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Pacific Smoothie adds to its sweetness

Popular south Bethlehem chill spot changes hands.

Retail Watch

Scanning the Storefronts

5:49 PM PDT, June 23, 2012

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The mercury was high when I wrote this column Wednesday afternoon, so my mind was on frozen treats.

I'm tired of writing about frozen yogurt, so I shifted to another frozen treat — smoothies.

That takes this column to Pacific Smoothie in south Bethlehem.

The popular chill spot has changed hands, now owned by husband and wife Giorgi Kavelidze and Marina Gabunia of Allentown.

The two took on the venture for their daughter, Erna Kavelidze, who has always wanted to have her own smoothie shop. Kavelidze, a recent Dieruff High School graduate, is the shop's manager.

The family retained the business' quirky interior decor, including a pineapple, a poster of Uncle Sam and other random decorations.

Pacific Smoothie will keep churning out those signature smoothies selections from Pinch of Pineapple, to Kiwi-Strawberry Creation and Lehigh Lime, which is made with raspberry juice, lime sherbet, strawberries and raspberries.

The new owners added ice cream, milkshakes and some new smoothie flavors like chocolate peanut butter.

Pacific Smoothie was started in 2004 by then-Lehigh University students Phil Fusacchia and J.D. Mumford.

Mumford, originally from Portola Valley, Calif., saw there was a need for a local smoothie shop to mirror those established on the West Coast.

Website: http://www.pacificsmoothie.com

Another addition for south Bethlehem is Sunrise Convenience store, at 11 E. Fourth St.

The store carries staples like bread, milk and eggs, but also candy and other treats.

Perkins will reopen its restaurant at 205 W. Third St. on July 2, spokeswoman Vivian Brooks said, bringing new life to a building that has been lifeless since July 2010.

It's not known why Perkins decided to reopen, but I doubt many are complaining. The restaurant originally opened in 2000 and has been popular with nearby Lehigh University students.

Perkins emerged from bankruptcy protection last year, but not before closing dozens of its roughly 600 restaurants because of reduced consumer spending and higher costs for ingredients.

Perkins has five restaurants in the Lehigh Valley.

For years, I have been writing about the delayed Molly Brannigans pub in the former Farr shoe building at Broad and New streets. The saga has been unfolding in Retail Watch since before my tenure started in 2008.

Renovations are progressing on the four-story building with two dozen apartments on its upper floors. Plans to open Molly Brannigans on the lower level are no more, according to Amy Pektor.

Pektor, a member of the building's ownership, confirmed that the Brannigans deal has fallen through and the owners are seeking another tenant. Pektor owns the building with sister Lisa Pektor and Anthony Scarcia.

Officials at Brannigans' Erie headquarters did not respond to my request for comment. They have never responded to me, so that's no shocker either.

The chain has locations in Erie and Harrisburg.

That takes us to the long-vacant former Jack Jones Buick dealership building on Broad Street.

Developer Abe Atiyeh sold the building to a developer who is planning to erect a medical facility there.

We've added a lot medical facilities in the region, so what's one more?

Months ago, Atiyeh gave some hope that west Bethlehem site could house a Starbucks and other coveted retailers.

Lets shift to the sweetness of openings.

Months behind schedule, Sugar Babe Cupcakes is open on certain days at the former The Attic clothing store at 14 W. Broad St.

I couldn't catch up with busy owner Angela Malpedo, but the shop's Facebook page has been keeping its fans abreast of its "preview days." The shop isn't in full operation because it's "still ironing out some things with the city," according to the Facebook page.

Malpedo started the business as a mobile venture years ago. She originally told me she planned to have the new store open last December.

Sugar Babe website: http://www.sugarbabecupcakes.com

We've seen a lot news on the sweets front in recent years.

Many bakers are riding the cupcake high thanks in part to the popularity of television shows such as Food Network's "Cupcake Wars." I've found myself watching a few shows, including an April "Cupcake Wars" episode featuring Catasauqua cupcakery Blondies co-owner Rebecca Zukowski competing against three other bakers.

Unfortunately Zukowski didn't win, but the national exposure surely raised the Valley's street cred.

A few readers have asked for an update on the closed Starfish Brasserie in downtown Bethlehem. People didn't forget former owner Kris Sandholm mentioned the new owner would keep the Starfish name and reopen the eatery as early as late May.

We're in late June and not much activity has occurred other than the brown paper covering the restaurant's windows, which adorn a hard-to-miss orange Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board sign for the liquor license transfer to Twisted Olive Inc.

LCB records list Twisted Olive owners as William S. Kershner and Sherri R. Kershner. They did not respond to my request for comment.

Richard Barrows opened Starfish in 2000 and sold the business to Sandholm in 2009.

Sandholm, who had been at the restaurant since 2004, implemented some changes such as eco-friendly seafood, which means it meets certain environmental criteria in how it is raised and harvested.

Sandholm said he decided to sell the restaurant earlier this year because he grew tired of the day-to-day grind.

The roughly 1,000-square-foot restaurant and its liquor license were listed for sale late last year for $199,900, according to real estate website Loopnet.com.

Summer is here and that usually means summer blockbusters. So of course that triggers questions about the fate of the still-closed Boyd Theatre.

The single-screen Broad Street theater has been closed since May 2011 after sustaining damage from a series of spring rainstorms, its owner has said.

Months ago, there was hope the theater would be ready for business in time for the busy — and profitable — summer blockbuster season.

Spokesman Rob Hopkins said Tuesday that there have been construction delays and they're still working toward a reopening.

People appear to be getting anxious and optimism is fading. Don't believe me? Just read the theater's Facebook page.

Speaking of Facebook pages: The Sun Inn on Main Street announced on its page that its restaurant is back in business. The eatery is open for dinner on Fridays and Saturdays.

Retail Watch keeps track of new store, restaurant and bank development in the Lehigh Valley. Have a question about a retail construction project, a store opening or a chain you'd like to see come to the area? Call business reporter Tyrone Richardson at 610-820-6779, or email retailwatch@mcall.com. Retail Watch appears every Sunday.