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The Roanoke Times | File 2008
Kroger's new policy of not doubling manufacturers' coupons goes into effect May 12 at its mid-Atlantic stores.
Sunday, May 5, 2013
A Lebanese restaurant will make its debut in Roanoke on Monday.
Cedars Lebanese Restaurant has been years in the making for the Saliba family, who moved to the United States from Lebanon in 2001.
Since then, their cuisine, which they have prepared for friends and catered at various events, has earned them praises — and often the suggestion that they should open a restaurant.
Gaby Saliba, 25, has spent the past few years researching the market and locations for the restaurant. He wanted to be downtown because of the daytime population and foot traffic, he said.
He found what he said was the right location in the former Binaba shop (which has moved to Market Street under the name Villages of Africa) on Campbell Avenue, between Nawab and Benny Marconi’s.
He and his family have spent the past five months fixing up the space. They refinished the hardwood floors, put up new drywall, gutted the bathrooms and more.
“We wanted to do it right,” Saliba said. He wouldn’t say how much money he has spent on the renovations.
They constructed a wall to separate the kitchen from the dining room, but the wall has open windows because Saliba thought it was important that customers could see where and how their food was being prepared.
He is using as many local food vendors as possible, although many of his ingredients are being imported. Those ingredients include spices, oils, chickpeas, pickles and some cheeses, Saliba said. If he is granted an ABC license he will offer beer and wine. For now, the restaurant will carry Laziza, a non-alcoholic beer.
The menu includes items such as hummus, hummus with shawarma (thin, sliced marinated beef), baba ghanouj, falafel, raw kibbeh (beef with wheat and seasoning) and labneh (yogurt with olive oil). Platters include several types of kebabs (chicken, lamb, ground beef), beef shawarma and shish taouk (cubed chicken breast). The menu also includes wraps and salads.
The Saliba family will cook the food “exactly how we would fix it at the house,” Saliba said.
Customers will not only be getting Lebanese food, but also a bit of culture, Saliba said.
“We want to bring a more diverse taste to Roanoke, and we want to show the Lebanese culture,” Saliba said.
He said the decor, with pictures on the walls, will convey the culture, as will servers who can educate diners about the food.
The restaurant has 11 tables and will serve a quick-order lunch, meaning customers will order at the counter and clear their tables when they are finished. A wait staff will be on hand for dinners.
Saliba said he doesn’t have any experience running a restaurant, but he has management experience and has hired a consultant.
Saliba started his own computer business, GMS Computer Services and Sales, which he sold about a year and a half ago. Running that business taught him management skills and other business basics such as figuring out how to price merchandise. Saliba is now working in the IT field and plans to continue working that job while running the restaurant.
Cedars is the only Lebanese restaurant in downtown Roanoke. The Hummus House, which was inside in the Crystal Tower building at the corner of Second Street and Campbell Avenue, closed a year ago when the building was purchased for redevelopment. The owner had said he was going to try to reopen the restaurant elsewhere but hasn’t done so.
Alpaca by Jaca grows
A Smith Mountain Lake business selling clothing fabricated from alpaca fibers has moved into a larger, more prominent space a year after opening.
Alpaca by Jaca has moved to The Forum at Westlake on Virginia 122.
Store owner Sally Hutslar said she was running out of room at the Hales Ford Center store and wanted a space that was more visible to street and foot traffic.
Hutslar’s entry into retail was a bit unorthodox.
She and her husband decided a few years ago to invest some of their money in alpacas, which are prized for their fibers. They purchased two pregnant alpacas with the intent of breeding them and selling their fibers.
The breeders suggested to the Hutslars that they open a store since Jack Hutslar already had a storefront for his business, Log Homes by Jack, an affiliate of Honest Abe Log Homes.
“We thought about it and we started and one thing led to another,” Sally Hutslar said.
A year ago March she began stocking alpaca yarn and clothing made in Peru.
Customers loved the alpaca clothing because it is hypoallergenic and isn’t itchy like wool, Hutslar said.
She moved the store in early April and has added summer items such as beach bags made of seagrass and straw, and hats made of paper.
Her goal is to have eight to 10 alpacas and to sell yarn made from their fibers in her store.
She is looking into fiber mills that will convert the fibers into yarn, or possibly partnering with a co-op that takes fibers in exchange for products, she said.
Alpaca by Jaca also sells slippers, gloves, scarves, shawls, blankets, jewelry and stuffed animals.
Kroger tightens policy
A new coupon policy that goes into effect May 12 at Mid-Atlantic Kroger stores has rankled many readers of the Storefront blog.
Kroger will no longer double manufacturers’ coupons, Kroger announced on its Facebook page last week.
“We understand that this is a significant change. We hope that you come and see our new low prices — as well as the many other ways to save — for yourself,” the Facebook post said.
Kroger also announced that it was lowering prices on thousands of items throughout its stores in the Mid-Atlantic region, which includes Virginia.
The elimination of doubling manufacturer coupons is allowing the company to offer lower prices, said Carl York, spokesman for Kroger’s mid-Atlantic region.
“Lowering prices across the store benefits more customers than does offering double coupons,” York said. “Not everyone does double coupons, but everyone will get lower prices.”
York also pointed to the grocer’s fuel program, in which customers earn discounts at the pump for shopping at the grocery store, and its $4 and $10 prescription program, as other ways Kroger shoppers can save money.
In addition, he said Kroger will continue to have weekly sales and promotions, such as 10-for-$10, Cart Busters and Mega Event promotions.
The change to the coupon policy upset many Kroger shoppers, some of whom said they wouldn’t be shopping at the grocery store again.
“I am afraid to say that I believe the coupon policy is a deal-breaker for me as well,” said a blog reader who uses the name Jessica. “I think this is a silly strategical mistake and one that alienates a broad core customer base that has been going to Kroger, coupons in hand, for over many years. Sorry to say goodbye.”
Another reader, who uses the name Fran, said the lower prices aren’t enough to make up for the loss of doubling coupons.
“I am a loyal Krogers customer and with the current economic situation coupons are essential and I especially look for coupons that can be doubled to help keep food costs down,” Fran said in a comment on the blog. “You may lower prices but it is not enough of a savings and coupons also put your customers in charge of what they buy.”
Several other readers weren’t convinced Kroger had lowered prices.
“I’m skeptical about the ‘new lower prices’ sales pitch,” wrote a reader using the name GoGo. “We routinely buy specific Kroger brand items and they have increased in price (+10% on average) in the past few weeks. I’m not talking about toaster pastries and energy drinks, either. Milk and frozen vegetables are not convenience items. When Kroger raises prices on staple foods and eliminates double-coupons they are forcing budget conscious shoppers to look for better deals elsewhere.”
At least one reader commented that they were pleased with the new pricing.
“Can’t remember ever seeing pineapples (a little smaller than the largest ones) for 99 cents or blackberries for the same,” said a blog reader who goes by the name gdad. “That’s what I got them for at Kroger yesterday.”
The price reductions apply to grocery, produce, organics and general merchandise items, York said.
Kroger is able to lower prices because it expects to sell a high volume of the items it has marked down, York said.
“It’s one of those things that you believe if you lower prices you can drive the volume,” he said. “It really takes quite a bit of volume to make it work.”
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