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Retail Watch: New Southern European-style restaurant to open in Easton

Mick Gjevukaj sits in his new restaurant, Albanesi Restaurant & Bar, on Friday, July 5, 2024, in Easton. (Emma Reed/첥Ƶ)
Mick Gjevukaj sits in his new restaurant, Albanesi Restaurant & Bar, on Friday, July 5, 2024, in Easton. (Emma Reed/첥Ƶ)
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The company behind River Grille and Bar Bix will bring a high-dining, Southern European-style restaurant to Easton.

The Enjoy with Gusto Hospitality Group will open the Albanesi Restaurant & Bar at 235 Ferry St. on July 10, according . It’ll provide roughly four courses for guests to try and will feature menu items such as samuna bread with hummus, charred leaks, lasagna, baked chicken, Albanian veal stew, black bass, lamb shoulder and rice pudding.

Enjoy with Gusto Founder Mick Gjevukaj, who moved as a 19-year-old from Albania to New Jersey in 1992, said he wanted to bring a new experience that distinguished itself from the other restaurants under his company, particularly by including his Albanian heritage for some of the food and emphasizing hospitality.

“This project, it’s very close to my soul and my heart,” he said, later adding that he’d want Albanesi to act as a new standard for his other locations.

The Albanesi restaurant will be open 5-9:30 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and 5-10:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Gjevukaj encouraged residents to make reservations, which cost $65 per person, as early as possible if they decide to come.

It will replace the previous restaurant, Ocean. It opened in 2006 and closed after 18 years of operation, .

This Lehigh Valley ice cream chain was just ranked one of the best in nation

A Lehigh Valley-area ice cream chain has been ranked among the best ice cream shops in a nationwide survey.

Owowcow Creamery, which opened its fourth location at 1262 Simon Blvd. in Easton, ranked third in the “indie ice cream shops” category of USA Today’s “10 Best” Readers Choice Awards for 2024.

“One of a handful of ice cream companies in the country that’s licensed by the Department of Agriculture to make its ice cream base from scratch, Owowcow Creamery’s flavors are created daily with local roasted produce, organic extracts, hand-baked inclusions, and top-quality cocoa,” the article said.

Coneflower Creamery in Nebraska and An’s Dry Cleaning in California ranked second and first, respectively.

In a Monday Facebook post, Owowcow Creamery founder and owner John Fezzuoglio thanked “our loyal customers, neighbors and friends [for] your amazing support over the past 15 years. With deep gratitude, I thank all of our local farm partners. And most especially our dedicated, passion driven team for the creation of endless ice cream memories.”

TripAdvisor also named Owowcow Creamery among the top 10 ice cream shops in the country in 2013.

The chain opened in 2009 at Routes 412 and 563 in Ottsville, Bucks County. It expanded to its fourth location in Easton in 2018. Its other locations are in Wrightstown Township, Bucks County, and Lambertville, New Jersey.

New Bethlehem gym to open with free community workouts

Lehigh Valley fitness freaks and casual gym-goers alike can try a new Bethlehem gym opening next month with free community workouts.

11PRO Fitness is an 11,000-square-foot facility opening at 3713 Linden St., Suite C, on Aug. 1, according to a post on the gym’s Facebook page. Residents can enter from Turner Street before going to the second floor of the building, the Facebook page added.

“Come to our first community class on August 1 for an awesome workout, in a world class facility, with a motivating culture where we are all here to help each other move, sweat, and accomplish your fitness goals!” the post stated.

It’ll offer services such as an open gym, personal training sessions, classes for youth up to high school age and adults, training for sports, and renting space for birthday parties, according to the 11PRO Fitness website.

Gym founder Francis Barilo, a 23-year-old Bethlehem Township resident who previously played professional soccer in Europe, said he hopes to create an inclusive environment that leaves behind ego and lets anyone accomplish their fitness goals.

“I want it to be [where] you can come and have fun and have a smile on your face while you work out, and get a really good workout in,” he said. “I’m definitely excited.”

The gym will be open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends, Barilo said, adding that it’ll later open on weekdays at 5:30 a.m.

Open gym memberships cost $60 per month for adults and $40 per month for youth. The class-based memberships range from $125 to $185 per month, depending on the number of classes.

The 11PRO Fitness Facebook page links to the registration page where residents can sign up for the free Aug. 1 classes, which occur at 6 a.m., 9 a.m., 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Barilo added that free classes will also occur on Aug. 3 and 8 and 10 a.m.

Retail Watch is a weekly column covering retail and restaurant news in the Lehigh Valley. Have a question, tip, or want to see something in the area? Email Retail Watch at retailwatch@mcall.com.

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