If so, good news: NoRA Cupcake Company is set to return to the development this fall in a new space at 38-44 Isham Road, formerly home to Goldberg’s Gourmet. The Middletown-based bakery closed its original Blue Back store in December 2017, but has signed a lease to return to West Hartford through the end of the year.
In the fall of 2015, NoRA owner Carrie Carella opened the cupcake shop’s first West Hartford store at 103 Memorial Road, intending it to be a temporary “pop-up” space. NoRA eventually spent more than two years as a temporary specialty tenant in the development, and ended its run there last December when a longer-term tenant was interested in its space.
“We left on really good terms with them,” Carella says. “It was supposed to be a four-month deal the first time around, and it ended up being two-plus years. It was just really such a big win for us and our brand.”
When Goldberg’s closed at the end of July, Blue Back Square approached NoRA to return for a four-month opportunity, through the end of 2018. Carella says her goal is to open the shop at the end of September, possibly early October.
Carella said her staff at NoRA’s Middletown flagship still fields calls asking what happened to the original West Hartford location. “We know that we have a customer base there,” she says.
The new West Hartford shop will offer 12 to 18 daily rotating cupcake flavors, including vegan and gluten-free options, along with coffee and other beverages.
Robyn Rifkin, Blue Back Square’s general manager, said NoRA Cupcake Company was “back by popular demand” through the end of the year. “Obviously, we’re thrilled to have them back in Blue Back,” she said.
As NoRA returns to Blue Back Square, other restaurants prepare to open in the development. Balos Estatorio, an upscale Greek concept, replaces the former Besito Mexican restaurant on South Main Street and is “coming along, wrapping up construction now,” said Rifkin. Poke-Man, with Asian fare, will open sometime this fall on Memorial Road, by SPoT Coffee. Skeleton Key, the escape room with an associated restaurant, Deadbolt Spirits & Fare, opened in late July and has been “fantastic,” she says.
NoRA’s home base is still on Main Street in Middletown, where the cupcake shop first debuted on New Year’s Eve in 2011. Carella refers to the headquarters as the company’s “creative nucleus.”
“These pop-ups are really fun and exciting,” she says. “It’s like another extension of all of our mobile operations. I like moving around and popping in and out of places because it makes it exciting.”