Popular restaurant returns to Lehigh Valley Mall as more than a dozen vacancies remain
A popular Italian restaurant initially announcing a permanent closure during the March 2020 coronavirus pandemic shutdown now plans to reopen at Lehigh Valley Mall in Whitehall Township.
Well done! Cucina Italiana plans to open under a new owner next month at the mall’s Lifestyle Center, a spokesperson for Earl Enterprises, which now owns the chain, confirmed this week to lehighvalleylive.com.
Well done! Following the pandemic closure, customers were notified of the closure with a sign on the front door, stating, “We have made the difficult decision to close this restaurant. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to serve you over the years.
FoodFirst Global Restaurants, based in Orlando, Fla., The former owner of Bravo !, filed for bankruptcy in April 2020. The same month, Earl Enterprises took over the chain as the new parent company, said spokesperson.
The chain is known for its high-end and affordable full-service Italian menu options. Bravo! The spokesperson confirmed that the restaurant’s layout and popular menu items, such as flatbreads, pizzas, pastas, “parmes”, land and sea combinations and desserts will remain. New will be a Sunday brunch menu, with classic dishes and a variety of cocktails, she said.
Well done! will join at least five other new tenants at the mall who recently filled vacancies in the mall, which was ravaged by store closings during the coronavirus pandemic. New stores include Ardene, Slime Time, Toys Toys, Harlem Vibes, and Hi Level Fashion.
Ardene, which has migrated between Bath & Body Works and Imagine Personalized All to the next level, is a fashion retailer of clothing, shoes, accessories, jewelry, sportswear and underwear, according to the company’s website. There are over 375 national stores, as well as an e-commerce business.
Slime Time, which sits between Champs Sports and The Children’s Place on the upper level, looks like a children’s lab. There, kids can adorn lab coats and glasses and help create slime concoctions. There are also various scent stations, such as cherry and cotton candy, and toppings for the slime. Kids are encouraged to stick their fingers in and pull out the slime to hear “funny little noises,” the company says on the mall’s website.
Toys Toys, next to Love on the lower level, offers a variety of children’s toys and games.
Harlem Vibes, between Country Memories and Zales Jewelers to the Next Level, is a New York-based mens and womens fashion retailer. The store carries a variety of jeans, t-shirts, hoodies, sweatpants, outerwear, and baseball caps, as well as sneakers, sandals, and boots. Brands include Champion, Le Tigre and Sniper Gang.
Hi Level Fashion, between PINK and Bath & Body Works on the lower level, is a men’s fashion retailer offering clothing, shoes and accessories. Brands include G-Star, Lacoste, Psycho Bunny, Timberland, New Balance, and Cult of Individuality.
The Beauty Institute | Schwarzkopf Professional and Aslan Jewelers also recently opened in the mall.
The Beauty Institute, a school offering cosmetology and beauty programs, has moved into the space on the lower level near runway 23. Aslan Jewelers, owned by Dani Aslan and his wife, Patti, of Coopersburg, has filled a vacant post left by Helzberg Diamonds. The space is next to a nail salon and Boscov’s on the second level.
The new tenants arrive after the mall was forced to say goodbye to several retailers during the pandemic. Among them were Abercrombie & Fitch; Yankee candle; New York and company; Aldo; and sporting goods from Modell; as well as Helzberg Diamonds and Littman Jewelers. Murphy Jewelers has since moved to the mall lifestyle hub from the boardwalk boutiques in Saucon Valley in Upper Saucon Township.
While some of those spaces have since been filled, like streetwear purveyor Track 23 which has moved into a space previously hosted by Modell’s Sporting Goods, more than a dozen stores remain vacant.
Shoppers can find these empty spaces at Yankee Candle and next to the White House Black Market at the Lifestyle Center; between Verizon Wireless and Haagen-Dazs Ice Cream on the lower level; between Toys Toys and Cellairis on the lower level; next to Macy’s on the lower level; between Austin 5 and Blue Monkey Vapes on the lower level; a large space left by the Littman Jewelers jewelry chain on the lower level; space left by Ruby Tuesday and Lolli and Pops on the lower level; as well as the space left between Asian Dynasty and Chick-fil-A on the lower level; between Golden Spa & Nails and AT&T and between Brow Studio 7 and The Disney Store, both on the upper level; and between The Children’s Place and Kay Jewelers on the upper level.
What could fill the majority of these vacancies remains uncertain. New York-based Lividini & Co., the public relations firm representing Lehigh Valley Mall, did not immediately return a request for information.
Pepper Palace, however, appears to be targeting the mall’s former Lifestyle Center Yankee Candle space, according to the mall’s website. The retailer is known for its all-natural, artisanal and small-batch hot sauces, barbecue sauces, wing sauces and salsa, and seasonings and dry seasonings. The business started out at a kiosk in a central Wisconsin mall in 1989 and has since grown to include 100 outlets in the United States and Canada.
Construction is also underway on Shake Shack, next to Dave & Buster’s, a food and entertainment center that opened in October 2020. The mall also recently hosted L’amour, offering beauty products and personal care; Dino Sweets, a miniature coffee and donut stand; Bridal Bella; and Hairitage Beauty Salon. Additionally, arts and crafts retail giant Michaels just before the March 2020 shutdown opened in a space previously hosted by Babies R Us.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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Pamela Sroka-Holzmann can be reached at [email protected].