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Posts Tagged ‘West Hartford Center’

It’s West Hartford Center Days …

Posted by whforums on January 10, 2009

So, until next Thursday, 1/15, West Hartford Center is having its “West Hartford Center Days” (actually started this past Thursday … they run a week). Now, justifiably, I’m sure many of you are asking the question “What’s a West Hartford Center Day?” Well, essentially it’s a giant sidewalk sale in the middle of the January cold and snow … think of it as West Hartford Center does Alaska, but without the glaciers.

More than 150 shops are participating (says the town website), and most of the sales are actually in the stores, so you can stay toasty while supporting local businesses that need your support. Restaurants in the Center/Square are getting in on the action, too — get a list of participating restaurants here (you’ll have to select today’s date from the calendar at the top of the page).

My wife and I recommend the sales at Crate and Barrel (I know, I know … not a local business. But the sales are great!). The sales on the top floor suck, but on the bottom floor, they’re out of this world. We got a rocking dish towel for 2 bucks, Christmas gear at 60% off, and spice jars at 60% off. Score.

If you see other good deals, feel free to spread the word to your fellow “consumers” below …

Posted in Blue Back Square, West Hartford, West Hartford Center, West Hartford Restaurants | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Cocoa Kitchen and Bar — Who’s Got the Scuttlebutt?

Posted by whforums on December 24, 2008

Have patiently watched the transformation of the old Puerto Vallarta into the new (and, from the outside, awfully sexy looking) “Cocoa Kitchen and Bar.” As I drove past today, I saw an 8 1/2 by 11 piece of paper taped to the window that said:


Not the grand opening I’d imagined, but my curiosity is piqued. Add to that the fact that Google searches bring me only to expired Craig’s List hiring ads, and I really want to know what’s going on behind those walls.

Surely, one of you out there knows something about Cocoa — or perhaps has even set foot inside? Any scuttlebutt? I’m not going to make it there until the new year at earliest, but inquiring minds, etc….


The site “Pursuing Domestic Goddess-ness” gives a review to both Cocoa and Front Street Bistro.  Check it out here.

Posted in West Hartford, West Hartford Center, West Hartford Restaurants | Tagged: , , | 40 Comments »

To Take You into The Weekend …

Posted by whforums on December 19, 2008

Two quick West Hartford Centery tidbits:

1. The town has signed a contract with Parcxmart for a debit/credit card on-street parking system. The card could also be used as a debit/credit card with participating local merchants. Sounds like, at least initially, you’ll run into a $500 limit, so if you find yourself spending a lot of money in the Center, you may have to recharge the card quite a bit. Expect to see the “West Hartford Center Credit/Debit Card” to launch in “first quarter 2009.” Get the full press release here.

2. Let me point you to the work of Andy Perez. Perez was tasked with the job of creating a web ad (dunno if it’s destined for life beyond the web?) for West Hartford Center. If you’re a process oriented person, you can see the process he followed, as well as his own blog post about the ad, on his blog. If you’re one of those “product-only” people, you can watch the ad on the “center and square” website (I had no clue until recently that that site existed).

Andy, I think the ad is great (especially the dancing Noah statue — if Noah could dance, well, I think you stone-cold got his moves)  — if you hadn’t said so, I’d never have guessed it was your first ad. But for the next draft, I need some of those credit/debit cards to float by, too.

Enjoy the snow.

Posted in Blue Back Square, Media, Parking, West Hartford, West Hartford Center, West Hartford Restaurants | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Purchases at Ten Thousand Villages to Support HopeWorks

Posted by whforums on December 4, 2008

Because I’m a skeptical jerk, I’ve throughout my short life been sort of iffy about Ten Thousand Villages. Back in the day, when I lived in Cow Country, NY, my wife and I would wander through the store and I’d say to her “This can’t really be for real.” The idea of fair trade in an environment that seemed so fracking capitalistic (wandering through the store was like wandering through any other store) seemed so outlandish (or perhaps so hopeful) that I sort of felt like I had to dismiss it.

Since those days, my friends, my reading and my experiences have convinced me that the store and the idea behind it are both for real (that it’s not some horrific, feel-good front for exploitation), and even more, that the people behind the store have been fairly influential in the global fair trade movement. And while I still have some qualms about the store (why not sell products from Americans who need an outlet alongside products from artisans from developing nations?), it seems like Ten Thousand Villages is doing exactly what I demand other companies do — they’re engaging in a more ethical capitalism.

So what does this have to do with West Hartford? Well, if you shop at the Ten Thousand Villages in the Center between Noon and five this Sunday (December 7th), the store will donate 15% of all profits to HopeWorks. What a great chance to make your money work for the good of your global and local communities, yes?

Posted in Sorry I'm So Cynical, Things to Do, West Hartford, West Hartford Center | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Simmer Out of The Center

Posted by whforums on August 24, 2008

Was wandering the Center this weekend and noticed not only that Simmer was dark, but that there was a “Closed” sign hanging on the front door. Did some poking around in the tubes and found that the West Hartford location has disappeared from the Simmer homepage, too.

I’m kind of sad to see Simmer go — their location wasn’t great, but the few times my wife and I ate there we enjoyed our meals enough to say “We should come here more often” (we also in part said that because we feared this eventuality — Simmer, despite its terrific food and service, was often startlingly empty).

If you need your Simmer fix, you can still trek out to Canton. Now we can start wondering about whether another restaurant will have the courage to enter the crowded West Hartford market in Simmer’s previous location …

Posted in West Hartford, West Hartford Center, West Hartford Restaurants | Tagged: , | 14 Comments »

Monday Morning Pet Peeve

Posted by whforums on August 18, 2008

Ok, so this is a minor “thing” in the grand scope of “things,” but it drives me fracking crazy. It maybe also illuminates a certain lack of neighborliness (“Where city style meets village charm,” etc.).

You know how Main Street, traveling “south,” narrows once your cross over Farmington Avenue? That stretch of Main Street in front of Breuggers, and Friendly’s, and Lemon Grass? People — it’s a one lane road. I understand the merge sign is way back before the Farmington Avenue intersection, and I understand that the fact that it’s a merge gets buried in all of our mutual consciousnesses by the activity of the Center itself. But the fact that the fracking road fracking narrows should serve as a fracking reminder to form one fracking line! Gah!

And you people who are double parking in that stretch — not that you’re really double parking, more hovering for a spot — well, you’re on my list now, too. And while I’m at it — could we all be a little nicer to the poor folks who get hung out to dry trying to make a left from Farmington onto Main? All the time I see one lone car, trapped in the intersection …

And don’t even get me started on the people who leave their fracking shopping carts in the middle of the fracking aisle in the grocery store. I guess that’s more of a Sunday night pet peeve …

Posted in Pet Peeves, West Hartford, West Hartford Center | Tagged: , , , | 5 Comments »

Some Blue Back Square Musings from 2008

Posted by whforums on August 5, 2008

I wasn’t around when Blue Back Square was going up – I was living in upstate New York, receiving off and on updates from my parents, first about this “new development,” then about “Blue Blood Square” … I didn’t really understand the design or scope of the project until I moved back to West Hartford. In fact, all I really knew was that my parents had voted against it as often as they could.

Since I’ve moved back, I’ve seen a ribbon cutting ceremony, I’ve seen Blue Back mostly filling in – I mean, we’ve even got our library back. And you know what? I like Blue Back Square, and had I been living here at the time (not knowing what propaganda was swirling) I think I would have supported it – mixed use development that takes the hub of town and expands it as living space, library space and shopping district? Get me a performance space and life is beautiful.

And this sentiment seems to be generally shared across town – at least, whenever I walk through BBS, there are people all around – either shopping or window shopping. There’s no question the area is alive, and, as yet, it doesn’t seem to be killing West Hartford Center proper. In part, that’s because BBS is still a destination – something people in the region have heard of (and it’s gotten a lot of press) and want to see. And yet even as I write all of this in celebration, I can’t ignore that I perceive BBS with some fringes of concern. Chief among them – how long will BBS remain a destination, and how long will it remain unique? And once it’s no longer a destination – can we, the residents of West Hartford, support it?

I ask because of this article in the Norwalk Advocate that discusses the development of “Blue Back” like space in Norwalk. Ken Narva of Street-Works (the managing development partner of BBS) says of his development: “This is Norwalk, this is not West Hartford, people get tired of hearing about Blue Back Square,” Narva said. “But it is relevant because Waypointe is a mixed-use development with three uses – retail, residential and office.”

The essential question for me is this. If people are “tired of hearing about BBS,” at what point will people become tired of visiting BBS? What happens to BBS – and the Center, when BBS is no longer the “it” place, or, at the very least, as it ages? I think about the debacle of Constitution Plaza (which didn’t start out as a debacle), in part because, in 20 years, some of the wonderful, large spaces in Blue Back will likely be divided (and we’ll certainly see our share of empty storefronts). And I also worry that, with several new restaurants on the way, West Hartford can only support so many. When the visitors dry up – then what?

Just some Blue Back Square musings from 2008 …

Posted in Blue Back Square, West Hartford, West Hartford Center | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

“OMG.” Front Street Bistro Rocks.

Posted by whforums on July 13, 2008

We hit the new Front Street Bistro (formerly Front Street Sweets – the owners expanded by moving into the old Sit-n-Knit location on Lasalle Road) for lunch recently. When we arrived (mid to late afternoon) the outside seating at the restaurant was packed with people having a late lunch or enjoying dessert. Despite the beautiful weather we decided to have lunch indoors, and the interior of the restaurant, with its deep red walls, black molding, funky accent lighting and casually elegant table linen created a comfortable and intimate atmosphere. While so many restaurants try so hard to be “trendy” with their interior design, Front Street Bistro just is what it is — simple, beautiful and classically contemporary.

When the look of a restaurant is so careful and complete, you expect the same attention to detail in the food, and Front Street Bistro didn’t let us down. The corned beef on a pretzel roll (I’d never had a pretzel roll, and it tastes just like a pretzel in roll form … pretty great compliment to the beef) was salty but not overpowering and the slaw that topped the beef added just enough crunch to make three deliciously distinct textures (roll, slaw, beef) with each bite. The lightly herbed oven fries, fresh and oven hot, were a wonderful combination of crisp and firm. My wife raved about her West Hartford Dog (with mustard, pickles and all kinds of other goodies), and it was good enough to rival Woody’s or Rosco’s (though I wouldn’t complain if either of those eateries decided to open shop in West Hartford Center, too). The mint-ginger lemonade was also excellent; it was subtle and just puckery enough to keep you sipping (read: you should go just for the lemonade – it’ll give you a taste of what you’re missing).

Most of the lunch dishes ran between 10 and 15 dollars, which is a pretty good value when you consider the quality of the meal, décor and service. Front Street Bistro also fills a niche in the Center; it provides high quality food in a chilled out atmosphere at a reasonable price (in context). This is especially welcome in an area full of equally wonderful – but generally more expensive (and thus more exclusive)– restaurants.

I wasn’t able to get a look at their dinner menu, but this reviewer raves by association about the Mac and Cheese. The Bistro is also open for breakfast (another niche market for a West Hartford Center restaurant) and Sunday Brunch. You can visit their website, which isn’t yet updated to reflect their new digs and identity, at:


In short – we loved the restaurant, and we’ll go back to try their dinner menu soon. But let me register one complaint – why serve Seattle’s Best coffee, especially when Starbucks (the same company) is right next door? Once Front Street Bistro starts working with of a good local roaster – like Omar Coffees (who I love) or Independent Coffee Roasters, they’ll leave me with nothing to complain about.

photo credit

Posted in West Hartford, West Hartford Center, West Hartford Restaurants | Tagged: , , , | 7 Comments »

To Do In West Hartford, Weekend of 7/12

Posted by whforums on July 11, 2008

A lot to do in West Hartford this weekend.

If you’re a thoroughgoing capitalist (or just a sales shopper) West Hartford Center Days runs today (Friday 7/11) and tomorrow. I’m a little bit vague about what exactly the West Hartford Center Days are, but as far as I can tell it’s a big old sidewalk sale that highlights the center as a shopping district while drumming up business for restaurants, etc. My wife and I will be there — you’ll be able to recognize me because I’ll be the one saying “Do we really need that?” Unless she takes me to Toast for a wine tasting first. Then anything goes!

If you don’t like shopping, or if the economy has you spooked like a ghost you’re pretty sure you recognize, why not get all self-referential and go see Hamlet? I’m as sick of stories about fathers and sons (read: Bush administration(s)) as everybody else, but the idea of watching Hamlet at sunset with a nice picnic dinner … yeah. That sounds pretty great. Hamlet Under the Stars (HUTS!) is playing all weekend, and every Thursday-Sunday through July 27th, outside the Carol Autorino center at Saint Joseph College.

If you don’t like capitalism or literature (what’s wrong with you?) and you still have an IP address despite the woeful economy, the folks over at “The Nutmeg Grater” would like to talk to you about the fact that there have been 35 robberies in West Hartford apartment complexes over the past 4 months. The time is out of joint indeed.

image credit

Posted in Hartford Literary Life, Things to Do, West Hartford, West Hartford Center | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »