A Lehigh Valley native’s restaurant chain is heating up across the country, including a forthcoming location in her old stomping grounds.
Toastique, a gourmet toast and juice bar concept that’s growing rapidly nationwide, is planning to open its first Pennsylvania restaurant in the fall at 21 E. Third St. on Bethlehem’s South Side, founder Brianna Keefe said.
Keefe, a 2012 graduate of Parkland High School, opened the first Toastique eatery in 2018 in a mixed-use, waterfront development in Washington D.C., where she’s lived since 2016.
The healthful, fast-casual dining concept experienced immediate success, with many customers expressing hope for additional locations.
Keefe answered the call, opening three more outposts in the D.C. metropolitan area within the next few years and deciding to grow the company even further through franchising.
Toastique has seven locations, including two in Colorado and one in Stone Harbor, N.J., with 43 more franchise locations signed and expected to open within the next couple of years in California, Florida, Utah and other states, Keefe said.
“We’re super excited about it,” said Keefe, who recently earned a spot on Forbes magazine’s annual “30 Under 30″ list in the food and drink category.
Keefe, who excelled in Parkland’s diving and cheerleading programs, has led a healthy lifestyle with fruit- and vegetable-packed juices and smoothies since her days growing up in South Whitehall Township.
She traces her fondness for unique toast, however, to her years at Virginia’s James Madison University. At JMU, she created produce- and protein-topped toast to fuel her busy, on-the-go lifestyle, which included cheering for various sports teams between studies.
“Toast was the perfect thing that would fuel me up, with good carbs, protein and good fat,” said Keefe, who majored in hospitality management and minored in business. “I wouldn’t feel overstuffed. It just gave me energy.”
Toastique offers more than a half dozen toasts, handcrafted with seasonal and responsibly sourced ingredients, including smoked salmon (with herb cream cheese spread, thinly sliced cucumbers and seasoning on sourdough bread), Tuscan Tuna (with Bibb lettuce, Kalamata olives, capers, tomato, herb lemon vinaigrette and balsamic glaze on Rustico toast) and the two most popular selections: Avocado Smash (avocado, marinated tomatoes, watermelon radish, microgreens, seasoning and chili oil on multigrain toast) and PB Crunch (honey-roasted peanut butter, bananas, strawberries, granola, chia seeds, honey and mint on raisin walnut toast).
“I really wanted to put a focus on toast because most people don’t do that,” Keefe said. “There are tons of juice bars, and they might have like a side of avocado toast or peanut butter toast, but no one puts a full focus on it and makes it big enough that you can enjoy it as a whole meal.”
Other menu highlights include cold-pressed juices such as “Recharge” (beet, carrot, apple, orange and ginger); no-sugar-added smoothies such as Green Machine (banana, pineapple, mango, spinach, kale, hemp seeds, flax seeds, lime and coconut water); and bowls such as DragonBerry (pitaya, mango, strawberry, agave and coconut water, topped with strawberries, kiwi, goji berry, coconut and granola).
A majority of the items, including hummus and peanut butter, are made from scratch on-site. Other ingredients such as bread and produce are sourced locally at every location.
The Bethlehem eatery, which is also planning to serve La Colombe coffee drinks, will be operated by local franchisee Jessica Morrissey.
Morrissey purchased the Third Street building, the former longtime home of Cleo’s Silversmith Studio and Gallery, and is planning interior and exterior renovations, including painting the facade gray, adding rear windows for more natural light and subdividing the space to include another yet-to-be-determined tenant next door, Keefe said.
To stay up-to-date on the eatery’s progress, follow the business’ social media page, instagram.com/toastique.
From handcrafted toast to handcrafted ice cream, Batch Microcreamery — a small-batch ice cream shop with locations in Allentown and Quakertown ― on Friday opened a “scoop shop” at the Shepherd Hills Golf Club, 1160 S. Krocks Road, Lower Macungie Township, my colleague Jennifer Sheehan reported.
Batch, owned by Richard Pongracz, is also planning to open a location in the planned Riverport Market in Bethlehem. Info: batchmicrocreamery.com.
Another tasty tidbit: Big Papa’s Restaurant & Catering, a full-service eatery offering breakfast and lunch daily, opened May 6 at 1236 Northampton St. in Easton’s West Ward.
Husband and wife co-owners Les and Sabrina Smith previously worked at other local restaurants as a cook and server, respectively, and decided to bring their many years of experience to their own establishment.
The 63-seat restaurant serves breakfast staples such as omelettes, shrimp and grits and corned beef hash alongside more unique options such as Fruity Pebble French toast and a breakfast flight (French toast, waffle and pancake).
Lunch items, which are available beginning at 11:30 a.m., include classic picks like a cheesesteak and turkey club along with more unique dishes such as a burger with waffle bun and chorizo shrimp po’boy.
The restaurant sources many ingredients locally, including meat and eggs from Dale Koehler & Sons Farm in Bethlehem Township.
The Easton couple overhauled the space, which previously housed Mike’s Restaurant, with new flooring, wall paint, barn wood trim and more. A ribbon-cutting celebration is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. May 19. Info: 610-252-7272.
Liberty Ministries Thrift, a nonprofit thrift store providing support for Liberty Ministries’ residential and prison ministry, is planning to open its second Quakertown location later this year in the Quakertown Plaza, at West Broad Street and North West End Boulevard.
“We’re targeting this summer,” said Baron King, Liberty Ministries’ executive director. “We’re taking three small spaces, and the landlord is demolishing the interior walls.”
The new shop, next to Giant, will supplement the thrift store’s original Quakertown location, which has operated for 10 years about a half mile south on Route 309 in the Country Square shopping center.
“We’re going to keep both locations open for at least three years and then reevaluate whether or not we close the old one or keep them both open,” King said. “We’re hoping to keep them both open.”
Seven Liberty Ministries Thrift stores in Bucks and Montgomery counties carry a variety of items, including furniture, clothing, shoes, home decor, kitchenware, appliances, electronics, books, linens, toys, sports equipment and antiques.
The new Quakertown location will feature a rear donor services area. Info: libertythriftstores.com.
Across the street from the Quakertown Plaza, SV Sports, which rebranded from Schuylkill Valley Sports in 2021, will close its last Lehigh Valley area store this summer as its restructuring continues.
The Pottstown-based sporting goods retailer, founded in 1971, will close its Quakertown location effective June 30, according to a news release. The SV Sports TEAM accounts from the Quakertown store will still be serviced by the company’s local rep group.
The Quakertown store, at 38 N. West End Blvd. in the Trainer’s Station shopping center, is the last of the company’s original 19-store fleet. In 2020, the retailer closed nearly a dozen stores, including locations at the Palmer Park and South malls.
The business, supplying uniforms, equipment, apparel and footwear to youth, high school and college athletes, last year was acquired by John Scipio, Jason Lutz and Ralph Greene, three veterans of the sporting goods industry.
The brand has since opened a new production facility in Souderton, along with two new locations at the Spooky Nook Sports facility in East Hempfield Township, Lancaster County, and at the LakePoint Sports complex in Emerson, Georgia. Two more locations are set to open in the next year. Info: svsports.com.
From sporting goods to sparkling accessories, Aslan Jewelers, offering fine jewelry, watches, custom designs and repair, in late April opened its third area location at the Palmer Park Mall in Palmer Township.
The store, occupying the former Littman Jewelers space, supplements two other Aslan Jewelers locations — one at the Lehigh Valley Mall in Whitehall and another at 216 E. Fairmont St. in Coopersburg — that opened last year.
Aslan Jewelers is operated by Dani Aslan, a second-generation jeweler with nearly 30 years of experience in the field, and his wife, Patricia Aslan.
The Aslans, who reside in Coopersburg, studied at and hold several certifications from the Gemological Institute of America in New York City and Carlsbad, California.
Over the years, they’ve partnered with small and large jewelry stores nationwide, and Dani also spent many years working alongside prominent jewelers in California. Info: aslanjewelers.com.
Second, Silveri & Company, an accessory boutique focused on retro, vintage and modern pieces, opened May 4 at 21 N. Seventh St., on downtown Allentown’s ArtsWalk.
The pop-up shop, across from Blended by Brü Daddy’s, will operate for at least the next couple of months, owner Kathy Cruz said.
Vibrant looks, many designed by Cruz, include purses in shapes such as circles, hearts and pyramids; and prints such as graffiti, marble and plaid. There are even bags designed to look like lips, newspapers and containers of popcorn and French fries.
The boutique also carries jewelry such as bracelets, rings and ear cuffs, along with other accessories such as sunglasses. Info: silveriandcompany.com.
I’ll finish a couple of closing notes:
The daily update for the Lehigh Valley business person.
First, PNC Bank, with more than 2,600 branches and approximately 19,000 PNC and partner ATMs nationwide, will close its branch at 2102 Main St. in Northampton at 3 p.m. July 22, according to Jason Beyersdorfer, PNC Bank’s media relations manager.
The Northampton branch, one of more than a dozen in the Lehigh Valley, will then merge with the Fullerton branch at 1300 Third St. in Whitehall, Beyersdorfer added.
“PNC recognizes that branches continue to play an important role for many customers when it comes to conducting certain transactions and holding important in-person financial conversations with our banking experts,” Beyersdorfer said. “That is why we routinely evaluate our branch network, together with our other available methods of banking, to determine if we are most effectively meeting our customers’ needs.”
Lastly, Pedro’s Cafe, serving fair-trade coffee and thoughtful foods, will hold its last day of operation Sunday, May 15, at 318 Main St., just off the Emmaus triangle, according to a post on the business’s Facebook page.
The cafe was established a year ago by Lower Macungie Township’s Bassett family — husband and wife William and Jaime, their daughter, Jacquelyn, and their three sons, Will, Dylan and Lane. It aimed to support other local small businesses and environmentally-conscious initiatives.
“As entrepreneurs, we are constantly shifting and adjusting to life,” the family wrote in the announcement. “For now, this chapter has to be put on hold. Not the end of a chapter, just the book flipped over to hold our place.”
Retail Watch, appearing every weekend, keeps track of retail and restaurant news in the Lehigh Valley. Contact Ryan Kneller at 610-820-6597 or firstname.lastname@example.org.