When we cast about for this year’s edition of our Valentine’s Day “Local Love stories, we here at Glastonbury Lifestyle happened on a unique story.
At the Glen Lochen Mall on New London Turnpike there are about two dozen small businesses, and several are owned and operated by couples. We spoke with two of them - William and Jurgita Eisenmann, and Hanna Park and Do Kim, about their unique love stories and businesses.
William and Jurgita Eisenmann, Eisenmann Law Offices
Ask Attorney William Eisenmann how he met his wife, Jurgita, and he’ll likely break into a wide grin.
“Well, that’s a long story, how much time do you have?” he joked during a recent interview.
Here’s a quick breakdown of their courtship and marriage. The couple met in 2005 through mutual acquaintances, became friends and later fell in love.
The story of their actual marriage is a bit more tangled.
William, who has practiced law since 1989 and has two grown children, was wrangling with the question of whether to propose to Jurgita, a Lithuanian immigrant who has worked in the home healthcare field for more than 15 years.
He was hesitating, he says, because Jurgita wanted children and he was on the fence about starting another family.
Fate would force his hand.
One November afternoon in 2007 he got an urgent call from Jurgita. Because of an error in her immigration status, she was facing imminent deportation. The couple drove to New York City the next day where William sought to use his legal expertise to help Jurgita out, but immigration officials wouldn’t let him represent her before the government.
He realized the best way to keep her in the country would be to marry her.
Driving back home to Connecticut, he says, “I kept thinking, ‘I’m going to have to do this, I’m going to have to commit to having another child because I can’t let her go.’ “ So that night, he says, “I got down on one knee, proposed, and drew a ring on her finger with a marker.”
They married the next day. William’s dad, Carl Eisenmann, a lifetime lawyer and justice of the peace, performed the ceremony. Jurgita later was able to settle her immigration issues and remain here.
The couple has a 10-year-old daughter, Alexandra. They work together in a suite of offices on the second floor of Glen Lochen. Jurgita has her own office space next to William’s and runs a home health care agency, It’s My Home Care LLC. For the past year, she has worked as the administrative assistant for William’s law firm, Eisenmann Law Offices, LLC.
Working and living together, the couple says, means finding the right balance between their professional and personal lives.
“This is an ironic relationship because when I first met her, I wasn't thinking of a romance at all - I was so impressed with her brain and work ethic, I wanted to go into business with her!”
Do Kim and Hanna Park, Raonjena Coffee & Desserts
Inside the first-floor coffee shop owned by Do Kim and Hanna Park, bright sunshine streams through Glen Lochen’s tall windows near an entryway. The space is filled with live plants that hang from the ceiling, cover part of one corner and line a section of the space’s long bartop counter.
The cheerful space reflects the sunny dispositions of the shop’s husband and wife owners, Do Kim and Hanna Park.
The two are originally from South Korea and immigrated here, separately, when they were teenagers. They met through their church in East Hampton, the Central Korean United Methodist Church of Connecticut.
Hanna was trained in culinary arts and interned for a time at a bakery in Foxwoods Casino. Do’s parents owned a dry cleaning business in East Haddam and East Hampton, and he worked for them. The couple married 12 years ago and Hanna worked for a time in Do’s family dry cleaning business.
About four years ago they decided to leave their jobs and try to strike out on their own.
They thought a coffee shop would be a good fit because Do has long had a passion for artisanal coffees. Hanna wanted to return to baking and thought it would be a good idea for their new shop to have desserts as well.
That was the genesis of Raonjena Coffee & Dessert. The shop is named after the couple's twin 7-year-old daughters, Raon and Jena. In Korean, raonjena means “happy together.” They also have a third daughter who is 11 years old.
They opened the coffee shop in June of 2018. The light and airy space, which features two main rooms - the coffee bar and baked goods case is in the main entry and there is an adjoining large, open space with tables and chairs. You can take your coffee at the breakfast bar in the first room or at a table in the adjoining space.
Both are large, open rooms featuring lots of windows, natural wood floors and white walls.
Do and Hanna say they modeled the shop with minimalism in mind and after botanical gardens that they admire.
Hanna makes all her delectable confections on-site in a small kitchen at the back of the coffee shop. Some recent offerings that were being served up included pistachio croissants, honey cake, tiramisu and taro cinnamon buns.
Hanna and Do say they’re proud to offer coffees brewed from beans developed by regional roasters.
The couple says they’ve learned over the past few years that the key to working with your spouse is patience and delegating the duties.
“He focuses on the coffee and all the social media management, I take care of all the baking and I run the kitchen,” Hanna says.
“It was tough for the first couple of years, figuring out how to work together, but we did!” Do says.
Other businesses owned and operated by couples in Glen Lochen include:
theCoderSchool, run by Vaishali and Chirayu Shah, is a year-round computer coding school for kids and is a local franchise of a Silicon Valley company founded in 2014 and intended to provide specialized training in an intimate classroom setting for future coding professionals.
Red Fox Prime Steakhouse is one of Glastonbury’s newest eateries. Located just off the second-floor landing in Glen Lochen, it was opened recently by the husband and wife team of Zumra and Fico Cecunjanin, who also own two other restaurants, the Red Fox Restaurant & Bar in Middletown and the Bone In Prime steakhouse in Cheshire.
Glen Lochen Mall
39 New London Turnpike
On Facebook @Glenlochen