Sunday, February 10, 2013

Retail Roundup: Nopales to open in Grandin Village

Retail Roundup columns

The Storefront blog

An established Roanoke restaurateur plans to open a Mexican-Caribbean eatery this spring in Grandin Village, across the street from his current restaurant.

Rocky Byrd, who with his wife has owned and operated Rockfish Food and Wine on Grandin Road since 2005, will open the new restaurant, Nopales, where Surf 'n Turf closed in December.

"Grandin Village needs some ethnic food," Byrd said.

Byrd named the restaurant after a cactus that is found in Mexico and is used in cuisine there.

He lived in Mexico for several years and said he will bring to Roanoke authentic dishes from the Yucatan and Baja peninsulas.

"I know the cuisine, I like it, and I miss it," he said.

The menu will include dishes such as ceviche and grilled and fried fish tacos.

If Byrd is granted an ABC license, he wants to stock a collection of rum and tequila and sell drinks that call for those liquors. He will also sell beer and wine.

Byrd has been looking for a space to open a Mexican restaurant for several years but was unable to find the right spot until Surf 'n Turf closed; the former owners cited the economy and rising food prices as reasons for shuttering.

Byrd said he was sad to see the seafood restaurant close, but he plans to transform the interior so that "it won't be recognizable as Surf 'n Turf when you walk in here."

He will, however, use the same kitchen equipment that Surf 'n Turf left behind.

When the restaurant is open, Byrd plans to continue leading the wine program at Rockfish, but he will otherwise focus on Nopales.

Byrd plans to open Nopales in mid- to late April.

Retailers prepare for Valentine's Day

Retailers are gearing up for the crush of last-minute Valentine's Day shoppers, but according to a survey by the National Retail Federation, budget-conscious consumers won't spend much more this year on gifts than they did last year.

The survey found that consumers plan to spend an average of about $131 on gifts, up slightly from $126 last year.

More than half of those surveyed said they'd buy candy, and about one third said they'd buy flowers. Jewelry, clothing and gift cards were also popular gift items among those surveyed.

Perhaps not surprisingly, men will significantly outspend women.

Men will spend an average of about $176 while women are expected to spend nearly $89.

At Goldsmith Jewelers in Roanoke's Crystal Spring neighborhood, owner Steve Black is stocking up on heart-themed jewelry in the $150 to $200 price range.

Black said he expects to do the majority of his sales in the days immediately leading up to Valentine's Day.

But he noted that Cupid's holiday doesn't bring him as many sales as other holidays.

"[Consumers] don't put the importance on it like they do a birthday or an anniversary or Christmas," Black said.

ChocolatePaper owner Melissa Palmer is also preparing for a rush of shoppers this week.

Her stores, one in downtown Roanoke and another in southwest Roanoke County, carry chocolates, greeting cards and a variety of gifts.

She has employees staying late to restock shelves and make gift baskets.

It's too early for her to judge whether shoppers will spend more this year than last, but she did say she's seen an interest in greeting cards. She also expects chocolate to be a big seller.

"Chocolate is a sure thing," she said.

Sixteen West is getting more tenants

Sixteen West Marketplace, a development in downtown Roanoke on Church Avenue, is slowly filling with retail tenants.

A grocery store, S&W Market, opened in October. Most recently, The Learning Source, a store carrying educational materials for teachers and churches, set up in a small stall.

Next month, another tenant will join the mix, which also includes Cafe 16, CORE Chiropractic and Wellness, RAC Xpress, and Fleda A. Ring Artworks: Barefoot Studios, an art gallery and a Healing Touch therapy studio, will move into a 450-square-foot space on the first floor.

Jane Barefoot Rochelle is giving up her job as an education consultant at North Carolina State University in Raleigh to move back to the area, where she will pursue her Healing Touch business full time.

"I'm coming to do what I've been doing on nights and weekends," she said.

She described Healing Touch as an integrated energy therapy to support people physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Barefoot Rochelle also will rent out her space to other service professionals, such as massage therapists and acupuncturists.

In a separate room, she will set up an art gallery featuring local artists.

Another business planned for the 16 West development, Cork and Crust restaurant, is in the process of gathering funds to open, said Suzanne Gandy, who spoke on behalf of restaurant proprietors Mark Linson and Amelia Glaser.

Gandy said the business is talking donations. She wouldn't say whether they had tried to get funding through a bank or from investors.

"How they do it is their business," she said.

"They are getting funding the best way they can without going into debt," she said. "The best way to get this open is to support them."

Linson and Glaser are also the owners of Cafe 16 and the S&W Market Cafe 16 serves breakfast items, and the market has a deli with a soup and salad bar as well as daily specials.

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