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NWI Business Ins and Outs: It's Just Serendipity closes, Arby's, LJAY & CO, Hungry Hound Boutique, Righteous Ribs and Potato Express open
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NWI Business Ins and Outs

NWI Business Ins and Outs: It's Just Serendipity closes, Arby's, LJAY & CO, Hungry Hound Boutique, Righteous Ribs and Potato Express open

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.

It's Just Serendipity, a longtime mainstay of downtown Hammond that tried to revitalize the once-vaunted commercial district, has fallen victim to the coronarivus pandemic.

The antique store that sells vintage, handcrafted and repurposed goods is closing after more than a decade at 5630 Hohman Ave. because of COVID-19.

"When one door closes, another opens. I appreciate your friendship and support for the last 11 years," owner Karen Maravilla posted on social media. "I have made the decision to close our brick-and-mortar store in downtown Hammond. Please shop with us in person through the end of December. While our storefront will close, our business will remain open. Stay tuned for details about our next chapter."

It's Just Serendipity was repeatedly voted one of the best antique stores in Northwest Indiana for 10 years in a row in The Times Best of the Region polls. It carried an eclectic collection of treasures, including architectural finds, the work of local artists, home decor, furniture, collectibles, greeting cards, hand-crafted jewelry, vintage clothes, sports memorabilia and seasonal items.

Maravilla — a self-described "relic hunter, memory maven, purveyor of antiquities, vintage vixen and lover of the arts" — is looking to liquidate the inventory that filled two warehouses.

"In addition to individual sales, I am interested in speaking to those of you who may want to purchase items in large quantities," she posted. "No reasonable offers will be refused."

For more information, call 219-512-4298 or visit www.itsjustserendipity.com.

Coming soon

St. John will soon have the meats.

Arby's, the purveyor of the roast beef sandwiches, beef 'n cheddar sandwiches, French Dip 'n Swiss, gyros, curly fries and Jamocha shakes, is coming to 10081 Wicker Ave. Unit 1 in St. John early next year.

Franchisee Faisal Merchant, who owns Arby's restaurants in Orland Park and Lockport as well as Dunkin' restaurants in Chicago, hopes to open his third Arby's by Jan. 4 in St. John if construction goes well through the winter season. The restaurant will have a drive-thru, plans to have community fundraisers and is now hiring, offering $1 more per hour than current pay for anyone with recent fast-food experience.

For more information, email jobs@merchantmgmt.com.

Open 

The boutique LJAY & CO. started selling unique clothing and home items in the Ava Michael Beautique hair salon at 120 S. Main St. in historic downtown Crown Point. 

"LJAY & CO. is a modern, oversized, loungewear line that was born in July 2020," owners Lindsay Johnson and Jay Cherry said in a news release. "We hand make all of our shirts and every single item is one of a kind. We restock weekly and are open Tuesday-Saturday for customers."

The business also sells its hand-crafted items on a first come, first serve basis at 6 p.m. Sundays on Facebook for customers outside of Northwest Indiana.

"Everything is custom and one of a kind," they said in a news release. "We call these our #SUNDAZE sales because in order to claim an item, you must comment #SUNDAZE in order to receive an invoice."

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/LJAYSUNDAZE/ or @ljayco on Instagram.

Open

Hungry Hound Boutique and Grooming, a local chain with stores at 8323 Wicker Ave. in St. John and 5151 E. 81st Ave. in Hobart, just opened its newest location at 64 Lincolnway in downtown Valparaiso.

The pet store "believes every pet is special and deserves only the best foods and treatment, which is why you can be certain that all of our products and services we offer are of the highest quality."

The locally owned boutique specializes in dog and cat grooming, training, and nutritional counseling, as well as natural nutrition from top brands like Primal, Outward Hound, Steve's Real Rood, Dave's Pet Food, Open Farm, Honest Kitchen, Vital Essentials, Stella & Chewy's, and Grandma Lucy's. It also offers gourmet dog treats, local delivery, mobile grooming, and curbside pickup.

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For more information, visit www.hungryhound.com, call 219-365-5543 or email woof@hungryhound.com.

Coming soon 

Righteous Ribs has taken over the former R & R Sports Bar & Grill space that was originally a Bennigan's in the U.S. Steel Yard in downtown Gary.

Formerly based in East Chicago, R & R Sports Bar & Grill in 2018 opened a year-round sit-down restaurant in the minor league baseball stadium where the Gary SouthShore RailCats play. It's now being taken over by Righteous Ribs, a mobile barbecue business that previously catered to backyard BBQs, family reunions or company picnics.

The menu includes baby back ribs, St. Louis-style ribs, rib tips, links, turkey tips, turkey legs, salmon, catfish and chicken wings. Soul food sides include yams, cabbage, and mac and cheese, as well as desserts like peach cobbler, banana puddling, and peach potato pie. Beverages include peach tea and lemonade.

For more information, call 219-939-1383, email righteousribs2020@gmail.com or find the business on Facebook.

Reopened 

Salt Cave of St. John reopened after shuttering during the coronavirus pandemic.

The salt cave, which opened in 2017 as a therapeutic spa where people breathe in Himalayan salt to relax and clear out their respiratory system, is now offering a wider array of services.

"The store has now opened again and we can offer  to our customers many more services that were not available in the past," owner Marcia Autry said. "We do messages, facials, pedicures and manicures, ionic foot detox, and the far infrared sauna. We offer some unique services such as reiki, meditation and yoga all in the salt cave."

For more information, call 219-365-2283 or visit saltcaveindiana.com.

Open

Potato Express opened last month in the Pop-Up Cafe at 5246 Hohman Ave. in downtown Hammond.

The loaded baked potato restaurant took over the space formerly occupied by the Blue Room Cafe and Stella V.ie Cafe. The menu includes a taco potato, steak potato, bacon potato, chicken potato, chili potato, jerk potato and broccoli potato, as well as specialty loaded potatoes that include smothered chicken, meat loaf, Italian beef and "Thanksgiving Overload."

Potato Express also offers salads, soups, drinks and desserts, as well as a "breakfast potato" stuffed with sausage, scrambled eggs, cheese and hash browns.

For more information, find the business on Facebook.

Open

Smalltown Coffee just opened its flagship roastery in a 1,700-square-foot, 150-year-old former fish and meat market at 306 E. Goldsborough St. in Crown Point, which was featured in Roast magazine's Daily Coffee News.

In an article with the headline "Smalltown Coffee’s Big Dreams Come True with NW Indiana Opening," the national trade publication highlighted the women-owned company's repurposing of a historic building of 1870 vintage with brick walls, hardwood floors and limestone windowsills.

Owners Annette Mckeown and Elizabeth Steel hope to popularize specialty craft coffee sourced from beans all over the world with complex flavors with notes of chocolate, caramel and fruit. Brazilian, Ethiopian, Guatemalan and other blends of coffee are all roasted on site. 

For more information, visit smalltown.coffee or call 219-237-4302.

If you would like your business to be included in a future column, email joseph.pete@nwi.com. 

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If you would like your business to be included in a future column, email joseph.pete@nwi.com.

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.

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