Wednesday, October 7, 2015

New Mexican Restaurant El Colima May Be Coming to 54 Middlesex Turnpike

According to a recent legal notice, Cucina D restaurant at 54 Middlesex Turnpike is looking to transfer their Liquor License to El Colima. A corporate search shows that El Colima Bedford LLC has a business address of 54 Middlesex Turnpike. Another records check shows there is a El Colima restaurant in Nashua NH with the same owners. So it seems likely that they will be opening another location in Bedford.

Stay tuned for more details.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Ocean State Job Lot Now Open in Great Road Shopping Center

Ocean State Job Lot at 297 Great Road in the Great Road Shopping Center opened on October 1st. This is the previous location of Staples.

I recently spoke with David Sarlitto, the Head of Marketing. According to David, the Bedford store is the 118th Ocean State Job Store across eight states and is one of 47 in Massachusetts. David mentioned that they have the most number of stores in Massachusetts. He thinks this is due to the frugal New England mindset.

The Bedford store at around 20,000 square feet is smaller than the typical Ocean State Job Lot which averages 35K to 40K square feet. David mentioned they have been looking at opening a store in Bedford for quite some time. In fact, they looked at opening a store in the same shopping center about 15 years ago but back then, their stores were smaller and the space available for lease was actually larger than their average store size at that time.

The store offers a wide range of name brand products at discount prices

According to David, Ocean State Job Lot is an opportunistic company that takes advantage of manufacturers' closeout and overstock items so the available merchandise changes over time. David referred to it as adventure shopping in that you never know what you are going to find but you will get a good deal. He advises to buy it when you see it.

An Ocean State Job Lot store normally stocks about 4,000 different items. The merchandise varies from clothing to food to carpeting to pet supplies to outdoor items to electronics and more.

Along with their focus on low prices, David mentioned that Ocean State Job Lot spends a lot of effort on getting involved in the local community which has become deeply ingrained in the culture of the company. So rather than first open their doors and then start thinking about community philanthropy, Ocean State Job Lot is proactive about getting involved. Before opening the store in Bedford, they met with both town officials and community leaders to determine where help was needed most and tailored their community programs to meet those needs. For example, they have already donated food to the Bedford Community Table and Food Pantry.

Ocean State Job Lot also gets involved on a national level such as being a sponsor for The Honor Flight Network which flies World War II veterans to Washington DC to visit memorials built to honor their service to the nation.

The merchandise changes over time. In one month many of these items will be replaced by new ones.
The store currently employs about 30 people and is open from 8am to 9pm Monday to Saturday and from 9am to 8pm on Sundays. It's expected the store will have extended hours in December.

While some have compared Ocean State Job Lot to a dollar store or Building 19, they seems to be closer to the formula that the TJX Company (i.e. Marshall's, Home Goods, TJ Maxx) uses in that they mostly deal directly with brands not with liquidators. Unlike TJX, Ocean State job lot offers a much wider area of merchandise so they tend to compete more directly with supermarkets, department stores and speciality retailers.

Their model to get very involved in the community seems to be a smart business move.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

If You Don't Like the Store Layout in Bedford Marketplace, Just Wait a Few Weeks

An overview on the ongoing changes at Bedford Marketplace. As you may know, Bedford Marketplace is constructing three new buildings. These include:

The new building located adjacent to Marshall's also know as Building A. This building has space for three tenants and is just about complete.

The second new building is located on the west edge of the shopping center (behind the old Cafe Luigi's building). This is know as building B. Construction on this building is expected to be completed this fall.

The third building will located near where Brookline Bank is located. This new building will be located a little closer to the road and is known as building C. Construction on this building has not yet started and is expected to be completed next Spring.

Before construction can start on building C, the two old front buildings need to be knocked down. As part of this process, the retailers need to be relocated.

The first building was emptied last month, with Bank of America moving to a trailer along with the temporary closure of Cafe Luigi's and b.good. The stores in the second building are now in the process of moving out. Both building should soon be demolished.

Here are some of the changes:

Building A
Red Heat Tavern has taken one of three spaces in building A. Work on Red Heat Tavern is almost complete. They expect to open on Monday November 9th. For the first week or so they plan to be open for dinner only.

The second tenant in Building A is Lincoln Liquors. They are in the process of moving from their current location and should be opening soon. The new location will be around 7,500 square feet which is much larger than their current location.

Building B
Bruegger's Bagels will temporarily close and then should re-open shortly in Building B along with Bank of America and b.good. The Subway is now closed and should also re-open in Building B. Expected new tenants include a Hair Cuttery Salon and Sleepy's.

Building C
Brookline Bank will be closing it's current location on Friday October 2nd and open a temporary branch on Monday October 5th in Building A in the remaining space between Red Heat Tavern and the new location for Lincoln Liquors. The Bank expects to move in to a permanent location in Building C sometime in the spring at which point the retail space in Building A will become available again.

Cafe Luigi's is expected to re-open in Building C along with a new Learning Express Toys.

Other Changes
Within the next week the Post Office retail store is expected to move to two temporary trailers that are located near the back of the shopping center behind the new building under construction. It's likely that the Post Office will move to either building B or C. No news yet on if a mail distribution facility will return to Bedford. Bedford mail is currently being distributed from a mail distribution facility in Burlington.

KB Jewelers has moved out of it's existing space. It's expected they will reopen on the Blake Block in the Spring.

The Ka-noon Thai Cuisine restaurant has closed and will not be returning to Bedford Marketplace.

Including Sparta, the number of restaurants in Bedford will soon be down by six although only for a short while.

Monday, September 7, 2015

When One Store Closes, Another Two Opens

One store closes. The Ka-noon Thai Cuisine restaurant at 168 Great Road in Bedford Marketplace has permanently closed. The building they are in is expected to be demolished soon and it appears they did not reach an agreement with the shopping center to reopen in one of the new buildings being constructed.

Two new stores will be opening soon at the Great Road Shopping Center. As earlier reported, Ocean State Job Lot has moved in to the old Staples location. Renovations are under way and the store is expected to open in the next few weeks.

The second store is Pet Life which is coming in at the old Mattress World location at 307 Great Road. Pet Life is a premium pet food and supplies store. The company opened it's first store in Maine and expanded first to New Hampshire and then in to Massachusetts. The closest existing store to Bedford is in Stoneham. The exact opening of the Bedford store is not yet known but they are already hiring.

Pet Life is looking to fill a large number of positions in Bedford. The Bedford store will be the 17th location for Pet Life.

Ocean State Job Lot is also hiring. The old Sparta Restaurant is being used as a temporary hiring office.

Stay tuned for more details on Ocean State Job Lot and Pet Life.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Bank of America Branch in Bedford Moving to Temporary Trailer in Bedford Marketplace

The building housing Bank of America branch 14391 at 152 Great Road in the Bedford Marketplace is set to be demolished at the end of the month. The building also houses b.good which has already closed, and Cafe Luigi which is expected to close on August 29th.

While the Bank of America Branch is set to open in the new building under construction along Great Road, it's expected to be a month or two before it will be ready. So in the meanwhile, Bank of America has trucked in a 925 square foot custom trailer to act as a temporary branch until the new location is opened. The temporary branch also contains a ATM and an overnight deposit drop box. Bank of America moves this trailer across the country as needed.

From an old sign on the trailer door, it appears this temporary branch was last used at an shopping center at 255 North Washington Street in Rockville Maryland, while a new branch was being built next door at 275 North Washington Street.
The temporary Bank of America branch is being housed in between the Marshall's and Whole Foods front entrances.

Electrical power still needs to be hooked up to a temporary transformer. The trailer is expected to be ready to before the existing branch closes on August 28th.
It's interesting that Bank of America is going to great lengths to open a temporary branch for the relatively short amount of time between when the old branch closes and the new one opens. This might be due to the fact there are four competing banks (Brookline, Cambridge Saving, Middlesex Savings and TD) within a few hundred feet of the existing branch so Bank of America does not want to take the risk of having customers defect.

The new Bank of America Branch is expect to be housed in the new white building under construction behind and to the left of the existing b.good. The new branch location will also house a drive-thru.
While the current building is expected to demolished in September, Bank of America and b.good should reopen before the end of the year in the same building while Cafe Luigi is expected to reopen next spring in a different location in Bedford Marketplace. It's not clear if the existing Bank of America branch number (14391) will change.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Bella Maria’s Cucina Italian Restaurant Opens on Blake Block

Bella Maria’s Cucina located at 80 Great Road, opened on July 20th in the space formerly occupied by Wicked Good Frozen Yogurt.

I recently spoke with James Garabedian, one of the owners. James opened Ken's in November 2013 along with co-owners Marie and John Cronin. Marie and John also owned Wicked Good Frozen Yogurt in the adjacent space (which had opened a few month earlier). Last November, Wicked Good Frozen Yogurt shut down. The partners did some thinking and saw a need for a Italian Restaurant in town and came up with the idea to use the space from the Frozen Yogurt store to open a higher end Italian Restaurant. The restaurant is named after Marie.

The restaurant offers a mix of booths, regular tables, high tops and bar stools
Bella Maria’s Cucina which is only open for dinner, has 36 seats. The menu focuses on pasta, fresh sea food, steaks and Italian wines. The restaurant shares a kitchen with Ken's but the menu is unique. The restaurant currently has a beer and wine license but is expecting to get full liquor license shortly.

Bella Maria’s Cucina has a more modern appearance then Ken's. They both share a kitchen and liquor license.
James stated he really enjoys the Bedford community and Ken's has been heavily involved in supporting local causes including the schools and they plan to continue what they are doing with the addition of Bella Maria’s Cucina. He also mentioned that while the restaurant has only been open a short time, the response has been very positive.

While several restaurants in the area such as Cafe Escadrille in Burlington offer multiple dining experiences such as a bar/cafe menu and a more formal dining room menu, Ken's/Bella Maria’s Cucina seems to be one of the first ones to do it under two different names/brands in the region. The one kitchen/two restaurant business model is becoming more popular and I expect we will see additional examples in the next year or so.

With outdoor seating appearing this spring and now the addition of Bella Maria’s Cucina next door you can say that Ken's has expanded twice.

1. While the restaurant seems to directly compete with Cafe Luigi's it appears to be targeted a little more upscale.
2. The outdoor seating for Ken's that was added in May seems to be working out very well for Ken's and has added some needed vitality to Bedford Center.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Tailwind Adds NYC Seaplane Shuttle Service between Bedford and East 23rd Street in Manhattan

The Cessna 208 Caravan 675 is equipped to land on water or land and has space for 9 passengers

Last month, Tailwind launched a non-stop seaplane service between Hanscom Field in Bedford to New York City via the Skyport seaplane terminal on the East River at 23rd Street. Tailwind operates under an FAA Part 135 “On Demand” Air Carrier Certificate enabling it to conduct on-demand air charter and air taxi operations for hire. Rather than use the regular civil passenger terminal at Hanscom, Tailwind operates out of Rectrix which is a new Fixed Based Operator (FBO) which opened in Bedford in 2014. The three FBO's in Bedford primarily service corporate jets along with General Aviation.

Rectrix provides a much more relaxing environment to wait for your flight than your typical passenger terminal.

The seaplane service is designed for people who need to travel from the Bedford Area to NYC just for the day. The idea being that it saves a lot of time by avoiding having to travel from Bedford to Logan Airport and then from LaGuardia Airport to Manhattan and back. Tailwind flies on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday leaving Bedford at 7:30 am and arriving in Manhattan at 8:45 am. The return flight leaves the Manhattan East River at 4:45 pm and arrives in Bedford at 6 pm. According to Tailwind, you need to arrive 20 minutes before the scheduled departure and there is no TSA screening at the Seaport in Manhattan. To get to Manhattan by 9 am via Logan, you would have to leave the Bedford area around 5:30 am to catch a 7 am flight and then leave Manhattan by 2:30 pm to catch a 4 pm flight to get back by 6 pm. I would estimate you would save over 4 hours and avoid paying for taxis to and from the airports. Rectrix also offers free parking for Tailwind customers.

The airplane hanger space at Rectrix comprises 60K square feet and is currently 100% occupied. In addition to the Hanger space, the building has over 20K square feet of additional space which is split among the FBO lobby, office space for Rectrix Corporate Headquarters and office space it leases out to it's corporate clients.

The Rectrix FBO lobby includes plenty of space for clients and pilots to relax between flights. The FBO also has conference and meeting rooms, a lounge for pilots and a weather and flight-planning center.

This Tailwind airplane was built in 1999 and is powered by a 675 Horsepower  Pratt & Whitney Turbo-prop. The flight to Manhattan takes about an hour and 15 minutes.
There are now three Fixed Based Operators in Bedford which includes the recent addition of Rectrix, Jet Aviation, which just kicked off a major expansion of it's facilities and Signature Flight Support

Rectrix is adding a restaurant which will be open for Breakfast and Lunch and should also be open to the public.
1. It will be interesting to see if business travelers take advantage of the Tailwind Service. Over the past decades there have been several attempts to schedule flights between Bedford and the NYC area. Tailwind seems to be taking a unique approach by flying directly in to Manhattan.

2. It seems to be a smart idea to add a restaurant at Hanscom Field. This provides a nice amenity for the airport and may also attract workers from the nearby office parks off Virginia road in Concord as there are presently no other restaurants nearby.