Ryan Kneller / The Morning Call – “Buy fresh, buy local” isn’t just a mantra, it’s a movement — with an ever-growing number of people wanting to not only eat healthier, but also support neighborhood businesses.
In the Lehigh Valley, it seems almost every borough, city and township now have their own farmers markets — from the large indoor markets in Allentown and Quakertown to the seasonal outdoor markets in Emmaus and Northampton.
And how could I not mention Easton, which hosts the country’s longest continuous running open-air farmers market.
In Hellertown, the latest example of this blossoming mindset is Lehigh Valley Produce at 837 Main St., across from Advanced Optics.
The shop, which made its debut in mid-May, sells a variety of locally grown fruits, vegetables and plants — from corn and tomatoes to cucumbers and cantaloupe. There’s also a wide variety of apples, berries, pears, peppers, potatoes and onions.
It showcases locally sourced foods wherever possible, but also sells non-native produce such as bananas, limes, mangoes and pineapples. For $2, you can get a basket of assorted fruits and vegetables.
Trees, shrubs and a wide variety of flowers line the business’ parking lot.
Husband and wife co-owners John and Irene Papageorgio formerly operated Antonio’s Brick Oven Pizza in the space but decided it was time for a change this past winter.
On Feb. 2, the Center Valley couple closed their 16-year-old pizza shop, which was doing well, and started swapping dining tables for wooden crates. The new venture had been in John’s mind for a couple of years, but Irene was slightly hesitant.
“He jumps in the ocean while I like to put my toes in,” she joked.
The shop sells produce and plants primarily obtained from Amish farms and stands, including the Route 10 Roadside Market in Honey Brook Township, Chester County, but there’s also fresh finds from other regional farms, including raspberries from Kachline Farms in Lower Mount Bethel Township, peaches from Krumanocker Farm in Reading and eggs from Heisler Egg Farm in Walker Township, Schuylkill County.
Offerings change with the seasons, with the shop already planning to carry pumpkins, mums and other fall staples in a couple of months.
Additionally, the store sells pure honey from Stockin’s Apiaries in Strasburg, Lancaster County, as well as imported juices, pastas, sauces, feta cheese and olive oils (both regular and infused).
Lehigh Valley Produce, which also runs a wholesale business, delivering to many local restaurants, is open 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. Info: 610-838-8888.
While I’m on the topic of Hellertown, I’ll tell you about two borough businesses meant to keep you looking your best.
Gorgeous Salon and Dry Bar opened July 15 at 1231 Main St., the former space of Salon on Main.
The full-service salon, owned by Kristen Keyes of Lower Nazareth Township, offers haircuts, up-dos, blow-drying, waxing and manicures, among other services. Info: 610-838-8567.
Second, Ooooooh La Lashes! opened in early June at 44 Main St., near Neighbors Home & Garden Center.
The shop, owned by stylist Christine Filaseta of Hellertown, specializes in the application of Xtreme Eyelash brand semi-permanent eyelash extensions. It also sells makeup, beauty accessories and skin care products.
To schedule an appointment, call 484-892-2119.
The Saucon Valley Square shopping center on Route 378 in Lower Saucon Township is on an upward swing.
Following last month’s announcement that the old Pathmark space was being refitted to include discount retailer Dollar Tree and fitness club chain Maxx Fitness, I now bring you news that the old Blockbuster space will house Allentown-based pet supply and grooming retailer Chaar.
The store, scheduled to open in late September or early October, will not contain the footwear, apparel and equestrian departments found in the anchor location on Airport Road.
“With more people demanding healthy [pet food] options we feel the time is right to expand,” Chaar President and CEO Tony ElChaar said in a news release.
Chaar, founded in 2001, has plans to operate a total of three to five additional pet-focused locations in the Lehigh Valley in the next three years. Info: chaar.us.
Some other welcome news for animal lovers is last month’s grand opening of A Furry Tail Come True Too at 140 Bath Nazareth Highway (next to Rite Aid) in Nazareth.
The doggie day care and cage-free boarding facility is the second location of A Furry Tail Come True, which has operated at 26 Main St. in Hellertown since 2006.
The Nazareth location, nearly double the size of the Hellertown facility, features a 5,000-square-foot indoor play area and about an acre outdoor play area. Other services include grooming and dog poop scooping. Info: 610-838-6638 or afurrytailcometrue.com.
Many Retail Watchers, including my colleague Debra Schnecker, have inquired about construction along Airport Road, across from Friendly’s, in Hanover Township, Lehigh County.
According to Dan Cotherman, job superintendent with Speedwell Construction, the new structure will be a strip mall and the only confirmed tenant so far is Chipotle Mexican Grill.
Township Manager and zoning officer Sandra Pudliner said the new strip mall has a different owner, Airport Point Realty Partnership, than that of the Airport Center.
However, strip mall patrons will have to use the same entrance/exit as those frequenting the neighboring shopping mecca, which houses such big name retailers as DSW, Target and Christmas Tree Shops.
Chipotle Communications Director Chris Arnold said the fast-casual restaurant should open in late summer.
While speaking with Cotherman on site, I discovered a grand opening sign for health store chain GNC. The shop, next to Five Below, slipped under my radar as a worker informed me it’s been open since March.
In Easton, the O’Grady Quinlan Academy of Irish Dance will hold a grand opening of its new, state-of-the-art training facility 5:30-8 p.m. Tuesday at 228 W. Canal St.
The academy instructs students of all ages and levels – from 4-year-old beginners to elite champions – in Irish dance.
“We can’t wait to begin training in the new 8,000-square-foot studio, featuring three large dance rooms with Stage Step Flooring, cameras for parent viewing and two changing areas,” said instructor Colleen Schroeder.
The event will feature tours, refreshments, raffles, a short dance exhibition by students and an opportunity to meet staff and sign up for classes, which start the first week of September at all of O’Grady Quinlan’s locations, including Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton, Hatfield and Bloomsbury, NJ. Info: ogradyquinlan.com.
Another Lehigh Drug Store opened a couple of weeks ago at 207 N. Sixth St. in Allentown
The pharmacy, co-owned by Nimesh and Umesh Patel, offers free prescription pickup and delivery, as well as free blood pressure and blood sugar screenings.
The first Lehigh Drug Store is at 540 N. Seventh St. Info: 610-351-3900.
Also in center city, 7th Street Dollar Plus at 324 N. Seventh St. had its grand opening last month.
The discount store, which is just down the road from Casa Dollar, sells everything from toiletries, cleaning products and pet supplies to dinnerware, gift bags and toys.
I’ll finish with two recently opened Italian eateries that have closed their doors.
The Crust, which opened May 6 at 3350 Schoenersville Road (former Pasta Ria) in Hanover Township, Lehigh County, closed about three weeks ago.
According to co-owner Mike Chan of Lower Macungie Township, the restaurant’s head chef left and a replacement couldn’t be found. Anyone interested in buying the business should call 484-347-8306.
In Bethlehem, Artigiano Trattoria at 2955 Linden St. closed in mid-June.
The Italian eatery, across the street from Stefano’s Restaurant, had transitioned from Mexican restaurant Fiesta Ole in March. The site was a Fuddrucker’s before it was Fiesta Ole.
According to marketing director Miguel Morales, the new venture did not garner a large enough clientele.
The Fiesta Oles in Emmaus and Whitehall Township remain open and the owner is contemplating opening another Mexican eatery in the Lehigh Valley, Morales said.