Monday, December 7, 2009

Marcell's Auto Detailing and Repairs opens on Great Road

Marcell's Auto Detailing and Repairs opened last month in the two service bays of the Gas Station at 105 Great Road. While the gas station last re-opened in July of 2008, the service bays have generally been empty.

I recently spoke with Fabricio (who does the detailing). According to Fabricio, Marcell's Detailing has been in Lowell for 13 years. They have recently been looking to add a second location and Bedford seemed like a area that could use another Auto Detailer and they liked the town itself. While the service bays are part of the gas station, Marcell's is actually  leasing the bays directly from Dahar Realty, the owner of the building. With two service bays available, they decided to add on auto repair in addition to the detailing service. The Bedford location offers a wide range of detailing services ranging from a Express Power Wash to a Deluxe Full Detail. It takes from 1-4 hours for most detailing depending on the level of service. The prices range from about $30-250.

I also spoke with Marcus (who does the auto repair). Marcus has been working on cars and trucks for most of his life and really takes pride in his work. He offers general automotive repair such as brakes, oil changes and  suspension work. According to Marcus, a lot of customers have initially come in for detailing work and find it convenient to have repairs or maintenance done at the same time. He mentioned that Fabricio and himself have been very pleased with the growth of the business. He credits the referrals from the gas station as well as some flyers he has placed at Ken's Deli. Marcell's has also been able to sign up some commercial accounts for repair work as well as partner with a local tire store for detailing customer cars. Fabricio and Marcell are currently the only employees, they may add a third employee down the road.

They are open Monday through Saturday from around 8am - 6pm and also offer free pickup and drop off within 10 miles for both detailing and auto repair which seems like a good benefit to employees at all the office parks in Bedford (you can have you car worked on without having to leave the office). It's interesting to note that there are not a lot of competing detailing shops. The closest location I could find is S & J Auto Detail which is just over the Burlington line on Bedford Street  (Route 62). I have also seen some mobile detailing companies that drive up in a van but don't know how prevalent they are in the local area. On the automotive repair side, the nearest competitors are Sullivan Tire and Riggio Auto Repair (aka Sunoco).

Friday, November 13, 2009

Jack + Toba Opens on the Blake Block

 Jack + Toba a speciality store specializing in vintage clothing and contemporary antiques recently opened at 72 Great Road on the Blake Block. I recently spoke with the owner Suzy Watters. Suzy has been interested in design and fashion her entire life. She spent 18 years working for Ann Taylor followed by 6 years as a decorator and wardrobe stylist for individual clients. She first got the idea for the store about a year ago when she saw a for rent sign on the Blake Block and thought this would be a good location. By the time she decided to move forward, the store was rented. So when another for rent sign went up on the Blake Block a few months ago, Suzy jumped at the chance. The store is named after her parents Jack and Toba who were both in the fashion industry. Her goal was to open a hip shop with a very friendly atmosphere that was a bit different from your typical everything goes antique store.

Suzy saw that Concord had a lot of speciality shops and though that Bedford could benefit from a shop. She thought the Blake Block location was perfect for capturing people driving to and back from Whole Foods.

Suzy mentioned that she has no formal fashion training but developed her talent through her life experiences in dressing and decorating. She grew up on the upper west side of Manhattan and fashion is in her blood. Her goal is to offer unique products with great style.

The store features an eclectic mix of upscale and classic antiques mixed with vintage clothing and home accents.

For the vintage clothing, Suzy closely inspects each item and only carries items in like new condition. 

 Her products also include furniture. Custom upholstery is available by order.

 According to Suzy, so far it's been a mix of people buying items for themselves and gifts for others. She mentioned that a man recently came in to buy a suit and a short while later his wife came back in to get him a tie for the suit. So far she has gotten quite a bit of positive feedback as well as repeat clients.

It's interesting to note this is the 3rd "artsy" shop on the Blake Block along with the used book store. There appears to be a decent amount of cross traffic with the other antique and design stores. With the Blake Block renovation on hold, it would be interesting to sign on additional antique stores as well as a artist studio or two and rebrand the Blake Block as a unique shopping destination.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

J. Gregory Lamp & Shade Gallery Closes It's Bedford Store

The J. Gregory Lamp & Shade Gallery located at 186 Great Road in Blue Ribbon Plaza shut down on October 25th. The store, which opened about 3 years ago, still has a retail location at it's main office in Needham. The remaining "lamp" store in Bedford is Baudanza Electric Co. which has a lot more lamps than it's name implies.

A note posted to the front door announces the closing

Although I did not spend a lot of time in the store, the few times I did go in, it did not seem to have a lot of foot traffic. I am wondering if the product line was too upscale for the area. This appeared to be the case with Neena's Lighting which opened a location at the Vinebrook Plaza in Burlington only to close it about a year later.

With the closing of J. Gregory, Blue Ribbon Plaza is looking for a new retail tenant.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Cambridge Savings Bank Has Grand Opening at New Location

Cambridge Savings Bank which opened at it's new location at 181 Great Road on October 5th, had it's grand opening celebration today. The new location (which is approximately the same size as the old location at Bedford Marketplace) has added Safety Deposit Boxes and a Drive Thru. Inside the branch, it features a very modern airy look that seems more upscale than the other banks in town.. The branch also added an automatic coin counter that's free for Cambridge Savings Bank customers to use.

As part of the Grand Opening, Cambridge Savings Bank President and Chief Executive Officer Robert Wilson presents a check to the Bedford Historical Society. Cambridge Savings Bank which just had it's 175th Birthday, has operated in Bedford since 1943.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Firebox BBQ Set to Open on Monday

Firebox BBQ is set to open this Monday at 347 Great Road (former location of Ufood Grill). I recently spoke with Bryan McConnaughey, one of the owners.

Bryan, a long time chef and restaurateur, has been interested in opening a BBQ restaurant for over 10 years with his college friend and fellow chef David Goldstone. They wanted to meld their extensive cooking experience across the United States and Europe in to a BBQ restaurant that people could feel at home at, enjoy great food and have fun. Recently Bryan and David decided to move forward with the restaurant and began looking for a location west of Boston. They really liked the Bedford area and thought the demographics of the residents plus the large number of people who work nearby would make it an ideal location. They also felt that the Town of Bedford was receptive to new businesses.

While most of the restaurant is new and has been redesigned, they were able to purchase some equipment leftover from Ufood Grill. The dining room seats 44. It also includes a couch and several club chairs to give the place a more laid back atmosphere where people can sit back and relax and maybe even hold a informal business meeting.

The restaurant features a contemporary design. In fact the artwork is supplied by David's wife Carolyn, a well noted photographer.

Bryan feels the keys to a successful restaurant are service, hospitality, community and or course good food. Bryan and David really want the restaurant to become part of the community and has already made donations to the Bedford VA and will be participating at The Flavors of Bedford. As far as Firebox, he describes it as 'BBQ with a twist'. Everything is made from scratch. Much of the meats and other ingredients are sourced locally including a wide selection of micro-brewed Real City Soda along with beer and wine.

The large smoker is used for much of the cooking. Bacon is featured here.

The restaurant features a wide assortment of micro brewed sodas, unsweetened ice tea, firebox and mango lemonade along with traditional beverages.

Firebox also features online ordering on it's website. This means you can view the menu from your computer, place your order and then just come in and pick it up for dine in or take out. The system has the ability to save your previous orders to save time when ordering. I think this is a very useful feature especially for workers going out for lunch. I am surprised that other Bedford restaurants are not promoting this.

The menu features traditional BBQ items along with a smattering of other cuisines such as Cuban Sandwiches, Lettuce Wraps and Fish Tacos. Please click on this image for a larger view.

Firebox BBQ is located at what previously was Ufood Grill.

According to Bryan, the restaurant employs about 10 people and is open from 11am-9pm every day. The restaurant also offers delivery and on-site catering for corporate and other events.

As far as other BBQ restaurants, the two closest ones are Lester's in Burlington and Blue Ribbon BBQ in Arlington. Based on the number of people I saw knocking on the door to get menu's, there appears to a lot of interest in BBQ in Bedford. If Firebox BBQ can attract the lunchtime crowd, I think they will be very successful.

The one thing I would like to see from Firebox BBQ and other restaurants in Town is to list their daily lunch specials on Twitter. This would be a great promotional tool in helping people decide where to go for lunch.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Hanscom Federal Credit Union Expanding

The Hanscom Federal Credit Union at 325 Great Rd (Great Road Shopping Center) will be expanding next door in to the former location of Bedford Jewelers. As part of the expansion, Bedford Jewelers has moved 3 stores down, to the former location of The Bedford Laundromat which closed in June.

Monday, October 5, 2009

New Store Coming to Blake Block

Another new store is opening soon on the Blake Block. This replaces Title Town Sports which was only open for a few months. The new store is expected to open later this month. Based on appearances, it may be an antique and or clothing store. Stay tuned for more details.

Friday, September 4, 2009

FireBox BBQ Restaurant Opening Soon in Bedford

FireBox BBQ Restaurant is scheduled to open in Early October at 347 Great Road. The restaurant, which will focus on contemporary BBQ, replaces the KnowFat/Ufood Grill which shut down at the end of March. It appears the new restaurant purchased most of the existing equipment from Ufood Grill. I plan to have a more detailed update along with some photos of the interior shortly before it opens.

I'm pleasantly surprised how quickly a new restaurant moved in given the overall economy. The retail economy in Bedford seems to be stronger than many of the surrounding towns in terms of vacant space.

In other restaurant news. Construction is well underway on a Margaritas Mexican Restaurant 1 mile away at the old Denny's location in Lexington and is scheduled to open by the end of October.

Friday, August 21, 2009

New Signs of Summer

Well along with the recent summer weather, the "new signs" of Summer are here in Bedford.

First, Bedford Car Wash at 345 Great Road got a $20,000 exterior renovation, replacing the canopy with a new facade to the front.
The new facade at Bedford Car Wash. A new sign will be going up soon.

Second, Bedford Shopping Center got a new sign and is now rebranded Bedford Marketplace. Renovations are still on hold due to the economy. According to Salvatore Capital Partners, they do plan to start the renovation once the economy improves for retail tenants.

The new sign has space for all the stores. The old sign only listed the anchor stores Marshalls and Whole Foods.

Third, Depot Park (aka the Bedford end of the Minuteman Bikeway) finally got a sorely needed Kiosk.
The new Kiosk is located in the center of Bedford Depot park and contains maps and information about the surrounding area.
The Kiosk also has a Video Monitor that can be used to show historical information.

Along with the Minuteman Bikeway and Depot Park area, the map also shows the Reformatory Branch and Narrow Gauge Rail Trails as well as other nearby trails. Please click on the image for a larger view.

While a think all the changes are an improvement, I think the biggest one is the addition of the Kiosk. This new Kiosk will encourage bikers and walkers to do some additional exploring and might even benefit some of the local retailers. I am wondering if any of the Bedford restaurants would be interested in advertising and getting listed on the Depot Park Insert on the map.

Friday, August 14, 2009

New Cambridge Savings Bank Building Nearing Completion

 Construction on the new Cambridge Savings Bank branch is wrapping up. The new building at 181 Great Road replaces the Mobil Gas Station. Most of the exterior work has been completed. The bankm which is currently across the street in the Bedford Shopping Center should move in to the new building in the next few months.

The new Bank has a dual drive through. One lane for a Drive up ATM and the other lane for a human bank teller. Note that you can only make a right turn on to The Great Road.

The parking lot also exits on to Weber Avenue. The sidewalk only extends to The Great Road. There is no sidewalk on Weber. Across the street is TD Banknorth.

While the exterior has been completed, their is still much work to do with the interior.

 The view from Great Road. The sidewalk was rebuilt and set back further from the road while the building is set back closer to the road with parking in back to provide a more urban look.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

New Design Store Opening on Blake Block

The Blake Block is getting another new store. The new store at 76 Great Road is called in home design and  replaces a second antique store that opened this spring and quickly closed (the Corner Antiques store a few doors down is still open). The store will feature Furniture, Home Accessories and Window Treatments.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Bostonwood Furniture Opens in Bedford

Bostonwood opened June 1st at the old Payless ShoeSource location in the Great Road Shopping Center next to Moison Ace Hardware. The company which also has stores in Boston and Watertown, has been making real wood furniture for 26 years. I recently spoke with Howard Lomen, the co-owner

According to Howard, everything the stores sells is hand crafted at their Boston location. Bostonwood got its start selling to Boston's college students and nearby residents. While Bostonwood, opened a second location in Watertown 11 years ago, Howard recently realized they were making a lot of deliveries West of Boston and decided to look for a third location and Bedford seemed like a good location. With the business going well, it seemed like a good idea to take advantage during the current economy.

While the store displays a few hundred prebuilt furniture items such as bookshelves, desks, bed frames and cabinets, almost 60% of the orders are made to order. So for example, say you like a desk, but would like it to be 5 inches wider and 3 inches taller, they can build to your custom dimensions. The same is true if you want a specific design attribute like an extra drawer. So while the store may display 20 different desks, they have designs for over 4,000.
The Bedford "showroom" features hundreds of items.

The store features a wide variety of items from simple storage cubes to large bookshelves with desks being the most popular item. According to Howard, some items take as little as 15 minutes to make while others can take a few days. It normally takes about 3 weeks from when an order is placed until it's ready for pickup. All of the Furniture is unfinished and while about 70% of their customers do their own staining, Bostonwood does work with several outside companies who can do the staining if the customer requests.
These storage cubes were originally designed to hold record albums.

According to Howard, all of their furniture is made with real wood, there is no particle board. Also Bostonwood is very focused on being environmentally friendly so all glues are water based and all products are free of formaldehyde and other Volatile Organic Compounds. Bostonwood prides itself on minimizing resources by reusing some wood scraps to build slotted bookcases while the rest are used to help heat it's Boston store.

All of the furniture can be made to order to a specific size and/or design.

Bostonwood also offers delivery for a fixed price regardless of the number of items you want delivered (as long as they can all fit on its delivery truck).

Bostonwood also sells Miniature Furniture made by Bedford resident Bruce Dawson. Click on the image for a larger view.

Bostonwood uses it's own furniture. Seen here is the checkout counter.

The store will soon replace this temporary sign with a permanent one.

It's interesting to note that the retail business in Bedford appears strong compared to the surrounding area. While other towns like Burlington or Lexington have lots of recently vacated retail space, Bedford has very little (the most recent being Bedford Laundromat and UFood Grill).

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Bedford Depot Freight House Opens After Renovation

On Monday June 15th, a ribbon cutting ceremony was held to celebrate the renovation of the Bedford Depot Freight House. The total project, including Depot Park has taken over 15 years to complete. The project included improvements to the Intersection of South Road and Loomis Street and safety improvements to the area. The Freight House was originally used to store/service the Engines for the narrow gauge Billerica and Bedford Railroad. Two engines could be stored at one time. The Friends of Depot Park have been the driving force in getting this project off the ground.

The interior has been totally redone and will continue to be staffed by Friend of Depot Park who will sell Refreshments and Souvenirs. The revenue generated will help keep Depot Park self sustaining.

As part of the renovation, 2 sorely needed public bathrooms were added as well as handicap access to the Freight House.

The Interior of the Train has been restored to it's original look it had in 1955 and includes wooden floors and decorative lighting.

The train can be rented out for private gatherings.

As part of the renovation, a Solar Powered Trash Compactor was installed.

All this improvements along with the recent addition of the Bedford Farmers Market, has really updated this area and serves as a destination point for the Bedford end of the Minuteman Bikeway. In addition, the old Bedford Depot is undergoing a roof renovation. While the Freight House will likely be well utilized by Bedford Residents and users of the Bike Path, I think the addition of a adjacent restaurant (preferably with Outdoor Dining) would be very well received. It's possible the Bedford Depot could be renovated to meet this need.

Here is how the Freight House looked before the renovation.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Renovated Dunkin' Donuts on Great Road Opens

After being closed for 4 weeks for renovation, the Dunkin' Donuts at 308 Great Road has re-opened with a new facade and interior. Click on any image for a more detailed view.
The basic layout has been retained. However the interior has been updated for a more modern look.
Similar to McDonald's, the renovated Dunkin' Donuts features both table and high bar stool seating.

While the interior has been updated, the menu has stayed the same except for a New Cinnamon Twist.

Dunkin' Donuts has additional locations in the Bedford Gulf and in Northside Convenience and Gas. However this is the only location in Bedford with a Drive Thru.
The store is open from 4:30 am to 10pm.

The past year has also seen renovations to D'Angelo Grilled Sandwiches, McDonald's and Papa Gino's. While construction has been delayed, the renovation to the Bedford Shopping Center is still expected to occur in the next 24 months.