UPDATED: Celtic Treasures to reopen in February

Celtic Treasures (456 Broadway) is expected to reopen Feb. 10 after major renovations are complete, store owner Paul O’Donnell says.

Architects have designed a staircase to provide access to the second and third floors, which have been closed off for about 60 years.

O'Donnell, who owns the building with his wife, Antoinette, said he plans to renovate the 3,000 square feet of space upstairs in the long-term and rent it out to commercial tenants.

Celtic Treasures is technically a portion of the larger, 1871 building, where Menges & Curtis and deJonghe Jewelry are also located a few doors down. Sections of the building are owned by different people.

While Celtic Treasures is closed, customers can shop at www.celtictreasures.com.

Go here for the full story, published Monday, Feb. 1.


Needle Arts passing the skein; shoe boutique taking Broadway spot

After six years on Broadway, Saratoga Needle Arts owner Cindy Spence is packing up her yarn and passing the skein, as it were, to a new owner.

Today the knitting and craft store will conduct its final day of business.

Pending the sale she expects to close at the end of the week, Spence kept mum about her successor, but said the deal will result in a similar knitting store, with a different name and at a different downtown location. The agreement allows Spence to stay on as a consultant for the first few months.

“If I stayed, the (rent) would be going up a lot,” Spence said Thursday. “I couldn’t make another commitment to the lease. It was a really hard decision because I absolutely love it here. It’s really become a community.”

Spence’s new job as an apartment building manager in Greenwich and Schuylerville will allow her to spend more time on her sheep farm in Hebron, a few miles east of Fort Edward near the Vermont border.

The space at 494 Broadway, in the building owned by Saratoga Historic Properties, is planned to open as a women’s shoe boutique called Stella’s of Saratoga in March, the store’s future manager, Erica McDonald, said Sunday. It will be an adjunct of Violet’s of Saratoga (482 Broadway), owned by Laura Farrar.

Soup for delivery

Julia Van Zandt, a resident of Greenfield by way of California, was spending a lot of time cringing as she fed her two kids chicken nuggets for dinner in between orchestra rehearsal, volleyball games and soccer practice. It wasn’t the healthiest meal, but it was cheap and fast, she thought.

“Standing outside these practices and rehearsals, I heard a lot of moms saying, ‘What’s for dinner?’" Van Zandt said. “It was time to do something new.”

Reading through her arsenal of cookbooks, she came up with a solution for her family and others, and the Saratoga Soup Company was born this fall.

The home-based business has her cooking gallons of a different vegetarian soup each week in a rented commercial kitchen at Temple Sinai and delivering $10 quarts of it to customers throughout Saratoga, Wilton and Greenfield.

“It is the chance to eat something fresh and flavorful and that is reasonably good for you on a weekly basis,” Van Zandt said. “It’s a healthy way to avoid going to fast food restaurants.”

The hearty soups — like minestrone, cream of spinach and Hunter’s Moon corn chowder — are made with ingredients from local farms and markets. For a few extra dollars, they can be paired with fresh-baked rolls and cakes.

Special orders of Van Zandt’s soup have made their way to Albany, Queensbury and Malta, into the kitchens of house-bound seniors and into the lunch rooms of office workers. Busy moms like herself are, of course, the bulk of her customers.

For ordering, e-mail Van Zandt at Julia@saratogasoup.com or call 321-2436. Look up Saratoga Soup Company on Facebook for more information.

B'Spa bidding farewell to Fisher's Variety

Ballston Spa will say goodbye to a Front Street institution this March when Fisher’s Variety closes its doors.

Owner Joseph Carter, 42, said after eight years at the “five and dime-type” general store, it’s time to cut his losses and move on.

“You name it, we tried to carry it, but the business has been poor since Ocean State Job Lot opened a couple years ago on Doubleday Avenue,” he said.

Citing the competition and limited street parking that hassles customers, Carter said he will liquidate the 4,000-square-foot space he rents from Sean O’Brien, of O’Brien’s Pharmacy.

“The regular customers are sad to see the store go,” Carter said.

He plans to open a hardware store on Broadway in Schenectady this winter.

Check out this week's issue of Ballston Spa Life for the full story by Ann Hauprich.

Image Photo closes lab, reopening studio in February

Image Photo & Events closed its photo lab on Putnam Street in December so owners can renovate a space at 42 Eureka Ave., off Lake Avenue, for a new portrait studio.

Image’s Elizabeth Macy said the company has scrapped its decades-old photo lab services in an effort to focus on portraits, wedding and special occasion photography.

The new studio is expected to open in February. Hours will be by appointment only. For more information, call 584-0049.


Back in the biz

My apologies for the lack of posts recently; I know at least one reader out there in cyberspace who was concerned about the unexplained absence of posts -- thanks for keeping me in line, MT.

I was on a vacation last week, and I did not get the column from Jan. 11 published online before I left the office. Below you will find those posts, which were originally published in the print edition on Jan. 11.

Stay tuned for a massive helping of business news coming next Monday, Jan. 25.
Also, look out for an update on the Boca Viva closure sometime early next week in February. As always, feel free to add your comments to the blog and post any tips, news or suggestions for improvement.

Thanks for reading!


Phila Fusion planned as Sushi Thai sister restaurant

A manager at Sushi Thai Garden says he and his partners expect to open a new restaurant this winter in the recently completed building next door at 54 Phila St.

Called Phila Fusion, the restaurant would feature Thai, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese and some Chinese cuisine in a 99-seat space in the grounds floor of the buildings, Sushi Thai manager and co-owner Sam Tongtawee said, earlier this month.

“The idea is that we’re gonna have a fusion food,” Tongtawee said. “We pick everything good from each country and bring it together.”

Sushi Thai currently has two other locations in addition to the Spa City favorite; one is located in Williamstown, Mass., and the newest restaurant is called Sushi Thai at The Park, located at 1707 Route 9 Suite 100 in the Halfmoon Plaza in Clifton Park (348-0100).

Unlike the Sushi Thai triplets, Phila Fusion will feature a full bar with specialty cocktails, Tongtawee said. Presentation of the food and decorations will be a bit more upscale, he added.

Six to 10 new employees are expected to be hired, depending on how business goes.

Look for more details about new tenants at 54 Phila from developer Scot Trifilo, of Terrace Homebuilders, in an upcoming issue of In the Biz.

El Mexicano: Cerveza, sangria now available

The family-owned Mexican restaurant on South Broadway finally has a liquor license to hang on the wall after experiencing a slow start without it last spring.

Gabino Vazquez owns El Mexicano restaurants at 208 S. Broadway in Saratoga Springs and 3011 State Route 4 in Hudson Falls with his brothers, Senaido and Esteban. (Note to readers: The Web site will bring you to a warning page about it being a virus attack site, but just click "ignore warning" and you will see the (totally harmless) homepage.)

He said while the 3-year-old Hudson Falls restaurant has been serving alcoholic beverages virtually since its opening, it took about seven months to obtain a liquor license for the new eatery.

“Why? It’s New York state,” Vazquez scoffed. “It was hard starting out when people find that we don’t have cerveza, margarita, sangria,” he added. “We hope we can increase our business. I know we have good food and good service and good atmosphere.”

The restaurant offers lunch and dinner menus plus a variety of Mexican cocktails, homemade sangria, beer and liquor. Diners can take in the sweeping, colorful portrayals of Mexican culture and personalities — painted by Vazquez himself — that cover the walls.

For more information, call 226-0105.

80 West closed temporarily

The 80 West boutique is temporarily closed and will reopen soon, a sign taped to the shop’s door says.

The sign has been posted for the last couple of weeks. Messages left at the store have not been returned.

Owner Barbara Macina reopened the shop at 510 Broadway in May after leaving her original location on West Circular Street.


Trivia Mania at Circus Cafe tonight

Starting tonight at 8, a Capital Region-area trivia competition called Trivia Mania will be held every Sunday at Circus Cafe on Broadway.

According to an e-mail from organizers, participants are invited to join the interactive, audio/visual competition to compete for the prize of the Big Brain. The game includes seven rounds of home-spun questions as well as video rounds with movie, TV and music video clips, audio rounds and a diverse selection of questions "that would make Einstein proud."

"There will be prizes, poultry, persistence, pleasure and pomp! Get a team together, grab your brain and your competitive spirit and come join us," Trivia Mania organizers said.

It's unclear whether there is a cost to participate in the game. Call Circus Cafe (392 Broadway) at 583-1106 for more information.


Will Old Navy customers shift from Aviation Mall to Wilton?

The Post-Star recently reported that the Old Navy store in the Aviation Mall in Queensbury is closing this month, begging the question: Will shoppers to the north of Spa City make the trek down to the Wilton Mall to shop there?

Old Navy employees in Wilton said company policy prohibited them from speculating about whether they might see an impact.

The clothing chain is owned by Gap, Inc., which has more than 3,100 stores nationwide including all of its brands — Old Navy, Gap and Banana Republic.


Il caffè è in movimento

Eugenio’s Italian gelato and coffee shop will reopen in a new location a few doors down and across the street on Broadway when spring arrives.

The café’s move from 419 to 458 Broadway — the former site of a Subway shop and, most recently, the short-lived Boca Viva café — is an effort to downsize the business and adapt to the current economy, owner Eugene Bizzarro said Sunday.

He blamed rising rents on Broadway as the reason many business owners have packed up and moved off the main drag — or gone under altogether — in recent months. His original monthly rent, $2,500, has nearly doubled since he opened the café in 2003, Bizzarro added.

"It kind of makes sense to downsize a little bit. You see a lot of businesses going out on Broadway because the rents have gone sky high,” he said.

The new space is about 700 square feet smaller, although cosmetic renovations are planned to make it look like the same old Eugenio’s, Bizzarro said.

An accessible bathroom for customers and the possibility of building an outdoor patio are favorable changes over the current location.

A reopening is planned for April or May. Call 691-6000 for more information.

UPDATED: Online ordering @ Legends Cafe

Update #2: Check out the full story on the local guys behind Mealeo.com by The Saratogian's Glenn Griffith, published Saturday, Jan. 30.

Update #1: I was in D'Andreas getting a sub last night and I learned they are also using Mealeo ... and so are Sushi Thai and Bruegger's, according to their Web sites.
I'm thinking that there are more of you Mealeo users (or soon-to-be users) out there, so come forth and be listed!

Readers, do you know of any Mealeo users among your favorite Saratoga-area eateries?

Legends Café is working to bolster its successful delivery business with a new online ordering option through the Web site Mealeo.com.

Customers can search by zip code at the site for participating delis, restaurants and caterers throughout the area. Then they’re taken to a sleek ordering page where they can browse the menu and click quickly through the options before paying online.

Legends co-owner Christine Lloyd said the sandwich shop is one of several businesses in the Capital Region jumping on the trend.

“It’s really big down in Albany; it just started coming up here,” she said. “It’s been up and running a couple of weeks — so far so good.”

The Mealeo site allows the café’s menu to be viewed by people who might not know about its 102 Congress St. location, Lloyd said. It also streamlines in-store interactions.

"We spend a lot of time on the phone (taking orders) when we could be doing other things, like conversing with customers who are in the store,” Lloyd said.

Businesses do not need their own Web site to use Mealeo. It is marketed as a free service to customers, while participating businesses pay a percentage of each sale to Mealeo plus a start-up fee.

UPDATED: Have your beef and eat it too

A new source of all natural and dry-aged meat is expected to open Thursday on Route 50 in Wilton.

Called The Meat House, the butcher shop is one of 14 franchises on the East Coast, with a headquarters in New Hampshire. Co-founders Justin Rosberg and Jason Parent opened the first store in 2003 and are in the midst of expanding the line, saying they are committed to supporting each community in which they open a shop.

“We are your neighborhood butcher. We’re very excited to get open and become part of your community," Rosberg recently in a telephone interview.

New locations are planned to open in Costa Mesa, Calif., Charlotte, N.C., and Cary, N.C., in addition to Saratoga Springs.

The store will carry a variety of meats, including Boar’s Head Deli products and dry-aged steaks and roasts, plus fresh produce, cheeses, breads, pastries and prepared foods. Some stores in other states sell wine.

The meat is sourced from both local providers and farms in the Midwest, Rosberg said.

Saratoga’s shop sits at 3057 Route 50, in the plaza near Chipotle and Metro Mattress. It’s primarily a retail location with no customer seating or wholesale business.

Franchisees are Kevin Wickert and Eric Jackson.

The store is open daily from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Online shopping is available at www.themeathouse.com. Call the store at 583-4027 for more information.