Country Corner Cafe to see changes

The longtime proprietor of a pair of cozy downtown breakfast nooks says she has put up one business for sale and plans to revamp operations at the other.

Roseann Hotaling, who opened the Country Corner Café at 25 Church St. nearly 20 years ago, said the plan is to sell its sister business, the Country Corner Café located at 165 High Rock Ave.

Hotaling opened the more spacious High Rock café five years ago as a way to take an already established business to another level and develop a brand, she said. In 2007, Hotaling expanded the Church Street restaurant when space unexpectedly opened up in the building. Today she manages the two businesses and a 22-member staff.

Now, she has noticed people eating out less frequently and, although she sees the corridor on the avenue as a growing extension of downtown — with the Hampton Inn & Suites and its adjoining condominium development leading the way — she says it’s time for her to make a change.

“I’m looking to streamline our business, to bring it back to a more intimate setting,” she said. “I feel that I can manage the business better if I can give Church Street the attention I’d like to give it.”

Hotaling’s son, Eric, 23, is joining her in developing a new business plan for the Church Street café that will expand its offerings. A dinner menu and an outside patio are two possibilities in the future, she said.

For more information, call 583-7889 (Church Street) or 584-8300 (High Rock Avenue).

UPDATED w/ photo 4/1: Clothes Horse now carrying Vera Bradley

Fashionistas with serious brand loyalty now have a new, close-to-home source for Vera Bradley products in the Clothes Horse on Broadway.

The store, a downtown mainstay of women’s clothing, shoes and accessories since 1977, was recently chosen as a seller for Vera Bradley — the trademark American-made handbags that are quilted with brightly hued print designs — store owner Lisa Schroeder said.

The Vera Bradley company is so choosy about where it allows merchandise to be sold that small-business owners like Schroeder have to endure an in-depth application process just to be considered, and then adhere to strict guidelines while working with the vendor. The company strategically spaces out its sellers throughout the country; locally, the next closest source of the brand’s full line is in Greenwich.

Clothes Horse staff are excited about the fresh products, which they have devoted 12 feet of wall space to in the store, Schroeder said.

“When the economy’s not good, you have to be flexible and you have to be willing to freshen up your business to keep it exciting,” she said. “We’ve been downtown for a long time, but for us it’s also going to be bringing in a whole new customer.”

The handbags, wallets, backpacks, lunch bags and more have appeal for babies, teens, grandmothers and everyone in between.

Taking on the line is also part of a conscious effort to seek out companies that are owned by women, Schroeder said.

The Clothes Horse will hold a celebration event to break out the bags (look for giveaway drawings) from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Saturday, April 3. Refreshments and champagne will be served.

For more information, call 587-9667 or go to www.saratogaclotheshorse.com.

Photo: A close-up of several Vera Bradley designs carried at Clothes Horse.


80 West to reopen under new ownership

About two years have gone by since Barbara Macina opened her clothing boutique, 80 West, first on West Circular Street and then at 510 Broadway. While she built a loyal following of local shoppers, Macina said recently she has sold the store, which has been shuttered for several months.

“I love buying inventory and helping people find the right way to dress their bodies, but I decided that retail just isn’t for me,” Macina said. “It’s not a question that the business failed.”

At 23, she has time on her side, and plans to return to school for a teaching degree.

Macina was initially going to fold the business, but got an offer from Tara Imrie, who works as a hairdresser at the Fusion Salon next door. The sale was completed in early March.

Imrie, a 24-year-old aspiring fashion designer, will be co-owner of the store along with her mother, Mary Lou Imrie, and her aunt, Melanie Hiller.

The women plan an April 1 re-opening in the same location under the same name.

Look for new and expanded offerings of clothing, shoes and accessories.

Imrie said she plans to host “what not to wear” parties and launch her own line of custom-made bridal and evening wear in the spring of 2011.

The store will also be open longer hours, meaning there’s a good chance she’ll be hiring more employees down the road, Imrie said.

For more information, e-mail 80westofsaratoga@gmail.com.

Smokey Joe's returns to Saratoga, express style

Lynn Lindsay and Jerry Porreca are no strangers to barbecue, even joking that the tangy sauce runs through their veins.

The local couple is renovating a walk-in restaurant space at 88 Henry St., which has sat empty for a season after Liberty Bell Cheese Steaks vacated the premises.

Smokey Joe’s BBQ Express, as the business is to be called, will seat about 20 to 25 people and offer take-out seven days a week.

“We’re bringing mouthwatering ribs back to Saratoga,” said Lindsay, who worked with Porreca several years ago at the former Porreca’s Gaslight Lounge on Ballston Avenue.

Lindsay will run the Spa City barbecue joint while Porreca maintains Smokey Joe’s Saloon & Grill, a full-service establishment in Lake George.

Baby-back ribs are the specialty menu item, of course, but they’ll complement a full lineup of barbecue staples: pulled pork, chicken and beef brisket, along with wraps, sandwiches and all the fixings: corn bread, sweet potato fries and baked beans.

A liquor license is in the works, Lindsay said.

“It’ll be a laid back place to come and grab good barbecue and a beer, eventually,” she said.

Look for doors to open at 11:30 a.m. Monday, April 5.

Call 871-1443 to order ahead or fax orders to 871-1467.

Kodiak Construction opens new Broadway office

An established construction company that’s been in business on Broadway has found a new storefront and is inviting customers inside.

“We wanted to come down here and have the public connection,” said Kodiak Construction president Jesse Boucher, who recently moved the offices from an upper floor of the Arcade Building to 372 Broadway.

Boucher founded the business with Justin Sitler in 2004 right after both men graduated from Clarkson University. They offer their green-certified expertise in new home construction and remodeling with a five-member team, working on properties from Bolton Landing south to Exit 7 of the Northway.

The freshly renovated ground-floor office has a comfortable seating area and a conference area in a back room. Walls will display samples of materials used for remodeling, Boucher said.

Since doors opened March 1, owners have been getting a lot of new walk-by traffic, he added.

For more information, call Kodiak Construction offices at 587-4847.


Cuddle Bugs open on Route 9/Maple Avenue

When she was pregnant with her now 8-month-old daughter, Kim Whisher of Glens Falls thought how convenient it would be to have a source of affordable, brand-name clothing for moms-to-be and babies who were constantly changing sizes.

Cuddle Bugs is her new consignment store at 455 Maple Ave. that caters to such a niche.

“I’ve always thought there was a need in the area,” Whisher said. “If you’re going to buy used stuff, you want the best quality.”

She’s selling boys and girls clothing and toys, along with maternity clothes, and offering consignors 40 percent of the cash value of profits or 50 percent in store credit.

She favors “like-new” items in brand names like Gap, Gymboree and Ralph Lauren, for newborns through size five.

Larger items, like strollers, car seats and playpens, are available for daily and weekly rentals.

Find price details and loads of other information at www.cuddlebugssaratoga.com, or call the store at 306-6728.

Italian ices, vegan ice cream and more

Temperatures have barely topped 50 so far this spring, but options for cold, sweet sustenance on Broadway are ever-expanding in anticipation of warmer weather.

At 382 Broadway, Johnny and Carrie Sciangula are planning to open Johnny’s Gourmet Italian Ices, offering four different kinds of icy specialties in dozens of flavors: handcrafted ice creams, vegan ice creams, traditional Italian water ices and cream ices.

The local residents who, until recently, split their time between Saratoga and Long Island, say the shop will be a dream come true after they’ve witnessed many bustling summers on Broadway. The couple’s son Dominic, 20, will work in the shop as well.

The Sciangulas are renovating the space that was, most recently, a KEM leather goods store, and also the former Saratoga Newsstand. Inside stools, a wrought iron fence surrounding outdoor tables and chairs, and a bright magenta awning will complete the look of the “little Victorian café,” Johnny Sciangula said.

“It’s going to be the place for a good, inexpensive treat for everybody,” he added.

An opening date is pending while owners navigate the city’s permit process.

A different kind of shop, Plum Dandy Frozen Yogurt, appears to be in the works across the street, and as previously reported, Eugenio’s Café Gelato will complete the triangle of frozen treat shops when it reopens at 458 Broadway this spring.


80 West update

Word on the street is that Tara Imrie, a hairdresser at Fusion Salon, is taking over the 80 West boutique from Barbara Macina.

The women's clothing, shoe and accessories store has sat dark in the Algonquin building, at 510 Broadway, for months while signs on the door have hinted that it will "reopen soon."

Fusion Salon is located a couple doors down in the same building.

Imrie, a cosmetologist and a fashion student in New York City, plans to reopen the business April 1.

Check back with In the Biz for updates as they are available.


Three C's soon arriving on Broadway ...

... That would be cupcakes, coffee and comfort food, as local couple Mike and Elizabeth Phillips plan to open a new cafe this spring in the Roohan Building at 517 Broadway.

Currently, they're in the middle of a massive renovation process that's turning the former community theater attic into an airy, bright, welcoming spot for foodies and wi-fi users.

At The Cupcake Lab (as in Labrador, after the couple's dogs), customers will be able to grab hot breakfast and lunch food on the go (homemade casserole or mac & cheese, anyone?) and freshly baked cupcakes, of course. If you're so inclined, you can relax in the 50-seat dining area until 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

The Phillips, both experienced professionals in the restaurant, wine and service industries, said their plan has been several years in the works.

Access to the Lab can be found on Broadway, up the stairs to the left of the Roohan offices, but the Lab's main entrance is unassumingly tucked away in Long Alley. Climb the metal stairs and you'll enter a soaring, sunny room that takes up the whole western side of the building, where the atmosphere is decidedly off-Broadway.

Look for more on The Cupcake Lab around March 22 (tentative opening date), including Saratogian photos.


Checking in with Divinyl Revolution

She did it, in case you hadn't heard.

When Last Vestige record store manager Brittany Nasser, 24, heard that the store was to have its final day in 2009, she took the bad news pretty well.

Instead of complying with what would be the loss of Saratoga's only independent record store of its style, Nasser took matters into her own hands.

She put out a call to the community and raised $3,200 at a benefit concert that 200 people attended. The cash helped her buy the business and she reopened in February at the same 437 Broadway location, under the name Divinyl Revolution.

Stop in and check out the changes: Fresh paint, reorganized vinyl, more and varied merchandise -- including hoodies and hats designed by Jeremy Fish, a revamped vintage clothing section by Roxanne Storms, toys, artwork and jewelry. Or check out the store on Facebook.

"I've seen a lot more students and a younger crowd," Nasser said the other day when I stopped by. "It's more of a place centered toward them ... it's more fun."


Emporium in the works at old Spring Street pub

A long-empty former pub across from Congress Park on Spring Street is undergoing a revival by a business-minded couple who recently moved to the area.

Kendra and Mark Yale, of West Glenville, are renovating about 1,300 square feet of space at 15 Spring St. and plan to open an emporium-style store selling an ever-changing selection of men’s and women’s clothing, shoes, home goods, jewelry and a line of gourmet food items.

The dark hideaway was once known as E. O’Dwyers Pub, but it has sat empty for years while other retail tenants have come and gone throughout the rest of the building Frank Panza owns.

“We want it to be a really warm place where people can come and hang out,” said Kendra, 47, who left a long career in social work to fulfill a lifelong goal of opening the business.

Mark, 51, is a carpenter by trade. He’s working to refinish the wood floors and install dressing rooms, but will leave the original bar back and wooden pillars intact. Cracked front windows will be replaced and paint will spiff up the front of the building, he said.

The Yales packed up their life in Martha’s Vineyard and settled into West Glenville in January after considering several towns, including some in the Hudson Valley area, for their venture.

“Even though summer’s the big push, obviously, there’s a longer business season here,” Mark said. “It seems like there’s a concerted effort to keep things going on in more than just the summer.”

“Saratoga seemed to be thriving all year round,” Kendra added.

The store will be called Red Wolf, after a red Siberian husky the couple once owned.

They plan an April opening.

Eco-friendly Zola Kids opens this week

An eco-friendly children’s boutique called Zola Kids will open Wednesday at 380 Broadway.

Owner Nicole Wilkie, of Troy, was inspired to start using all-natural skin care products after they worked to clear up her two children’s eczema. Now, Wilkie has turned the concept into a business venture, lining up a variety of organic, recycled and fair-trade clothing and toys for the shop.

Some products are made of bamboo, wood or soy. Many are handmade in the United States.

“We are hoping to inspire many with becoming a little more green without sacrificing the designer look and styles,” Wilkie said. “My philosophy is ‘being light green is better than no green.’ ”

Products are geared toward newborns and children up to age 8. Wilkie said a local children’s clothier will supply handmade girls’ and dolls’ dresses, and added that she’s eager to work with other local vendors.

Wilkie is from a family of entrepreneurs, including parents who ran a hot sauce business for years in Colonie, and a sister, Melanie Dallas, of the Broadway pet boutique Sloppy Kisses.

The store location, 380 Broadway, was the former home of the Pink Paddock, which moved down the street earlier this winter. Since the arrival of Zola Kids, the space has been toned down in color and now has a whimsical, earthy feel.

In case you’re wondering, “Zola” is of Italian origin. It can be translated to mean “little piece of earth.”

Soon after opening, Wilkie plans to host Trash to Treasure classes to teach recycling basics to kids ages 2 to 6. A children’s Earth Day project and sale is scheduled for April 18. For more information, call the store at 583-2050, go search for Zola Kids on Facebook. (Web site linked to above is under construction.)

Service helps find senior care

Clare Colamaria knows what it’s like caring for an elderly, ill parent. A stressful, scary experience with her 93-year-old father, who contracted pneumonia while he was living alone, inspired the Saratoga Springs resident to leave her management career in the hospitality industry and found a start-up called A Senior’s Choice.

“It’s very overwhelming for seniors and their families when someone falls and breaks a hip or becomes ill,” she said. “When a family’s hit with that, you kind of go, ‘Where do I begin?’ ”

The service aims to eliminate stress so families can carry on with their day-to-day business knowing that accommodations for their loved one are being taken care of, Colamaria said.

“We do all the legwork,” she said. “They contact us and we research what their best resources and options are to find an in-home help agency or assisted living facility that fits their needs.”

The business profits from a one-time referral fee paid by the agency or facility the family chooses following an interview process. There is no cost to families to use A Senior’s Choice.

Colamaria and four consultants have been spreading the service from Saratoga to Glens Falls, Albany, East Greenbush, Poughkeepsie and Pittsfield, Mass., since launching late last year.

“Senior care is a huge market today, and it’s supposed to explode in next few years,” Colamaria said. For more information, call Colamaria at 424-2527.


Brooklyn Attitude makes nat'l best salons list

A local hair salon, Brooklyn Attitude Hair & Body, recently made the "Best Beauty Salons in the U.S.A." list, among salons in Seattle, San Francisco and Beverly Hills. To view their listing, scroll down under the location category to Saratoga Springs.

The salon opened in 2003 on Woodlawn Avenue and moved to the Ballston Avenue Price Chopper plaza about a year ago.

Here's a little blurb from owners MaryAnn and Glenn Guerriero regarding their accomplishments:

"No other small business and especially salons have brought as much positive attention to Saratoga Springs since opening our salon in July 2003. By putting Saratoga on the map for hair designing worldwide, Saratoga will benefit from now being known for Horses, History, Health and Hair."

Readers, what do you make of the Guerriero's tongue-in-cheek addition to the city's motto? Is Saratoga Springs a hairstyling capital in the minds of its residents? What about tourists?

Read more Saratogian coverage of Brooklyn Attitude here, here and here.

"A cut above"

Heidi and Tim Sanders opened Sanders Meat Market in Ballston Spa last month after years spent working in supermarkets — she as a scratch baker and he as a meat specialist.

Since the Feb. 1 opening of their spacious, shiny shop in the Carousel Village plaza off Route 50, the couple has been directing their energy into forming “culinary partnerships,” as they call them, with their new and growing customer-base.

The move from their native New Hampshire to open the business was a 180-degree turn away from the culture of the supermarket business, which the Sanders describe as impersonal, rushed and devoid of a relationship between customer and provider.

“We’ve seen both sides of the coin and we really feel there’s a need for this type of neighborhood business to come back,” the couple said.

They scoped the East Coast looking for the right place to set up shop and settled on Ballston Spa because, they said, the area was less dense with butcher shops than New Hampshire. As it is, they’re competing with the new Meat House franchise in Wilton and Just Meat on Route 9, in addition to grocery stores.

The Sanders say they aim to set themselves apart by sending customers home with food preparation and storage advice in addition to their beef, veal and poultry.

Some exotic items like buffalo, calf’s liver, ostrich and pig’s feet take up shelf space nearby. Produce, bread, sweets and dry goods from some local vendors are also available. A small percentage of grass-fed and dry-aged beef is sourced from area farmers, due to little demand for the product so far, Tim Sanders said.

The couple started in the food industry about 30 years ago, with Tim working behind the counter of his family’s butcher shop in New Hampshire and Heidi following in her mother’s footsteps as a baker. At the Meat Market, they both prepare deli salads, dinner entrees and special dishes from scratch, offering prepared take-home meals in addition to fresh and frozen meat.

After decades running the slicer, Tim notes that he’s lucky to still have all 10 fingers, unlike some men in his family.

“This is nothing for us,” he said, grinning.

Hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Call the shop at 288-3405 for more information.