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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Passing the torchinelli

T.C. Demaresq browses for business news.

Posted By on Thu, May 17, 2007 at 7:47 AM

Da Maurizio restaurant, a long-standing favourite in Halifax, will soon be changing hands. The Bertossi Group has decided the time has come to let one of its downtown restaurants go, selling it to Andy and Tanya King. The Kings are the husband and wife team that already runs the upscale Northern Italian eatery in the Brewery Market: Andy has been Da Maurizio's chef, and Tanya the manager, for many years. Current owner Stephanie Bertossi couldn't be happier with the arrangement. "We're very excited. It's like having your children taking over for you, they've been with us so long." Bertossi expressed surprise when asked about rumours that the restaurant would be closing soon, and assures patrons that they can expect the same quality of fine dining that da Maurizio is famous for (you can still book your table for that special dinner at 423-0859). The deal should be finalized by June 1.

Clothes call

Heroine is the latest business to move uptown from downtown. The clothing boutique was formerly located at 1656 Granville, but has now reopened at 5775 Charles, just off Agricola. "I live in the Agricola area, so now have opened my business in my own neighbourhood," says owner Jody Manley. "I also am a big supporter of neighbourhoods and think the Agricola area will be the next Queen West of Toronto. I had several requests to move to the Spring Garden area, but for me, Agricola was the only option going forward with Heroine. I was lucky enough to find the perfect space." That perfect space is in the Creative Crossing building, replacing the Allison Moz Pottery studio that occupied the space before. Manley is one of many business owners who have seen the potential of Agricola Street. The area has seen a lot of activity in the last year, as a number of upscale stores and hair salons have made the north end their new home. "The new shop is smaller than the previous one," says Manley, "but brighter and more intimate. I plan to have a smaller but evolving collection—I only order a few pieces of one style and, when it's sold, move to something else, so my clients are getting unique pieces. I also plan to do regular trunk shows—Heroine has four main designers and they will all come to Halifax each season, to meet their customers and offer them customization and unique pieces only available at the show." Heroine will continue to focus on Canadian designers, and has started carrying new lines, such as Karen Wilson handbags. The store will be open seasonally to accommodate the cyclical schedule of the designers. Manley plans to close the shop in late July and then re-open in September. For more information about the changes, call the store at 420-0328.

Don't mess with success

The Fight Store is now open at 1274 Hollis, in the former Allgood's Comics location. The shop sells everything you would ever need to kick someone's ass. Specializing in MMA gear (that's Mixed Martial Arts, the fastest-growing sport in North America), the store also sells equipment for a wide array of fighting styles, including karate, tae kwon do, judo, and even wrestling and boxing. "I noticed that there's a pretty big demand for gear and equipment," says co-owner Ryan Saunders, who has been studying martial arts his whole life. "You usually have to order everything online, and it's expensive for shipping. Plus, it takes four to six weeks for shipping, and when you get it, it might not fit." Saunders's first solution for this problem was to sell gear out of the back of his car. Eventually, the business grew and moved into his apartment. Now it's become a full-size shop, and business so far has exceeded expectations. "There are only two stores in Canada selling MMA gear," says Saunders, "And we might be the only one that sells gear for as many fighting styles as we do." Many of the items The Fight Store carries are ordered from the United States, and some are brought in from Thailand, including brands like UFC, Tapout and Sprawl. The business already has an online store set up as well. For more information, head down for a visit, see the online store at www.fightstore.ca or call the shop at 406-KICK.

Tour de Downtown

Haligonians now have one more method of transportation available to them. Fresh Air Pedicabs offers weary downtown wanderers the option of relaxing, with ecologically friendly, bike-powered taxi rides to get them from point A to point B. The company was co-founded by Michele MacLean and Michele Furfaro, who were inspired by the bicycle pedicabs they saw while visiting Havana. Their fleet currently consists of three 21-speed pedicabs, each equipped with pedal-assisted 500-watt electric motors to help customers feel less guilty about needing a lift up Prince Street. All drivers are over 19 and are road-tested. The service area will mainly be the downtown core, but the drivers will be able to carry passengers as far as Dal, SMU, Quinpool and Point Pleasant Park. They will mainly be servicing people who spot them in the street, but customers can also call the company to be picked up. The rides will cost around 50¢/min., but negotiating with the driver beforehand is encouraged. The pedicabs will also be available for special events, including birthdays, anniversaries and unforgettable date nights. Fresh Air Pedicabs will be running both days and evenings, and you can plan your event by calling 430-0990.

Peddle tips about local business my way by email: shoptalk@thecoast.ca

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