Monday, October 20, 2014

Cucina D Restaurant Opens on Middlesex Turnpike

Cucina D Restaurant opened October 1st at 54 Middlesex Turnpike in the space previously occupied by The Boardroom Bistro. I recently talked with the owner Damiano DiCenso.

Damiano's family has been in the restaurant business for many decades. His Grandfather, who first taught him how to cook, was the original head chef of Davio's on Newbury Street. Next Damiano worked under both his father and uncle at Donatello's on Route 1 in Saugus. In 2004, Damiano become the head chef at his brothers restaurant, Luna Rossa in Tewksbury.

While Damiano enjoyed working with his family, he wanted to strike out on his own. So a few years ago he started looking at locations for a new restaurant he would run. He actually took a look at this location over a year ago but was not yet ready to move forward. Then a few months ago he got another call from the owners of Boardroom Bistro (who own the entire building at 54 Middlesex) asking if he was still interested. He met with them and decided to move forward.

Renovations started on September 8th and the new restaurant opened in less than one month. The new restaurant has 96 inside seats as well as 12 outdoor seats. Food is now provided by waitress service with takeout available. 

New paint, ceiling, and replacing the old chess pieces with wine bottles led to a more upscale look.
The menu focuses on authentic Northern Italian cuisine. Most items are made in house including Cannoli's. Since the restaurant recently opened, Damiano is just doing soup specials but will soon be adding specials for appetizers, entrees and desserts along with drink specials. The restaurant can also provide party platters and mini-desserts for corporate catering. While they do not offer delivery for regular orders it is available for corporate catering and large orders. He thinks once people try his food they will want to come back.

In the bar section he added another wide screen television. There is a bar menu which includes slices of Sicilian style pizza, bar bites and Italian specialty's. There is also a wide selection of beers including a number of gluten free brands.

This room can be rented out for corporate events and other activities. 
According to Damian, so far the lunch business has been very good with lots of nearby workers as well as people from local apartments complexes such as Taylor Pond and Heritage at Bedford Springs. He is still working on increasing the dinner business. He's added a trivia night and is looking in to open mike nights and well as special events like paint nights where people without painting experience can eat, drink and paint with friends. Cucina D's is also participating in Flavors of Bedford which should give it exposure to a lot of Bedford and other nearby residents.

Since it's in an office building that houses workers during the day, there is dedicated restaurant parking at lunchtime.
Cucina D is currently open for Lunch Mondays, Lunch and Dinner Tuesdays to Fridays and Dinner on Saturday. 

Boardroom Bistro did well at lunch but seemed to have had trouble attracting the dinner and after work crowd. While the menu at Boardroom Bistro seemed more suited for lunch, the Cucina D menu appears to be a better fit for both lunch and dinner which should be a plus. The owner does have a lot of restaurant  experience. Getting the after work crowd and dinner folks in will be key to it's success. It will be interesting to see how it does.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Simply Natural Nails Opens in New Location

Simply Natural Nails has moved to 119 Great Road, the former location of Bedford Cupcakes. The Salon had been located at 50 Loomis Street since it's opening almost four years ago. I recently spoke with it's owner Kimberly Fosmire.

While Kimberly thought the previous location functioned well, it was located in a basic office building and she had trouble finding a sign that would be highly visible from the street. So she decided to look for a location that had a cozier environment and higher visibility. The Salon opened at the new location on October 1st.

The interior has been totally redone bearing no resemblance to the former cupcake shop.
After Kimberly made the decision to move, she also figured it was a good time to upgrade a lot of the equipment. For example, she added new Belava Pedicure chairs. Unlike traditional spa chairs, these feature a single use liner to ensure that each customer gets the safest possible pedicure.

Belava Indulgence Pedicure chairs have a disposable liner to save water.
Along with the new location, Kimberly has added services such as eyebrow threading which is an 
an ancient hair-removal technique practiced in Asia and the Middle East. She recommends it as an alternative to waxing, especially if you have sensitive skin.

The new location has two fireplaces. One in the Nail room and the other in the Pedicure room.

According to Kimberly, her customers really like the new location telling her it has a much more homely feel.

The new Salon has an additional Nail station.
Currently Kimberly is actively looking to add a third employee so she can add services such as skin care and massage. She also just got approval from the Historic District Commission for a new sign which is expected to go up before the end of the month. The Salon is open Tuesday through Saturday.

The Salon Was Recently Feature in Nails Magazine.
The past few years have seen several restaurants try to make a go at this location which seems hard pressed to attract street traffic. I'm guessing a service business will be a better fit.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Wall Bar Opens Inside The Great Wall Restaurant

The Wall Bar opened last Friday inside the Great Wall Restaurant at 309 Great Road in the Great Road Shopping Center. The new bar, which is sectioned off from the rest of the restaurant, features 8 seats at the actual bar and around 60 seats in the surrounding area.

The bar area features a mix of regular, high top, bar stool and booth seating.
While the Great Wall has had a full alcohol license and a service bar for many years, according to staff it was the recent changes to the Town of Bedford Alcohol Policy that made it a good time to move forward. Before the policy was updated in April, you had to order a full meal before you could order a drink. Many customers were going to Margaritas or Waxy O'Connors in Lexington.

The Great Wall staff felt there was no place in Bedford where you could get together after work or sports to meet up with friends for a drink and some food. Many Chinese restaurants have a bar, so they thought it would be a nice step up to add a sports bar.

The Wall Bar has five large screen TVs to watch sporting and other events.
Along with the interior renovation, The Great Wall also added a new cocktail menu along with several new bar type appetizers.

A new bar menu features several new appetizers
Currently the restaurant hours are the same (9:15 during the week and 10:15 on weekends) while they see how the new sports bar does. They do have the ability to stay open until 11 pm if there is demand.

It's intriguing to see the economic effects of the updated alcohol policy. Along with the renovations to The Great Wall, the former Boardroom Bistro restaurant is undergoing a complete renovation and will soon re-open as an Italian Restaurant Cucina D. It will be interesting if the new sports bar can also attract events from Bedford groups, for example the Bedford Education Foundation has usually held it's Winter Bash event in Lexington.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Demolition Begins at 54 Loomis Street for The Crossing Mixed Use Residential and Retail Project

Rear View of 54 Loomis Street Building Coming Down
After several delays, demolition is currently underway at 54 Loomis Street. The current building, which was last used as corporate offices for Pharmalucence Inc, was originally built in the 1960's as an ice skating rink.

Demolition Started at the Rear of the Building
The two new buildings, known as The Crossing at Bedford will house 19 apartments and just under 3,000 square feet of ground floor retail space. The project is expected to be completed by next Summer.

Artist Depiction - View from Loomis Street. This building will house retail on most of the first floor.

View from Depot Park. A new pathway on this side of the building will connect Loomis Street with the Bike Path

Front of Building B. This building contains some design elements similar to the Depot Building

Rear of Building B. This building is set back from Loomis Street

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Updates at Great Road Shopping Center: Great Wall Adds Sports Bar and Mattress World Closes

While there are ongoing renovations and lots of updates at Bedford Market Place, a few changes have also taken place at the Great Road Shopping Center.

Mattress World has now closed. The 5200 square foot space has been fully vacated. The company, which now has nine locations south of Boston, closed the Bedford location after being open less than two years and also recently closed their South Yarmouth store.

Right next door, The Great Wall Restaurant  is finishing up an interior renovation that adds a sports bar. While there were initial plans to add a sushi bar, the restaurant decided to add a sports bar featuring multiple large screen televisions. The new bar which is expected to open next week, has 7 bar stools along with a high top seating area. Stay tuned for more details next week.

It's interesting to see that the shopping center is also listing the adjacent Radio Shack space as available for lease although that store is still open. In addition, over the next year Staples (which also has a location in Great Road Shopping Center) is expected to close over 10% of it's stores in the United States. The list of locations that will be closing has not yet been announced.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Verizon Wireless Store Coming to Blue Ribbon Plaza

Interior work has started on what is expected to be a new Verizon Wireless store at 186 Great Road in Blue Ribbon Plaza. This space which is about 1500 square feet, was the former location of Quiznos which closed last December.

There was previously a Verizon Wireless store in Bedford Market Place. That store which was run by an authorized agent, closed suddenly in March of 2012 after being open for about 4 years.

It's interesting to note that the old Verizon store was replaced by Subway while the old Quiznos store was replaced by Verizon Wireless.

Stay tuned for more details.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Construction Underway on Salem Five Savings Bank

The new bank branch will be in the left half of the building 
Construction recently started on a New Salem Five Saving Bank branch at 285 Great Road which is the former location of the Travelodge Motel. Construction of the building is expected to be completed later this fall. The new bank includes a drive through. The new building will also have about 1600 additional square feet of rental space available for retail or office use.

It's interesting to note that while the size of this new bank branch is only about 2,000 square feet (which is smaller than average for freestanding branches), this follows the industry trend of smaller bank branches. During the last 10 years the average size of a new bank branch has decreased by about 25%.