Monday, March 27, 2017

Short Stop Cafe Set to Open April 5th in The Depot District

The Short Stop Cafe at 54 Loomis Street in the Depot District is expected to open on April 5th. The new restaurant, which is adjacent to The Orange Chair and Body Boutique, rounds out the retail space at Bedford Crossings.

I recently spoke with Short Stop Cafe co-owner Sandy Duan. Sandy has always loved sweet foods and pastries. A few years ago while on a ski trip, she tried her first Belgian Waffle and really enjoyed it. After she got back, she did some research. It turns out that the Belgian Waffle is an American term and that the Belgians have two main types of waffles, Brussels and Liege. She then came up with own recipes and let her kids try them. Her kids loved them and soon after, her friends, neighbors and even her co-workers kept asking her to make more of them. So many people kept asking her, that she thought it would be a great idea to open a restaurant that focused on "Belgian style" Waffles along with Coffee and sandwiches. Soon after, Sandy and her Husband Ji Su went ahead and purchased the corner retail unit at 54 Loomis Street.

The Venezia II Espresso Brewing Machine is designed to dispenses single or double espressos. 
It can handle up to 240 cups per hour.

As a Bedford resident, Sandy really wants the restaurant to be a local spot where people enjoy the food while also providing a social setting where customers can sit and enjoy themselves. As far as the name, Sandy explained that Depot Park was a train stop a long time ago and the restaurant is next to a bus stop and across the street from a baseball field. So they named it Short Stop Cafe for the athletes, bikers, hikers, bus passengers and other visitors that will stop by for a short break.

An outdoor seating area will get tables once the weather warms up.
Sandy likes the fact that the location is near the bike path and people can easily stop by. She thinks it would be great to have local artists. The restaurant  plans to add chairs to the patio once the weather warms up. According to Sandy, the patio is a open space provided by the building and she welcomes everyone. For example people can get pizza across the street and then sit at the patio or just people who are walking by who want a break.

Sandy also explained that she made sure her Cafe is fully wheelchair accessible including an entrance and the restroom.

Customers place their order at the main counter. The Liege Waffles can be 
ordered with a variety of toppings including ice cream, fruit and jams.
While the menu will focus on Liege Waffles, The Cafe plans to offer Croissant sandwiches such as Cranberry Chicken Salad, Tuna Salad and Buffalo Chicken Salad. The restaurant will also feature a wide selection of Coffees and Teas along with Chocolate Lattes and Iced Coffee. According to Sandy,  the restaurant will also have fresh bakery items every day including many different flavors of Danish and Croissant.

Along with Apple Cider and Soda, the Cafe features six different flavors of teas.
The initial plan is for the Short Stop Cafe to be open for Breakfast and Lunch from 7:30 am to 4:30 pm from Tuesday to Saturday. They hope to expand those in the future.

Main entrance of the new Restaurant. Note the outdoor surveillance camera above the door. These are now becoming more common in Bedford.
It will be interesting to see how much foot and bike traffic this restaurant can draw from The Minuteman Bikeway.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Signs of Spring

The Short Stop Cafe is expected to open in March. The new restaurant at 54 Loomis Street, will specialize in Belgian and Brussels Waffles.

Barre 3 Studio, which opened in January, has added permanent signage.

Now that the new Post Office has opened in Bedford Marketplace, the temporary trailers have been removed. Expect the remaining telephone poles to come down over the next few months.

While all of the stores currently under lease in Bedford Marketplace have now opened, there are five remaining storefronts still available. Stay tuned for more details.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

A Permanent United States Post Office Returns to Bedford

After almost 18 months of operating out of two "temporary" trailers, a permanent United States Post Office retail location has returned to Bedford. According to Bedford Postmaster Bill Booker, the new location opened at 8 am on February 21st. The new location is in the Bedford Marketplace at 158J Great Road which is between Bruegger's Bagels and Barre 3.

New lobby of the Bedford post office. The lobby is open for self service 24 hours a day.
The new location includes a retail counter as well as PO Boxes and will be staffed from 8am to 5pm Monday through Friday and from 8am until 1pm on Saturdays. While the retail unit post office has moved to this new location, Bedford mail delivery will continue to come from the mail distribution facility in Burlington

The temporary trailers near Red Heat will soon be moved out of Bedford Marketplace. The sign on the door states that the new location is now open.
The Bedford Post Office was first established in 1826. You can find a list of all its Post Masters here.

1. It's good to finally see the new Post Office open. This gives Bedford Marketplace more of a Town Center feel. The additional foot traffic will also be beneficial to adjacent businesses such as Simply Nail & Spa and Barre 3 by enabling Post Office customers to discover them as they walk by.
2. The USPS Employees I spoke with, all went out of their way to express their appreciation for the patience of Bedford residents and businesses and how happy they are that the new location is now open.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

More Breakfast Options Coming to Bedford

If you're interested in getting Breakfast in Bedford, there are currently just a few non fast food options such as Prince Street Cafe and the DoubleTree Bedford Glen.

Prince Street offers Breakfast Mon - Sat with Pastries, Muffins, Omelets and Quiches. 
On Saturdays they add Pancakes, French Toast and Belgian Waffles.
Two new restaurants that will be serving breakfast are expected to open in March.

Peppers Grill at 321 Great Road in the Great Road Shopping Center will be serving Breakfast from 7 am to 1 pm on Saturdays and Sundays. This was the previous location for Sparta Restaurant. Accord to owner Jim Morris, they will be serving a  full Breakfast menu including Pancakes, Belgian Waffles, Eggs, Omelettes, Homemade Home Fries as well as Breakfast Burgers, Pizzas and Wraps.

Short Stop Cafe which is located in the Depot District at 54 Loomis Street adjacent to the Orange Chair, will be serving breakfast 6 days a week. Breakfast items are expected to center around Belgian & Brussels Waffles.

Interior construction is wrapping up at the Short Stop Cafe. The new restaurant includes space for outdoor dining.
Stay tuned for more details.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Barre 3 Studio Opens in Bedford Marketplace

A permanent sign for the new Barre 3 location has just been approved and should be up in about three weeks.
The Bedford Barre 3 Studio is now open at 158 Great Road in Bedford Marketplace.

Barre which was inspired by Ballet, was named after the wooden bar Ballet dancers hold onto when they’re doing their warm-up exercises. It was developed in Europe and brought over to the United States in the 1970's. From that, several different versions of Barre evolved. Barre 3 was created by Sadie Lincoln out of Portland Oregon who then opened her first Barre 3 studio in 2008. Barre 3 has seen a surge in popularity over the past five years and now has 108 locations.

I recently spoke with the Barre 3 Studio Owner and Franchisee Natasha Groblewski. Natasha grew up in Lexington just outside of Bedford. After College she went out to Portland Oregon where she was introduced to Barre 3. She loved it and had a dream of opening her own studio but she first decided she would need to learn a lot of different skills to maximize her chances of success.

In 2010 she moved back to Massachusetts. She then worked a variety of jobs with focus on specific areas including HR and Consulting as well as with a number of startups to hone her entrepreneurial skills. In 2015 she became a certified instructor at the Needham Barre 3 Studio and started to study the business model. In 2016 she decided she was ready to move forward with her own Studio and began looking for the right space. Her first choice was the renovated Bedford Marketplace but this space was under agreement. Shortly after, she found out the deal with the other tenant had fallen through. She jumped at the opportunity as this was her dream location. She remembers coming to the shopping center as a kid to shop at Marshall's and eat at Cafe Luigi's. The Bedford location is the 2nd in Massachusetts with locations in Brookline and Sudbury expected to open shortly.

Natasha explained that the Barre 3 is a combination of thee disciplines; Yoga, Pilates and Ballet. The classes which are open to everyone, are designed to target the arms, legs and core. While the classes see age ranges from about 20 to 80 years old, they tend to be mostly female. The average person goes to 2 to 3 one hour classes per week. According to Natasha, many of her new clients get convinced by a friend to try one class. They usually love the community focus and tend to find the classes fun and energizing.

The Studio offers a cork floor which is designed to reduce heavy impact on the joints.
Unlike some other fitness classes like Yoga which may have different levels, Barre 3 offers one level of classes. The postures can be easily modified to accommodate injuries and physical challenges. The classes are generally considered low impact and makes use of interval training. Each class is led by a Barre 3 certified instructor. Natasha mentioned that the certification process is fairly long and detailed to ensure each instructor is well trained.

The Studio offers childcare for parents with young children
The studio averages about 5-6 classes a day during the week (early morning, lunch time and after work) and 2 classes on Saturdays and Sundays. The Bedford Studio, which can hold up to 27 people at one time, offers childcare during most classes.

While you can pop in to most classes, Natasha recommends making use of the online scheduling tool via their web site or app to ensure there is space in the class.

Front desk at the new Studio.
According to Natasha, drop in classes are $25. You can also buy 5, 10 or 20 classes packs at a slightly lower per class rate. For those people that expect to attend a lot of classes, Barre 3 offers a monthly unlimited pass (currently $99) that lets you attend as many classes as you want. Unlike some other fitness places that have a one or two year contract, with Barre 3 you go month to month and the starting monthly rate you pay is locked in as long as you continue each month. The monthly membership also gives you access to hundreds of different fitness videos from their workout library and recipes. In fact Natasha herself provided some of the recipes.

Along with classes, Barre 3 apparel and accessories are available for purchase.
The studio has five instructors including Natasha. For the grand opening week, they are offering both free classes and free childcare.

The past year has seen a surge of Barre studios opening in Massachusetts such as Pure Barre and Xtend Barre which are in Burlington. It will be interesting to see if this surge continues.

It's good to see an entrepreneur follow a focused approach to fulfill their dream. Most of the time, people either jump in to a business without realizing some of the skills they will need to learn or they convince themselves they are not going to be ready and thus never take the plunge.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

AFC Urgent Care Gets Ready to Open in Bedford Marketplace

AFC Urgent Care Bedford is set to open on January 20th at 154 Great Road in Bedford Marketplace. The location which is adjacent to Red Heat, was previously used as a temporary location for Brookline Bank.

AFC, also known as American Family Care was started in 1982 by Dr. Bruce Irwin and has grown to become one of the largest providers of walk in urgent care in the United States with 185 locations in 31 states. The Bedford location will be the 21st location in Massachusetts. Similar to hotels and some restaurants chains, AFC locations are typically owned and operated by local franchisees.

I recently spoke with Dave Adams who is the co-owner of the Bedford location. Dave started his career as a Captain for the United States Marine Corps. After about 8 years, he left the Military and got an MBA from The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. After graduating, he worked briefly for an Investment Bank before transferring to Sullivan Construction where he worked his way to up to become Vice President, of Operations.

The waiting area provides complimentary hot and cold beverages along with iPads for Children.
While he enjoyed his work, he wanted to focus more on the greater good and he decided healthcare would be a good place. About 5 years ago, he formed a management company called Patriot Urgent Care in order to open and operate a Doctors Express Urgent Care center in Waltham. Shortly after, he persuaded Emergency Medicine Physician Dr. Kristina Orio (whose background included being an Emergency Medicine combat physician in Iraq for the United States Air Force) to come on as Medical Director. Two years later they opened a second location in Burlington. In 2013 Doctors Express merged with AFC retaining the AFC name. In 2014, Patriot Urgent Care opened a third location in Stoneham and is now opening in Bedford. The management company which employs about 65 people, owns and operates all four locations. The headquarters for the management company is also moving to the Bedford location. Dave is now the President while Dr. Orio is a co-owner and still serves as the Medical Director.

The Clinic is comprised of Eight Exam Rooms along with on-site lab and X-ray.
They picked Bedford for their fourth location because there is no local hospital or existing Urgent Care Facility. As part of the selection process, they reviewed detailed population and traffic studies which showed the Bedford Marketplace location would be a very convenient one.

According to Dave, their clinic is designed to quickly see people who are unable to get in to see their primary care physician (PCP) right away. The clinic is open from 8 am to 8 pm seven days a week including holidays (which covers 35% of the time when most PCP's are closed). Dave mentioned their average wait time is 7 minutes with a total door to door time of about 45 minutes. They post the current  wait time on their website for all their locations, so patients can figure out which would be most convenient for them.

One of the eight Exam Rooms. This one is specially designed for pediatric patients.
AFC takes insurance from most of the major carriers. Dave stated that the average co-payment is $22. After being seen, records can be sent electronically to a patients PCP. About 30% of patients end up getting a referral, mostly to Orthopedics. Less than 1% of their patients end up needing to go to a Emergency Department. According to Dave, an Urgent Care Clinic requires more extensive licensing and checks from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health than a solo primary care physician.

Dave also explained how AFC has set up relationships with many specialists so they are now able to schedule most referrals for the next business day, which is frequently faster than a patient's own PCP.

A nurses station is used to coordinate patient care. All patients are seen by a board certified Physician.
In additional to Urgent Care, AFC also provides DOT Medical Exams, Drug Screening (both corporate and court ordered), FAA Flight Screening, Immunizations, Laboratory Services, Physicals and Travel Medicine.

The Bedford location which encompasses over 4,000 square feet, consists of eight exam rooms, an X-ray suite and an on-site lab designed to quickly do many common tests. Other tests are sent out with results usually available within 36 hours.

With both owners having a Military background, they want to be able to provide services to Hanscom AFB personnel. While Hanscom does have a Clinic run by the 66th Medical Squadron, it has more restricted hours than AFC. Dave is currently working on getting an agreement with the TRICARE health care program in order to enable uniformed service members and their families to access the Bedford location.

The Digital X-Ray Suite.
According to AFC founder Dr. Bruce Irwin, a standard American Family Care center needs 30 patients a day to break even. To help drive business, AFC clinics typically employ a Business Development Manager who works with local businesses and other community entities to help drive business. These marketing efforts are similar to how many local banks market themselves in the community.

One of the challenges with a Urgent Care clinic is the amount of staffing. You want to have enough staff on hand to ensure patients are seen quickly but not too much in that you are paying for staff that is not needed. The AFC clinics make heavy use of analytics to forecast activity levels for staffing. The analytics includes past history on the specific day/day of week, current weather, recent flu reports and other information.

Dave has found Bedford very welcoming so far and is very excited to be here. They really want to help people get medical care while saving them time and money. Bedford AFC has already become involved in the community including being a sponsor for Bedford Rotary's Breakfast with Santa program. Once fully up to speed, the Bedford locations will have about 25 employees.

While the official opening in is on Friday January 20th, there is a public open house on Thursday January 19th from 2-4 pm.

1. While urgent care has been popular across most of the country (there are close to 10,000 locations), it only has taken off in Massachusetts in the past couple of years. The most recent trend is for hospitals to open their own branded clinics. For example Emerson is in the process of opening two locations while Partners Healthcare already has three locations running in the Boston area and has plans to open ten more before the end of 2017. In some cases, such as Emerson, the clinics are run directly by the hospitals while others are joint ventures. For example Partners Health Care has partnered with MedSpring Urgent Care. 

2. It will be interesting to see what impact all the new and upcoming Urgent Care clinics will have on Emergency Department visits. Lahey is opening a new expanded Emergency Department on January 25th. The new Department, which cost just under $80 Million, has been designed to be able to handle 50,000 patients annually. It currently gets about 40,000 per year and it has projected a rise to 45,000 in 2021. I wonder if the growth of Urgent Care clinics was taken in to account in their projections?

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Blue Fuji Restaurant Now Open at 200 Great Road

The Blue Fuji restaurant at 200 Great Road opened last month. The new restaurant replaces Asiana Bistro which closed in August. Blue Fuji has an additional location in Medford. I recently spoke with Chris who is the manager for the Bedford location.

The main dining area has been completely redone from when it was Asiana Bistro.
According to Chris, Blue Fuji focuses on organic Japanese and Chinese cuisine including "Fusion" Sushi. While the menu is similar to their Medford location, the Bedford restaurant has added a bunch of new items such as Sushi with organic quinoa rice in place of the standard white rice.

The restaurant features 88 seats spread across several dining rooms.
The new restaurant has undergone a complete renovation. The extensive wood work gives it a interesting rustic feel. The decor at the Bedford location is very different from the decor in Medford.

In addition to the standard items, the Sushi bar features a wide assortment of special Sushi Rolls. 
Chris mentioned they really love the Bedford site. They think the town is great and the location being adjacent to Lexington and Concord is ideal for attracting new customers.

The restaurant includes a small bar. As stated by Chris Tsao (pictured here), 
the most requested bar drink is a Mai Tai.
According to Chris, all of the management staff which includes the head chef, have around 20 years experience in the restaurant industry. They currently have about 20 employees.

One of the dining rooms can be fully sectioned off as a function room with
room for up to 45 people.
In conjunction with their regular menu, Blue Fuji also offers weekday lunch specials. In addition to takeout, the restaurant also offers online ordering, delivery and corporate catering.

The updated decor includes lots of reclaimed wood along with a selection of antiques 
that are several hundred years old
Chris has been pleased with the grand opening and mentioned that many of their initial customers have already returned. They are interested in working together with the community and hope many will come and try their food.

Customers encounter a Bubble Wall upon entering the restaurant.
The restaurant is open Sunday through Thursday from 11:30 am to 9 pm and 11:30 am to 9:30 pm on Fridays and Saturdays.

It will be interesting to see what impact Blue Fuji has on Ginger and The Great Wall.