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West Hartford Business Buzz: The Year in Review

Highlights from 2013.

Ah, this edition of Business Buzz takes a look back at the year that was 2013.

And business in West Hartford flourished in 2013, with development stretching out beyond West Hartford Center and Blue Square into Elmwood, Bishops Corner and the Park Road Business District.

Let’s visit some of the highlights:

For pizza fans, Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana opened in Elmwood in September. And there was much rejoicing.

In West Hartford Center, there was the November opening of the French brasserie A’vert, the sister restaurant to Treva, both of which are owned and operated by Dorjan Puka. And there, too, was much rejoicing.

Potbelly Sandwich Shop in Blue Back Square started serving sandwiches, salads and soups in October.

The Renaissance continued at Bishops Corner, as the Walmart Neighborhood Market, Qdoba Mexican Grill and Pet Valu all opened in 2013, with the Blue Plate Kitchen, which is owned by the same people who own City Steam in Hartford, to start serving patrons in mid-January.

Looking for a change of pace? How about the new bubble tea place Tea Break on Farmington Avenue? It’s also a new business that opened in December.

Not everything was a big splash. There were also many small boutiques that cropped up in West Hartford, giving the town its unique shopping feel.

Quirky, Lila Mae and Vivenda all started up with their own merchandise and flair in 2013.

Ronni Newton reported that Robin Gilmartin has opened the first logotherapy practice in West Hartford at 805 Farmington Ave. Pounds Medical Weight Loss Transformation, a medical practice specializing in bariatrics, also opened in January at 125 LaSalle Road.

Then there was the opening of Rockville Bank in West Hartford Center.

Nothing is forever, however.

Indeed, 2013 also saw the closings of The Rainforest Cafe and the Prospect Cafe, both staples in West Hartford (albeit for different reasons) for years.

Here’s what Mayor Scott Slifka said at the time of Prospect’s closing in August:

"I am deeply saddened by it," Slifka said. "I know [owner Nick Faenza] well and have been a patron (of the Prospect Cafe) for many years."

Slifka said that he had his daughter's baptism catered by the Prospect Cafe. In addition, Slifka said that he hosted his first-ever political fundraiser at the restaurant as well as a number of victory parties.

After 21 years in business, La Perla closed its doors over the summer. Taking its place was Dressed to the Nines, which moved a couple of doors down on Farmington Avenue to a larger space.

And 2014 promises to be as busy if not more so.

Specifically, Director of Community Services Mark McGovern said that the following projects are at various stages of planning:

  • Walgreens at the corner of Prospect Ave. and Farmington Ave. is looking to demolish its current building and construct a new, 14,000-square-foot building. The developer is working with the owners of Tangiers International Food Market, who are tenants of the Walgreens building at 688 Farmington Ave., to find a new location in West Hartford.

  • An application can be expected to be filed for a Delamar Hotel, McGovern said. Currently, there is just one motel in town, and a hotel has been in discussions for a number of years. The committee also discussed a proposed ordinance that would permit hotels to provide full-service dining.

  • Sears, located at 1445 New Britain Ave., is expected to seek revisions to its special development district to subdivide its space to construct a new store, McGovern said.

  • Jared Jewelers filed an application to construct a 6,000-square-foot building at Corbin's Corner near Best Buy.

  • Further discussions are expected on the demolition of the vacant building at 24 N. Main St. to make way for the construction of an 18-unit residential complex.

  • Another housing complex is expected to be on the table at 2432 Albany Ave.

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