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West Hartford Business Buzz: September 30, 2019

Adam Raider, his daughter Evelyn, and their dog, Holli, outside SockStarz which has opened at 18 LaSalle Rd. in West Hartford Center. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

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

By Ronni Newton

L’shanah tovah to all who celebrate Rosh Hashanah!

Today is the last day of September – and it seems like this month just flew by. I’m still trying to hold onto summer (although I did put the fall wreaths on my doors), and am thankful that the weather has pretty much cooperated. As I complete the final phases of training for the Hartford Half Marathon on Oct. 12 (12 miles done this past week!), I’ve actually been thankful for the cool – but not too cold – mornings.

From left: Ken Swanson, Patty Swanson, SJB Board member Bernie Weiss, SJB Board member Jim Doran, Ronni Newton, Ted Newton at the SJB 40th anniversary celebration at the Governor’s Residence on Sept. 24.

Last week was one of those weeks where there were so many things happening that it was tough to balance multiple activities and commitments on the same night. One of the events I was able to attend was the 40th anniversary celebration for the Seniors Job Bank Tuesday at the Governor’s Residence.

For a variety of reasons, we ended up with quite the contingent from our street among the guests. Two neighbors are board members of the organization, and it has always been near and dear to my heart because my mother-in-law, Pat Newton, was the first-ever SJB executive director, serving in the role from 1974-2005.

Look for a story on We-Ha.com to be published later today with more details about the SJB anniversary.

Katie had a week off in between clinical rotations, and it was great to spend some extra time with her. We planned lunch on Wednesday – not realizing in advance that it was “national daughter’s day,” which I think must be a holiday invented by Facebook. In any case, it served as a good excuse for lunch at Zohara – where we were able to bring Millie who enjoyed a few bites of our lunch from her seat at the outside edge of the patio!

Millie wanted every last bit of her puppachino. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Millie also very enthusiastically enjoyed her special puppachino treat from Starbuck’s after lunch!

Wurst Haus Pop Up. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

When another event I planned to attend on Thursday got rained out, I was able to enjoy the “Wurst Haus Pop Up” Oktoberfest at Union Kitchen. Beer in a “boot,” giant pretzels, bratwurst, pulled pork served in an apple fritter – it was all delicious!

Friday night we saw a hilarious performance of “Nunsense” at Playhouse on Park.

It appears that this past week was also “national son’s day,” and my apologies to Sam for not realizing it until the next day. I had to assure him that my lapse wasn’t because Millie has taken his spot in our family!

Sunday turned out to be a busy day, with the sad news to report about the planned closing of the ShopRite of West Hartford store (see below). It was also the day that Matt Warshauer set up his annual Halloween display at his North Main Street home, and click here to read that story.

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:

SockStarz has opened at 18 LaSalle Rd. in West Hartford Center. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • West Hartford Center has a new retail store! SockStarz, a social enterprise mission of Hartford-based Harc, Inc.featuring an array of novelty socks in virtually every color, style, and size you could imagine, officially opened Saturday morning in the former Patsy’s Barber Shoppe space at 18 LaSalle Rd. right next to Penzey’s. “This is truly a community effort,” Harc CEO Andrea Barton Reeves said in a news release. “Since announcing our plans, we have been generously gifted with donations of skilled labor, supplies, press, and word-of-mouth excitement that have helped build out our space and build community buzz.” In addition to socks, Hart has partnered with some other local businesses and features other gift items like “goat milk felted soaps from Lyric Hill Farm, handmade quilts provided by a Harc donor, inspirational pop-open cards, original artwork by Harc participants, and even stress balls created by a local entrepreneur,” the release states. Lori Gailey, vice president of marketing and communications for Harc, said late Saturday morning that things had been going great. “We’ve been doing very well,” she said, and noted that the store had actually had a very quiet soft opening earlier in the week. “It’s very exciting that people are so supportive of our mission,” she said. Of course I had to help – and bought a few pairs of socks that family members may just find in their stockings this Christmas, if I can wait that long. Local organizations and businesses that assisted in getting the store open, providing skilled services, supplies, and volunteer labor, include Franklin Painting, John Doyle Decorating Centers, Connecticut Lighting Centers, PJ Bigelow Remodeling and Restoration, Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, Beta Group, CT Department of Developmental Services, and RLM Co Real Estate. SockStarz has joined the West Hartford Chamber of Commerce, and will be having an official ribbon cutting on Oct. 16 at 2:30 p.m. For more on SockStarz and Harc, visit www.sockstarzusa.com, and see below for many more photos.

    Float Forty-One is nearing completion in Bishops Corner. Photo credit; Ronni Newton

  • Float Forty One is getting close to opening in Bishops Corner (345 North Main St.), and will begin pre-sales Friday for those on the mailing list – with 41 extra special deals available that come with extra perks. Sarah Lateano, who co-owns the business with her husband, Ryan, provided me with a tour Friday and said that she is “striving to host a soft opening, with floats available by the end of October.” Lateano said that there will be four float tanks in the 3,200 square foot facility: two single-person cabins, one “deluxe” tank that can accommodate two people, and one “float orb,” that is shaped like an egg and can be closed for an ultimate sensory deprivation experience that Lateano enthusiastically recommends. “I started in cabins, and then in Portland, OR, I got to float in a pod and it totally changed my experience,” Lateano said. All of the spaces are carefully sound-proofed with double-thick walls, and Lateano said that while 60- and 90-minute floats are both available, membership packages will focus on the 90-minute floats and that’s the experience she really encourages. “You’re free to get out whenever you want, but for us the benefits of going from 60 to 90 minutes are amazing.” To simplify scheduling, all of the floats will start at the top of the odd hour, so everyone will be getting into the tanks at the same time, regardless of the length of the float. Regarding the deluxe tank, Lateano said it’s not just for couples seeking to float together, but also for those who are not able to float alone. She noted that floating has been shown to be beneficial for those on the autism spectrum or with dementia, and the deluxe tank will allow a caregiver to be present and broaden the available experience to many more people. For those who want them, swim caps will also be available. Float Forty One will also have a “beauty room” with two vanities where people can get ready to resume their day after floating, and there will be hair dryers, straighteners, and other products available. They will also offer brushes and contact lens solution for sale in case people forget. Before leaving, however, guests will be able to enjoy the post-float area located behind French doors near the lobby – a space Lateano is very excited about – where there will be couches for lounging, a tea station, and area for meditation. Lateano has been working full-time getting the space ready, and her husband has been doing most of the building at night, after his regular job is done. She said they plan to hire several employees, so that two people are always there when the center is full. Float Forty One will start off as a dedicated float center, but there is room for expansion. “We’ll see where our brand takes us,” Lateano said. See a few more photos below. For more information, or to sign up for the newsletter, visit the Float Forty One website.
  • A new childcare center will be opening in West Hartford. Moppets Drop-in Child Care will hold an open house on Friday, Oct. 11, and Saturday, Oct. 12, from 6-8:30 p.m. at their location at the Montessori School of Greater Hartford building on the American School for the Deaf campus. Tours will be provided and kids are welcome. The center will officially open on Oct. 14. The following description of the business was provided: “No babysitter, no problem! Every parent knows that life with kids can be a challenge, and sometimes we all need a break. Whether it’s a workout at the gym, last minute run to the grocery store, or a night out with a significant other, kid-free time helps us relax, recharge, or simply get things done. However, finding quality care can be difficult. Moppets is an “anytime babysitter” for parents needing irregular, temporary care.” For more information, visit the Moppets Drop-in Child Care Facebook page.
  • The 7th Annual WeHa Whiskey Festival returns to the Hartford Golf Club this Saturday. “The ultimate spirits tasting event in New England is proud to have donated $75,000 to local charities through the first six years. Hartford’s Camp Courant has been a beneficiary since the inaugural event. Sample close to 250 whiskies, bourbons, tequilas, rums, wines and cocktails! Plus enjoy incredible food including the famous mac and cheese bar with Maine lobster and applewood smoked bacon!” organizers said in an email. Tickets, available while supplies last, can be purchased at www.wehawhiskey.com. Look for more information about the event later this week on We-Ha.com.

    Home Design District Business Happy Hour. Photo credit: Emily Mitchell (courtesy photo)

  • The Home Design District hosted a very successful business happy hour last Tuesday night, bringing together local businesses residing in the New Park Avenue area of West Hartford. New Park Brewing hosted the event, which included updates about recent development and improvements happening in the area. West Hartford Economic Development Specialist Kristen Gorski provided a brief overview of the exciting changes in the neighborhood, and Home Design District President John Powers talked about how the Association plans to embrace and support the diverse crop of new businesses that now call the District home. The Association has started accepting new members for 2020 and looks forward to meeting businesses that were unable to attend the event. More information can be found at homedesigndistrict.com. See more event photos below.

    Grain bowls. Courtesy photo

  • Panera Bread launched a new grain bowl menu item last week, and locally Howley Bread Group, a Panera Bread franchise, will donate 10 cents from each new Panera grain bowl sold at each of its Connecticut locations – including Bishops Corner – to regional food partner Foodshare. “Just in time for fall, Panera is launching hearty, warm Grain Bowls featuring a medley of whole grains, crisp greens, vibrant vegetables and lean protein infused with bold, internationally-inspired flavors and sauces. The new Baja warm Grain Bowl and Mediterranean warm Grain Bowl – both available with or without chicken – mark Panera’s entry into the grain bowl category,” the company said in a news release. “Not only is it an exciting product launch for the company, but it furthers its local franchise commitment to helping local organizations.”
  • ICYMI, the sad news broke this weekend that ShopRite of West Hartford will close on Nov. 26. Click here for the complete story.
  • The focus of this week’s Experience We-Ha podcast is real estate, with guest Matt Miale speaking about how to build a successful real estate business. Click here to listen.
  • The Park Road Parade steps off this Saturday at 10:30 a.m from the corner of Ringgold Street and Park Road, and will be led Patti Albee, founder of the Neighbors and Friends in West Hartford Facebook page. For more details, click here, and look for a list of additional parade-oriented activities coming to We-Ha.com this week.
  • 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!

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!

SockStarz has opened at 18 LaSalle Rd. in West Hartford Center. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

SockStarz has opened at 18 LaSalle Rd. in West Hartford Center. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Some of the socks are tied to a specific cause. SockStarz has opened at 18 LaSalle Rd. in West Hartford Center. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

SockStarz has opened at 18 LaSalle Rd. in West Hartford Center. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

SockStarz has opened at 18 LaSalle Rd. in West Hartford Center. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Some of the socks are tied to a specific cause. SockStarz has opened at 18 LaSalle Rd. in West Hartford Center. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

SockStarz has opened at 18 LaSalle Rd. in West Hartford Center. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Kids can color their own socks with kits available from SockStarz, which has opened at 18 LaSalle Rd. in West Hartford Center. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Sponsors are thanked by a sign on the wall. SockStarz has opened at 18 LaSalle Rd. in West Hartford Center. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Some of the socks and notecards at SockStarz, which has opened at 18 LaSalle Rd. in West Hartford Center, were designed by their clients. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Float Forty-One is nearing completion in Bishops Corner. Photo credit; Ronni Newton

Interior of the Float Forty-One space in Bishops Corner. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

A float tank will be installed in the area at right. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Home Design District Business Happy Hour. Photo credit: Emily Mitchell (courtesy photo)

Home Design District Business Happy Hour. Photo credit: Emily Mitchell (courtesy photo)

Home Design District Business Happy Hour. Photo credit: Emily Mitchell (courtesy photo)

Home Design District Business Happy Hour. Photo credit: Emily Mitchell (courtesy photo)

Home Design District Business Happy Hour. Photo credit: Emily Mitchell (courtesy photo)

Home Design District Business Happy Hour. Photo credit: Emily Mitchell (courtesy photo)

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