Piper boutique to open

Published in The Saratogian Feb. 14 .

Piper is the new women’s boutique taking over 441 Broadway, which Rockabella recently vacated to move to Lake Avenue.

The business owner is Alessandra Bange-Hall, a Lake Luzerne native.

Bange-Hall earned her corporate retail and finance stripes working for companies like Williams-Sonoma and Marc Jacobs in New York and New Jersey. She returned to the area in July and soon faced a now-or-never decision to open a shop once she heard the Broadway storefront was becoming available.

“One day I just decided that now was the time,” said Bange-Hall, 24. “You just kind of have to go for it and not look back.”

Bange-Hall is among several new business owners on Broadway who are young and female. Emily Davis, 30, opened Yellow Boutique this winter, while

20-somethings Brittany Nasser of the nearby DeVinyl Revolution and Stephanie DeCelle of Elle Ced both dove into retail ownership within the last year.

The camaraderie offered by other local business owners has been a major source of support while getting the business off the ground, Bange-Hall said.

“I couldn’t feel more welcomed … by people who I thought would have been my competitors,” she said.

Piper will carry “modern contemporary” clothing, handbags and vintage jewelry for young women and working girls. Brands like BB Dakota, Ellison and Aryn K will be on hand.

In the store, the walls are painted dark brown and the floors are made of reclaimed barn board. The rest of the “Urban Outfitters”-inspired interior is being put in place this month.

“You walk inside and you don’t just want to shop, you want to hang out,” Bange-Hall said of the vibe she aims to create.

A March opening is planned. Skidmore IDs will be accepted for purchases, and a 10 percent discount will be given to students for a limited time.

For more information, look up “Piper Boutique Saratoga Springs” on Facebook. A website, www.piperboutique.com, is in the works.

Violet's, Stella's combine

Published in The Saratogian Feb. 21.

Sister stores Violet’s and Stella’s have traded being neighbors for full-on roommate status.

The stores, both owned by Laura Farrar, offer women’s clothing and shoes, respectively. Farrar opened Stella’s last March to complement Violet’s, the 4-year-old clothing boutique where she had gained a loyal local following, Farrar said. Both were located in the Collamer Building, a few doors down from each other.

As her lease at 482 Broadway (Violet’s) expired this year, Farrar moved to combine both stores under one roof, into the plush shoe boutique at 494 Broadway — a former knitting shop that she gave a hefty makeover to last winter.

“I knew down the road we’d eventually combine the two stores,” Farrar said. “I’m excited for our merger. It will make it more efficient for customers as well as the business owner, for me.”

Having to pay half the overhead means she can spend more on shopping for spring lines and keep the racks full of fresh merchandise, Farrar said.

Also, there will be no more running down the street to grab a pair of shoes from Stella’s that would perfectly complement a dress being tried on by a customer at Violet’s, she said.

All of Violet’s merchandise is now available at 494 Broadway, and the businesses will now be known by one new name: “Violet’s & Stella’s of Saratoga.”

Established downtown businesses moving locations and reopening elsewhere on Broadway or nearby has been a trend of late — La Sartoria and Rockabella are two of the most recent examples.

Vincent Montesano, owner of La Sartoria, is in the process of getting his Italian suit shop up and running again for spring. He moved from his longtime home in the Algonquin building late last year and is now located at

489 Broadway, above the tattoo parlor and near the post office.

Montesano is currently offering custom-made suits and shirts that he makes in the store.

Earlier this month, Rockabella Boutique moved off Broadway and opened at 10 Lake Ave., where the rent is cheaper, according to owner Jackie Szurek. It’s all part of her plan to be a “destination” for special-occasion shoppers.

Farrar says she wouldn’t leave Broadway because her walk-in traffic is the bread and butter of her business — a major difference between her and Szurek.

“Our rent is, relatively speaking, similar to others in the area (on Broadway),” Farrar said.

New tenants are expected to move in quickly at the old Violet’s location and at the former ICU Optical Studio next door, which was vacated last week.

8 Tables turns to sandwich shop

Down the street, Farber is turning his once intimate, exclusive dining room into a sandwich shop with a Brooklynese twist.

The name is Sangwych — "It’s like a sandwich, but better," said Farber, who is a Brooklynite via New Haven, Conn., and says the term aptly exemplifies his vernacular.

What makes a sangwych better than a sandwich?

"All the love we put into it," Farber quipped.

The menu will include vegetarian sandwiches and those of the meat variety: meatballs, pork belly, chicken burger and even tuna nachos.

After spending a couple summers in the little 68 Putnam St. eatery serving private dinners, Farber had put it up for sale, but there were no takers. He already expanded the fine dining concept to 17 Maple Ave. late last year, so now he’s going ahead with the sandwich shop in the location.

"And I’ve always wanted to do that so I figured I’d do it," Farber said, of opening a year-round operation for eat-in, takeout and delivery of more casual food.

The average "sangwych" will run $7 to $10; soups, salads and other lunch items will be available, too. The opening is slated for March or April.

Look for the website soon: www.sangwych.com.

From Mare to the Metro

The multi-venue at 17 Maple Ave., most recently known as the Mare nightclub and lounge, is changing form yet again as local restaurateur Ron Farber continues his downtown developments.

Since December, the second floor has been the home of 28 Tables restaurant, which Farber opened for dinner and tapas Tuesdays — complete with live entertainment at the baby grand piano and a 2,400-bottle wine alcove.

Farber has now taken over the downstairs portion of the building as well and plans to reinvent the rooms into a trifecta of a business known, once again, as The Metro.

"We’re hoping to bring back a lot of the old musicians and singers that made the Metro great," Farber said on Friday, referring to the gathering spot as it was known pre-2002.

He anticipates a reopening in the next few weeks and a grand opening party on May 7, to kick off Kentucky Derby weekend.

Farber and partner Patrick Maney, of East Greenbush, bought out the operators of Mare, Freddy Sharifipour and Scott Morgan, and formed a new corporation called 17 Maple Ave. LLC. They are now leasing the entire building.

Morgan, the local developer at the helm of Mare, announced similar plans in fall 2009 to reinstate the property to its former glory as "The Metro," but months later, the plans never took hold.

Going forward, Farber said, the lower stories will be known as Under the Tables (the lounge) and The Metro (the dance club and courtyard), topped by 28 Tables (the restaurant). The appeal to a 30-plus crowd has already been established at 28 Tables, Farber says, and he wants to extend that to the nightlife side of the business.

"We’ve made a serious investment to make this place what we want it to be," Farber said. "We’re trying to satisfy an older demographic with different genres of music that are popular with those people. (Mare) was a young dance club; it’s just not what we’re looking to do."

You’ll find information about Farber’s venue on a Facebook page called "Mare Saratoga," which, ironically enough, states in no uncertain terms that "Mare is dead."

Go to www.28tables.com or call the restaurant at 226-0126 for reservations, bookings and hours.


Downtown landmark listed for $5 million

Matt McCabe recently moved his Saratoga Guitar Shop out of one prominent downtown retail corner, and while the space is for rent, the entire building he left is up for sale.

Owned by  Mark Straus, the landmark property on the corner of Broadway and Caroline Street contains the addresses 438-444 Broadway as well as 1-7 Caroline Street. The three-story, 23,580-square-foot building includes Wheatfield's Restaurant and One Caroline Street Bistro as well as several offices in the upper stories.

According to an ad in the Saratoga Business Journal this month, the price is $5 million. Interested parties should call Mark Straus at 857-2238 or e-mail markstraus@aol.com.

View Larger Map


Trouble with IP relay service?

Any business owners out there who have gotten phone calls from questionable "customers" using your phone company's IP relay service?

The relay service allows deaf and hard-of-hearing people to call businesses and make orders using a type-in feature and an operator who relays the customer's message to the business.

I know of one business that has received several recent phone requests for strange orders and suspects that a fraudulent user of the service is targeting area businesses.

If you have knowledge of this or your own similar experience, please e-mail me at mnicosia@saratogian.com or call 583-8729, ext 216.


Rockabella in new, off-Broadway location

Young ladies looking for frills are used to finding them at Rockabella Boutique on Broadway.

But last week the store relocated to the brick building at 10 Lake Ave., right across from the city police station.

Owner Jackie Szurek opened Rockabella at 441 Broadway four years ago as a one-size-fits-all boutique and has since found that her fancy dress collection is attracting more and more customers in search of the perfect frock to wear to the high school prom or as a bridesmaid in a wedding.

So she’s expanding her line of special-occasion dresses in an effort to continue marketing Rockabella as a “destination shop,” she said.

“It’s just the next step for us,” Szurek said. “I started out as a funky, unique boutique with something for everyone because I was on Broadway. Now I’ve closed in on working with mothers and daughters on prom and special occasions.”

A rainbow collection of brands such as Terani Couture, Sherri Hill, Nicole Bakti, Lazaro and Waters and Waters are on the dress racks or on their way to the new location. Jewelry, some casual women’s clothing and dress shoes are also available just as before.

The store, a former home of local interior designer Brendan Flanigan, has been outfitted with zebra-print rugs, hot pink curtains and other sparkly touches fit for a princess. Szurek opened the doors Feb. 1. She is leasing the space from building owners Dan and Mary Conboy. The off-Broadway location, where rent is less (but exactly how much Szurek would not say), may attract less walk-in traffic, but that’s OK with her — more customers make appointments, she said.

In her stead at 441 Broadway, a new store is in the works. Look for details in an upcoming edition of In the Biz.

For more information about Rockabella, call 581-8386.

Acupuncture, and more, for your pets

A veterinarian specializing in both Eastern and Western medicine is opening a new practice in Greenfield Center today.

Dr. Frank Akawi, 49, of Charlton, is the owner of the new Greenfield Animal Hospital. Akawi (shown at right with Dr. Ashley Serfis and Neva, receiving acupuncture) is restoring the 100-year-old building he bought on Route 9N in the town’s center, which has been a landmark of sorts throughout the years as myriad businesses, including the general store, have come and gone.

The hospital will offer surgery, internal medicine, vaccinations, dentistry, ultrasound and laser therapy. What sets it apart is the addition of acupuncture for pets, the use of Chinese herbs and other alternative, holistic services that Akawi says complement Western medicine.

“Western medicine is good for acute conditions, like trauma and infections, but it doesn’t address the actual condition, just the symptoms,” Akawi said, adding that Eastern medicine gets to the bottom of the condition, to what’s causing it.

“When you combine both disciplines, you can have the best of both worlds,” he said. Akawi has 30 years’ experience as a vet and trained in China while working toward a board certification that allows him to perform acupuncture on animals — an achievement few doctors in the region can boast of. Prior to opening the hospital, he owned the Banfield hospital at PetSmart in Wilton and owned two clinics in California.

A staff of 10 will run the Greenfield hospital, where walk-ins are welcome and a wellness clinic will be held each Wednesday afternoon. Pet-owners can get a free exam with any paid service.

For more information, call 893-6228 or find Frank Akawi on Facebook.


Updated 2/4: Mid-week roundup

At 38 Caroline St., Glens Falls-based restaurant owner David Johnson is preparing to open the latest of his Dango's restaurants, called Dango Fitzgerald’s Irish Pub, Steakhouse and Sports Bar.

(Yes, that is the real, full name of the place.)

Check out what I wrote about it in August, and find Friday's story here.

Jackie Szurek relocated her four-year-old Rockabella boutique from 441 Broadway to the brick building at 10 Lake Ave., right across from the police station. You can't miss her huge display window filled with pink frills and a glowing chandelier.

A rainbow of bridesmaid and prom dresses are on display in the polished shop now as Szurek works to build Rockabella's appeal as a "destination" business, she said on Tuesday, her first day open in the new space.

"I started out as a funky unique boutique, with something for everyone because I was on Broadway," she said. "Now I've closed in on working with mothers and daughters on prom and special occasion dressing."

In her stead at 441 Broadway, a new boutique is in the works, Szurek said.

Find the full story in Monday's edition of In the Biz.

In restaurant news, Sperry's began offering a "Dine by 6 Prix Fixe" menu this week.

The three-course menu will be offered Sunday through Thursday for $20.11. Diners must be seated by 6, and the restaurant will be opening early, at 4:30 p.m., for that purpose. The regular menu will also be available.

Sperry's is located at 30-1/2 Caroline St. Go to www.sperrysrestaurant.com or call 584-9618 for menus and more information.