Lehigh Valley Café, inside Lehigh Valley International Airport, began serving food to famished jet-setters, as well as "meeters and greeters" July 1. It is the first of four planned food additions and upgrades by the airport's new concessionaire First Class Concessions.
The eatery, on the second level of the airport's main terminal, is a revamped transplant from the main terminal's first level. It is still open to the public — meaning you don't need to go through security to enjoy your perfect patty melt or other savory selection. Airport officials are hoping it will draw at least a few people who aren't scheduled for a flight.
"It's a fine option for not only travelers, but also anyone with some extra time wanting a great sandwich or entree," airport Executive Director Charles Everett says.
The menu features everything from soups and salads to burgers and sandwiches. Signature specialties include items such as the Caprese grilled chicken sandwich (topped with mozzarella cheese and balsamic dressing) and the Cuban (pressed hoagie with Spanish pork, ham, salami, Swiss cheese, pickle and mustard). Breakfast offerings such as pancakes, French toast and three-egg omelettes are also available.
"I would say the Lehigh Valley burger and Bavarian pretzel nuggets are our most popular items," cashier Alyssa Althouse says. "The frozen cappu-chiller is also a good seller. It's like a Frappucino, but a lot better."
As reported by my colleague Matt Assad in January, LVIA hired San Diego-based First Class Concessions to take over Subway (now closed), two Lehigh Valley Cafes (another one is in the Wiley Building, past security) and the Hudson News in hopes of upgrading offerings and increasing the airport's take. The company has a deal to renovate and run the airport's retail space for the next decade.
Construction on three more dining venues — Java Joint, Chew Street Hoagies and PA Pub (all past security and not open to public) — is expected to start in mid-September and finish by Thanksgiving.
Allentown-based Java Joint will serve beverages such as espresso, cappuccinos and lattes, as well as fresh-baked pastries, doughnuts, sticky buns and muffins from the Bakery Nook in Coplay and Emmaus Bakery. The specialty coffee shop will share space with Chew Street Hoagies, which will sell breakfast burritos, Philly cheesesteaks and salads, among other items.
For travelers not in a hurry, the PA Pub will offer wait service and locally inspired dishes such as pierogies, Bavarian soft pretzels with beer cheese dip, Bessemers bratwurst and French toast casserole. Local craft beers from Fegley's Brew Works and Weyerbacher Brewing Co. also will be available.
The revamped Lehigh Valley Cafe is open 6 a.m. until the last flight leaves (typically around 7:30 p.m.). Expect to pay $2 per hour for parking. Info: 610-266-9100.
If the summer hasn't brought enough heat for you, consider stopping by Bikram Yoga Lehigh Valley at 2471 Baglyos Circle (off Emrick Boulevard) in Bethlehem Township. Husband and wife co-owners Ken and Corrinne Tendo will open their 9,000-square-foot yoga studio featuring a room heated to 105 degrees (and 40 percent humidity) on Saturday.
Bikram Yoga, commonly known as "hot yoga," is a series of 26 postures and breathing exercises developed by Indian yoga teacher Bikram Choudhury. There are 12 studios in Pennsylvania (two in Pittsburgh and others in Philadelphia and its suburbs).
"The students in the Lehigh Valley area are currently traveling to New York City or Philadelphia to practice," Corrinne Tendo says. "So they are thrilled that we are finally bringing Bikram to the area."
Info: 610-317-9642 or http://www.bikramyogalehighvalley.com.
For those who would prefer to sweat on the beach with a good book, Hooked on Books, a used-book store in Forks Township, is holding a relocating sale in August and September. The store at 1700 Sullivan Trail will move to 3701 William Penn Highway in Palmer Township in October.
Everything in store is 60 percent off. The business will not take trade-ins or donations in August, September and October. It will begin accepting again in November. Info: 610-438-4464 or http://www.hookedonbookspa.com.
On the other side of the Lehigh Valley, much activity is taking place in Allentown.
First, Emaus Ave. Car Wash opened Monday at 2451-2471 W. Emmaus Ave. The facility offers five self-serve spaces ($2.50 for four minutes) and one touchless automatic bay with four levels of washes ($6-$12). According to owner Randall Fritz, his car wash features four distinctive features.
"Guests will enjoy south Allentown's only touchless automatic bay," he says. "In addition, vacuums are covered under a canopy, credit cards are accepted throughout and rocker panel blasters, which power wash wheels, are used in the LazerWash 360 touchless system."
Many Retail Watchers, including Gary O. Siegel of Lower Macungie Township and Molly Kranzley Driscoll of Allentown, have inquired about the building being constructed on Lehigh Street, next to Jiffy Lube. After a construction worker tipped me off about what they were building, I confirmed the construction of a new Kost Tire and Auto Service with the company's executive assistant Ellen Ross.