Saturday, May 25, 2024

The Buzz: 2 new businesses like the downtown vibe. Why old Denny’s is getting facelift

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Two local businesses recently relocated from Redding’s retail-heavy Hilltop Drive corridor to downtown.

Capturing The Essence Salt Cave opened on Market Street and Nano VR Escape opened on Tehama Street.

Their arrival comes in the wake the recent news of longtime business Enjoy The Store and Rose Kitchen & Spirits saying goodbye to downtown.

Both Yolondo Lupoe, who owns the Salt Cave, and Nano VR owner Katherine Nerbonne said one reason they moved was their displeasure with doing business across the river. They like the vibe better downtown.

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They mentioned that downtown is marketing itself as an entertainment district and they want to leverage that.

What they are referring to is a conversation the Redding City Council had a few months back about turning downtown into an entertainment zone.

It hasn’t happened yet, but clearly Lupoe and Nerbonne like the idea.

“There was a post on one of the Facebook sites that said Redding is turning downtown into an entertainment district that caught my attention, so I thought that would be an ideal spot,” Nerbonne said. She opened about two weeks ago.

Lupoe, who opened the Salt Cave about two months ago, is excited she is across the street from the Redding Public Market, which is scheduled to open this summer.

She also mentioned neighboring businesses like Apricot Lane Boutique, Shenanigan’s Baby Boutique, DreamWeaver Dance Theater, Juniper Stone and virtual reality space Area 151.

“It brings in a variety of people, it fits people with kids, people who are on a date, people who are athletic. So it’s family-oriented businesses,” Lupoe said of the area.

Lupoe, who grew up on California’s Central Coast, moved to Redding nine years ago. She previously lived in South Korea where she worked in tourism while she was a missionary for her church, Heritage Christian Fellowship.

“In Asia, they have spa modalities that they use and I knew when I came back to the United States, I wanted to create an Asian Western-style spa. So, this is one way to do that,” she said.

Her business offers salt/halotherapy, massage therapy and an infrared sauna. The centerpiece is the Salt Cave, a large room with more than two tons of Himalayan salt on the floor that Lupoe says has health benefits.

“You can actually bury yourself in it,” Lupoe said of the salt therapy.

The business is open Tuesday 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Thursday and Friday 10 a.m. to noon and 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Capturing The Essence Salt Cave will celebrate its grand opening on May 24.

Nerbonne opened her virtual reality business in 2022, then relocated it to Anderson “because of the homeless presence” on Hilltop Drive. But she closed the business after moving to Anderson after she adopted foster children.

After about six months, she decided to reopen Nano VR Escape and picked downtown Redding to do so.

She said her business’ mission statement is connecting people with disabilities through virtual reality. But the business also can be used for birthday parties and other fun activities.

Nano VR Escape is open Wednesday-Friday 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 8 p.m.

Those steel beams rising above Cypress Avenue

Drivers on Cypress Avenue in Redding have no doubt noticed steel beams commanding the skyline.

Work started last November on U-Haul’s big expansion at the intersection of Lowden Lane and Leila Avenue.

The company is building a three-story, 66,858-square-foot building, of which about 55,000 square feet will be storage units. The balance of the space will feature U-Haul’s U-Box storage.

Scott Gully of Gheen Builders Inc., the general contractor, told me he expects the project to be done by early next year.

On the day I visited the site, crews from True North Constructors were busy working on the steel framing of the building. True North is one of the subcontractors on the project.

The office and storage unit loading doors will front Leila Avenue.

When I wrote about the project in August 2022, I mentioned the greater Redding area had experienced a surge of mini-storage projects popping up, spurred by a hot housing market that had been fueled by the pandemic and more people working from home.

The housing market has cooled since then and along with it the demand for self-storage units.

According to SquareFoot, which tracks the industry, the average monthly cost to rent a self-storage unit in the United States is about $83 today, down 24.5% from the record set in 2022 when it was $110. The numbers take into account all unit sizes.

Why there’s a fence around Burger King

A reader emailed me recently wondering if the Burger King near the corner of Hilltop Drive and East Cypress Avenue had closed because a fence had gone up around the fast-foot restaurant.

The restaurant, like the one on Eureka Way in west Redding, is being remodeled.

Redding restauranteur Joe Wong sold his 13 Burger King restaurants in 2022 to a Livermore-based franchisee.

Soon after the sale was completed, I spoke with Harsh Ghai, of Livermore’s Ghai Management Services, and he said one thing they wanted to do was elevate the Burger King brand in the North State and that included remodeling the restaurants.

The Burger King on East Cypress Avenue opened in 1976 and it was Redding’s introduction to the Whopper, as it was the first Burger King that Wong opened. It also was the first Burger King in California north of Sacramento.

The Original Mels coming to Redding?

The sight of work being done on the former Denny’s restaurant on East Cypress west of Interstate 5 has spurred rumors that the Original Mels Diner is opening there.

So I gave Hans Monvik of ReMax in Redding a call. Monvik has been listing the building since the restaurant closed about year ago.

He said the work is to make the building more marketable, not because Mels is opening in Redding.

Huckleberry’s did look at the former Denny’s last year, but nothing ever came of that.

Stay tuned.

David Benda covers business, development and anything else that comes up for the USA TODAY Network in Redding. He also writes the weekly “Buzz on the Street” column. He’s part of a team of dedicated reporters that investigate wrongdoing, cover breaking news and tell other stories about your community. Reach him on Twitter @DavidBenda_RS or by phone at 1-530-338-8323. To support and sustain this work, please subscribe today.

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