published Thursday, June 19th, 2014

Cafe, convenience store and salon fill vacancy

New tenants:

Cache Hair Efx: Owner Starr Bradley is looking to eventually hire stylists, barbers and other staffers. Contact her at 423-756-8009.

Wafflez Factory: Owners of the waffle cafe are looking for investors and future staffers. Contact Bria Nicholson at brianicholson11@gmail.com.

  • photo
    New downtown waffle restaurant WaffleZ Factory is opening on M.L. King Boulevard.
    Photo by Staff photo: Alex Green
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This has been seven years coming.

The red brick building at 300 East M.L. King Blvd., once dubbed Renaissance Square, has seen its ups and downs, its supporters and doubters.

But this is a first.

Suddenly, after years of false starts and frustrations, all the tenable space in the two-story, mixed-use building is filled up.

All the upstairs condos.

And now, all the downstairs commercial space, too -- where a waffle cafe, salon and convenience store are joining the dollar store which opened here last August.

Wafflez Factory

Wafflez Factory started out as table talk at the Chattanoogan restaurant last September.

"I was like, 'You know, I love waffles. I could eat waffles all day long,'" said Bria Nicholson, a third-year marketing major at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

And the idea took hold -- a quick-service waffle cafe. All waffles, all the time.

"My mom was like, 'That's a really good idea,'" said Nicholson.

Their waffle cafe turned into the last piece of the puzzle, as Nicholson, her older sister Staci McDowell, her younger sister Marissa Hawkin and McDowell's boyfriend Taylor Martin set out to make Wafflez Factory a reality.

The group already has one private investor and is working with the business development office to set things in motion. They're open to hear any prospective investor's proposal.

Right now, Nicholson and the gang are going full steam ahead in pursuit of the dream.

"It's really just a blessing," Nicholson said. "God is so good. I'm just thanking him every morning for an idea like this."

Cache Hair Efx

Starr Bradley is moving in, too.

She's taking her Chattanooga salon, Cache Hair Efx, to the 300 block. Like Hayes, she cites the proximity of the commercial space to downtown and a clientel pool at the college.

An established entrepreneur, Bradley calls the move "a fresh new start."

"I'm very excited, a little nervous," she said. "But it's good to be a little nervous so you can stay focused. Nervous is OK. It keeps you going."

Cache Hair Efx will have 10 chairs, and Bradley is looking to make hires as things get settled. Bradley said her salons emphasize the importance of healthy hair, and honest work.

She wants to be a lesson to others, and to her own kids.

"You can work your way up from where you are, to grow and be better people," she said.

She aims to open Cache Hair Efx by October.

Kanku's

At the far end of the first-floor space is the future site of a Kanku's Express convenience store, like others around town only this installment will not sell fuel.

The store is scheduled to open around August.

Dollar Store Inc.

Mike Hayes, owner and operator of Dollar Store Inc., meanwhile has been holding things down for nearly a year now at the east end of the building. He's happy to welcome the new neighbors.

"There's definitely going to be more foot traffic," he said on a hot afternoon this week.

Hayes said the location -- downtown and walking distance from UTC -- is exactly why Dollar Store took this spot. A female shopper affirmed his thinking, saying a day like this, with highs in the 90s, is way too hot for a long trot around the city.

Hayes' Dollar Store is convenient.

"A lot of students, a lot of people from the community" are his shoppers.

Plus, the folks who work in all the office buildings nearby.

All told, Hayes said around 100 people a day drop in his store.

Contact staff writer Alex Green at agreen@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6480.

about Alex Green...

Alex Green joined the Times Free Press staff full-time in January 2014 after completing the paper's six-month, general assignment reporter internship. Alex grew up in Dayton, Tenn., which is also where he studied journalism at Bryan College. He graduated from Rhea County High School in 2008. During college, Alex covered the city of Graysville and the town of Spring City for The Herald-News. As editor-in-chief of Bryan College's student news group, Triangle, Alex reported on ...

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