Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Virsa De Punjab Indian Kitchen has Grand Opening

Virsa De Punjab Indian Kitchen located at 347 Great Road (previously occupied by Firebox BBQ) held it's grand opening on April 27th.

I recently spoke with Kishan Singh, one of the owners. Kishan and his best friend Baljit Singh have had a long time dream to open up a restaurant together. They both grew up in the India state of Punjab and relished the flavors of their families kitchens, always viewing cooking as a passion. Shortly after arriving in America in 1985, Kishan got his start as a bus boy at the Windows on the World restaurant which was located on the 107th Floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center in NYC. He was quickly promoted to Captain (a Captain typically oversees a group of tables along with a team of busboys and waiters) and since then has had extensive experience managing several restaurants. According to Kishan, Baljit has over 15 years experience in the restaurant industry. Last year, they agreed the time was right and decided to move forward and open up a restaurant. They thought Bedford would be a good place to do so.

Kishan described the Virsa De Punjab menu as being focused on North Indian cuisine that is rich in spices. The head chef hails from the Five Star Sun-n-Sand Hotel at Juhu Beach in Mumbai India. They have a few specialties such as Black Pepper Chicken with Sour Cream and Tandoori Rack of Lamb.

Virsa De Punjab offers a Lunch Buffet (along with a regular lunch menu) from 11:30 am until 3 pm during the week and a brunch on Sundays. According to Kishan, the Buffet is more extensive than most other Indian Restaurant with over 20 items with about half of those vegetarian.

The Lunch Buffet consists of a wide assortment of North Indian cuisine
The restaurant, which has a full liquor license, consists of about 40 seats plus six seats at the bar and provides free WiFi to customers. Along with takeout, they also offer free home delivery as well as corporate catering. The establishment is open from 11:30 am to 10 pm seven days a week.


Comments:
There seems to be a lot of interest in Indian Food as this is the second Indian Restaurant to recently open in Bedford (Holi opened just over one year ago). This location has been a number of restaurants over the past ten years and is a little bit challenging as it's hard to see from the road. Key to the restaurant's success will be attracting employees from the nearby Wiggins Avenue Business District in Bedford as well as Hartwell Avenue in Lexington to come in for lunch or after work for dinner.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Express Pizza Under New Management with Expanded Menu


Express Pizza at 65 Loomis Street in the Depot District is now under new management. The restaurant which has been open for over 25 years, is now being managed by Laura Hatziandreou, the daughter-in-law of the owners who are retiring. Laura is also the owner of Bedford Cupcakes which had a retail shop for a short time at 119 Great Road. After the shop closed, Laura continued to do catering and sold cupcakes through Express Pizza.

Along with the new management, the menu has expanded to include Gourmet Salads, Sweet Potato Fries, Additional Pizza Toppings and more along with Daily Specials. At the counter, they have also added items such as cookies and chips and have expanded the selection of available beverages. Express Pizza continues to offer free delivery on orders of $10 or more.

Comment:
With the opening of The Crossing at Bedford across the street and new companies moving in on DeAngelo Drive, this seems like a good time to expand the menu and improve the branding. The addition of snacks is also a good one, as nearby residents and workers can now walk to get them versus previously having to most likely drive down to Great Road to grab something.

Friday, April 15, 2016

The Orange Chair Salon Moves to Bedford Crossing



The Orange Chair, which was previously located at 50 Great Road, has relocated to the new Bedford Crossings at 54 Loomis Street in the Depot District. It reopened on April 6th.

I recently spoke with the owner Alex Guelli. The Orange Chair opened in it's original location about 2 years ago. Alex had been looking for a new location and when retail space in Bedford Crossing become available, she jumped at the opportunity.

Most Salons have their styling chairs facing the wall. The Orange Chair has two rows
of chairs separated by two sided suspended mirrors right in the middle of the room.
It's rare you get to build a salon from scratch with new construction. This gave Alex a lot of flexibility in being able to design it exactly as she wanted. Her Father helped with the design.

Alex picked out all the furniture. The design is known as French Industrial and gives the salon a very unique look. According to Alex, her clients seem very happy with the design. In fact several of them have asked Alex to help them with the interior design of their houses.

Brand new shampoo chairs and bowls. With new construction the Salon was able to set up the plumbing exactly as they wanted it.
Alex actually managed to move the salon to the new location without closing. She mentioned it was a lot of work but worth it in the end to ensure she could take care of all her clients. So far her clients seem to love the new space. They feel it's much more open than her original location.

While most of the Salon features all new equipment and furniture, the appointment desk was moved over from the original location.
The Salon focuses on hair and makeup. Her clients are split about 75% Women and 25% Men. In addition to her regular salon services, she also sells Living Proof hair products which where created by two professors from MIT.  The Salon is open from Tuesday to Saturday during the day and stays open until 8 pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

The Salon is expected to have an outdoor sign up in the next month or so.
Comment:
It's interesting that the new retail spaces built at 54 Loomis were purchased by existing local businesses. This seems to indicate a pent up need for newer retail space for local merchants in Bedford.

Friday, April 8, 2016

The Body Boutique Opens in The Depot District


The Body Boutique is now open at 54 Loomis Street. The Boutique had moved out of it's previous location just down the street at 50 Loomis Street in November. The Boutique is now officially open (although it had a soft opening in Mid March) I recently spoke with the owner Katie Gauvin. According to Katie, The Boutique offers Electrolysis Hair Removal, Waxing, Facials and other advanced aesthetics such as LED Light Therapy.

The boutique includes a reception desk and a small waiting area.
Katie is a licensed Electrologist and Advanced Aesthetician. She graduated from The Electrology and Aesthetics Institute of New England where she had over 1100 hours of training before she applied for her license.

While she was satisfied with her previous place, she really wanted a location that was originally designed for retail. She noticed the construction going on just two buildings down and made some inquiries. The retail space is a little unusual in that it is a condo compared to most retail which tends to be rental. Since it was a new building, the developer provided them with a plain vanilla space. Katie's husband is a contractor and did most of the build out, enabling them to customize it to fit their specific needs. Katie is very pleased with how the new space turned out especially with the amount of natural light that filters in.

The Boutique consists of a lobby and three individual treatment rooms. Most treatments take between 15 and 90 minutes.

The first treatment room is dedicated for Electrolysis.
With two Salons next door (The Orange Chair which just opened, and Colasante Hair Salon), Katie thought it made sense to cross promote with them since they offer complementary services. She ends up referring some of her customers to the Salons (in fact she gets her own hair cut at The Orange Chair) and the Salons appear to do the same for her. Her boutique primarily caters to Women but does get a few male clients.

The second treatment room is primarily for Advanced Aesthetics such as Chemical Peels, Micro Abrasions and Facials.
Katie see's the Depot District as an up and coming area in Bedford with lots of new stores and increasing amounts of foot traffic. 
The third treatment room is designed for both Advanced Aesthetics and Electrolysis.
Katie has hired an additional Electrologist who will be starting later this month. The current hours of the Boutique are Tuesdays and Thursdays 11am until 8pm, Wednesday 9:30am to 3:30pm, Friday 10am to 5pm and Saturdays are from 9:30am to 3pm. 

Comments:
It's good to finally see retail opening up at the The Crossing at Bedford and will provide additional vitality to the Depot District.

Seems like smart marketing to cross promote with the existing Salons.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Co-Branded Bruegger’s Bagels and Jamba Juice Grand Opening



The co-branded Bruegger’s Bagels and Jamba Juice Restaurant held it's grand opening on Monday April 4th in Bedford Marketplace at 158K Great Road. While the restaurant is officially opening on Wednesday April 6th, it's soft opening was on Saturday April 2nd.

The previously Brugger's location closed last October shortly before it's existing building was demolished as part of the Bedford Marketplace renovation.

Although there are over 275 Bruegger's Bagels and more than 880 Jamba Juices, this is only the third co-branded location overall and second in Massachusetts (the other co-brand recently opened in Melrose).

The new juice bar should drive additional sales throughout the day.

The new co-branded restaurant adds fresh-squeezed juices, signature smoothies and energy bowls from Jamba Juice to go along with the regular  Bruegger’s Bagels menu. Furthermore, the new location features several new items such as Cheesecake Brownies and Blueberry Muffins along with additional coffee selections. 

The new menu offers a wide selection of different juice options.
The new space has a wide open feeling with high ceilings that encourages customers to linger. The dining area has a variety of regular tables and high tops. The restaurant is open from 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Mascots for both Bruegger's and Jamba Juice were present at the Grand Opening.


Comments:
Co-branded locations can make a lot of sense when the product are complementary and the day parts of sales differ. In this case, it appears to be a good idea. While Bruegger's Bagels has historically done well for Breakfast and Lunch, the addition of Jamba Juice should drive more breakfast sales and really lift afternoon and early evenings store traffic. This is probably the primary reason while the hours have been  extended by over 30 hours a week, which should boost revenues and increase profitability.

Like b.good, Bruegger's marketed their opening in conjunction with  raising funds for the< Bedford Schools on April 2nd and 3rd. In this case, customers got to choose how much they paid for a special menu offering and 100 percent of proceeds were donated to the Schools.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Signs of Spring


The mild weather has enabled construction to continue through most of the Winter. Signs are up for the b.good restaurant which is now adjacent to The Great Road.


b.good's new location includes a dedicated area for Outdoor Dining. The restaurant is expected to open in late Spring.



Virsa De Punjab which is replacing FireBox, is expected to open within the next two weeks.



The new Indian Restaurant will have a Lunch Buffet and include delivery. This new sign replaces the temporary bright yellow sign.



Work continues on the 4th location for Elite Freestyle Karate. Located next to Salem Five bank, the new Karate studio is expected to open by the end of April.



Salon Reyna replaces Designs Unlimited at 326 Great Road which is adjacent to Bedford House of Beef. The new Salon also has locations in Burlington, Concord and Lexington.


KB Jewelers opened earlier this month at 68 Great Road which was the previous location of Bedford Rug.


The new showroom is much more modern and open.

The next few months will feature a lot more businesses opening in Bedford including Body Boutique, Bruegger's Bagels,  Comella's, El Colima Mexican Restaurant, Learning Express, Private Kitchen Cafe, Subway, The Orange Chair, US Post Office and more.



Saturday, February 13, 2016

Elite Freestyle Karate Expected to Open Next to Salem Five Bank


Elite Freestyle Karate which has locations in Lexington, Reading and Winchester is now planning to open it's 4th location at 285 Great Road which is in the same building as Salem Five Bank.

The new location is directly adjacent to Salem Five Bank.
I recently spoke with Owner Gary Meyer. Elite Freestyle Karate has been in business for just about 25 years. The business started in Stoneham and then moved to Reading. Three years ago they opened a second location in Winchester and two years ago they opened a third location in Lexington. They offer classes six days a week.

According to Gary, what's unique about Elite Freestyle Karate is all of their instructors are full-time professional staff so teaching Martial Arts is their only job and focus. Gary mentioned that is rare in the Martial Arts industry, where many companies employ part time instructors.

While Elite Freestyle Karate has students of all ages, about 70% are Children between the ages of 3-12. Gary explained that while several decades ago, the focus was only on fighting, now it also includes life skills like teaching hand shakes, eye contact and how to use your voice as a weapon. Gary also mentioned that most parents want their kids to have high esteem and stand up for themselves while only using physical fighting as an absolute last resort of self defense.

During the past few years, Gary has had business in Bedford fairly often. He always enjoyed visiting Bedford and so he explored, finding more and more he liked about the town and especially the community. He also liked the fact that Hanscom Air Force Base is here as well, so it he decided that Bedford would be a great spot for Elite Freestyle Karate to open up their next location.

Elite Freestyle Karate has leased the right side of the building which is about 1600 square feet. The retail space has been available since it was completed near the end of 2014.
Gary is working hard to get the studio open by Early April and he mentioned he is very eager to get involved in the Bedford Community.