Wheely Great News!
If you cycle — or think you might like to, Central Wheel is the place to go. For starters, they serve all riders, from those who just bought their bike to those who are highly experienced. From those who prefer the roads to the mountains to those who prefer the mountains to the roads. And from those who ride for the joy of it to those who ride to get where they are going. In addition, they stock everything in all the brands their customers prefer. Bikes for the road, gravel, mountains, and urban settings…bikes for comfort and bikes for fitness…hybrid bikes…and children’s bikes. Accessories, including electronics, eyewear, fenders, lighting, security locks, and the add-ons that kid’s love. Components like BMX, bottom brackets, brakes/levers/pads, cassettes and freewheels, chainrings, chains, and cranksets. A head-to-toe line of apparel, comprising gloves, long- and short-sleeved jerseys and tops, outerwear, and protective wear. Bike repairs, from basic tune-ups to a complete overhauls. And their web site is also home to a list of ever-changing cycling events, because whether you ride for exercise, for pleasure, or for basic transportation, Central Wheel is not only in the business of peddling the equipment you’ll need. They are in the business of pedaling fun. — J.H.
Central Wheel
62 Farmington Ave., Farmington

Hungry? Experience the world of difference just around the corner.
Open since 1995, Tangiers International is certainly not the new kid on the proverbial block — though they did relocate a few streets from the original location a few years back, giving their considerable following momentary heart failure. But the angst abated the instant Tangiers International reopened and it was clear that this exotic little getaway remains everything it has always been — and more! Indeed to this day, everything from their superb little menu of sandwiches, salads, small plates, and complete meals is superb, from their legendary Gyros and Kebabs to their Baba Ghanoush and Baked Kibbee. The heavenly pastries are more aptly named than you can possibly imagine. (Do not leave without trying at least one.) And when you’re full, take a taste of the world home with you by visiting their international market, which features specialty foods for all people — Lebanese, Greek, Turkish, Jewish, Macedonian, Italian, Indian, Moroccan, Egyptian, Bulgarian, French, and Armenian. And after a truly fine meal and some equally fine shopping, you’ll agree that this West End favorite is a West End favorite for very good reason.
— J.H.
Tangiers International
550 Farmington Ave., Hartford

Classic recipes. Clever service.
Toshi Izakaya isn’t just a Farmington Valley restaurant. It’s a favorite among Farmington Valley diners who have a real thing for wonderfully authentic Japanese cuisine. And now it’s not simply a favorite for its food, having become known for its clever service, as well. Why? Because when the pandemic not only challenged its staffing needs but heightened health concerns, Owner Tracy Ma brought in robots. Yup! Robots from a leading-edge company called T-One Technology — all specifically designed and programmed to pinch hit for wait staff by collecting orders from the kitchen and delivering them to each table, while every meal was still deliciously prepared and beautifully plated by the very same Chef and culinary team the restaurant’s fans have come to appreciate. Fortunately, with the pandemic destined to wane sooner than later, the staff is back in full force now and the robots have gone home, leaving Toshi Izakaya’s fans to savor their fresh Maki, Tamaki, and Sushi…appetizers like Shrimp Tempura or Duck Wrap…and entrees like Salmon Teriyaki, Sanshoku Sashimi, or a Poké Bowl served as personably as ever by their gracious servers. However, this robotic chapter of Toshi Izakaya’s success story has proven to be more than a delightful curiosity. It gave their customers the reassurance they needed during a difficult time, thus helping to keep both the restaurant itself and its followers healthy. Kudos to all! — J.H.
Toshi Izakaya
136 Simsbury Rd., Avon

Welcome back to the
way things were…

Like the neighborhood markets of years gone by, where quality and service were everything, Avon Prime Meats is exceptional in every way. Meats are their “essence,” of course — always locally sourced and incredibly fresh, and their butchers are second to none when it comes to producing outstanding beef roasts, rib-eyes, short ribs, steaks, and ground beef. Their lamb, pork, and poultry cuts are equally superb. And their seafoods, veal, and exotics, including duck, venison, and pheasant, make any occasion special. In addition, they are masters at sausage making and artists in the creation and presentation of special dishes, such as their stuffed pork loin, beef pinwheels, and specialty patties. This spacious yet intimate market also sells everything you’ll need for every meal you can imagine — and then some. Catering is expertly planned and prepared by professional chefs who routinely dazzle. Hot meals to go, as well as heat ‘n serve selections, are made from scratch for genuine home-cooked goodness. And Avon Prime Meats offers wonderful coffees and teas, some really nice New England beers, tasty dog treats, and a gluten-free section where flavor still matters. There’s even a nutritionist on staff to help those with dietary issues make healthy choices. Mulling over next week’s family meals? Maybe it’s time your list started with Avon Prime Meats. And if someone says, “welcome back,” you’ll understand what they mean. — J.H.
Avon Prime Meats
395 West Main St., Avon

Creature Comforts
People who love their pets worry. They worry when their pets are well and when their pets are sick. They worry about how their pets look, if their pets are getting enough exercise — and they worry about where their pets will stay if there is ever a few days or weeks when they can’t stay at home. The truth is, all that worrying is precisely why people who love their pets also love Roaring Brook Veterinary
. Serving the needs of dogs, cats, birds, exotics, small mammals (and yes! their people) for more than three decades, Roaring Brook makes worrying…well, a lot less of a worry. For one thing, the medical care their veterinary team, including wellness visits and exams, preventative care, comprehensive dental and surgical care, laser therapy, and chiropractic therapy, is all personalized, leading edge, and always delivered with the compassion both the pets and their people deserve and appreciate. This is also the place to go for daycare and grooming services. And when an out-of-town trip or family circumstance necessitates a stay somewhere other than home, Roaring Brook’s Kennels are a wise choice. Thanks to a trained staff that is attentive and warm, an active daily schedule, spacious accommodations, and a Cattery with customized kitty condos, it’s the best place any pet can be when being home isn’t possible. So if you’re one of those people who love their pets, visit Roaring Brook. And don’t worry. You’ll be glad you did. And so will your pet. — J.H.
Roaring Brook Veterinary Hospital
60 Lovely Street, Canton
Hospital/860-693-0214; Kennels/693-0603

Plumbing, heating, and design service advice from a neighbor —
not a franchise.

Here at Avon Plumbing & Heating, we’re your one-stop shop for all things home improvement. From kitchen and bathroom remodeling to water filtration and living-in-place services, our team of experts is here to help. Looking for a kitchen remodel so great it makes you want to do dishes? We’ve got you covered. Need a new gas fireplace for those chilly winter months? We’ve got that too! Our team of experts will design and install complete plumbing and heating systems from start to finish, no matter the size or scale. We’ve worked tirelessly to earn the trust of homeowners and developers throughout the area, and we’ve created a timeless reputation. With more than 75 years of serving the Farmington Valley, no other company can match our experience when installing, maintaining, and repairing your water conditioning equipment to keep your family protected. We’re Certified Aging-in-Place Specialists (CAPS) with extensive universal design expertise. Regardless of age, size, or ability, we can help make your house a home for a lifetime. We have a design center dedicated to helping you fine-tune your ideas and create or update the room of your dreams. Plus, our HOBI award-winning showroom is stocked with the best brands in the industry and a parts department when you need something in a pinch. Our experts will be there when you want us — and there when you need us.

Avon Plumbing & Heating
124 Simsbury Rd., Avon





Putting the “Din” in Dinner
There’s only one place we know of where you are guaranteed actual sizzle with your meal, and that’s Ruth’s Chris Steak House. Fact is, Ruth’s Chris Steak House learned a long time ago that broiling the finest cuts of beef to perfection, topping them with a buttery mix of freshly chopped parsley, then serving them on a 500-degree plate so customers can actually hear the savory flavor isn’t simply the way to a man’s (or woman’s) heart. It’s the shortest route. And when they discovered that they could make chicken and chops and seafood deafeningly delectable, it sort of lit a fire under them — and before you knew it, Ruth’s became an international favorite. The good news is there’s one close by in Newington. Where? Just follow your ears. — J.H.
Ruth's Chris Steak House
2513 Berlin Tpke., Newington

The Paws That Refreshes
Most dog owners will tell you that dogs are people, too. They just happen to have four legs, fur, and a language that consist of barks and yips, with a whine here and there. Likewise, most dog owners will tell you that dogs, like people, get bored — bored with their toys and foods and treats, and sometimes (though it’s often hard to tell) with their collar, leash, or even that coat they pretend they hate wearing when it’s freezing out — all of which means that pooches, like people, need a little spoiling, too. Well, Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming is the place to go for that. Located in West Hartford’s Blue Back Square and at The Shops in Canton, Woof Gang offers high quality dog foods, as well as the treats dogs deserve when “Who’s a good boy?” and a belly scratch aren’t quite enough. And when it’s a special occasion (like a birthday or a Tuesday), Woof Gang has a great assortment of fresh-baked cookies and pupcakes for your fluffy friend. Need accessories? They’ve got it all, from collars, harnesses, and leashes to bandanas, sweaters, and raincoats. And toys? There’s a wall of them, many with the built-in squeaks, crackles, and grunts dogs love. And while your pup might not enjoy getting bathed in your kitchen sink or out in the driveway, a Woof Gang grooming is spa-class indulgence — with a great selection grooming supplies on hand to keep your just-coiffed canine looking and smelling as close to just-coiffed as a good roll in the mud will allow. So if you’ve got a dog, go. Or should I say come…? — J.H.
Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming
Blue Back Square, West Hartford
The Shops, Canton

Focusing on potential.
Established as a non-profit in 2000, FOCUS Center for Autism was founded to help children and adults with autism achieve their full potential. Since 2007, FOCUS has created three supportive housing programs for adolescents and adults with autism, histories of trauma, and mental health issues. In 2017, we opened Fresh Start School which provides classrooms where children can belong, learn, and succeed. Fresh Start is a clinically supported program that offers a safe and nurturing community for students who have difficulty fitting in traditional school settings. The Fresh Start curriculum follows Common Core standards in small, structured classes where individualized educational plans can promote engagement and encourage learning. An abundance of field trips and community-based experiences are all part of the social learning program. Fresh Start also offers a transition program for students preparing for college or who will be seeking employment after graduation. In addition, FOCUS offers a number of adult support services, including weekly social gatherings, parent support groups, sensory–friendly yoga, and classes in cooking, robotics, and other real-world pursuits. Finally, FOCUS offers The FOCUS Autism Spectrum Unplugged Panel, featuring a panel of students, alumni, staff and parents who offer presentations that bring hope and inspiration to families, educators, and service providers in their effort to increase community awareness and understanding of autism. FOCUS is committed to developing a continuum of care for children and adults with autism. — J.H.
FOCUS Center for Autism
326 Albany Tpke., Canton

Fresh Start School
126 Dowd Ave., Canton

From then to now — without missing a beat.
I was a kid of the sixties. I even aspired to becoming a hippie, but that never worked out. (I mean, I did have tickets to Woodstock, but my father put the kibosh on that — and rightfully so — when I informed him that a whole bunch of us were going and us girls were going to stay in one motel room and the guys were staying in another. I can still hear him laughing.) Anyway, when I see all the retro riches at Trading Post Music and Videos in Canton, it just makes me smile, taking me back to a time when day-glo colors, earthy scents, and vintage designs were new and fresh and (dare I say it) groovy. They sell music, videos, and books, as well as awesome Bohemian clothing and jewelry. Collectible calendars and wall posters. Games and gifts (including lava lamps!). Essential oils, soaps, fragrances, and CBD products. Grateful Dead memorabilia. And Smoke Shop merchandise. Frankly, it’s not possible to take it all in fast enough to satisfy one’s curiosity or slowly enough to appreciate everything fully, so going back frequently is your best bet. But what fun you’ll have, even if you weren’t born waaaay back then. Consider it time travel. And what a trip you’ll have! — J.H.
Trading Post Music & Videos
233 Albany Tpke., Canton

Nature at its bloomin’ best!
Warner’s Nursery and Garden Center is a scrumptious little spot ideally situated just across from the beautiful Farmington River — befittingly within view of Simsbury’s Flower Bridge, which was built in 1892, is now reserved for walkers, joggers, and cyclists, and features 72 flower boxes, 32 hanging baskets, 14 border-column baskets, and cottage gardens at both ends. Ever popular with landscapers and home gardeners, Warner’s also welcomes dreamers who simply fancy a good wander among their vast selection of perennials, annuals, herbs, vines, roses, and Northeastern grown shrubs and trees. After all, who can resist? But for those who find that getting their hands dirty is one of life’s more grounding experiences, Warner’s stocks a wide assortment of soils, mulches, fertilizers, and tools, as well as garden gifts, pottery and baskets that are both essential and inspiring. And for those who prefer to let professionals have their way, they offer full-service residential and commercial landscaping services. Small wonder that three seasons a year, Warner’s beckons anyone with an appreciation for nature at its bloomin’ best. And in winter, it reminds everyone passing by that spring comes next. — J.H.
Warner Nursery and Garden Center
76 Riverside Rd., Simsbury

You’re going to dig these guys.
Because these are the guys who will come and dig up that overgrown tangle of a garden spanning your entire yard — or the dreadful lawn you couldn’t see for all the snow when you bought your new house last winter. They’re the guys who will dig out that crumbling concrete sidewalk leading from the parking lot to your beautiful new offices — or reclaim all of that wasted space along your store’s stunning glass façade, now choked with old mulch, leftover gravel, and weeds.

And when these guys are through doing their digging, they will replant that massive garden. Re-grade, seed, and fertilize your entire lawn to make it every bit as lovely as your new home. Lay hard-pack gravel and sand along that new walkway to your office before adding the cobblestone pavers that will welcome clients properly. They will even design and build a beguiling little terrace featuring perennials along your store’s exterior approach, inviting window shoppers to do some window shopping before stopping in for a closer look.

But then that’s just some of what these guys, also known as SVL, LLC, do. They’re experts at developing and executing both landscape and hardscape designs — large and small, residential and commercial — all while providing the ongoing lawn, garden, and overall property maintenance required to ensure that each customer’s investment retains its beauty and value for years to come.

And you can dig that, too! — J.H.
369 West Main St., Avon








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