High Rock Avenue gym opening Sunday

Co-owner Christine Stevens gestures inside
High Rock Sports & Fitness as the gym is
readied for a Jan. 2 opening.

A local gym is being transformed under new ownership just in time for those New Year’s resolutions to kick in.

Clifton Park couple Christine and Chad Stevens have taken over the business at 165 High Rock Ave., aptly named High Rock Sports & Fitness, and plan to open the facility for use on Monday, Jan. 3. An open house will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 2.

“We went one step short of gutting the place,” said Christine Stevens, as workers busied themselves painting the walls and ripping up old flooring inside the two-story, 16,500-square-foot facility recently.

New free weights and cardiovascular equipment will fill the main open area, while aerobics rooms on the second floor will host Les Mills workouts, spin classes and more. Former tanning rooms will be turned around for massage services (which aren’t included in monthly membership fees.) An existing martial arts studio will be replaced with an aerobics room.

The child care room will accommodate children 6 months to 12 years old; the cost per child is $5 for up to 2-1/2 hours.

The Stevens took the business over in November from Rosa and Anthony Parella, who had operated it as Global Fitness since 2005.

For the Stevens, who are both full-time state employees, the gym is their first major business undertaking, although they have run a small embroidery business out of their home for five years.

Christine Stevens, a runner, said opening the gym is twofold — it’s both a business venture and her “road to health and wellness” after she struggled with illness and underwent surgery in recent years.

Her husband, Chad, is a personal trainer who whips police officer recruits into shape as part of his job in Albany.

They have a 10-year lease on the property with co-owner Tom Roohan. A staff of 20 to 25 people will run the gym.

“We’re excited to be putting out something that, hopefully, Saratoga County is really going to enjoy and benefit from,” Christine Stevens said.

Gym hours are 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

For more information and membership prices, call 584-5005.


Brewing on Broadway?

The follow-up to this property transaction published over the weekend is sure to be an interesting one...

A source at Remarkable Finish hair salon tells me the red brick building at 375 Broadway where he works could one day soon host a pub, as Martell Bros. Brewery of Ballston Spa now owns the building and has plans for it in development.

The building was the last vacant one on Broadway and sold for nearly $1 million. The property includes a little courtyard that seems amenable to a beer garden, as some have suggested.

My salon source said the Casswood Insurance Agency, opposite the salon on the ground floor of the building, may close, while apartments in the two upper stories of the old building will likely remain as they are.The salon would also remain, he said.

But, that's all just rumblings for the time being. Check back for updates this week.

32Flavors firm relaunches with new partner, new "Buzz Loft"

The local public relations and marketing firm that’s branded itself as so “not vanilla” is re-launching with a new member and a new meeting space located in Ballston Spa.

Lizzie Sorensen — yes, the same Lizzie Sorensen who’s a mother of three from Malta, and who made waves online and in the national news last February when she tweeted from her hospital bed throughout the birth of her son — has been operating 32Flavors since 2004.

But the publicity guru/Internet-famous mom took a hiatus in recent years from doing business under the 32Flavors name while she figured out how to approach public relations in a fast-changing media landscape, she said.

While print publications race to keep up with changes in the digital world, the evolution has posed a challenge for PR firms, too, said Sorensen, 32.

“The editorial world has changed so much,” she said. “There was a shift, and I was getting a lot more brand-management clients instead of just straight PR.”

She found her tech-savvy counterpart in Robin Morgan, 40, who she met through a mutual local client. Morgan shares the same “working-mom mindset,” which allows the pair to work well together, Sorensen said.

They’ve set up a client meeting space called the Buzz Loft in a refurbished third-floor space at 53 Front St., which they are temporarily leasing along with photographer Ashley Brown. The 1,300-square-foot space is available by appointment only. Consultations on marketing, branding, public relations, social media, Web presence and more cost $75 an hour.

Some current 32Flavors clients are Carpe Diem, Red Wolf, Plum Dandy, Wheatfield’s Restaurant and Genevieve’s Home & Garden.

Children are welcome to tag along to Buzz Loft appointments with their working parents — the space was actually set up with kid-friendly accommodations in mind, Sorensen said. Rubber mats, juice boxes and toys are in high supply; there’s a tricycle; and it’s a mostly wide-open space so there’s nothing that can be broken or tripped over.

“We don’t really need (a brick-and-mortar presence), but it’s nice to meet a client in a private space,” Sorensen said. “We can be on the local level as well as national.”

Contact 32Flavors at 428-0921 (Lizzie Sorensen) or 691-1212 (Robin Morgan). Follow them on Twitter @32FlavorsPR.


A sunny disposition

There’s a new clothing store on Broadway owned by 30-year-old Emily Davis of Colonie.

Yellow Boutique opened Dec. 2, after much anticipation on the part of the owner. Just as some little girls fantasize about their wedding day, a young Davis fixated on opening a boutique business.

Also, the timing was right to leave the corporate world and put her business degree to better use.

“(Shopping) is really a passion of mine and I think people can see that when they come in,” Davis said. “This has always been my dream. I could no longer work in a cubicle.”

A Skaneateles native, Davis says the Spa City was her favorite shopping destination as a teenager. Now, it’s fitting that she wants to cater to customers just like herself — those who like to indulge in a little retail therapy without breaking the bank.

“In college I would come here and walk the strip for shopping, but I also learned to appreciate the money that I had,” she said.

Customers at Yellow Boutique will find many non-branded items — which Davis says is intentional in an effort to keep prices down.

The shelves are filled with yoga attire, $88 jeans, flirty party dresses in the $40 to $55 range and an assortment of high heels that would make any “Sex and the City” fan squeal with pleasure. Shoppers will also find accessories made by local artists, handbags and knitted winter hats and gloves.

“It’s kind of ageless,” Davis said of the merchandise.

Davis chose the store’s 491 Broadway location in Saratoga Springs after considering Lake George, Clifton Park and other Capital Region towns. Months of research, studying the traffic flow and talking with local business owners, as well as her own longstanding affection for downtown, influenced her decision, she said.

Yellow Boutique is located below the Carusone & Carusone law firm and next to Sloppy Kisses.

For more information, call 581-1700 or e-mail shopyellowboutique@yahoo.com.


Sushi sources on all sides of town

If you’re in the mood for sushi, your options in this locale have recently expanded.

Downtown, the owner of the frozen yogurt hotspot Plum Dandy has struck a deal with Pacific Grill to serve the restaurant’s fresh sushi in pre-packaged containers for takeout or eating in.

Frozen yogurt and raw fish under one roof on Broadway, you ask?

Yes, Plum Dandy co-owner Philip Levitas has gotten more than one raised eyebrow in response to the new combination, which he rolled out less than two weeks ago.

But his take is that the sushi complements the Asian Bubble tea he sells and fits with the overall vibe of the business — which is a unique variation on the Korea-founded frozen yogurt chain Red Mango that’s gone viral in major U.S. cities in the last couple of years.

Plum Dandy, still in its infancy after opening at 419 Broadway this spring, can afford to mix things up in an attempt to build a stronger customer base through the cold season.

“Winter is the winter, so you’ve got to get creative,” Levitas said.

The sushi is located in a standalone mini fridge set apart from the yogurt and some sweet new additions to the shop, including Dutch chocolate hot cocoa and homemade marshmallows.

Pacific Grill manager Howie Yang can be found delivering rolls of crab, avocado and spicy tuna and even seaweed salads at all hours — Levitas just calls when the stock runs low.

“It keeps things close for downtown business, and it benefits both of us,” he said.

Sushi (eight pieces for $5.50 to $7.50) will be available Thursday through Sunday through the winter. Call 871-1525 or e-mail info@plumdandyyogurt.com.

Across town in Wilton, a well-known Chinese restaurateur has made a gambit for his first local Japanese eatery.

Benay Li, who sold China Wok in August after operating it on Broadway for 15 years, opened Osaka Sushi House this fall in the Route 50 plaza across from the mall.

The restaurant is located at the end of the plaza where a Kem Cleaners once was. Li spent eight months renovating the inside. Now, a polished, wooden sushi bar and several regular tables seat 46 under low-hanging globe lanterns.

Li, originally from Hong Kong, said he expects the intimate style and location of Osaka to draw a different set of customers than the downtowners who frequented China Wok for takeout.

His hope is that parking, soaring rents and competition won’t be challenges in Wilton, unlike on Broadway, he added.

Entrees on the lunch and dinner menu include noodles, teriyaki and tempura. Sushi rolls start at $3.50. Beer and sake is served. The address is 3084-6 Route 50. Call 581-1900.


Updated 12/01: 28 Tables at Mare? Yes.

Update: Take a look at my story today detailing Ron Farber's new restaurant, 28 Tables, which opened on the second floor of Mare. If you are scratching your head, as I was, about how the piano bar and the nightclub might operate in harmony, what with all that music in one place, stay tuned to this blog and The Saratogian print edition for a follow up to what's in store for the venue in the coming weeks.

Word on the street is that Ron Farber, restaurateur over at 8 Tables on Putnam Street, is developing a venue (the words "piano bar" were uttered) in the second floor of Mare Nightclub on Maple Avenue.

The evolution of this building and its businesses has been an interesting, and slightly mysterious, story to follow over my nearly two years as a reporter here. The place was an amalgam before my time, too. Here are some related stories: Sept. 2009, Feb. 2010, and again, Feb. 2010.