is open and closed ongoing series ILooking at the movement of businesses in Southcentral Alaska. If you know of a business opening or closing in the area, send a note reporter alex demarban with “Open and Shut” in the subject line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last Call Grill and Delivery: When COVID-19 struck last spring, Gregory Daniels was fired from his job as a chef at an offshore drilling rig at Cook Inlet.
With money strapped, he bought a grill, printed promotional flyers and started a delivery-only business, Last Call Grill and Delivery.
He said he personally handed out about 5,000 promotional menus outside bars, hospitals and strip clubs, letting people know he would be serving American fare until the early hours of the morning.
The business went on. Profits rolled down, he said.
It helped that there wasn’t much food in Anchorage after midnight, said Daniels, a longtime cook and restaurant owner from South Carolina.
“I had to figure something out, and I went to what I know how to do and that cook and sell,” he said. “I made $1,000 the first night, and it went up as the food was talked about.”
Things went so well that in late June, Daniels moved into the building at 302 W Fireweed Lane, which once housed Marco T’s Pizzeria, which closed its doors due to the pandemic.
Three weeks into Daniels’ new operation, sales are strong and growing, he said.
As families arrive for dinner when the restaurant opens at 7 pm, a young crowd appears as the bar, with some patrons staying until it closes at 4:30 am, he said. He also provides catering and delivery.
“It’s American comfort food,” he said. “We got Philly, wings, a range of amazing burgers, and fried chicken, pork chops, fried fish.”
He also makes pancakes, omelets and other snacks.
“All the money I made, I reinvested it,” Daniels said. “I want a better life for myself and my family.”
AK Bicycle Chic: Crystal Offord and Nancy Richmond were sitting at “garage high hour” last year during the pandemic, when they began talking about the difficulty in finding women’s bike clothes in Anchorage.
“Bike shops do a great job of selling bikes, but there’s a huge shortage of women’s specialty clothing and gear and accessories and things like that,” Offred said.
Offord, who was then a financial officer at the University of Alaska Anchorage, lost his job because of cuts to the university’s budget. Richmond – nicknamed “Viper McGinarley” for his aggressive riding style – was retired.
So the two friends decided to start a boutique selling women’s biking parlors.
After months of planning, AK Cycle Chic launched on Tuesday afternoon with a soft opening. The grand opening with a “sorry party” is scheduled for August 5, Offord said. The shop is located at 908 W Northern Lights Blvd., the former home of the Alaska Walking Store’s Midtown location.
The store sells colorful jerseys, biking shorts and other clothing, as well as cycling-inspired jewelry, art, and home goods.
The owners plan to sell women’s biking shoes as well, but they can’t do that just yet. Richmond said they are difficult to find during the pandemic.
The owners plan to convert a loft into an art gallery where female craftspeople can sell goods. The store doesn’t sell bikes, but it plans to host bike repair workshops run by women.
“We want to be more involved in the community, and we see this as a place where women can come if they have questions or problems,” Richmond said.
907-E-Bike: The electric bike rental store opened in June at 523 W. Fourth Avenue in downtown Anchorage.
Liz Cohen, an employee, said it caters to tourists and local residents who want to enjoy a bike ride with the help of an electric motor.
“Anyone and everyone is using and interested in them,” she said.
The shop has around 100 e-bikes of different styles and sizes. These include mountain bikes and commuter bikes.
She said the store may not buy more e-bikes until next year. Demand for e-bikes has increased during the pandemic, and orders for new ones have long been supported, she said.
Bradley House: Longtime owner Bernadette Bradley said the restaurant in South Anchorage would close on July 25 after 21 years in business, factors related to the pandemic slashing sales and making it difficult to find workers.
“I can’t find enough employees to operate the place if I want or need it, and it’s very stressful on my managers with the turnover,” Bradley said.
Dine-in shutdowns and other restrictions over the past year have hurt the business, which hasn’t offered its lunch service in more than a year, he said.
Instead of the typical summer workforce of over 50 employees, the restaurant employs about 23 employees.
He said that people are leaving the industry for other opportunities.
“Many hospitality people are not coming back because they were in great poverty in the winter with the shutdown,” she said.
Bradley said last year he borrowed from his retirement fund to help cover restaurant expenses.
He said about $600,000 in federal pandemic grant funding, offered through the Restaurant Revitalization Fund under the Small Business Administration, helped him pay off that debt himself.
The money also allows him to provide severance packages to his workers. And that would return a lot of the money to the federal government, she said.
“Financially I’m fine, but I can’t run a restaurant well if I don’t have enough cooks and food takes forever to reach customers,” she said. “And if there aren’t enough servers, the service is bad.”
Los Tacos Alaska: The food truck has closed indefinitely.
“It was a fun ride. Lots of memories,” owner Carlos Cardoso said in a Facebook post.
In an interview, Cardoso said he shut down due to a lack of business during the pandemic and the continuing uncertainty in the restaurant industry.
ShujiQ: After the pandemic hurt its business, Shoe Boutique South in Rill’s left its location next to the restaurant and moved a little further down Mountain View Sports at 11124 Old Seward Highway in the same building.
Both business owners said the combination has benefited both the hunting and fishing store and the shoe retailer.
Don Walsh, co-owner of ShuziQ, said more tourists and locals are moving out as the pandemic slows, so the sports shop brings in a lot of traffic which is helping the boutique.
“It turned out real cute,” Walsh said. “Men can go fishing and women can go to boutiques.”
Speedway Express: Thirty-one Tesoro gas stations across Alaska have been converted into Speedway Express sites, said Casey Sullivan, government and public affairs manager with Marathon Petroleum Corp.
Speedway Express is owned by 7-Eleven. In May the chain purchased the convenience store branch of Marathon Petroleum Corp., which had Tesoro stations in Alaska.