South Lake Optimistic

MountainViews-Observer – 11/07/08

By Teresa Baxter

In every neighborhood of Pasadena there is evidence of national chain stores going out of business. Recently the city has witnessed the loss of the Pasadena Ford dealership, Linen’s and Things, and the upcoming closure of Shoe Pavilion on South Lake Avenue.

Despite the indications that reflect our country’s economic tailspin, several local entrepreneurs are venturing into business by setting up shop in the South Lake Business District.

Gina Tleel, the executive director of the South Lake Business Association remains optimistic and continues to move forward with projects that will enhance the shopping experience as the economy recovers. Currently, the South Lake Streetscape Improvement construction project is underway, which consists of street median upgrades. According to Tleel, new landscaping, high-tech irrigation and electrical systems will also be part of the renovations.

“We’re thinking of the future when it comes to water conservation. California has been campaigning to get communities to do their part and we’re setting the example,” said Tleel. “The cool thing about the construction – that will be completed by Macy’s re-opening – is that the holiday lights will also be in place adding to the vibrancy of the district.”

Macy’s chose to close in the month of May to revamp the interior of the store while also undergoing significant seismic upgrades. Their re-opening will be taking place on Saturday, Nov. 22, prior to what is knows as “Black Friday”, which is the Friday after Thanksgiving that symbolizes the beginning of the traditional Christmas shopping season.

One of the new tenants in the shopping district is J Beverly Hills Salon, located at 820 E. Green Street. The salon was established by Yuriy Garayan, who moved here from Russia, and his wife Acsanna. Yuriy decided to branch out on his own after earning a reputable following during his decade of service at Juan Juan Salon, an upscale hair salon located in Beverly Hills. The couple feels that they have embodies the “American Dream” with their new store location.

“The second I came to this country I felt the love. I didn’t speak any English so I went to school to learn it,” said Yuriy. “You can go anywhere around the world and see the suffering. People don’t realize that we have everything here. All you need to do is work hard.”

One South Lake Ave. the new ventures include a Subway franchise, Honey Nail Spa, Beard Papa’s Fresh’n Natural Cream Puffs, Merle Norman Cosmetics, and Cantaloop, which serves natural frozen yogurt.

“We love being in this neighborhood. It’s bustling and sophisticated, and our customers are loyal and friendly.” said Andrea Ferraco, owner of Cantaloop. “We plan on offering seasonal flavors and toppings during the holidays.”

Soon to be opening businesses include the expanded Pasadena-based Breakthru Fitness Studio, Luther Bank and Giggle, a national chain touted as the one-stop source for today’s new parent, offering a complete checklist of only the best products for a smarter nursery.

“I think this is a good time for businesses to come in and set up shop to fine tune their trade – so when the financial crisis is over everything is in place,” said Tleel. “We’re focusing on polishing up the area so when the economy rebounds we’re ready to rock and roll. This down time is a productive time for me.”

The district has also implemented two Ambassador Guides to canvass the area offering guidance and assistance to shoppers on issues that cover everything from customer service to parting protocol.