In the Biz is taking a break this week because of all the holiday madness — and, a severe cold has taken hold of yours truly, making it difficult to venture into the arctic wonderland that Saratoga has become to dig up business news.

But the blog will be back in business on Monday Jan. 4 to kick off 2010.

In the meantime, feel free to send tips and business story ideas to mnicosia@saratogian.com.

Wishes to all for a happy and peaceful New Year.


Sushi coming to B'Spa

Sources in the Strolling Village report that a sushi restaurant is in the works on Milton Avenue, across from Coffee Planet.

See the exact location, and check back here for more information as it develops.

Lioness out, True in

At 5 Spring St., Maria Lentini of the former Lioness boutique has moved out, making way for new business owner Mia K. True.

Lentini didn’t go far (she’s set up a space in the Shoe Depot selling a collection of handpicked women’s fashion pieces), but she sold all her merchandise to True, who is adding to the dynamic of the store with a 60/40 consignment business.

True, a part-time orthodontic technician in Albany who also runs her own cleaning service, said she’s jumping into the downtown business scene headfirst and is excited by the opportunity to appeal to all sorts of fashionistas — namely, those with some cash to burn and those without.

“I want to be able to reach all types of women,” True said. “I want to have a little bit for everyone.”

To that end, True Elegance Boutique, as the store is now called, features a mix of new, vintage and consigned women’s clothing and accessories — everything from secondhand casualwear to a vintage sequined gown to a $1,500 fur-trimmed Versace coat.

Skidmore students receive a discount with their ID.

For more information, call the shop at 229-0097 or e-mail TrueEleganceBoutique@yahoo.com.

"Haircuts and whatnot"

Since Daniel Breen officially took over the former Sims barbershop at 40 Caroline St. this fall, the place has undergone some changes from the inside out. There’s fresh paint and artwork on the walls and groovy background music, and an overall hip vibe pervades the tiny two-chair salon.

Oh yeah, and clients there are offered a complimentary Pabst Blue Ribbon upon entering. What could go better with a hot shave than a cold beer?

Most noticeably new, though, is the addition of stylist and colorist Jenn Kim, otherwise known as an “appearance enhancer.”

Kim, 31, joined the team at Swagger last month, bringing a bunch of her female clients from a former location in Queensbury with her. She holds multiple licenses to do both women’s and men’s hair, while Breen sticks to men’s-only services like shaves and cuts. The salon also offers waxing.

A Redken devotee, Kim specializes in coloring using that brand of high-end protein-based hair care products, which are now sold at Swagger, naturally. She also takes continuing education classes online to keep her Redken skills up to date.

“Sometimes when people don’t feel good on the inside and they look good on the outside it can enhance the way they feel,” she said.

Call Kim at (419) 494-9791 or Breen at 260-2112 for appointments.

UPDATED: Freihofer's outlet moving

Freihofer's Bakery Outlet will move from its 18 Congress St. location to 610 Maple Ave. on Jan. 28.

Lou Minella, a spokesperson at the company's corporate headquarters in Pennsylvania, said Tuesday that the move out of downtown will mean less foot traffic but more parking spaces for customers.

"The reason is almost exclusively related to more parking spaces. There will be less foot traffic but more auto traffic, more ease of in and out for access," Minella said.

Jan Davis manages the outlet in Saratoga as well as one in Queensbury. She was unavailable for comment.

The Freihofer's store carries breads, cakes, buns and cookies that have passed their shelf-life in grocery stores and are moved to the outlet where they are sold at discounted prices.


Re: Safe Routes to School

The Safe Routes to School National Partnership put out a new report today detailing examples of how Safe Routes to School programs have succeeded throughout the U.S.

Some highlights of the report are:

  • A school district in Santa Rosa, Calif., saw a 63 percent increase in children using the crosswalks to cross the street rather than crossing at unmarked locations, after children received pedestrian safety education.
  • Since the launch of the WalkSafeTM child pedestrian safety program in Miami-Dade County, Fla., in 2001, there has been a 43 percent decrease in the number of children 14 and younger hit by cars.
  • Infrastructure improvements in Portland, Ore., have contributed to a decrease in total crashes by nearly 25 percent; there was a 32 percent decline in pedestrian injuries from crashes.

Read the PDF in full here: Safe Routes to School: Putting Traffic Safety First - How Safe Routes to School Initiatives Protect Children Walking


Wells Fargo Advisors moves

Wells Fargo Advisors moved from its previous location on Broadway to 37 Henry St. and opened a new office today.

The phone number hasn't changed, though. It's 581-5040.

The national company is comprised of thousands of financial advisors and specialists and holds about $1 trillion in client assets.

The Spa City office has been open for seven years and has 12 financial experts on staff.

Eclectic by design

Brendan Flanigan is inspired by his surroundings, and you might be too, once you step into his new design studio at 10 Lake Ave.

The client meeting space/showroom that opened earlier this month features walls painted three different colors. The room is filled with eclectic decorating pieces, such as a $1,000 “statement” chair — its curved legs, arms and back are made of animal horns — and more than one chandelier hangs glittering from the ceiling.

He likes to throw an odd antique into the mix, too, to support examples of the table linens and floral designs he offers.

“My taste is eclectic and classic, but always clean, and always with a natural and organic element,” said Flanigan, who is native to the area.

At 32, he says his degree in accounting has come in handy as he’s grown his business from home the last five years, but his true passion is for customizing a space to fit a client’s vision.

His appointment-only service offers interior, floral and event design for corporate and residential clients in the Saratoga, Manhattan and Albany areas.

“Design simply allows someone to live and experience their life in a better way,” he said. “It provides a backdrop for living and working. It makes those things more efficient and enjoyable.”

Diverse sourcing from international craftsmen and vendors leaves him unattached to a specific line or store and better able to be “client-centered,” he said. Furniture is also customizable.

Hourly rates start at $100 and vary depending on the complexity of the project.

Previous to opening his studio, Flanigan worked out of a home office in the city. He has goods shipped to a warehouse in the Schenectady area.

For more information, call the Lake Avenue studio at 290-0233 or e-mail info@brendanflanigan.com.


Papered windows at Boca Viva

Is it the end of the line for Boca Viva, the Portuguese-themed coffee shop that replaced Subway on Broadway in August?

The windows were covered in paper and the Web site is no longer up, as of Thursday.

I'm trying to get in touch with owner Sandro Ribeiro, so check back for more details.


Backstretch bar for lease

The Backstretch Tap Room and Terrace at 38 Caroline St. appears to be closed indefinitely after a short run this spring and summer.

A "For Lease" sign has been hanging on the door for the last couple of weeks and the phone number in the bar has been disconnected.

Co-owner Robert V. Lizardo, 40, has faced one legal battle after another since opening in May, including a temporary closure while waiting for an overdue liquor license and a felony grand larceny charge made because he allegedly bounced a $40,000 check used to open the business.

Lizardo has not returned calls seeking comment.

Court documents in Saratoga Springs City Court show that Lizardo missed a scheduled meeting Nov. 24. A warrant was then issued for his arrest but was recalled a few days later. He is scheduled to appear in court Dec. 22.

Read The Saratogian's previous coverage on the Backstretch and Lizardo here, here and here.

Eugenio's closed temporarily

Eugenio's Cafe Gelato on Broadway is closed until Dec. 21, a sign on the coffee shop's door shows.

No word yet on what the reason is.

Business seemed to be booming during the Victorian Streetwalk last Thursday.


Uncommon Grounds on the blog scene

A warm welcome to the local blogosphere, Uncommon!



Calling all college grads ...

Are you a recent college graduate who found a job shortly after finishing school?

Or, are you a recent college graduate who has been unemployed or underemployed since finishing school?

I'd like to speak with you for an upcoming story on unemployment and the changing job market.

Call 583-8729, ext. 216 or e-mail me at mnicosia@saratogian.com.

Truck and Auto Wares back in the mall

An auto accessories store has returned to its spot in the Wilton Mall after struggling through two years of decreasing sales at its location on Route 9N.

Truck and Auto Wares is currently split between the two locations, but will officially close at 474 Maple Ave. on Jan. 1, said Casey Gilligan, who works in the family business owned by his father, Terry.

“We just don’t do the numbers we used to — we don’t get the walk-in traffic, like in the mall,” the younger Gilligan said. “This will save us some money to help us get through the slow times here.”

The store opened in 1995 and sells after-market accessories for cars, trucks, motorcycles and power sport vehicles.

Call 580-9000 or e-mail tawinfo@yahoo.com for more information.

Recycling clothing with flair

Ooh La La Recycled Consignment Boutique opened Thursday at 80 W. Circular St., joining the Cabello salon established there this summer.

Owned by Amy Brower, the whole joint is part of an old warehouse turned into a combined boutique and salon which offers nails, hair and massage services.

Kathleen Santamaria, a high school art teacher who is managing the consignment business, said the store offers clothing for teens, men and women, as well as jewelry, bags, belts and shoes. Home furnishings and decorating accessories are in stock, too.

“Half the things in there you wouldn’t even know are used,” Santamaria said. “Just because you’re reusing something doesn’t mean it can’t have a fabulous flair to it.”

Consignors may bring in 12 items at a time. They receive 50 percent of sales, with prices marked down by half after items are on the shelf for 30 days. After 60 days, either the consignor may reclaim their goods or Ooh La La will donate them to Franklin Community Center, Santamaria said. Keeping in line with its simplistic approach, the business is currently cash-only, reducing the use of paper for credit card transactions.

“You’re doing some good by reducing and reusing and recycling, but you’re also able to purchase something that’s not that expensive,” Santamaria said.

Works by local artists — photos, T-shirts and mushroom carvings (yes, you read that correctly) — are on display and for sale in the shop.

Hours are noon to 7 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays. Currently, there’s no phone in the store. Call Santamaria on her mobile at 669-4218 or look her up on Facebook for more information.

A neat seat

Disarmingly simple, yet functional, the Sneat is a vinyl car seat protector and the brainchild of Diane Babin, of Rotterdam, and Debbie Jemmott, of Ballston Spa.

The business-minded pair are mothers with full-time professional jobs who got fed up after years of dealing with the mud and sweat that dirtied their car seats as they delivered their children from school to home to football practice.

“Personal experience prompted this product,” Jemmott said. “We were constantly putting blankets and sheets and towels in the car to protect it because my son, who is now a teenager, plays football. I thought, ‘my car always stinks.’ There’s gotta be something that we can do.”

This summer, they formed Jemmbin LLC and had 1,800 Sneats manufactured in Menands. They’ve been selling the product for $11.95 a pop at craft fairs, on Amazon.com and through word of mouth ever since.

The product is simply a heavy-duty sheet of clear plastic that, when slipped over the top of a car seat via a Velcro-secured pocket, can prevent food, pet hair, mud, liquids, dirt, etc. from mussing up the seat. According to Jemmbin (Jemmott-Babin), the Sneat doesn’t obstruct seat belts or airbags. It’s meant to be wiped down after use and slipped back into the glove compartment or a pocket until it’s needed again. It folds to about the size of a road map and weighs a few ounces.

For more information, call (877) 352-9701 or go to www.jemmbin.com or www.thesneat.com.


Lake Avenue mystery shop now open

Updated, 12/7 @ noon.

The paper is off the window at 10 Lake Ave. and the ground-floor tenant has revealed himself as Brendan Flanigan, of Brendan Flanigan Design Studio.

According to his Web site, Flanigan serves clients in Albany, Saratoga and Manhattan.

The storefront was lit up to show off various nooks filled with furniture, lights and accessories for the first time Thursday evening as I walked by on my way to the Victorian Streetwalk.

Look for details in next Monday's column in the print version of the Saratogian and online.


UPDATED 4/7: Waldorf School gets national media spotlight

Update: Check out my story on Forest Kindergarten in the April 2010 edition of Spirit of Saratoga

Waldorf's Forest Kindergarten, which started up this September, was featured in the New York Times last weekend.

Check out the New York Times' piece here, and see The Saratogian's previous coverage of the Forest Kindergarten here.

Two updates on the local art front

This just in:

Mimosa Gallery is opening a second location in the Downstreet Marketplace on Broadway this week.

The "art for home and wear" gallery is owned by Michelle LaLonde. It opened in the Beekman Street arts district in 2005.

According to a press release announcing the second location, Mimosa is "a destination for contemporary handcrafted pottery, ceramics, jewelry, fiber accessories, glass, fine art, handbags, lotions and soaps."

“There was so much interest in our unique, one-of-a-kind merchandise that I decided to make the store more accessible to pedestrians and visitors from out of town who come to Saratoga Springs to shop,” said LaLonde, who crafts the store's trademark handbags. “The store is a good fit with the other retailers in The Downstreet Marketplace, which sell gifts, clothing, estate jewelry and housewares."

A grand opening is set for 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6. Refreshments, including mimosa-flavored cupcakes from Bettie’s Cakes -- next door to the new Mimosa -- will be served.

An employee named Rebecca called me to say that both stores, unofficially dubbed Mimosa East and Mimosa West, will be open permanently in a year-round capacity.

Store hours are Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. For more information, call 583-1163.

Sorelle Gallery on Phila Street will open an adjunct location within the Shoe Depot on Broadway for the month of December only.

"We have over 500 paintings in inventory, and not enough room to display them," owner Sandra Aldo Pelletier said in an e-mail announcement this morning.

As an incentive for buyers to shop early, discounts on the art start at 25 percent this week through Sunday and gradually decrease throughout the month.

Sorelle hours in the Shoe Depot are: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and Monday; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. For more information, call the Phila Street shop at 584-0600.


Saratoga Roasters teaming up with FCC

Just a note to let y'all know that starting today through the month of December, Saratoga Roasters will be donating $2 from every pound of coffee sold to support programs at Franklin Community Center.
Peruse brews like Adirondack Blueberry Cream and Cinnamon Danish at the site above or call 557-1377 for more info.

Dovegate Inn's 10th anniversary

Schuylerville’s Dovegate Inn is marking 10 years of operation this month.

The three-room inn and restaurant is located on one acre of land on Broad Street and is owned by lifelong village resident Ronalee Myers.

Myers, 59, says she always knew she wanted to open a bed and breakfast. As a child, however, she wouldn’t have guessed that she’d one day purchase the property owned by her best friend’s family, the Careys, where she spent long hours playing as a toddler.

Myers bought the Carey residence in May 1999 and converted it into an inn, gift shop and restaurant, opening in November that year. The restaurant has undergone the most changes in the last 10 years, Myers said. She managed both it and the inn simultaneously for the first year she was in business. After a temporary closing, she leased the restaurant to Randy Crocker for about eight years. This summer, he handed the reins over to chef Cara Fredricks and her partner, Steve Clark; they renamed it Kitchen at the Dovegate.

Throughout it all, Myers has been at the helm of the entire year-round operation, which attracts a crowd between May and October. She manages the Dovegate in conjunction with the Old Saratoga Motor Inn, which sits across the street and is owned by her friend, Jim Miers.

“It’s been a very interesting journey in the last 10 years,” Myers said with a laugh. “We’ve met some people from all walks of life, including some eccentric people and some who are now good friends.”

With multiple knee operations now limiting her activity, Myers said she has her eye on retirement by the time the Dovegate’s 20th anniversary rolls around. The inn is currently for sale.

“I forged ahead and I have enjoyed it very much,” she said. “I would love to find somebody that would love the building and the business as much as I do. If not, I’ll still be right here in another 10 years.”

Malta's Hyatt Place is green-certified

Efforts to reduce waste and conserve resources and energy at the Hyatt Place hotel in Malta have not gone unnoticed by international advocates for “green” lodging.

The hotel recently received a rating of three green leaves from Audubon International’s Green Leaf Eco-Rating program for hotels.

Hotels can apply to participate in an independent evaluation of their eco-efficiency performance, with their score providing a benchmark for future improvements and an appeal for “green”-minded travelers.

The Hyatt received 68 percent out of 100 percent in pollution prevention, 69 percent in both resource conservation and energy efficiency and 39 percent in environmental management.

The certification was made official in October, according to documents prepared by Audubon International.

The Hyatt is a forerunner to other lodges in the area that have recently signed on to another environmental incentive program called the New York State Green Hospitality Partnership, which is run by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

Other local hotels currently in the certification process are the Gideon Putnam Resort and Spa of Saratoga Springs, and 74 State Hotel and Crowne Plaza, both of Albany. The Saratoga Farmstead Bed & Breakfast has recently completed its certification.