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Broadway Social, a place for friends and foodies

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The name of south Bethlehem's newest restaurant and nightclub says it all — Broadway Social. The 130-seat establishment, which opened Sept. 26 at 217 Broadway (former Firehouse bar), offers a chic space to wine, dine and yes, socialize.

"We're offering cuisine and an experience much different than what the Lehigh Valley has come to expect," said co-owner Greg Salomoni, a Bethlehem resident originally from Staten Island. "With unique dishes from our chef and a renovated space that can be converted from an upscale dining room during the day into an exciting nightclub at night, there will be something for everyone."

Salomoni and a team of helpers gave the former Lehigh Hook and Ladder Company No. 1 building, erected in the late 1800s, a "contemporary industrial feel," adding a copper bar, concrete sink and tables made of steel and reclaimed wood. The original brick walls remain.

In the back of the restaurant, a DJ booth was constructed and drop ceiling was removed to make room for speakers, fog machines and strobe and LED lights. The space will act as a nightclub with bottle-service tables during later hours.

Broadway Social features dishes created and prepared by head chef Marcus Morin, a former chef at The Shanty Restaurant and Federal Grill in Allentown, as well as Apollo Grill in Bethlehem.

"Marcus has been a friend of mine for years, and I was very familiar with his caliber of cooking," Salomoni said. "I gave him total control."

The menu features small plates such as hog wings, prosciutto-wrapped scallops and a blackened beef tenderloin quesadilla; breads such as a baja turkey burger, crab cake sliders and a ramen noodle burger; and entrees such as crab-stuffed jumbo shrimp, prime pork chop and mixed grill.

"We're definitely catering to a foodie clientele," said Salomoni, who plans to introduce a late-night menu. The kitchen closes at 10 p.m. during the week and 11 p.m. on weekends.

The 25-seat bar offers 20 craft beers on tap and a wide selection of champagne, wine and specialty drinks, including infused cocktails such as the "bacon maple bourbon" (bacon-infused Jefferson bourbon, maple syrup and orange essence) and "the split" (banana-infused Jameson, Aztec chocolate bitters and absinthe rinse).

A private side patio consisting of metal and wicker high-top tables offers outdoor dining while a second floor, scheduled to open by Christmas, will feature a lounge, small dance floor and multiuse event space.

Hours for Broadway Social, which offers takeout, are 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Saturday, and 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday. Info: 610-868-2555.

For Retail Watchers who would rather be behind the bar than sitting at it, a new training center for mixology classes will hold a ribbon-cutting at 5:30 p.m. Monday at Northampton Community College's Fowler Family Southside Center, 511. E. Third St., Bethlehem.

The facility, known as The Bar, will not serve alcoholic beverages. It will adjoin the mock casino, on the center's third floor, where individuals have received the training necessary to qualify for jobs as dealers and security personnel at area resorts.

According to the program's director, David Schweiger, demand for bartenders is expected to increase due to the growth in tourism in the Lehigh Valley.

The ribbon-cutting will include light, nonalcoholic refreshments and a chance to tour the facility. To RSVP, or for more information about classes, call 610-861-5068.

In west Bethlehem, PetSmart opened its newest store Monday at 2102 W. Union Blvd. (in Lehigh Shopping Center). A ribbon-cutting celebration featuring a $4,000 donation to the Animal Food Bank of the Lehigh Valley, as well as pet toy, T-shirt and gift-card giveaways was held Saturday.

As the "largest specialty pet retailer of services and solutions for the lifetime needs of pets," PetSmart operates 1,289 stores in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Other area PetSmart stores are at 2180 MacArthur Road in Whitehall Township, 3794 Easton Nazareth Highway in Lower Nazareth Township, 620 N. West End Blvd. in Richland Township and 400 Shoppes at Stroud in Stroudsburg.

Info: 484-403-4296 or

Further west on Union Boulevard, a new Afghan kabab restaurant and pizzeria opened its doors Sept. 27 in the former Carmine's Italian restaurant in Allentown.

Aria at 1052 Union Blvd. (next to Blvd. Auto Sales) serves "authentic Afghan cuisine made with fresh ingredients daily."

In addition to kababs (meat and seafood) and pizza, the menu consists of appetizers such as aashak (steamed scallion dumplings topped with yogurt or meat sauce); vegetarian and meat entrees such as sabzi (stew of spinach, served with rice) and murgh challaw (sauteed chicken stew over rice); burgers, patties and sandwiches; and desserts such as gilabee (fried pastry dipped in syrup).

Owner Abdul Khalil Hussan and a team of helpers had been working on the space on and off for the past three years following the retirement of Carmine's owner Sal Venezia in 2010. The 56-seat eatery boasts new walls, flooring, furniture and chandeliers.

Aria, which offers free delivery within a five-mile radius, is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday. Info: 610-433-2524.

Many Retail Watchers, including Sharlene Bortz of Bethlehem, have inquired about the status of two Checkers franchises — one at 2585 Easton Ave. (former Arby's building) in Bethlehem and another at 1935 S. Fourth St. (next to CVS) in Allentown. Both were originally scheduled to open in the summer.

According to Jennifer Durham, Checkers vice president of franchise development, multiunit franchisee Jay Pandya encountered a few delays during the construction. The Bethlehem location is now expected to open Thursday while the Allentown location is gearing up for a Halloween opening.

"We'll satisfy the crave for our guests soon," Durham said.

The Bethlehem location will boast indoor and outdoor seating while the Allentown location will only have seating outside. Both locations are expected to remain open past midnight.

Established in Mobile, Ala., in 1986, the double drive-thru restaurant chain specializes in burgers, hot dogs, fries and milkshakes. The Bethlehem and Allentown locations will be the Lehigh Valley's first and second and the state's 17th and 18th, according to the company's website. Info:

Slightly north of the soon-to-be Allentown Checkers, construction is being planned on another fast-food eatery.

At an Allentown Planning Commission meeting scheduled for 12:15 p.m. Tuesday at city hall, McDonald's USA LLC will request approval of its application to demolish a 5,470-square-foot restaurant with an indoor playland at 1432 S. Fourth St. (in front of Kmart) and construct a 4,564-square-foot restaurant without a playland.

According to the restaurant's manager, Barb Duncan, the company's desire to rebuild is simply a matter of upgrading its facilities and any construction that may occur wouldn't happen until around June.

I'll finish with two developments in Whitehall Township.

After a couple weeks of rescheduling, Saladworks at 2419 MacArthur Road (former Blockbuster space) will finally open during a ribbon-cutting ceremony with Mayor Edward Hozza at 11 a.m. Monday.

The franchise will be the second location for husband and wife Lee and Tara Smith of Bethlehem. The couple opened their first location at 3215 Schoenersville Road in Hanover Township, Northampton County, in February 2008.

Second, Old Country Buffet is expected to reopen Thursday following a nearly three-week closure for renovations.

"It's a total face-lift in the front of house," general manager David Baker said. "We installed new walls, ceilings, carpeting, island food bars and a game room for kids. We also painted, added new artwork and moved the outside entrance because of Buffalo Wild Wings coming. We were concerned about parking."

According to Baker, the improvements are in response to Golden Corral, which opened at the site of the former Chi Chi's restaurant at the Lehigh Valley Mall in January. The upgrade was originally planned for the spring, but got pushed back. Info: 610-437-4010.

Retail Watch keeps track of new store, restaurant and bank development in the Lehigh Valley. Have a question about a retail construction project, a store opening or a chain you'd like to see come to the area? Call features reporter Ryan Kneller at 610-820-6597 or email Retail Watch appears every Sunday.

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