Tag Archives: west hartford

WeHa Resident Featured In New ‘Quest’ TV Reality Show

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ANDREW FRAZER“Game of Thrones” fans, are you having withdrawal symptoms as you wait for the HBO series to resume? Then take this in the meantime: on July 31, “The Quest,” billed as “a competition taking 12 unsuspecting contestants to an imaginative realm where ogres run free in the forest, dragons stir, agents of a dark lord infiltrate the Keep, and the only thing standing between peace and chaos are one dozen very unlikely heroes,” premieres on ABC at 8 p.m. July 31. And among those sword-bearing, armor clad wanna-be fantasy heroes is 25-year-old West Hartford resident Andrew Frazer.

The fitness coach at Watkinson School in West Hartford, who is also a water safety instructor in the summer at Winding Trails in Farmington, lived out his medieval fantasies on the show where good vs. evil reigns. Developed by the executive producer of “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy and the executive producers of “The Amazing Race,” the show features state-of-the art projections, animatronics, prosthetics and art direction as contestants vie to be the one “true” hero. Following filming in Austria, Frazer returned to his more realistic and less adventurous life in West Hartford. He couldn’t tell us how he fared or the particulars of the show that includes eliminating one contestant each week, but he was happily reliving his alternate fantasy life as he shared whatever info he could as he Spilled the Beans with Java.

Q: How did you get on the show?

A: About a year ago, there was something on Facebook asking “Do you think you are a hero?” And there were pictures and it sparked my interest so I filled out a form asking me some questions about why I thought I was a hero. I always thought of myself not so much a hero but I work with kids every day and one of my favorite joys is how I can be a hero to them. I don’t wear a cape or a suit of armor but I can affect and influence something in their lives in a good way. And they can look at me like a Superman or a Batman. The hero is just a symbol of people who really do good things. I’m a ‘Game of Thrones,’ ‘Lord of the Rings’ fan so I kind of figured out there was going to be a reality show. Then I got contacted by the show and went to Boston for an audition.

Q: Why do you think you got chosen?

A: Well at the audition I dressed up and not as a character so I kind of stood out. Everyone else came with their swords and shields and in costume and I got nervous. I have that stuff, too, I’m a gamer, but didn’t bring it with me. I went in being me and figured if they liked me and chose me it was just meant to be. I did bring my ocarina from the “Legend of Zelda.” I was terrified but I’m an athlete so I know how to focus.

Q: You are a trainer and an athlete. It seems like all the physical challenges in this show would be a piece of cake for you. No?

A: The challenges were a lot of Renaissance Fair type competitions so things like jousting and riding a horse, I had never done those. I had never ridden a horse until I was on the show. It was something though, being transported to another time and place and we had team and individual challenges and you had to figure out what was happening and how to help. It was all hands on and you did need to be fit. I did get banged around a good amount. I cut my leg pretty bad and my face near my brow bone.

Q: I know people who love this stuff are hugely committed to playing. How about you?

A: I am the biggest gamer. Pretty much anybody who meets me thinks I am a meat-headed jock. But then friends will bring up something about Zelda or see my Anime T-shirt and we can talk for days about it. “Legend of Zelda” and “Final Fantasy” are my favorite games. When I would finish my homework and training I would play them.

Q: West Hartford seems like such an unlikely place to fuel such fantasy. Where do you get your inspiration for this fantasy hero world?

A: I went to Conard and then to Bridgewater State University and studied exercise science. But being strong does not help you run away from the ogres in the games. My whole childhood was based off literally collections of Dragon Ball Zine and Manga comic book novels. I was just fascinated by the abilities the characters had and the magical skills. It’s a lot healthier than a lot of video stuff out there. Anyway, it sparked my interest when I was really young. I wrestled in school and it limited me to schools and gyms. Now I am doing what I would think about when I was doing those things. I think the show is the best thing experience of my life.

Q: What did your parents think when you stopped working to go film this show?

A: I tried to keep it under wraps because we sign something and can’t tell anything about the show or what happens. So my lips were sealed. When I got back from shooting and we were told we could tell people where we had been, I couldn’t wait to tell them. They were excited. Everything was so well done it didn’t even feel like a show. You felt like you were living it. And it was a great way for me to prove myself. I was so into it I forgot there were cameras on.

Q: So are you thinking of giving up the exercise science profession to go into movies or TV?

A: I always wanted to get involved in theater even when I was at Conard but wrestling got in the way. I think everyone is going to love the show. I have little kids at work now that are so juiced to see it.

Q: Where will you be Thursday?

A: I will be with my friends and family and watching the show at Damon’s on Prospect Avenue.

Q: Final thoughts, real or imagined?

A: I would do it again. It opened my eyes because I have never been in an environment or setting like that, real and fantasy. I got the chance to do the things I only used to only imagine.


Hartford Magazine Party Features The Best There Is

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besth2besth1If you were looking for the best there is as far as food, services, music, shopping and more in the Hartford area, all you had to do was head to the Hartford Public Library Friday to find it all.

Books became secondary as Hartford Magazine held its 11th annual “Best of” party featuring winners in dozens of categories who were more than happy to show off their awards and why they were chosen in the annual readers poll.

besth3“We’ve won a lot,” said Munson Chocolates employee Corinne Ferrante about the award the family-owned business in Bolton again snagged for its candy. And to prove the point, Ferrante and co-worker Harrison Poltorak, who work at the Blue Back Square store, were handing out samples of the well-known sweets to the crowd that packed the awards party featuring food, drinks, entertainment and a red carpet welcome.

Also celebrating a win were business partners and restaurateurs Dorjan Puka and David Borselle, whose A’vert Restaurant in West Hartford won “Best French Restaurant.”

“It’s always an honor,” said Borselle about the award as he piled picture-perfect French macarons onto a serving platter for guests to enjoy.

And while winning an award for the restaurant was a coup, Puka’s wife Mira said her hubby would deserve another award as well.

“Best Family Man,” is what he deserves as well,” she said. “He is a wonderful husband and father.”

hartbestAnd speaking of marriage and such, the Ververis Family was doing some celebrating at the party for a couple of reasons.

The family, which owns New Britain’s Capitol Lunch had once again been voted ”Best Hot Dog” in the magazine poll.

“We are honored,” said owner Gus Ververis, who, with his sons,  owns the historic Main Street eatery that has been known for decades for its signature dogs and special sauce.

Son Ignatios was not only celebrating the win and the celebrity that comes with it but something a bit more personal, his upcoming wedding to Ewa Kolodziejczyk.

“We met when I started working at Capitol Lunch,” explained Kolodziejczyk. “He asked me out and I was so embarrassed because I had just come from Poland and couldn’t speak English and didn’t know what to do,” she said smiling.

besth4But love prevailed and she now speaks impeccable English as she prepares for not one, but probably two weddings. The couple is traveling to Poland a few weeks before their wedding here in the United States and chances are there will be some nuptials there for the bride-to-be’s family, with a second ceremony in August in the United States.

“We want to keep everyone happy,” said Ververis. “It’s a challenge with families in two different countries but we want everyone to share.”

For more pictures go here.

New Children’s Museum Hosts Gala

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chimus1 (2)Among the “life of the party” guests at the New Children’s Museum “A Child’s World: Imagine the Possibilities,” gala in West Hartford Thursday were a tegu lizard named Scarlet, Kitty the tortoise and Chaz the possum.

The animal guests were petted, held and fed by the “human” guests who not only took advantage of meeting the museum animals up close and personal but also enjoying the hands on experience of playing with an array of exhibits featured at the museum.

Among those at the affair were Chris Wirth, left, Shelly Sundie, Laura Wirth, Beth Thurz,Mike Thurz and Tony Zambrello.

chimus2 (3)Also among the guests were former state Republican party head and Summit Financial Group business development director Chris Healy, right, with Steve and Patty Gorss.

It’s Mother’s Day Weekend And More Hartford

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The big “doing” this weekend is, of course, Mother’s Day, and that means flowers, cards, andcalendar_clip_art-1.29213820_std[1] special dining or gift-giving plans for most families.

But the weekend goes beyond mom’s day, and here’s a sneak peek.

Nutmeg Big Brothers Big Sisters will be handing out some awards May 8 at the Keeney Memorial Cultural Center in Wethersfield as it honors individuals who have stepped up to help the youngsters the non-profit serves.

Award winners include Samaia Hernandez, a spokesperson in Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s office who will receive the Victoria L. Soto Memorial Award, Lorrie Adeyemi from Atty. General George Jepsen’s office will be recognized as the Big Sister of the Year, Joseph Posta, who works at Ultra Electronics DNE Technologies, who will be named the Big Brother of the Year and Christopher Fernald, of Seitz Corp. who will receive the John M. Clapp Big Brother of the Year honor. Lucille Ruggiero, a volunteer at Vivian McRae Wesley Elementary School in Middletown will receive the Foster Grandparent of the Year award.

The event begins at 6:30 p.m. for more information go here.

golic (2)Also on Thursday, Max Downtown will host a special event with Mike Golic of ESPN’s “Mike & Mike” show to benefit Camp Courant. The event includes a three-course dinner, auction and reception, beginning at 5:30 p.m. For information go here.

The annual Latina & Power Symposium will also be held May 8 at the Hartford Hilton. the day-long event includes seminars, luncheon and speakers , including Sandra Guzman, author of “the Latina’s Bible.”

For information go here.

Also on May 8, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus opens at the XL Center, continuing with shows through May 11.For information go here.

On May 10 , at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. head to the CT Historical Society Museum & Library for “Katehepburn13 Couture,” A Hepburn-Inspired Fashion Show” featuring the show and the exhibit there featuring clothes  the famed actress wore in many of her movies,plays and at home. For more information go here.

raceinthepark2Also on May 10, the annual Race In The Park will take place at New Britain’s Walnut Hill Park, The annual 5K run benefits the CT Breast Health Initiative. Honorary chairs are CT Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, ESPN commentator Rebecca Lobo, youth ambassador Jess Rivard and New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart. The event also includes 1 and 4K  walk, a Kids Expo, food, kids fun run, jazzercise, auctions and more.

For more information go here.

Also on May 10, the JDRF will hold it annual “Rock the Cure” Promise Ball at the Connecticutmichales Convention Center with special guest, musician, actor, producer Bret Michaels.

Yale School of Medicine professor, Richard A. Flavell will be honored at the event which begins at 6 p.m. For more information go here.

For more information go here.

And in West Hartford on May 10 it’s the 15th annual “Mayor’s Charity Ball.”

Held under a tent on the town green, this year’s special guest is Teacher of the Year, John Mastroianni.

Proceeds will benefit HopeWorks Inc. and Playhouse on Park.

For more information go here.






‘Restaurant Impossible’ Features CT Eatery Wednesday, A’Vert Opens Tuesday

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irvine (2)Remember the Windsor 75 Diner/ Restaurant and its star -studded makeover a few months ago courtesy of celebrity chef and Food Network’s ‘Restaurant Impossible’ host Robert Irvine?

Well, the restaurant is up and running with a new look and a new menu and on Nov. 6 there will be a bit of a party there at 10 p.m.

Owners George and Therese Calos are inviting fans to stop by, order up something to eat and watch the episode of the show together at their place at 35 Poquonock Ave.

Andavert speaking of food, West Hartford restaurateur, Treva owner/executive chef Dorjan Puka, has opened his new restaurant, A’Vert Brasserie, at 35 LaSalle Street. 

“We are just doing it quietly for now,” said the slightly harried Puka as he put the final touches on the authentic French brasserie Monday, just hours before the doors opened for its “soft” opening. “But after a few nights we will be ready.”

The space was formerly occupied by Thirty5 Bar & Grille, which closed seven months ago. 



American School for the Deaf Officially Throws Open the New Doors

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asd3A mix of alumni, past board members, staff and supporters turned out for the affair that celebrated the new state-of-art facility and the legacy of the nation’s oldest school for the deaf.

“It’s impressive,” said past board president Booker DeVaughn, former president of Northwest Community College and part of the crowd that attended the formal ceremony Tuesday.

“I believe we were the first community college to program for the deaf and hearing impaired,” asd2DeVaughn said. “That cooperative effort led me to get involved with the school for the deaf and I am proud of the program at my college.”

It was a trip down memory lane for well-known Hartford attorney Brian Clemow and his successor as board president, public relations business owner Barbara Puffer.

“It was the late 90s and I was the next in line to become the chair,” recalled Puffer. “I wasn’t going to take it, I guess I felt like there was a self-esteem problem,” said Puffer about her trailblazing decision.

“Iasd1 knew damn well you had no self-esteem problem,” kidded Clemow, recalling his tenure, the efforts to secure state funding and its fruition.


New “WeHa” Event to Benefit Camp Courant

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A new fundraiser is coming to West Hartford and it will be benefiting a couple of good causes inlcuding its ‘Town That Cares Fund’ and Camp Courant.  Here’s the scoop:

“The Town That Cares Fund and Camp Courant have been chosen as the charities benefiting from the 1st Annual WeHa Whiskey Festival, scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 26 from 6 to 9 p.m. in the Town Hall Auditorium. The event is sponsored by Chivas Regal, Dewar’s, Hartford Advocate, Hartford Magazine, Knob Creek, Maximum Beverage, Radio 104.1 FM, and The Glenlivet.

 “We’re very grateful the organizers have chosen us,” said Suzanne M. Oslander, community partnerships manager for the town’s Department of Human and Leisure Services. The department oversees the Town That Cares, a special fund that helps West Hartford residents experiencing a crisis situation that hinders their ability to pay for utility bills, food, shelter costs, medical expenses and other critical needs. More than 1,000 households received assistance from the Town That Cares fund last year.

 “Partnering together on events like this does make a difference,” said McKinley Albert, director of development for Hartford’s CampCourant. “It costs $25 per day, per child, a total of $750 for one child to go to camp.” The largest free day camp in the nation, the organization sends 600 Hartford children ages 5 through 12 to camp for six weeks, providing round-trip transportation from Hartford to the Farmington campsite and two nutritious meals a day.

Contributions from the community are needed to maintain both of the charities the festival is benefiting.

The trade show style event will feature up to 30 tables and 150 items for tasting, including various brands of whiskey, bourbon and scotch. Patrons will receive a glass embossed with the sponsors’ logos to use for tasting and as a keepsake. They will also receive gift bags and other giveaways. Radio 104.1 FM (WMRQ), a locally-owned station, will broadcast live at the festival.

 Hors d’oeuvres stations will provide refreshments to complement the variety of spirits being sampled. Tickets are $79.99 per person in advance, and $99.99 at the door.

 In addition to receiving a portion of ticket sales, the charities will benefit from 100 percent of the proceeds from fundraising activities that will take place during the evening, including a raffle, a silent auction and a restaurant battle.

 Like reality TV, chefs from five local restaurants will compete to determine whose creation is the best. The battle is sponsored by Jameson Irish Whiskey, and the recipes must include Jameson as an ingredient. Food tickets will be sold and whichever entree sells the most tickets wins the contest, earning an advertisement on Radio 104.1 FM.

 “There’s an interesting story behind each brand, and we know there are people who want to learn about them and try something new,” said Seth Goldstein, managing partner of Maximum Beverage in Bishops Corner. “Whiskey is a growing category and the festival is an opportunity to educate the public while also raising money for some good causes.”


To purchase tickets, contact Maximum Beverage at 860-761-2541.”


No Crying! Prospect Cafe’s Faenza Just Moving Down The Road

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faenzaMany lamented last week when it was announced that Nick Faenza was closing his West Hartford Prospect Cafe. The place, considered a West End Hartford or East End West Hartford landmark (depending on your outlook) at Park and Prospect Streets, shuts its doors at the end of the week after more than 48 years good Italian food and great neighborhood vibe.

But dry those tears! Because while the place is closing on Saturday, Faenza is not giving up the restaurant business despite waning business that forced him to close the cafe.

You well you will be able to find him just down Park Road at A. C. Petersen’s.

“We are still working out the details but I am already working there and getting a feel for things,” said Faenza about his new job at the popular family restaurant and ice cream store that is also a Park Road landmark in West Hartford.

“I’ve just been giving resumes to everyone I know,” said Faenza explaining how he came to snag the job at Petersen’s, owned by West Hartford resident Catherine Denton. “When I gave it to her , she said ‘we might have something for you’ and now we are working out exactly what I will be doing.”

Denton owns a second family restaurant in Old Saybrook, the A.C. Petersen Drive-in in Old Lyme. It was the location of the former Hallmark Drive-In. Faenza said adding a catering option to the business has been discussed.

“I’ve been in the business since I was 22,” said Faenza about his 35 years as a restaurateur including the former Faenza’s in Plainville and Rockledge Golf Course. “We’ll see where this goes.”

And for those who want to say one last goodbye to the Prospect, or say good luck to Faenza, closing party is Saturday night!


West End’s Landmark Prospect Cafe Closing

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prospectAfter 48 years in business, a West End landmark eatery is closing, an apparent victim of an ailing economy.

Owner Nick Faenza, (pictured with wife Maureen and original owner Angelo Faenza at the cafe’s 40th anniversary party)   through the Italian restaurant’s Facebook page, announced it will close Aug. 11. 

” It has been a great run and we appreciate all your support over the years,” he writes. 

The cafe on the Hartford/West Hartford line was known as the neighborhood watering hole and the place to go for holiday food on occasions like  Easter, Mother’s Day and St. Joseph’s Day.  Business however, had slowed down considerably in recent months.

Courant reporter Julie Stagis has the story here.

But the cafe, also known for its hopping outdoor patio, is not closing without a celebration.

The Facebook posting notes the cafe will host its regular Karaoke  on Aug. 8 and on Aug. 10, there will be a band and a goodbye party.