A moment with Shear Magic's Michele Daus

Daus at work in her salon last week.
Michele Daus is a Waterford-Halfmoon High School graduate who began her career as a hairstylist training at the local BOCES. “I figured, ‘Hey, I’ll give it a shot,’ and I’ve loved it since day one,” she said.

That was 22 years ago.

This fall, the mother of three daughters opened Shear Magic, her first solely owned business, after working at various salons around town for years — most recently at the former Scissors of Oz on Ballston Avenue.

“I’ve always wanted to open my own business … I waited a long time to do this,” Daus said recently, in the midst of performing a color treatment on a client.

The salon is located at 41 Park Place, just across from the triangle point formed at the intersection of Park Place and Lincoln Avenue.

Shear Magic caters to children, who represent about 75 percent of Daus’s clientele. It’s no wonder parents and grandparents like to have their hair done there, too, as the small salon is set up specifically to keep little ones occupied with cartoons, toys, books, a tiny table and a chalkboard.

“I have a lot of fun with children. They look forward to coming in and picking a prize at the end if they’re good,” Daus said with a wink.

Giving babies their first hair cut is one of her specialties, Daus said. She makes it into an event by offering parents a photo, a lock of the baby’s hair and a certificate.

The five-points intersection on Saratoga’s East Side has been bustling with new life lately.

Shear Magic was joined by next-door neighbor Weight No More, a diet clinic, earlier this month. Across the street, a former Laundromat is being transformed into a pet-grooming facility. The owner is Ashley Noxon, who plans to reopen her business, Brown Dog Pet Spa, in February after moving it from Ballston Spa.

Shear Magic accepts Saratoga Mama tokens. For more information and appointments, call 583-7600.


Update 1/18: Underground Caroline Street venue in the works

Update 1/18: Esperanto owner Will Pouch weighed in on what he knows of the developments taking place below his Caroline Street restaurant when we chatted Monday evening:

"It’s a dynamite space. The space is pretty vast and cavernous, with really high ceilings.They’re beginning to finish up (renovating) the facilities and are now getting into the décor."

The venue is big enough to host live music, Pouch said, and it appears it will be ready to join the Saratoga nightlife circuit by this summer.

"(Building owner Bill Walbridge has) been working to renovate the space for a few years ... That’s why Esperanto moved," he said.

Moving Esperanto's dining room in July 2009 provided first-floor access to the underground spot. It's hard to be sure, but it looks like there are two entrances -- through new doors at the old Esperanto site and also down the new stairs in front of the new Esperanto.

End update.

As reported Jan. 14: Some sort of restaurant/pub/music lounge is in the works on Caroline Street, beneath Esperanto, Desperate Annie's, The Vault and Saratoga Guitar's adjunct space.

Workers clean up the Esperanto entrance around the
time the restaurant reopened, in summer 2009.
File photo by Rick Gargiulo.

No big surprise, it's horse-themed. The building permit says it's called the Paddock Bar.

Building owner Bill Walbridge is keeping the details under wraps for a few more weeks, he said Friday.

But the space -- inaccessible and unusable for anything but basement storage up until recently -- has been waiting to be developed since Esperanto was renovated in the summer of 2009. Workers began clearing out underground gunk and muck and carting it away in trucks soon after.

An Esperanto employee told me recently that the space has been considered for a dance club or a restaurant.

He joked that because of its sub-ground location, it might be harder to throw rowdy patrons out onto the streets.

What kind of business do you think would do well in the center of the hub of Saratoga nightlife, readers?


The full story on Duo -- American and Japanese fusion on South B'dway

You want the company of the Buddha while you wash your filet mignon down with some saké?

It’s a safe bet there’s only one place in town where you might do such a thing, (starting later this winter) and that would be Duo, the American-Japanese fusion restaurant and lounge being established on South Broadway by the Shanghai-born Wilfred Sheng.

Sheng, 39, recently relocated to Wilton with his family from Manhattan, where he worked as a chef for 20 years. He’s designing Duo, his first restaurant, as an atypical take on Japanese cuisine, with traditional sushi and sashimi on the menu right next to dishes like surf ’n turf and risotto.

“For me, everything is a mix of American style and Japanese style,” Sheng said. “When people come in, they’ll get a surprise every time.”

The chef-owner’s seeming motto that “variety is the spice of life” is also evident in his choice of wallpapers, which are of numerous and vibrant patterns throughout the 8,500-square-foot restaurant.

A bar, lounge, televisions and sound system will fill the spacious front room, while the back room will be dedicated to dining and can accommodate parties and conferences, Sheng said.

The restaurant, located at 175 S. Broadway, has been vacant for the last eight months, since Jeff Chen abandoned it — and its name, Shanghai Grill — in order to attract more foot traffic to his business. He moved downtown and opened Pacific Grill on Putnam Street last summer.

Sheng, who knows Chen, said he hopes the modern flair and mix of American and Japanese food at Duo attracts young and old, as well as those whose first choice when dining out in the past might not have been Asian food.

“Everything is a new style,” he said.

Sheng plans to hire about 20 employees and is shooting for a February opening.

Lunch and dinner will be served, with take-out and delivery available.

For more information, call the restaurant at 580-8881.


Mid-week roundup: Eye care and Asian food

South Broadway is beginning to see some new life.

Vacancies left by the closure of the Drive-In Movie Store and the Shanghai Grill last summer are being filled by new businesses.

An optometrist's office called Vaughn Vision Family Eyecare looks to be in the works at 170 South Broadway, the former video rental store. A building permit was issued Oct. 28, 2010, to AWM Company LLC and DeLilli Building Inc. appears to be constructing an office-like space inside.

At 175 South Broadway, the Shanghai-born
Wilfred Sheng, 39, (in the red) is putting an
American-meets-Japanese spin on the restaurant, which local restaurateur Jeff Chen left so he could move to Putnam Street last year. The new restaurant/lounge will be called Duo.

A sample menu Sheng provided me has an interesting mix of sushi rolls and American entrees including filet mignon and shrimp lobster risotto. If that doesn't whet your appetite, the wallpaper alone has intrigue ...

Look for more on Duo in Monday's edition of In the Biz, both in print and online, and stay tuned for more on Vaughn in the coming weeks.

Also on South Broadway, the former GM car dealership at the end of the strip remains empty with a For Lease sign in the lot. I've heard rumblings that the Queensbury Firestone auto care company could be considering an expansion to Spa City in the spot. Stay tuned.


Pet spa relocating to former laundromat

It’s called Brown Dog Pet Spa (formerly Brown Dog Pet Salon), but all sorts of dogs, as well as cats, rabbits and other furry creatures, are welcome at the grooming business that is being relocated to Park Place in Saratoga Springs.

Ashley Noxon opened the business three years ago at 256 Milton Ave. in Ballston Spa and has since outgrown her space, she said recently, standing inside the former Five Points Laundromat that is being outfitted with high-pressure wash tubs, organic shampoo and other necessities required by the full-service grooming business.

“When we opened in 2008, we wanted a place where I could serve existing clientele and still be affordable,” said Noxon, who runs the business with her boyfriend, Mike Hoffman. “We’re too big now. This is going to be a space where we can grow.”

The spa will offer treats for pets that are typically reserved for humans — cucumber rinses, aromatherapy and blueberry facials, in addition to bathing, probiotic rinses, hair and nail trimming and more. One-on-one attention for both the animal and its owner is Noxon’s promise. “It’s all about the comfort of the pet and the customer knowing their pet is comfortable,” she said.

Her specialty is creating a mellow, fun environment in which she can transform the most aggressive, anxiety-ridden dogs into calm, clean pups who love to have their hair done. “It’s set up as the opposite (experience) of the big box stores,” she said, noting her tendency toward a no-muzzle, no-cage environment.

Noxon, 29, became certified in canine cosmetology in her home state of Michigan and worked as a groomer in Colorado and Oregon before settling locally. She made a name for herself at Paws N’ Claws of Saratoga Veterinary Hospital before opening Brown Dog Pet Salon.

The renamed business at the new location, 40 Park Place, is set to open in February after major renovations are finished. Grooming services average $45 but can range from $30 to $75 depending on the animal.

Hoffman and friend Charity Cannon are Noxon’s stalwart partners, but she hopes to hire several more groomers soon and push the business to capacity, grooming 10 to 15 dogs per day.

For more information, call the Ballston Spa location — which is open through the end of January — at 885-5718.

A quiet, newish boutique on the West Side

From the Jan. 2-3 Saratogian:

One of Beekman Street’s newer residents is The Front Room Gallery, a boutique of handmade items, most made by Capital Region artists and many made of sustainable and recycled materials.

The gallery owner is 28-year-old Danica Lichtig, a jewelry-maker who has worked at Skidmore College’s Tang Museum and opened her business in the fall.

“A good opportunity presented itself and I took it,” said Lichtig, who grew up in Latham and returned to the area after studying art in New York City.

She displays modern contemporary artwork in a monthly rotation on the walls; most pieces cost around $100. Lichtig takes 40 percent of sales and artists get 60 percent.

Hand-dyed silk scarves, silk ties, crocheted hats, jewelry, photo cards, handbags and other pretty, unusual little items — such as a knitted cozy fit for a pint of ice cream — fill out the rest of the one-room gallery.

“People care about getting something handmade and that is a real piece of art,” Lichtig said. “With the economy downturn, people start to want to buy local and local does tend to be hand-made.”

The gallery’s location at 73 Beekman St. lives up to its name — it fronts the artist’s residence and studio that make up the rest of the house.

For more information, call The Front Room Gallery at 871-1828.

Pair gets out of restaurants, into diet clinic

From Jan. 2-3 Saratogian:

Two local food-minded people have paired up to parlay their respective backgrounds in business into a weight-loss program that is designed to promote healthy habits around food-shopping, cooking and eating.

For Saratoga Springs’ Jackie Seitz — a longtime local restaurant manager who has left that scene for now — the business, called Weight No More, is a revival of her former role as a dietary specialist. Seitz motivated Saratoga County clients to lose extra pounds in the 1990s after she bought into a business called International Diet Systems and operated five area diet clinics for several years.

Vermont native Kevin Lynch, Seitz’s partner, brings 30 years of experience in restaurant management to his role in the business operation side of things. Lynch is also a walking testimonial for what he’s selling — he recently lost 25 pounds on the program.

The Weight No More promise is that participants will lose 20 pounds in four weeks by eating a high-protein, low-carbohydrate, low-fat diet composed of foods bought in the grocery store, as well as supplements they are expected to purchase separately through Seitz.

She offers one free consultation; then, for a $100 joiner’s fee, participants can sign on to a 22-week program that requires them to undergo a preliminary detox (including no alcohol for two weeks), keep a food diary, drink plenty of water and attend weekly “weigh-in” sessions with Seitz at the storefront office at 45 Park Place, across from Five Points Grocery.

Obviously, physical exercise won’t hurt your chances of success, although it is absent from the strictly dietary regimen.

“We will refer our clients to local businesses like doctors, gyms and salons as a way to incorporate ‘total body enhancement’ into the program,” Seitz said.

The pair plans to host cooking demonstrations and clinics on topics like how to read nutrition labels. They also want to compile a cookbook of recipes from local chefs and clients.

“I really think that there’s a market for that now, just showing people you can eat really good food and it’s not the drudgery that it used to be,” Lynch said.

Not surprisingly, the Weight No More team promotes the buddy system — “It’s a lot easier if you have someone to diet with,” Lynch said.

For more information, call Seitz at 210-6508 or Lynch at 320-2948.