well as Zumba and spinning), an Edge Cinema (a movie theater with cardio equipment), personal training, saunas, massage, a women’s only- area, and an “active play” Edge Kids center. Visit the website for updates.
  • Code Ninjas will be opening in the Stop & Shop Plaza on Newington Road in Elmwood sometime in late September or early October, said Tim Canlas, who co-owns the business with his brother, Dennis. They had a booth at Center Streets last weekend, and said they had gotten a lot of positive feedback about their plans. Code Ninjas is a franchise business which teaches coding to kids through gamification – and it’s a business that should be a great complement to West Hartford Public Schools’ plans to focus on coding. Those who go through the Code Ninjas program will ultimately learn to create their own video games. “We’re making it fun for them,” Tim said.
  • I touched base with WeHa Brewing’s owner last week and he said that things are progressing with their business plans and are in the process of negotiating a lease for a location in West Hartford. More details to come, and you can also Follow WeHa Brewing Company on Instagram (@wehabrewingco) to stay up-to-date on the progress!
  • When Icy Rolls closed at 56 LaSalle Rd. I had heard a rumor that an AT&T store was going to be taking its place, and indeed that is the case. According to information on the town’s website, AT&T has applied for a sign permit at that location.
  • Congrats to Blue Back Square, voted the best shopping center in the state by Connecticut Magazine! Daswani in West Hartford Center also earned top honors, in the category of menswear. Click here for the full story.
  • The former West Hartford Professional Barbershop, which was owned by Tom Reddin for many years and then became Patsy’s Barber Shoppe, officially closed about a week ago. The space at 18 LaSalle Rd. is being turned into SockStarz, a social enterprise mission of HARC. According to a reader, anyone looking for barber Skip Franco can find him at GW Crane or call 860-930-0574.
  • From an email received from Panera: “Panera Bread has announced the availability of its national delivery service for the first time through DoorDash, Grubhub and Uber Eats with the caveat being that whether customers order via Panera’s apps or through one of its partners, their orders will be delivered to them by Panera’s own delivery drivers in most markets. In Connecticut, Howley Bread Group, a Panera Bread Franchisee, offers delivery in West Hartford, Manchester, Southington, Wethersfield, Enfield, Farmington, Glastonbury, Newington and Groton.” To learn more, or to order Panera for delivery, download the Panera app or visit www.PaneraBread.com.
  • This week’s sad news: Ting Luo from The Green Teahouse said that the Blue Back Square location closed for good as of Aug. 31. “It’s bitter and sweet that we are permanently close our location at Blue Back Sqaure on the 31st of this month. We have been serving this community for 10 years and our customers will still be getting our service and products at Westfarms Mall on upper level near JCPenny,” Luo said in an email last week. The shop had relocated within Blue Back Square in late 2017, and Luo said that sadly it just wasn’t generating enough foot traffic, and in addition Luo said she needs to visit her mother in China, who is very ill, and it’s a lot to keep both store going.

    Roz & Ali has closed its store in Corbin’s Corner. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • Also now closed is Roz 7 Ali in Corbin’s Corner, along with all of the other Dress Barn stores.
  • I’ve been catching up with all of the new restaurants that opened while I was on vacation, and ICYMI, here’s the link to the story about Mr. Chow Asian Fusion, now open at 179 Park Rd. I’ve also tested out the new Pokéworks restaurant in The Corbin Collection (yum!!!) and look for a feature story about today or tomorrow!
  • Congrats to West Hartford resident Carl Lantz of ReMax/Premier Realtors, who was named Realtor of the Year by the GHAR! Click here for the details.
  • The West Hartford Chamber of Commerce will hold its annual golf tournament on Sept. 16. Click here for more information.
  • If you’re looking for some great activities of all types in West Hartford, check out the Experience We-Ha “Top 8” for September!

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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