A round-up of openings, closings, and other news about West Hartford businesses.
By Ronni Newton
I hope all of the moms out there had a Happy Mother’s Day!
Looking back at last year’s column written on Mother’s Day I realized that I had actually managed to write most of it the previous day. That didn’t happen this year, but I am trying to be done with work in time for a nice Mother’s Day dinner with, and prepared by, my family.
On this weekend two years ago both of my kids celebrated their virtual graduations from UConn by watching their names scroll across our TV (Sam earned his bachelor’s degree and Katie earned her doctorate), but on Monday (today, when you are reading this) we will celebrate an actual in-person graduation with Sam as he receives his master’s in public policy from UConn at The Bushnell! We are all very excited, and this is the culmination of a combined 13 years of having my children as UConn students.
Ted was traveling this past week – his first conference since the pre-pandemic days – and I was very happy to have my sister, Debbi, and her boyfriend, Dave, join me at El Santo on opening night. We enjoyed some great food and drink, and here are just a few photos of the items we sampled. The full story has many more pics and details.
We hosted a small watch party for the Noah Webster House fundraiser “War of the Words” at our house on Saturday night. We purchased the party packs along with our tickets, and those included the makings of the charcuterie boards pictured below and the ingredients for the “Blue Back Spiller” drinks. We did go out for a late night pizza at Zephyr’s after the event, but I forgot to take a photo until there was just one piece of the Truffle pie remaining!
A few weeks ago I noted that I eliminated my standard paragraph about mask mandates in this column since they have been lifted virtually everywhere except in most health care settings, but COVID-19 has not gone away, and West Hartford has been back in the red alert zone for the past four weeks and the county is in the high transmission zone. Please have patience with each other and our choices, continue to look out for each other, support our local businesses – and stay safe and healthy (especially as the infection rate appears to be climbing again).
If you have information to share about local businesses, please provide details in the comments or email Ronni Newton at [email protected].
Here’s this week’s Buzz:
- New Park Brewing (485 New Park Ave.) celebrated its fifth anniversary earlier this year, and West Hartford’s first brewery continues its success as both the footprint and operations have expanded. John Doyle, one of the New Park Brewing founders and owners, gave me a tour the other day that included the two recently-added kitchen areas, as well as the Barrel Room which is used for event space, and the new canning machine which has allowed for an increase in production to accommodate sales in package stores. New Park Brewing has been partnering with CT Provisions, a collaboration started by noted chefs Sean Farrell (formerly executive chef at Firebox Restaurant in Hartford and a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education in New York) and Power Minor (graduate of the French Culinary Institute in New York and formerly the chef de cuisine at Firebox and a chef at Max Downtown and ON20). “Long time friends, Sean and Power share a philosophy of using the finest, locally sourced, sustainable ingredients available while incorporating creative thinking and innovative techniques,” Doyle said, and they have been offering innovative menus for Sunday Brunch, Trivia Tuesday, and Cocktails & Provisions – all of which have now become regular features at New Park Brewing, augmenting the pizza and small plates food menu already provided by Patty’s. Brunch is now served every Sunday from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. in the Tap Room, featuring “bottomless” mix-and-match Blenders and Mimosas ($22) and dishes like Eggs Benedict with Grilled Asparagus and Prosciutto, Belgian Waffles with Blueberry sauce, or Corned Beef Tater Tot Hash. (Patty’s pizza and small plates are available after brunch starting at 2 p.m.) Cocktails & Provisions quickly became so popular that it’s being offered every Friday in May in the Barrel Room from 5-9 p.m., no reservations needed. “This unique speak-easy event featuring custom craft cocktails created by our GM TJ Orscher and tapas style plates from CT Provisions is like nothing else in the area. Come experience the Barrel Room the way we feel it should be; with a drink, a bite, and great company,” Doyle said. And also, “Trivia with TJ” is being offered every other Tuesday in May (the 10th and 24th) in the Tap Room. There’s beer, prizes (top team wins a $50 New Park gift card), and a pub menu (see below) from CT Provisions. The Tap Room opens at 6 p.m. on trivia night, with games beginning at 6:30 p.m. See menu samples at the end of the column, and for more information about New Park Brewing, visit their website.
- Build out is well underway for Harbor Freight, a tool and equipment store, that will be opening in the space at 983 New Britain Avenue that was formerly occupied by Blast Fitness in the Price Rite Plaza. No details yet on when the store will be ready to open (the website still says “coming soon”) but I’ll announce it as soon as I have more details.
- Friends of Feeney will be hosting a unique fundraiser this Wednesday, May 11. From 4-7 p.m. at GastroPark, 637 New Park Ave., “Stanley Hudson” from the famed show “The Office” will be taking photos and signing autographs for $40 on Pretzel Day! Proceeds from photos as well as a percentage of bar sales will be donated to support to a family that recently lost their 33-year-old mother to brain cancer, leaving behind her husband and two children (a high school sophomore and first grader). Guests will have a chance to judge custom pretzels made by Craftbird, East West Grille, and Samba’s Cuisine. The event is being sponsored by GastroPark, Keating Agency Insurance, Boards and Beyond, Glastonbury Wealth Management, Daswani Clothier, The Miale Team at Keller Williams, Lyon’s Auto Service, and Ellen Sebastian, William Pitt Sothebys International Realty. More details can be found in the Facebook event description.
- The Chamber of Commerce and Mayor Shari Cantor held a ribbon cutting Thursday at Ivy Rehab, a new physical therapy business associated with the Hospital for Special Surgery Rehabilitation Network and operated by Dr. Richard Vicory, that has opened in the Corbin Collection. I wasn’t able to attend the ribbon cutting, but thank you to Chamber President and CEO Chris Conway for sharing some photos!
Congratulations to West Hartford resident Dawn Ennis, recognized by GLAAD, the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, in several categories at the 33rd Annual GLAAD Media Awards held in New York last Friday as well as in Los Angeles on April 2. Ennis was recognized in the category of “Outstanding Online Journalism Article” for the article “‘No Time For Intolerance:’ Dr. Rachel Levine Has A Job To Do,” written for Forbes magazine online. In addition to writing for Forbes, Ennis is also a correspondent for the Los Angeles Blade, the Daily Beast, and other publications, appears regularly on WTNH and hosts a show on West Hartford Community interactive, and is a professor at the University of Hartford in the College of Arts and Sciences School of Communication.
- The West Hartford-based Ron Foley Foundation had a successful “Ron’s Run for the Roses” Kentucky Derby-themed fundraiser under the tent at Folly Farm on Saturday. Here are just a few photos courtesy of Tom Hickey!
- West Hartford-based CompassMSP, a provider of managed technology services and cybersecurity solutions, has just announced the appointment of Donald (Don) Swartz to the role of Chief Operating Officer, with responsibility for service delivery as well as client experience and retention. According to a news release, Swartz brings leadership experience in operational transformation and excellence; profitable growth strategies; and technology/IT strategy. With nearly 40 years in technology services, he is known for his abilities in employee engagement, service delivery, and customer retention. “I am thrilled to have someone of Don’s caliber to help us grow and develop across all our regions,” said Ari Santiago, CEO of CompassMSP. “He has built a reputation for building highly motivated teams, promoting business alignment, and forging strong partnerships. His leadership skills will be a true benefit to our team as well as our clients.” Swartz said,“Managed Service Providers are hitting an exciting time of growth and development as technology needs across all industries explode exponentially and cybersecurity requirements continue to be at the forefront of everyone’s mind. This is a perfect time for CompassMSP to take the lead in providing technology and cybersecurity for small and mid-sized businesses. With commitment to our clients and to each other, we can achieve the operational excellence that will help bring our clients and our company to the next level.”
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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