Park Road - West Hartford
You can buy a one-of-a-kind cake, visit an ethnic market, grab gourmet coffee and get a car wash, a haircut or even a tattoo. This is West Hartford’s Park Road, an eclectic neighborhood with a timeless feel. With diverse culture, a warm environment and a caring community, this busy stretch of roadway, between Prospect Avenue and Quaker Lane South, boasts businesses that are longtime staples, as well as new, hip establishments. A new slogan created by area shopkeepers— ”Meet Me On Park”—is being printed on T-shirts and bumper stickers in an effort to urge consumers to “buy local.” This tightknit neighborhood also includes single and multi-family homes. “It’s a great mix,” says Angelo Faenza, the former owner of Prospect Cafe and co-president of the Business Association, created in 1992 with a mission to keep the area safe and comfortable. “It has a cross-section of everything. You can get just about anything you want on Park
Described as a “big breakfast hangout,” Effie herself has been cooking pancakes and cinnamon raisin French toast at Effie’s Place Family Restaurant since 1990. Featuring food from Greece, this beloved eatery is also open for lunch and dinner. Omelets and corned beef hash are the early-morning favorites at the picturesque Quaker Diner, where breakfast is served all day on the weekends. The specialty at A.C. Petersen Farms is dessert, thanks to a menu featuring more than 30 flavors of homemade ice cream. Located in a historic Art Deco building, this spot appeals to families, students and business people who routinely tap into the free WiFi connection. Joey’s Pizza Pie and Park Lane Pizza, which has been in business for 40 years, are popular places for Italian food. Park Road is also home to one of the first Plan B Burger Bars. If you’re in the mood for Asian selections, head to Chengdu Cuisine of China or Sweet Chilli Thai.
Park Road is a treasure trove for foodies, thanks to a variety of markets carrying unique ingredients. A would-be chef can find curry paste and jasmine rice at My Thai Oriental Grocery, while the Viengthong Asian Market features soba noodles and exotic sauces. Korean barbecue can be found at Young’s Oriental Grocery, also known for selling sushi supplies and seaweed salad. Travel the globe by just walking down the street and pop into Europe Grocery, which offers foods from Russia, including traditional breads and fresh fish. Known for its custom cut, quality meat, Hall’s Market has been hosting shoppers since the 1930s. This classic market, located in a classic brick building, also provides grocery delivery and catering services.
New businesses have been popping up on Park Road with increasing frequency in recent years. J. René Coffee Roasters, opened in August, aims to give java lovers an authentic cup of joe, as well as a relaxed atmosphere that inspires conversation. This shop also offers “Cupping Classes” on Wednesday and Sunday mornings, where folks can sample special blends. A Little Something Bakery is also fairly new, yet has attracted a passionate following, thanks to the delicious cookies, cakes and cupcakes created from scratch. Max & Lily’s Closet, a consignment shop, opened on Park Road about two and a half years ago and sells gently-used baby and children’s clothes, equipment and maternity wear. Family operated florist Lane & Lenge, revered for its elegant arrangements, just celebrated its 100th birthday but moved from LaSalle Road to Park Road about three years ago.
Playhouse on Park is a well-respected professional theater, known for its intimate atmosphere and affordable tickets. While upcoming shows include Cabaret and Ten… and Counting , the theater also offers comedy nights and children’s shows. The completion of a two-year road reconstruction and beautification project prompted the first Park Road Parade in 1998. Now, after more than a decade, the spectacle is a much-anticipated celebration, featuring floats, bands, clowns, antique cars and state officials. “It’s gotten bigger and better every year,” says Faenza, noting that the parade attracts 7,000 people to Park Road. The event is held every year on the first Saturday of October.
More change could be on the horizon, depending on the future of a large parcel of land on the corner of Park Road and Prospect Avenue. Twenty-one acres, now owned by the Sisters of Saint Joseph, is for sale. This property, which includes a 185,000 square foot convent and ample grounds, could provide unique development opportunities in a somewhat congested neighborhood. Faenza believes the sale of this spot could bring even more young residents and businesses to the area. The large brick convent is widely considered to be a local monument and town officials hope it will remain a part of any new development, possibly as a multifamily dwelling. For more information, visit www.whchamber.com/parkroadbusinessassociation.htm.