West Hartford center will soon have another destination for ice cream — with the added bonus of artisanal cheeses, milk and other premium dairy products.
Litchfield County-based Arethusa Farm Dairy is planning its first greater Hartford location, joining its businesses in Bantam, Litchfield and New Haven. Property manager Mike Mahoney of RLM Co. confirmed Arethusa has signed a lease for a store space at 975 Farmington Ave., in a portion of the former Toy Chest store.
“We’re thrilled to have them coming,” he said. “They’re a destination in Litchfield and Bantam and it will be great to have them in West Hartford.”
Mahoney said he expects the operation to be mostly retail like its stores in Bantam and New Haven, selling ice cream, milk, cheese, butter and yogurt, but with “some amount of cafe function.” The timing of the opening is unclear, he said, as plans and permitting are still in the works.
Owners George Malkemus and Tony Yurgaitis were not immediately available for comment Thursday.
Arethusa’s dairy products start with “milk like it used to taste,” and its high-end goods are sourced by top restaurants around the state, including its own Arethusa al tavolo restaurant in Bantam and its accompanying bakeshop Arethusa a mano. Arethusa al tavolo was named the overall Restaurant of the Year by the Connecticut Restaurant Association in 2018.
Malkemus and Yurgaitis, known for their work as top executives with the Manolo Blahnik shoe brand, purchased the historic Webster Farm in 1999. “We didn’t know yet how we would use it, but couldn’t bear the thought of Litchfield losing that open space,” they noted on Arethusa’s official website. Eventually they made their “first foray into dairying," starting with five cows, and their herd now numbers more than 300.
Arethusa’s ice cream earns “super premium” status at 16 percent butterfat, with flavors like sweet cream with chocolate chips, rum raisin and seasonal options like cherry with dark chocolate chunks and pumpkin with ginger molasses cookies. The dairy’s eggnog is also a coveted holiday product, served in annual commemorative bottles.