Two new dining options offering a taste of different cultures, family entertainment and new retail space are heading to Lehigh Valley Mall.
Already open in recent weeks is NYC Gyro, between Asian Dynasty and Chik-Fil-A; and Indian Bite, between Verizon Wireless and Häagen-Dazs, near the main entrance. NYC Gyro moved May 15 into the space that previously occupied Frites, a Belgian-style fries establishment, which closed at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Indian Bite opened its doors last month in the former Wetzel’s Pretzels space.
The NYC Gyro offers Mediterranean/Greek cuisine, such as pitas stuffed with beef, chicken, or lamb, as well as American staples, such as hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken tenders, and French fries. ride. There are also Latin American-inspired favorites, like rice and beans; roast pork; and fried plantains. Desserts include flan and fried Oreos.
Owner Veronica Santana told lehighvalleylive.com that she named the restaurant “NYC Gyro” because of her roots growing up in the Bronx, New York. She lived there before moving to Orange County, New York as a teenager. Santana aims to bring different types of cuisine from all different locations to the mall.
“I wanted to bring a taste of New York to the Lehigh Valley,” Santana added. “Like New York, the Lehigh Valley is represented by many different cultures.”
This is Santana’s second business venture at the mall. She opened Slime Time in 2021 on the next level with her partner, Patrick Richie.
Indian Bite is known for its authentic Indian cuisine served by Indian chefs. Customers can choose from various platters, such as chicken tikka masala, spinach masala, chicken biriyani, and paneer butter masala, served with basmati rice or naan. Snacks include grilled vegetable sandwiches and samosas, which are deep-fried triangle-shaped pastries stuffed with potatoes, onions, chili and spices and sometimes vegetables.
There are also desserts such as “gulab jamun”, which are berry-sized balls made with milk solids, and traditional Indian ice cream topped with dried fruits. Pistachio sweets and exotic drinks, like mango lassi and Indian masala tea, are also available for purchase.
Hamsa Exoticz is still waiting for the official opening of its physical store next to Krave 2 Taste and near Barnes & Noble. The store plans to sell snacks and treats that are typically found overseas.
Elizabeth DiDuca, the mall’s director of marketing and business development, said the store is planning to open in early July.
“Better Life With Bry” also plans to open in early September on the main level near the food offerings.
The store will feature handmade body care, home and cleaning products with all natural ingredients and essential oils. Items include soy fondues, candles and essential oil diffusers. There are body washes, sprays, soaps and lotions. The shop also offers personalized gifts.
More than two dozen scents to choose from include Pineapple Sage; cotton and iris; sandalwood; and lavender and driftwood. Allentown owner Bryanna Tomkins told lehighvalleylive.com that her best online musk scent is black sea, while her best light online scent is mango and coconut.
Tomkins also plans to open other locations in the future in the Lehigh Valley. The location of the shopping center will however remain the flagship site.
“It will be our home store, our baby,” she said.
Two other retailers plan to open next to Macy’s Backstage store on the upper level.
“And Pose Selfie Salon,” featuring themed backdrops and rooms, is set to open in early July, DiDuca said.
The concept behind “selfie” studios, which seem to be starting to pop up in the Lehigh Valley, is for clients to take their skills to the next level to post photos and videos to social media pages. Studios usually have props to go along with “selfies,” which are photos a person takes of themselves.
Next to the “selfie” studio, will become “Rivals Indoor Battlefield”, which offers gambling games involving Nerf guns to shoot opponents. The company describes itself as an “alternative to paintball”. Players are required to wear protective gear and eyewear during games and must aim for body shots, according to the company’s website.
Rivals also plans to host children’s birthday parties and private events. It plans to open mid to late July, DiDuca said.
The handful of recent additions now leave very few vacancies in the Whitehall Township shopping destination, which was ravaged by empty storefronts at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Among the most popular stores to leave were Modell’s Sporting Goods; Yankee Candle; The Disney Store; Abercrombie & Fitch; New York & Company; and jewelry chains Helzberg Diamonds and Littman Jewelers, as well as shoe retailers Aldo and Footaction. Ruby Tuesday also closed while Bravo! Cucina Italiana was able to make a comeback under new ownership.
Other tenants opening in 2021 and this year include games, comics and toy retailer Cloud City; fashion clothes Little TrenzSetter Boutique; Big Bank Couture, Ardene, Harlem Vibes and Mama Jojo 1-Stop Shop; Slime Time; eyewear retailer Warby Parker; Aslan jewelers; Pepper Palace; and a fast casual restaurant. The almost vegan pescatarian cafe.
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Pamela Sroka-Holzmann can be contacted at [email protected].