Scanning the Storefronts
5:43 PM AKST, January 21, 2012
Ever since its inception more than a decade ago, mytableware.com has sold an array of china, glassware and other home goods largely through the online marketplace.
The company processes about 200 orders a day, but customers weren't able to see and touch the Lenox flatware in person. Now all that's changed.
Mytableware.com listened to numerous customer requests and recently carved out a retail space in its 16,000-square-foot warehouse at 3971 Independence Drive, Schnecksville.
The retail space has a mere sampling of the thousands of different items mytableware.com peddles. Mytableware.com was spawned from a local antiques store owned by Paul Sarver Sr. The company became an international business after Sarver was joined by his computer-savvy son, Paul Sarver Jr.
"The joined store and warehouse operation enables shoppers to have access to an enormous inventory of high quality tableware all under one roof," Paul Sarver Jr. said Monday. "Giving the customer an opportunity to see, touch and feel the latest tableware, gifts, and home décor makes for a complete shopping experience."
The shop includes a sea of flatware and glassware brands such as Lunt, Dansk, Haviland, Royal Worcester and Waterford.
There are also home wares like tablecloths, lamps and pots and pans and an extensive clearance section with everything from mugs to Christmas knickknacks.
The shop looks like a cutout of the warehouse space, but has subtle niceties thanks to china on its shelves and a Waterford chandelier hanging from above.
I think life is a bit perkier in Hellertown nowadays. The quiet borough has been clamoring for a Dunkin' Donuts since the chain left a gas station on Main Street some time ago.
The calls have been answered: Dunkin' recently opened at the former M&T Bank branch at 730 Main St.
The 2,200-square-foot new location is the second Dunkin' to take over a former bank branch recently. The Lehigh Valley's largest Dunkin' opened months ago at a 3,000-square-foot former bank branch on MacArthur Road in Whitehall Township.
I passed by the Hellertown location days ago. Franchisee Raj Saraswati retained many of the signature bank details, which add a classy and distinct look for Dunkin'.
With banks retrenching in recent years, there has been a surplus of real estate. Most former branches, however, have been converted into office space, restaurants and medical facilities.
Hellertown's restaurant scene recently added Café Erica and Bella's Ristorante at the former Java Queen Coffee House and Secrets salon space in the 600 block of Main Street.
Café Erica's Facebook page describes it as a specialty coffee and pastry café. Bella's is an eatery with a menu that has everything from shrimp scampi to lasagna and pizza.
There's some sad news for regulars of the long-standing Galley Restaurant in Plainfield Township.
It's not quite known why yet, but the ship-inspired eatery closed recently.
The restaurant, which opened in the early 1900s, was known for its seafood and steak. Other draws were its maritime-themed interior with quintessential captain's chairs, artifacts from ships, highly polished brass bells and a deck built like a ship.
The restaurant's phone line has been disconnected and a "For Sale" is perched at its entrance at 6615 Sullivan Trail, according to several reader emails.
Also, chances of seeing Maryland Fried Chicken open again at 2158 Stefko Blvd., Bethlehem, are no more.
And judging from the many emails from readers anxiously awaiting its return, this is a pretty big deal.
The fast-food restaurant is closed permanently, a manager said earlier this month.
Manager Matt Matula said they have decided to forgo reopening the Stefko Boulevard location. Maryland Fried Chicken still has a location in Palmer Township.
The chicken joint has been closed since July 26, when a fire that started in the deep fryers damaged its roof and caused extensive damage.
Home retailer Plow & Hearth will be opening a store in the Promenade Shops at Saucon Valley this spring, mall officials said.
Plow & Hearth, a Virginia-based chain, will be across from L.L. Bean. This will be Plow & Hearth's only brick-and-mortar store in the Lehigh Valley.
Other additions to the outdoor mall include massage-and-facial spa chain Hand and Stone, which plans a February opening.
Speaking of chains:
Pastry and sandwich chain Panera Bread got approval to add a drive-thru to its restaurant in the Southmont Shopping Center on Freemansburg Avenue in Bethlehem Township.
Morning Call freelancer Charles Malinchak reported that Panera project manager Tony Disanza said the addition — its second in the region — hopefully will be completed by early summer.
Panera's built its first drive-thru in the Valley in 2010 at its restaurant on MacArthur Road in Whitehall Township.
Panera is warming up to drive-thrus, a concept formerly exclusive to places like McDonald's and Burger King. Nowadays we can get everything from flu shots to library books and prescriptions through the car window.
I don't know if Burger King is doing it because of its competition, but the fast-food chain in testing home delivery at a dozen restaurants inWashington, D.C.
This is merely the latest trial balloon for the chain that once touted the slogan "Sometimes, you've got to break the rules" and pushed new boundaries with ideas such as dinner table service in the early 1990s.
That concept faded just like BK's meat-flavored cologne in 2010. Did you forget about that? I bet those stray dogs that chased you haven't.
Fast-food chains have been reinventing themselves in recent years. KFC added grilled chicken, White Castle is trying beer and wine sales, and McDonald's is offering book vouchers in Happy Meals in Europe.
Perhaps one chain may take a cue from Seinfeld character Kramer, who floated the idea of charging customers to make their own food. In Kramer's case, it was pizza, but I'm sure grilling a Whopper could be an adventure. Could you imagine the insurance premium for allowing customers near open flames?
Popular Lehigh Valley camera peddler Dan's Camera City will be adding a location to Lower Nazareth Township later this year.
Owners said they plan to open a Dan's Camera City this spring in the shopping center right by the Sonic Drive-In on Route 248.
The new location will come with a portrait studio.
"We have seen our customers dealing with more traffic and less time to get everything done, and we want to make sure Dan's is easily accessible for more residents of the Valley," store co-owner Mike Woodland said in a written statement.
Dan's also has a location on Fairmont Street in Allentown.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Retail Watch appears every Sunday.