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West Hartford Business Buzz: September 28, 2020

Gastropark will be opening to the public on Oct. 9. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

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

By Ronni Newton

Katie, Sam, and I at the UConn sign in Storrs. Photo credit: Ted Newton

“The days are long but the years are short” is a quote (attributed to Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project) I’ve repeated often, as I find it hard to believe that somehow my children seem to have suddenly gone from babies, to toddlers, to elementary school children, to teenagers, to college students, to now full-fledged adults in their 20s.

My Facebook memories now go back to early 2009, and I love getting those daily reminders of what happened on that date in previous years. I’m always shocked at how events that seemed to have just happened were actually four or five years ago.

Since COVID, there are many fewer events taking place, and while sometimes these days seem way too long, the months actually seem to be flying by. This week we will begin October.

Salted Caramel Crunch is my favorite UConn Dairy Bar ice cream.

It’s been more than four months since my kids graduated from UConn – when we “celebrated” Katie’s doctorate in physical therapy and Sam’s bachelor’s in economics and statistics in front of our TV. We finally had a chance to go to UConn’s campus on Saturday and take some photos at the sign on 195 (funded in part by a donation by Shari and Michael Cantor and installed in May 2019) that’s now the gateway to the campus.

The photo above is one of the out-takes – I thought it would be fun to sit in the “O” so I would be closer in height to both kids, but it’s a strange perspective which makes me look even tinier than I am – but nowhere near as funny as the ones where the tassel is blowing in Sam’s face or we are trying to get the dog to look at the camera.

We celebrated with ice cream from the Dairy Bar, which is sadly take-out only – so only cups and no cones – but still a delicious treat.

One thing that has not been canceled this year is Matt Warshauer’s Halloween display at his North Main Street house. I always look forward to speaking with Matt about his concept, how he combines history, politics, and Halloween into a traffic-stopping (we hope not literally) display with a very timely message. This year’s display was installed on Saturday, and when I arrived to take photos he realized that something was missing (the non-scientific term is the “prongy things” on the coronavirus molecules), so I offered to help and actually got to assist Matt complete the display!

I need to go back and get some night photos, but here is the story, and lots of photos.

Ted and have been trying to regularly frequent different types restaurants, all over town, and this week’s dinner adventure was a visit to Nummy, at the corner of New Britain Avenue and Mayflower. We loved our soup dumplings, Mr. Peanut, and Bam Bam Noodles. See photos below!

Please continue to support our local businesses, and please wear your masks if you are in public places, and stay safe and healthy.

If you have information about businesses changing their operations due to COVID-19, 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:

Gastropark will be opening to the public on Oct. 9. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • Yes, it’s finally happening! After about three years, a new ordinance, and modifications to that ordinance, GastroPark is planning for an Oct. 9. opening (637 New Park Ave.), and the community will be able to “gather and graze” from an assortment of food trucks, in a fun and casual atmosphere appropriate for people of all ages. “GastroPark is awaiting approval from the town to open the outdoor patio and restrooms. Full inside will hopefully be open by the end of October,” said Tate Norden, founder of GastroPark and owner of the Iron & Grain food truck. I got a peek over the weekend (full details and photos are waiting for the opening), and it’s just what I imagined it would be. There is still interior work to be done, but Norden is excited to finally bring this new and long-awaited experience to the West Hartford community. For much more information about GastroPark, here’s the link to the story I did in August.

    Diana Reimer (left) and Cheryl Rocco are the new owners of CycleBar West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • There is new ownership of CycleBar West Hartford (55 Memorial Rd., in Blue Back Square) and the fitness studio will finally be reopening on Oct. 1 after being closed since March. “My sister and I are the new owners and we couldn’t be more excited!” said Cheryl Rocco in an email when I first asked about the reopening plans. Rocco and her sister, Diana Reimer, have both been involved with the studio since it opened in 2018 – Cheryl as an instructor and Diana as a founding member. They closed on the business on Sept. 15, and said they “are thrilled to be the new owners and open this studio back up with positive energy!” The interior of the studio has been rearranged to comply with COVID-19 protocols, down from 45 bikes to just 21, spread at least 6 feet apart. A selection of classes will be offered with all the bikes in use, and masks required, and there will be some for just nine riders, without a mask mandate because they will be spread 12 feet apart. Virtual classes will also be offered. “We are reaching out to our previous members,” Diana said, assuring them that all safety protocols are being followed, and offering a new founding membership rate as well. “This is about the membership experience,” Cheryl said. Both have been involved in the fitness industry for years, and said they have done plenty of research and fully believe that fitness is the key to health, and cardio wellness is particularly beneficial amid the pandemic. “We are hoping that the community will respond,” Cheryl said. I met both sisters over the weekend, and they are correct when they say their “wild positivity” is contagious! Booking for Oct. 1 classes begins today, and along with more information is available online. See a few more photos below, too.

    S.K. Lavery will be moving out of West Hartford, to the Berlin Turnpike in Newington. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • A very longtime West Hartford business (since 1928) is moving out of town. I learned about this on Sunday afternoon, and the store was closed so I wasn’t able to find out any more details at the time other than that big signs in the windows of S.K. Lavery indicated that they are moving to the Berlin Turnpike in Newington. On Monday morning I was able to speak with with S.K. Lavery President Bruce MacMillian, and he said the new store at 2547 Berlin Turnpike (near Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse) will open on Oct. 5, but the West Hartford store will remain open for another few weeks, closing on Oct. 31. “Logistically, we outgrew it. We don’t have a warehouse here. We don’t even have a loading dock, never have. It’s for efficiency and to serve people better,” MacMillian said regarding the reason for the move. In addition, the two-level showroom continues to create problems for seniors or those with physical disabilities to navigate. In Newington, they will have a 6,000 square foot warehouse and 8,000 square foot, one-level showroom. S.K. Lavery started off in the space where Zohara is currently located, and moved to 1003 Farmington Ave. when the Lavery family built the building in 1954.  “It’s bittersweet,” said MacMillian, who has personally worked there for 30 years. “But as a business it was a decision we had to make.” The building where S.K. Lavery is located was sold to 1003 WHC LLC in June 2019, for $8 million, but MacMillian said the new ownership is NOT the reason for the move. “The new owner has been very gracious. They wanted us to stay but there was nowhere for us to get warehouse space.” The Newington store will be about 6.5 miles from the current site, and MacMillian said they will still provide all of the same services to West Hartford residents. [This section was updated on Monday, Sept. 28, at 1:45 p.m.]
  • Change is happening at Salon Medusa in Bishops Corner. The following was posted on their website: “On October 5th, we will be moving to 333 North Main Street. For details click here. For the month of September, please continue to call 860-236-3344 to book at our Crossroads Plaza location.” Sandro and Steven (Sandro and Steven’s Studio) will remain together in one of the luxury studios at Salons by JC, and Lena will have her own space (Looks by Lena). 
  • West Hartford Yoga will also be reopening their studio as of Sept. 29. More details can be found on their website, westhartfordyoga.com.
  • Congratulations to Companions for Living on celebrating their 15th anniversary! The West Hartford-based company, which has been located in town since 2005 and moved to their own new building at 312 North Main St. in Bishops Corner in early 2018, is a specialized memory and home care company for older adults. Their focus is dementia care, and provide companion, personal care and enrichment services for older adults. 
  • Matik may not be a household name in West Hartford, but as a supply chain business in the packaging industry, they have found their niche and success amid the pandemic. Read more about the company in this feature published in The Hartford Business Journal last week.
  • ICYMI, Wurst Haus will be opening as soon as next month in the now-former McLadden’s space on LaSalle Road. Read the full feature story here.
  • Gov. Ned Lamont announced last week that Phase 3 reopening is scheduled to go into effect Oct. 8. Click here to find out what that means for West Hartford and Connecticut businesses, and what some West Hartford owners think about it.

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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Bikes have been spread out (down to just 21, from 45) in the CycleBar West Hartford studio to comply with COVID-19 protocols. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

CycleBar West Hartford will reopen on Oct. 1. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Soup Dumplings from Nummy. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Bam Bam Noodles from Nummy. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Mr. Peanut from Nummy. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

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