Despite the BP oil spill and the somewhat sluggish economy of the area, local businesses have been popping up left and right. Retail stores, restaurants, specialty shops, breweries—you name it, and it has probably opened up in the last few months.
Pensacola may be turning over a new leaf—a more exciting, innovative, consumer-friendly leaf. Either way, more and more shops are opening, and there’s no turning back.
This specialty cupcake shop has already made a name for itself with the Hot Mama: a cinnamon and cayenne pepper cupcake.
Owner: Lee Newkirk
Opening date: July 13, 2010
Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday
707-A E. Cervantes St.
IN: How many different kinds of cupcakes do you offer?
Newkirk: At this time we have 36 different flavors.
IN: What is the most popular flavor?
Newkirk: The red velvet is, without a doubt, the top seller. I tried out 17 different recipes before I decided on the one we have now.
IN: Do you have daily specials or is the menu pretty set?
Newkirk: We do have a calendar or a schedule of all of our flavors online. We bake about 16 flavors a day, including vegan and gluten-free options.
IN: Why did you want to open this shop?
Newkirk: There are cupcake shops in almost every other city I’ve been to. I just thought there would be a real niche for this kind of shop and that it would be a great opportunity to have a place like this in Pensacola.
IN: What’s the price range on the menu?
Newkirk: Minis are $1.25, regulars are $2.50 and jumbos are $3.50. We also have pupcakes that range from 75 cents to $1.50.
IN: What’s in them?
Newkirk: Basically a little wheat flour, cornmeal and peanut butter. The dogs go crazy over them. But the peanut butter is our secret ingredient in them.
Gibson Girl is a clothing store with high-end jeans, purses, shoes, and an in-house seamstress, for the pant-hemming procrastinator in all of us.
Owners: Kellie Gruber and James Shultie
Opening date: Sept. 7, 2010
Hours: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 12-4 p.m. Sunday
816 Gulf Breeze Parkway
IN: What is your specialty?
Gruber: We have a wide variety of denim, handbags, and a variation of unique, hard-to-find pieces. You can’t go to the mall and find what I’ve got in my shop.
IN: What exactly is it that you have that other shops don’t?
Gruber: We have an in-house seamstress on hand and we do free gift wrapping. We’re also getting in some Nino Bossi purses, and some bags from Nahui Ollin, which are recycled candy wrapper bags.
IN: What is the price range of the items in your store?
Gruber: Nothing is over $200 with the clothing. We do have some handbags that reach $225, but typically it’s between $20-$80.
IN: What made you want to open this store?
Gruber: I always wanted to design. I thought it would be really fun to shop for a store, and after years of doing my research and gathering the resources, my boyfriend James and I decided that it was time.
IN: Do you think it’s been harder opening up a store right now than you thought it would be?
Gruber: It has been hard because of the oil spill, and we really didn’t know if it was going to be the right timing or not. We aren’t giving up though. We’ve worked really hard and it seems to be going very well lately. We managed to open in time for back-to-school shopping and I think that really helped us build a client base.
▶The Nail Lounge
Owner: Jenny Tran
Opening Date: May 20, 2010
Hours: 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday,
12-6 p.m. Sunday
4405 Bayou Blvd.
IN: What makes The Nail Lounge different from your typical nail salon?
Tran: We use state-of-the-art equipment, and we have a high-end bar inside the salon, for a very affordable price. We also offer private rooms at no extra cost. The rooms will accommodate two or four people, so you could have a private massage or spa party. We also offer microdermabrasion, facials, waxing, sea salt scrubs and eyelash extensions.
IN: What’s the most popular service you offer?
Tran: Our Shellac manicure. It lasts for 14 days, and we are the only salon in the area that carries Shellac. The signature mani/pedi with the imported sea salt is very popular.
IN: How much is the Shellac manicure and the mani/pedi combo?
Tran: The Shellac manicure is $37 and the classic mani/pedi combo is $37 as well.
IN: Why did you want to open this salon?
Tran: We wanted to create an atmosphere where people can come in, sit with friends, sip some wine or champagne and get their nails done. Pensacola needed to have a higher-end salon and spa.
▶The Leisure Club
The Leisure Club adds much needed variety to downtown Pensacola, both with its delicious menu and its 1960s-esque furniture and exposed brick walls.
Owners: Denise Berry and Kimberly Brill
Opening Date: Sept. 1, 2010
Hours: 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m.-12 a.m. Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday
126 Palafox Place
IN: What’s popular on the menu?
Berry: We carry Intelligentsia coffee from Chicago, and that’s been very popular. Our wine-braised mushrooms are always a top seller. As far as our sandwiches go, the gourmet grilled cheese, the Ragin’ Cajun, and the roasted veggie panini are pretty popular.
IN: What are the menu prices like?
Berry: Most of the sandwiches are about $5. Some of the gourmet paninis can reach $9. The most expensive thing on the menu is a gourmet meat and cheese plate and that is $15.
IN: Do you guys offer any specials?
Berry: Monday nights you can get a classic grilled cheese, tomato soup and a PBR for $5. Tuesday nights are 2-for-1 appetizers and glasses of wine. And we also just started doing free downtown deliveries.
IN: What do you think The Leisure Club will bring to the Pensacola community?
Berry: We definitely want to make The Leisure Club a place that attracts creative people. I’ve been looking into starting a film club. I’d love to do that on a Monday or a Tuesday night, when it’s usually kind of slow downtown. It’d be great to create a little community of people and things at this venue that otherwise might go unnoticed.
▶Some other recently-opened businesses you might want to check out:
The Drizzle BBQ
810 E. Gregory St.
Elise Coastal Dining
22 N. Palafox St.
Indigeaux Denim Bar and Boutique
122 S. Palafox St.
2907 E. Cervantes St.
Jaco’s Bayfront Bar and Grille
997 S. Palafox St.
Pensacola Bay Brewery
225 E. Zaragoza St.