Sesame Ginger Chicken Bowl from Pokémoto in Wallingford. |Francesca Fontanez, special to the Record-Journal

Rounding up 2021 business openings, 2022 expectations

Rounding up 2021 business openings, 2022 expectations

While 2021 held some challenges for just about everyone, there were some diamonds made under the pressure. Against all odds, here are a few local businesses that came to the area in 2021, and a few to come in 2022! 

Pokémoto 1094 N. Colony Road, Wallingford

In the summer of 2021, central Connecticut residents were treated to the opening of a new Pokémoto in Wallingford. For those who might not know, poké, the namesake food item of Pokémoto, is native cuisine indigenous to Hawaii. The dish is traditionally made up of diced fresh seafood, though Pokémoto boasts modern versions of this delicacy which can include chicken, tofu, shrimp, and other delicious add-ons.

The bowls are a customizable, affordable, healthy option. The unique influences from Japanese and Korean cuisine make for a great break from a typical western lunch and are unlike anything else you’ll find in the area! 

Loose Leaf Boba Company 1094 N. Colony Road,

In a shared space with Pokémoto, Loose Leaf Boba Company opened around the same time in 2021. Loose Leaf Boba Company specializes in boba milk tea, a broad term for a drink that can come in many flavors, with different levels of sweetness, and may include different toppings. Boba, the little pearls that rest at the bottom of boba milk teas are made out of tapioca and have been used in the drinks for decades. If you’ve never tried the delicacy, I would recommend trying a small one; the texture of the boba is definitely unique.

As for me, when they opened this summer, I had to limit myself to a strict two-stops-per-week regimen because before I knew it, I was in Loose Leaf Boba Company practically every day! While the company specializes in boba milk teas, they have other beverage options as well. From coffee to matcha, there’s truly something for even the most particular of foodies. 

Reboot Eco, 131 River Road, Middletown 

In November of 2021, Middletown welcomed a unique shop that has already made a splash with the central Connecticut community. Reboot Eco is a refill store, the first of its kind in Middletown, that strives to promote and help others explore a more eco-friendly lifestyle. The refill store allows folks to come in and either fill their own containers from home, or leave with a new purchase that’s more sustainable than other options that would be found in a typical commercial store.

Imagine — instead of throwing away countless laundry detergent bottles, dish soap dispensers, and other completely reusable items, Reboot Eco is a one-stop-shop for all your bath, body, kitchen, and home goods needs. Aside from having refill options, this environmentally friendly shop offers a wide variety of Connecticut-made goods from other local vendors. For a unique, guilt-free experience, pop into Reboot Eco in Middletown.

Cafe Joie 11 Main St.,

Opening up a new business is daring. Opening up a new business that specializes in ice cream in mid-November is extremely daring, but Cafe Joie has proved successful against all odds. Thanks to their unique menu which is centered around rolled ice cream and coffee creations, Cafe Joie has had no problem holding their own these past few months.

With ice cream flavors that include purple yam, matcha, black sesame, along with the more traditional favorites, this family-owned shop has had loyal customers come back for more, rain or shine. For hand-crafted picks that are as delicious as they are unique, Cafe Joie is the spot for you! 

As we reflect on the shining stars of 2021, it’s exciting to also consider new businesses that will grace our communities in 2022! Here are a few names we can look forward to seeing more of in the coming year: 

A national grocery store, Aldi, is looking to open in Meriden on the west side.

This is exciting news for the residents who live nearby and are missing the convenience of having a grocery store in their neck of the woods.

Also in Meriden, we can expect three retail marijuana dispensaries to pop up in 2022, as well as a Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen. All have been approved by the City Council and are in the works.

Caius Farm Brewery is coming to Branford, an exciting development for any beer-enthusiasts in our area.

 We have much to look forward to this year. New businesses, locally owned or chain, are always good news for the community—here’s hoping for a prosperous year for our new businesses and for those still to come!

Francesca Fontánez is a Meriden-based journalist, educator, and creative. A graduate of both the University of New Haven and the University of Bridgeport, she is happy to be back in Meriden writing about the city she loves and surrounding areas. When she's not teaching ELA at Washington Middle School she's either exploring the Eastern seaboard for her lifestyle blog (@ eastsidevibes on Instagram) or working on music for her band, Cessa and The Zach. Email Francesca at with tips on what you want to read about next, or just to say hi!

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