Sneak peek at Pacific Grill

Here's a first glimpse into the newly renovated (as in, completely and totally altered) interior of Pacific Grill.

There's hardly anything left to make you remember it used to be Doc's Steakhouse -- in a good way.

The restaurant is expected to start serving Tuesday.

Happy weekend!


Mid-week roundup

La Sartoria of Saratoga moving

Saratoga's finest suit shop is relocating from its home at 506 Broadway (ground floor of Algonquin Building) to an as-yet-undisclosed location.

Owner Vincenzo Montesano told me today he's moving La Sartoria of Saratoga to somewhere else on Broadway but has yet to sign a lease, so nothing's official yet.

The shop sells fine Italian suits and women's special occasion wear and offers custom tailoring. Signs in the windows announce sales up to 70 percent off. It's unclear yet if the move is intended to downsize or expand the store.

Panza's storefront empty again

That enigmatic storefront at the corner of Spring Street and Broadway is once again empty after the latest in a series of entrepreneurs who rented the space from Frank Panza and Jenifer Flynn in the last year has vacated.

After the legal debacle with French hairstylist Philippe Bevan, who went on to open his own salon elsewhere on Broadway, 326 Broadway continued as a hair salon operated by Panza and Flynn. Then it hosted Aimee's clothing store and a sort-of art gallery.

A sign on the door directs interested renters to call Panza, who spends a lot of his time out West.

Other shops have cropped up in the side of the building along Spring Street across from Congress Park. Red Wolf opened last month, joining a couple home decorating stores there. The consignment boutique True Elegance opened then moved to Ballston Spa.

Look for more details in an upcoming edition of In the Biz, updated online throughout the week and in print every Monday.


Cunningham’s Coin Laundry opens new location

Cunningham Coin Laundry celebrated the opening of a new location last weekend in Glenville.

The coin-operated laundromat is owned by Dave and Karen Avenarius. Their other location, at 9 Church St. in Ballston Spa, has been open for 50 years.

The grand opening event Saturday in the Socha Plaza in Glenville drew local politicians including Sen. Hugh Farley, Assemblyman Jim Tedisco, who praised Cunningham’s as the “classiest” Laundromat they’d ever been in.

For more information, call Cunningham's in Ballston Spa at 885-6788.

Home sales in Saratoga County up in April 2010

Home sales in Saratoga County spiked 17 percent in April 2010 compared to a year prior thanks to federal tax credits, and the median sale price rose 11 percent in the county.

Details and a copy of the statistics released by the Greater Capital Association of Realtors with this story.


Raising the barre on fitness

There’s a ballet barre at the new fitness studio in town, but you won’t find ballerinas in tutus clamoring around it.

However, the barre is central to the classes that will be taught when the Barre Strength studio opens June 1. The 60-minute workout program is a fusion of isometric exercises and interval training that relies on the principles of ballet conditioning, yoga and pilates. Mats, stretching bands, balls and weights are used.

The studio is owned by Connie Crane, who grew up in Stillwater and attended Skidmore College and Green Mountain College before moving to New York City, where she worked for years as a lobbyist.

Crane turned to exercise to relieve stress from juggling her demanding job and motherhood. When a serious illness forced her to put her high-pressure, fast-paced life on hold, working out became even more crucial to her health, so Crane practiced yoga and pilates to help her recuperate.

“If I ever get better, I’ll start a fitness business,” Crane told her friends.

After exploring different fitness styles and classes, Crane went to Pure Barre Studio while visiting a friend in Kentucky and fell in love with a fitness method that used the ballet barre and a combination of aerobics, yoga, pilates, stretching and weight-lifting.

Crane returned home to New York and sought out Andrea Fornarola, owner and operator of Elements Fitness and Dance LLC, and asked her to design a similar program.

Several years later, the petite 54-year-old businesswoman, who now makes her home in Loudonville, is opening her own studio — the next chapter in her life, she says — on the second floor at 468 Broadway, above Max London’s.

“The Barre Strength Studio is for women and men who need a place to go where you feel you can be yourself and feel comfortable,” Crane said.

While she’ll be managing the business rather than teaching classes herself, Crane has hired a growing roster of local women who’ve been certified to teach the fitness program.

“It combines all the classics,” she said. “It’s everything you’ve always done in a one-shot workout.”

Group classes start at $17 for adults and $10 for students. Packages and private sessions are also available. A free class will be offered at 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 25.

A grand opening event is planned for 7 p.m. June 11.

For more information, call 583-0361.

Photos by Erica Miller. Pictured are Connie Crane (top) and instructor Gail Picillo.


In the Biz review: Saratoga Coffee Traders gets A+

I'm going to deviate from my normal blog format for a moment and use this space to give a huge thumbs-up to Saratoga Coffee Traders.

This afternoon, in my continuing hunt for a quick, somewhat healthy sandwich within a few minutes walking distance from the office, I nearly made it all the way into Bruegger's Bagels, basically because I know they have things I like and their sandwiches are fairly inexpensive. But I stopped in my tracks and turned back to Saratoga Coffee Traders because of a couple aggravating experiences I've had recently at Bruegger's, dealing with untrained sandwich makers, long, slow lines and receiving food that was carelessly tossed together.

So I stepped into Saratoga Coffee Traders knowing their food would likely be more skillfully prepared, more delicious and more expensive.

And I was right. The chicken salad wrap was about two bucks more than I wanted to pay, but it was delicious.

Kudos to the guy in the cowboy hat who greeted me with a smile, gave me his full attention while taking my order, asked if I wanted any special additions, like cucumbers, and carefully prepared my wrap. It came in a sturdy box complete with popcorn (Smartfood, not fresh, but I'll let it slide) and a piece of candy as a garnish. How adorable.

While I was waiting, I browsed the business cards and picked up the latest copy of Metroland. I was happy to see Spirit of Saratoga among the other free magazines and newspapers available. Another employee advised me on loose teas, which I plan to go back and buy.

All of this I would have never experienced going to Bruegger's, I thought, as I stepped out of the store. Which made the extra two bucks well worth it. And I'm now recommitting myself to supporting local businesses whenever possible. Never again Bruegger's, never again.


Final viewing for Drive In Movie Store

Note: This story was first published at www. saratogian.com Monday morning (May 17) and in that day's print edition.

Signs in the windows at the venerable Drive In Movie Store at 170 S. Broadway announced its final sale and impending closure late last week.

It’s been 11 months since owner Dawn Warfield told The Saratogian that customers could count on the store’s continued operation for at least two more years, despite growing competition from Internet and mail-order rental services and big-name chain stores.

Warfield said Sunday that business, unfortunately but not surprisingly, had finally succumbed to the competition brought on by the digital age.

“We’re like the phone book — who uses the phone book anymore?” she said. “A lot of things are becoming obsolete and, unfortunately, video stores are one of them.” (Newspapers are another, she noted during the course of our conversation.)

The Drive In enjoyed a longevity that many independently owned Spa City businesses never attain, celebrating its 18th year in business last July. Warfield has diversified her offerings to cope with a faltering economy in recent years, enduring in the same location while other shops on the South Broadway strip folded around her.

“When Hollywood Video closed (in March), we thought we’d get their business,” Warfield said. “We did get a lot of their customers, but at the same time we’re still losing so many of our customers to Netflix, and the rents on Broadway, even where I am on South Broadway, are so expensive, so it was time to get out.”

The store is known for being a friendly spot with a following of customers who regularly come in to chat and pick up lottery tickets and fresh popcorn. T-shirts and other merchandise are available, in addition to video games and more than 20,000 DVD titles in many special interest categories.

A liquidation sale is under way and the store’s last day of operation is expected to be June 15.

Best Cleaners opens on Congress Street

A Capital Region-based dry cleaning business, Best Cleaners, opened a new location today at 18 Congress St., in the plaza near Pizza Hut.

The green-certified business offers pick-up and delivery services. Owners are Tim and Catherine McCann. The Saratoga store will be the fourth addition to their string of locations in Loudonville, Latham and Delmar.

Owners had planned a ribbon-cutting event today. Multiple messages seeking comment were not returned.

For more information, call 458-BEST (2378) or 694-6500 (for delivery).


Updated 5/18: Scuba diving shop open in Ballston Spa

Scuba diving hobbyist-turned-expert Ken Canell opened Dive Adventures Dive Center Sunday at 357 Milton Ave.

Canell and his wife, Elaine, of Ballston Spa, set up the shop to sell diving equipment, but it also serves as a headquarters for the charter trip business they started in 2006 and has space for scuba diving instruction. They also fill and inspect air tanks.

Canell, an electrician for the state by day, is a certified dive master and assistant instructor who can dive to depths of 150 feet.

“I fell in love with the sport after my first class in 2002,” Canell said. His wife’s take: “It’s a hobby that got out of control.”

The couple arranges spring and fall trips to the Caribbean and other exotic locales to take scuba enthusiasts from throughout the country on guided dives. They regularly take divers out on Lake George, where they circle the 252-year-old sunken battleship known as the Radeau Land Tortoise.

In upstate New York, the couple sees recreational diving as a growing industry and hope to attract new divers by selling and renting used scuba gear and continuing their trips to Lake George.

“It’ll keep people from having to spend money to travel,” Canell said. “They don’t have to go to the ocean. We have one of the best lakes in New York state right here.”

The store offers a 10 percent discount to military personnel.

For more information, call Canell at 879-8866.


Menges & Curtis in Saratoga Springs to end traditional prescription drug services

Menges & Curtis Apothocary, on the corner of Broadway and Lake Avenue in Saratoga Springs, is selling its traditional prescription drug services to the CVS on Congress Street and will be focusing on expanding the medicinal compounding portion of the business.

Pharmaceutical compounding, you ask? Yeah, we asked that too. For a quick overview, here's the Wiki. Here's the link for the International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists.

CLICK HERE for a version of the press release we received from Menges & Curtis owner Michael Lenz. Mareesa is out getting the story.


Algonquin Building nail salon

It looks like another quick turnaround for the space at 514 Broadway.

Briefly it was the piano store Saratoga Mystique and then a home accessories store called Props, which closed there at the end of February. Now it seems a nail salon is joining the Algonquin Building retail tenants.

Will it mesh well with the hair salon Fusion, next door? Do you think there is enough demand for it to stick around?

Post your comments below. And check back soon for details on the owner, opening date and more.


Nightclub at 388 Broadway making comeback

A sign at 388 Broadway shows a new nightclub called Mine is in the works at the underground venue that has been eerily quiet for months.

A bartender-turned-businesswoman, Anne Delucia, 34, last owned the club. She bought it in 2005 and opened it in 2006 as The Grotto. Later, the name changed to Club 388.

Previously, it was known as The Newberry.

New owners Catherine Harris and Mark Smith are renovating the club to reopen this season.

Last week, workers installed new tiles on the floor and walls of the entranceway.

Most recently, the address was in the news when a stabbing occurred outside the club in February 2009. Two Schenectady men pleaded guilty to felony charges of attempted assault in the case.

Check back for more details and contact information for Mine in an upcoming edition of In the Biz. For now, here's a link to the Facebook page, although it doesn't have much on it.

Manna's: phased out in favor of Brickyard Tavern

Ballston Spa restaurateur Ron Manna is officially phasing out business at Manna’s Banquet House and Restaurant to focus his full attention on the newer Brickyard Tavern and Grill.

Manna, 42, a co-owner of the Brickyard with Glen Greco, said he’s honoring existing reservations at the banquet house but is no longer accepting any new ones.

“The pure size of it is a little overwhelming, and with the taxes, the costs of utilities rising, and the economy, people just don’t have the expendable dollars to do big banquets anymore,” he said.

Manna said many car dealerships that once held large banquets in his facility aren’t even in business anymore.

The restaurant and banquet house, located at 17 Low St. in Ballston Spa, has been for sale for about a year, Manna said. He’s owned it for six years and worked there for 12, when it was known as Jeron’s.

In November 2008, he partnered with Greco to launch the Brickyard Tavern and Grill on Milton Avenue. Now the men are looking to offer catering and expand the menu, which now features typical American fare like burgers, sandwiches and steaks.

“It’s very challenging to run two restaurants efficiently,” Manna said. “I’m basically focusing most of my attention and enthusiasm on Brickyard Tavern.”

For more information, call the Brickyard at 884-2570.


Saratoga Garlic rumors unfounded

Here's a response to the two e-mails I received this week (from the same tipster using two different names, it seems) noting the Saratoga Garlic company has folded:

I spoke with owner Bill Higgins today who disputed the claims and said the company is operating as usual.

The website, however, which is hosted by Mannix Marketing, is experiencing some problems and is "under construction," he said. Clicking will take you to the Battenkill Valley Creamery website, for some mysterious reason. Both businesses said they're on the problem.

Check back for an update.


Sara & Rob's Laundromat open

After spending a couple months in permit limbo with the city, Steve Chindamo finally opened his downtown Laundromat on Friday at 6 Phila St.

The tiny basement space is a former bank vault tucked into the side of the historical building Chindamo now rents to residential and retail tenants.

It’s easy to miss, so look for the bright red wrought-iron gate and gold-lettered sign above the door.

There are eight dryers and four washers open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. You’ll pay a premium ($3 to wash, $1.50 to dry) for the convenience of the place, but it’s the prettiest, cleanest little laundromat in town.

Bulldog Wine & Liquor store folded

Next door to the New 2 You consignment shop at the northernmost end of Carousel Village plaza is a new vacancy where Bulldog Wine & Liquor used to be.

The liquor store, which folded in mid-March, had existed for several years under different owners and once encompassed the space that is now the consignment boutique, said Peter Goutos, who co-owns Carousel Village with Cheryl Smith.

The spot is the only empty storefront in the property, which can house up to 14 commercial tenants, Goutos said.

The 2,000-square-foot space has potential to be a coffee shop or another liquor store, he added.

For more information, call 885-1045.

New 2 You relocates

Terry Bailo, owner of New 2 You Fine Consignment Boutique, recently relocated the business into the Carousel Village plaza on Route 50 (2100 Doubleday Ave.).

A longtime flower vendor at the Saratoga Race Course and a Clifton Park native, Bailo opened the store 15 months ago in a basement space in downtown Ballston Spa.

"So many women have clothes just sitting in their closets and with the economy the way it is, I realized it’s the perfect time to recycle," she said, while sorting through piles of clothing consignors had dropped off.

Items get 60 days on the shelf with a half-price markdown after 30 days. Consignors take home a 50 percent cut of the sale.

Fancy gowns, women’s clothing (sizes 0 to 22) and shoes cover most of the racks, in addition to designer handbags and accessories like belts, jewelry and sunglasses. Small sections of men’s clothing and maternity clothing are new additions, Bailo said. All items are gently used or new, and many boast brand names or designer labels.

Bailo said the bigger, brighter location in Carousel Village has more parking, a handicap accessible ramp and more visibility, which accounts for the significant upswing in business she’s seen in the month since she relocated.

She plans to use New 2 You as a fund-raising engine for local girls’ sports teams or school clubs who team up with her for activities such as a shopping night where she’d donate a percentage of the proceeds back to the group’s coffers, Bailo said.

Call the store at 885-4040 for more information.

Munter Enterprises purchases last two lots in W.J. Grande Industrial Park

The last two vacant, developable lots in the W.J. Grande Industrial Park have been purchased by a locally-owned construction firm. The 192 acres were also the only industrial zoned property remaining in the Spa City.

Munter Enterprises announced the purchase of the two lots Tuesday morning.

The firm now owns three lots in the park; 146 acres on Duplainville Road, 46 acres on Geyser Road and 25 acres on Cady Hill Boulevard.

CLICK HERE to read more.