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West Hartford Business Buzz: September 23, 2019

Pokémoto will be opening at 970 Farmington Ave. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

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

By Ronni Newton

As I write this it’s the last day of summer – and it certainly felt like summer over the weekend!

Sam, Millie, and I couldn’t find the real Jonathan, but did visit with the statue. Photo credit: Ted Newton

On Saturday we took Millie up to UConn to pay a visit to Sam. After being back at school for four weeks, he may not have really been missing us, but he was definitely missing the puppy and we thought it would be a fun outing for her. She enjoyed lunch with us at the Dog Lane Cafe (an appropriate place for her!) followed by dessert at the Dairy Bar.

Millie wasn’t sure what to think about the cows. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

We took a walk around Horsebarn Hill where Millie saw her first cows. (She was a bit curious but probably the best description of her reaction is “nonplussed.”) We were hoping to see the real Jonathan, but had to settle for posing with the statue next to Gampel Pavilion.

While walking around I found myself actually complaining a bit about how warm it was outside. After some very chilly mornings last week, I was feeling accepting of the arrival of fall and was – gulp – looking forward to cooler weather and pulling out some sweaters to wear. On Saturday I actually uttered the unthinkable: “I’m ready for cooler weather.”

Saeed, lead brewer at New Park Brewing, with his new Czech-style Pilsner, This & That. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Saturday night was capped off by a visit to New Park Brewing where they had live music, and we did appreciate being able to sit outside without jackets. We met Saeed, the lead brewer, who had just introduced his fabulous newest brew – a Czech-style Pilsner called “This & That.” I’m usually an IPA-drinker, but ever since the first time I tried Pilsner Urquell (back in the 1980s when it was still a hard-to-find Czechoslovakian beer and we sampled it at the Brickskeller in Washington, DC, a place known for its extensive selection of international beers) I’ve enjoyed Pilsner as well.

Saeed described the complicated process of developing This & That – a weeks-long process of “lagering” that required careful monitoring to get it just right. New Park even installed a new side-pour faucets for the introduction of this brew, and will be using it for future lagers to “create an exceptionally dense and creamy head.” 

I hope everyone had a chance to get outside and enjoy this last weekend of summer. By the time you read this, fall will have arrived. It won’t feel very autumnal outside today, but that will change soon.

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:

  • It was just 11 months ago that West Hartford’s first poké restaurant opened – and soon we will have four! Dave Monk told me last week that the permits have been secured, he’s met with his general contractor, and is hoping to open Pokémoto at 970 Farmington Ave. (former First World Mortgage office) in West Hartford Center in “roughly a month.” Build-out of the space should not be too complicated, even though it was formerly an office, because poké doesn’t require installation of a hood or other complicated restaurant equipment. This will be the seventh Pokémoto location in the state – the closest are in New Haven – and Monk’s first franchise with this company, but he is hardly a stranger to the business of owning a franchise. Monk said he spent 32 years as a Subway franchise owner, at one point owning 23 locations in the area including at Westfarms. What he likes about poké is that “it’s a healthy, crave-able alternative” to fast food, and Pokémoto offers ample portions (bowls, wraps, and salads) and a wide variety of toppings, he said. Pokémoto launched in Connecticut in 2017, and is the largest poké business in the state, said Monk. He said he is a development agent for the business, and plans to open more locations in Hartford County. For more information about Pokémoto, including their menu, visit the website.

    Coastal Tool will be moving from 510 New Park Ave. to 567-571 New Park Ave. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • I mentioned a few weeks ago that after purchasing the building and renovating it, V-Mart would not be opening at 567-571 New Park Ave. The building was sold in July to 69 Talcott Rd. LLC, and will be leased to Coastal Tool, which will be relocating from 510 New Park Ave. “It will be a great spot for them … more inviting and look much more like a retail location,” West Hartford Economic Development Specialist Kristen Gorski said. According to its website, the business was founded in 1980, and is open to the public (not just contractors), although many people may not realize it. Necessary roof repairs have been made, permits have been applied for, and the intent is for Coastal Tool to have a November opening in the new location according to a sign on the door (see more photos below).
  • After eight years in its current space, Fathom is moving from 967 Farmington Ave. to the new co-working offering called Spaces (previously the REI store in Blueback Square), said Brent Robertson owner/partner of the business and marketing consulting firm. “This move is part of our strategic growth plan and allows us to not only have access to state-of-the-art meeting and event space, but also the ability to scale in Connecticut, New York City, Boston, and beyond. It also allows us to be working in an environment with both emerging and high-performing established businesses – all under one roof!” The move is underway.

    Eat IN Connecticut partners celebrate the opening of Pokeworks. From left: Kristen Fritz, Sonny Chen, Max Condren, Jeannette Dardenne. Photo credit: Joseph Condren

  • Speaking of poké, last week was a VIP/media open house (which I attended) and Saturday was the grand opening of Pokéworks in The Corbin Collection. Sonny Chen and Max Condren are already getting rave reviews for their new restaurant.
  • You can engage your healthy habits in the month of October with an upcoming workshop at Essential Health at 74 Park Rd., West Hartford. Dr. Allie Mendelson, DC will teach a free workshop on “Health and Longevity” and is excited to share her research on what makes some people live to 100! Hint: it may have something to do with living in West Hartford. The class is free and will take place an hour after the Park Road Parade on Oct. 5, from approximately noon until about 1:30 p.m. More information is available on the website here.
  • Salons by JC West Hartford located at 333 N. Main St directly above Target and Marshalls/HomeGoods is thrilled to announce the grand opening of Shani’s Beautiful Nails. Salon owner Shani Palma has been in the beauty industry for more than 10 years, and will offering both manicures and pedicures – specializing in the gel color and dip powder processes. She received her training from the Instituto Superior Naciones Unidas in Peru. “After a long and laborious day, swing by Shani’s Nails and let your worries wash away on our luxurious spa chair. With warm waters and a refreshing massage, you’ll be walking out the door feeling 100% stress-free!” she said in an email. For an appointment or questions, call or text 860-212-3935, or email [email protected]. More information, and photos of her work, can also be found on her Facebook page.

    Shani’s Nails. Courtesy photo

  • Best of West Hartford voting is live! I have been getting some questions about this year’s contest, but I have not been personally involved in the event this year other than to post a story about it. If you have questions, please contact Tom Hickey at WHMedia ([email protected] or 860-508-4032).  And click here to vote for your favorite business in a variety of categories!
  • Florida-based AssuredPartners, Inc. announced last week that they have acquired West Hartford-based Alton E. Woodford Insurance Agency., Inc. “The team of nine will remain under the operational leadership of Tallison Noble and Nerissa Smith,” a news release stated. Both Noble and Smith said in the release that the new ownership will help them to be able to continue their business of protecting clients on a larger scale and in a changing marketplace. 
  • ICYMI, the Home Design District will be hosting “Beer, Business, and Banter” this Tuesday from 5-7 at New Park Brewing. Click here for the details.
  • Some information was shared by the Department of Consumer Protection regarding a man soliciting customers as a contractor without proper registration/licensing. Click here for more information.
  • This week’s Experience We-Ha podcast is a conversation with Louis Lemieux and Jena Brescia of Blueprint CT Home. Click here to listen – and to see a photo of a bag that I definitely want to own!
  • West Hartford-based Colt Manufacturing announced last week that the company is suspending production of the AR-15 for the civilian market. I shared this story from Stephen Singer at the Hartford Courant on the We-Ha.com Facebook page, and if you want to read more about it, there are stories published by many national and international media outlets.

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

Like what you see here? Click here to subscribe to We-Ha’s newsletter so you’ll always be in the know about what’s happening in West Hartford!

Sign on Coastal Tool door indicating the planned move. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The building that was to have been V-Mart at 567-571 New Park Ave. will be the new location for Coastal Tool. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

I had a great time at the VIP/media reception for Pokeworks, and stopped for a photo with Sonny Chen (left) and his business partner Max Condren. Photo credit: Joseph Condren

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