Monday, December 28, 2015

Virsa de Punjab Indian Kitchen is Replacing Firebox BBQ

Virsa de Punjab Indian Kitchen is expected to open at 347 Great Road by the end of February. This is the space previously occupied by Firebox BBQ (which just closed). The new restaurant, which will feature Indian Food is expected to offer different cooking styles than Holi Indian Restaurant which just opened this spring. Virsa de Punjab Indian Kitchen will also offer a Buffet as well as a special kid's menu. The restaurant just obtained a full alcohol license and will likely have a small bar area.

The new restaurant will be run by Kishan Singh who has managed several Indian restaurants in the surrounding area.

Stay tuned for more details.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

More Details on The Comella's Restaurant Coming to Bedford Marketplace

As earlier reportedComella's Restaurant expects to open this spring at 158 H Great Road in the Bedford Marketplace in the same building where the new Bank of America is located. The family run restaurant chain, which has about a dozen other location in Massachusetts, offer Salads, Sandwiches, Soups, Pastas, Pizzas, Traditional Italian Entrees and Desserts. Comella's just purchased a full alcohol license from Ka-Noon Thai Cuisine (which closed a few months ago) and so should have a full selection of beer, wine and mixed drinks.

While most of the other Comella's have about 20 seats and focus on take out, the Bedford location is expected to be different. The new restaurant which will be around 3500 square feet, is expected to have close to 100 seats. There will be two sections of this restaurant. A counter service section  where you place the order and then food is brought to you (similar to Ken's Deli) and a full service section where you order at the table. This full service section will also contain a bar area.

With the second new building at Bedford Marketplace completed and work on the third building proceeding rapidly, additional restaurants will be re-opening in the next few months including b.good, Bruegger's Bagels and Subway.

As far as Cafe Luigi, a December 14th note on their Facebook page states "We are still working hard towards reopening in the Spring and are confident that we will be able to accomplish this."

Friday, December 18, 2015

Firefox BBQ Restaurant Has Closed

Firebox BBQ which was located at 347 Great Road, has closed. According to employees, the company is moving to Woburn where it will focus on catering as well as sending out food trucks in the region.

One of several different Firebox Food Trucks that will continue on

A new Indian Restaurant tentatively called Virsa de Punjab Indian Kitchen and Bar will be moving in to the old Firebox location (which has been a number of different restaurants over the years). It appears the new restaurant will be purchasing a good amount of the existing fixtures and equipment from Firebox. This should enable them to open relatively soon. In addition, the new owners have requested the transfer of the All Alcohol License from Firebox BBQ so expect the new restaurant to also serve alcohol.

It's interesting to note that this will be second Indian restaurant to open in Bedford. Holi Indian Restaurant opened this past April.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Construction Wraps up at The Crossing at Bedford

Construction has essentially wrapped up at The Crossing at Bedford, the mixed use project at 54 Loomis Street in the Depot District. Construction started in September 2014, and got delayed somewhat most likely due to the heavy snowfall last winter. While there are a few minor items such as additional landscaping to be completed, the project is expected to get it's certificate of occupancy very shortly which will enable people to start moving in within the next few weeks.

The second building contains Eight 2 Bedroom and Four 1 Bedroom units.
The Crossing consists of two buildings with 19 Residential Condos and three retail spaces which are located in the first floor of the building closest to Loomis Street. The residential condos have already sold out, although a few may have been bought as investment properties as at least one is currently available for lease.

The three retail spaces occupy about 2800 square feet.
While the three retail spaces were originally promoted as traditional retail leases, a decision was made to offer then as retail condos. While this is not yet common, retail condos have become a lot more popular in recent years. All three of the retail condos have been sold. The new retailers include Body Boutique (moving from just down the street at 50 Loomis), The Orange Chair moving from 50 Great Road and some type of food place (may be called Private Kitchen, stay tuned for more details).

A new public walkway across the property connects the Minuteman Bikeway to the Narrow Gauge Trail.
The new condos are located right next to Depot Park and along the Route 62 bus route.

Note the external fire sprinklers just above the windows. This was a condition of a variance to let the developer build closer to the property line.

1. This project should add some additional vitality to the Depot District.

2. It's interesting to note how quickly the condos sold out. There seems to be a lot of demand for apartments centrally located where you can easily walk and bike and be close to mass transit. I expect to see some additional proposals for condos and/or apartments in the surrounding area in the next year or two.

3. The past year have seen several retail oriented businesses moved out of 50 Loomis Street. This building was originally built in the 1960's and might benefit from an exterior renovation.

December 17th Update: Lynn Garber an owner of 50 Loomis Street has notified me that both of the businesses that have moved out was due to changes in business plans - one wanted more visibility on Great Road and the other was interested in buying their own space.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Bank of America to Open in New Bedford Marketplace Building on December 14th

Bank of America will be the first new tenant to open in the second of the three new Bedford Marketplace buildings. The Bank, which as earlier reported, moved in to a temporary trailer on June 8th, is expected to vacate the temporary trailer on December 11th and then re-open in it's new permanent location at 158 Great Road on December 14th.

The Bank has the primary spot along Great Road. The new building is much closer to the street with parking in back.
The new location also gets a new branch number, 16798 compared to 14391 for the old building.

The new location has a separate entrance for employees which leads directly to offices and conference rooms, bypassing the bank lobby.

Several surveillance cameras have been added adjacent to Great Road.
The new branch location is larger than the old one and also adds a drive thru and ATM. A second entrance and exit from Great Road to Bedford Marketplace should be open shortly.

The new drive thru is covered but tall enough for Van's and Full Size SUV's.
The new ATM's are expected to have multiple language options, including English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, French, Russian and Portuguese.

The Bank of America drive thru contains a ATM and a Teller Window.
The first new building which is adjacent to Marshall's, opened in October adding Lincoln Liquors, Red Heat and the temporary location for Brookline Bank. The second building which is housing the new Bank of America branch, will be adding additional tenants over the next month or two. The third building has just started construction and is expected to be completed by early Spring 2016.

While the second building is just opening, work is proceeding rapidly on the remaining building. 
The foundation is expected to be fully poured by December 12th.

Friday, November 27, 2015

New Italian Restaurant Coming to Bedford Marketplace

Comella's Restaurant is expected to open at 158H Great Road in the Bedford Marketplace. The restaurant, which focuses on homemade Italian foods, currently has 12 locations in the Boston area including Concord and Arlington. The menu features Salads, Sandwiches, Soups, Pastas, Pizzas, Traditional Italian Entrees and Desserts.

Most locations are fairly small, with less than 20 seats and do a significant amount of take out business as well as corporate catering.

Stay tuned for more details.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

An Update on Cafe Luigi

Cafe Luigi which has been in Bedford for over 27 years at 168 Great Road, closed on August 29th in order for their existing building to be demolished as part of the renovations at Bedford Marketplace. At the time of their closing they hoped to re-open in the Spring in one of the new buildings currently under construction in the Bedford Marketplace. The parent company of Cafe Luigi also owns Marios in Lexington, Grassfields in Waltham, Jimmys Steer House in Arlington and a few other restaurants.

I recently spoke with Cafe Luigi owner Richard Stoico. Richard told me that Cafe Luigi would not be returning to Bedford Marketplace. They are currently looking for a new location in and around Bedford. While they are looking in the surrounding area, they to prefer to remain in Bedford.

Stay tuned for more details.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Stone Carving Classes Now Available in the Depot District

Scott's Stone Carving Classes at 80 Loomis Street has been offering Stone Carving Classes for the past year or so. I recently got a chance to speak with Scott Cahaly the owner. According to Scott, Stone Carving has it's history in the ancient crafts of Greek and Italian.

Scott who is originally from Lexington, graduated from the University of Vermont about 20 years ago. During school he did some stone work on his own. After school, Scott spent about 5 years fine tuning his craft and then began to teach. In 2000, he decided to move back to the Boston area and started working with the DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum. He spent about 10 years there with a group but then decided to strike out on his own and teach Stone Carving. He first opened a studio in Acton, then moved to Lincoln and then to Fresh Pond which turned out to be a great location. The building was initially empty. It quickly filled up but then the landlord dramatically raised the rent. So he decided to look for a new location for his studio.

Just over a year ago, Scott saw a Craig's List ad for the Bedford Depot building. He checked out the space and thought it was a good fit to be in an historic building. His lease runs through the end of 2016.

The Studio is located on the second floor of the Depot Building and has room for more than a dozen students.

Scott offers two different types of classes.

Weekly Classes for people very interested in learning more about stone carving. Scott offers evening classes during the week. These run about 3 hours once per week for 10 weeks. These classes are generally geared for beginners. According to Scott, anyone off the street can learn stone carving. An art background is not needed. The class is open to Adults and kids age 12 or older. Scott teaches the entire process of stone carving from the beginning chisels up to the files and finishing process.

One-day Workshops for beginners and more experienced carvers. Scott teaches hand-carving techniques and stone carving lore is demonstrated and discussed. The workshop includes use of the Studio’s tools and a 5-8 pound piece of alabaster. These workshops last about 5.5 hours and are are generally held on the 3rd Saturday every month.

A wide assortment of tools await. Scott is a member of the New England Sculptors Association.

One of the things that Scott really enjoys is watching people get very absorbed in the process. They become very focused and lose track of time, enabling them to to get away from any problems and live in the moment.

Scott with one of his current projects. This one is made of Vermont Marble and is becoming a Mayan Princess Guardian.
Scott splits his time between teaching at the Depot Park studio and working on his own Stone Carving projects at another studio. While he has done a few commissions, the majority of his own work he thinks up himself and then sells through other Studios and Galleries.

The building is shared with a stained glass studio and other businesses.
It's good to see the very beginning of an art scene in the Depot District. Establishment of a Bedford Cultural District and more studio space for artists will help it grow.

While many communities have initially embraced so called STEM programs (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) to help drive innovation, the addition of Art (STEAM) is critical to the success of these programs as Art plays an important role in creativity and problem solving.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Finishing Touches Being Applied as Red Heat Tavern Awaits Grand Opening

The finishing touches are being added to the Red Heat Tavern at 150 Great Road in Bedford Marketplace as the restaurant prepares for it's grand opening. As previously reported, the restaurant will open for dinner only starting on Monday November 9th, with a full opening on Monday November 16th.

Work on the interior has been completed. The restaurant is awaiting final placement of tables and chairs. There should be about 200 seats inside with up to 46 seats outside. 

Some work remains on the outdoor patio. With climatological winter less than one month away, I suspect some of this may not be completed until after the restaurant opens.

Red Heat is still looking for additional employees.
Red Heat Tavern which was already known for being allergy friendly, recently announced it's fall menu and every item on the new menu can be prepared gluten free.

While final operating hours have not yet been announced, the restaurant is expected to be open until 11 pm during the week and until 12 am on the weekend.

It will be interesting to see how Red Heat Tavern does in Bedford. Based on the initial feedback from town residents I expect it to do well.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Lincoln Liquors Moves to Larger Space in Bedford Marketplace

Lincoln Liquors moved to its new location at 156 Great Road in Bedford Marketplace on October 4th. I recently spoke to Manager Joe Condon. According to Joe, the new location is 8,000 square feet while the old store was around 1,300 square feet.

The new store has a much larger selection of craft beer. The total size of the store is six times larger than before.
The old store location, which was previously known as Genetti’s Wine and Spirits, was purchased by Lincoln Liquors in the Fall of 2014. In addition to the Bedford location, Lincoln Liquors also operates stores in Billerica, Framingham and Holliston.

Lincoln Liquors offers a wide variety of refrigerated beers.
The larger store has more than four times the number of products compared to the original store. Joe mentioned they added a lot more Craft Beers, Bourbon, Scotch and Ethnic Wines.

The wine selection is much larger as well and includes a wide assortment designed to complement ethnic foods..

According to Joe, customers have been very positive with the layout and selection at the new location.

The new store has a dedicated area for The Lottery and Keno

Lincoln Liquors will be having wine tasting on Saturday afternoons. These tastings are typically run by vendors.

The new location which is immediately to the left of Marshalls, is just a few doors down from the old store.,

During the transition to the new store, Lincoln Liquors hired two additional employees and is currently looking to add three or four more in time for the holiday season.

Lincoln Liquors offers a limited delivery service mainly for corporate events.

While the new store has been open since early October, a formal Grand Opening is planned for just before Thanksgiving. Lincoln Liquors is currently open Monday to Saturday from 9am to 10pm and 10am to 8pm on Sundays.

The logo is modeled after President Lincoln. Note the top hat and the beard around the letter O

This new store continues a trend towards much larger liquor stores in the region. For example in the past few years in Burlington, both Olde Towne Liquors and Burlington Wine and Spirits reopened a few doors down in much larger locations. I think this is partially due to the popularity of Craft Beers resulting in having to carry a much larger selection and also due to having to  compete with new supermarkets which are more likely to offer liquor like the new Wegman's in Burlington.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Body Temple Massage Opens on Great Road

Body Template Massage at 62 Great Road, opened last Friday October 16th. I recently spoke with the owner Chantra So. Chantra is originally from Cambodia and now lives in Lowell. A few years back a friend of hers was interested in learning Massage and asked Chantra to go with her to take a look at a massage program at the The Elizabeth Grady School. Chantra found it very interesting and so it wound up that Chantra enrolled in the school while her friend did not end up enrolling.

Main Hallway of Body Temple Massage. Treatment rooms are on the right.
After Graduating, Chantra decided to begin researching opening up her own massage spa. A friend initially found the space in Bedford. She did some research and did not see other massage places nearby so she thought this would be good location to set up shop.

One of the three treatment rooms. Each room has a unique look.
Body Template Massage offers a variety of massage types including Swedish Relaxing, Deep Tissue, Hot Stone and others. The space consists of a welcome area and three treatment rooms.

While the spa opened on October 16th, the official Grand Opening Celebration will be held on Saturday October 24th from 5pm-9pm and include raffles, appetizers and wine. As part of the Grand Opening, Chantra mentioned they will be offering 25% off regular rates through the end of the year. Body Temple Massage is open from 10am-8pm during the week and from 10am-6pm on weekends.

1. With the opening of Body Temple Massage, the retail space on the Black Block is 100% occupied. KB Jewelers is expected to move in to the space currently occupied by Bedford Rug early next year.

2. During the past few years, the local area has seen an influx of national chains for Hair Salons and Massage. Bedford has seen the addition of Supercuts, Great Clips and now Hair Cuttery while Burlington has seen Snip-Its, 18|8, Hair Cuttery, Sport Clips as well as Massage Envy and Elements Therapeutic Massage.

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.