TAHOE CITY, Calif. — Many of the former businesses in the Lighthouse Center are finding success at their new locations.
Coffee Connexion was among seven businesses that had to vacate the Tahoe City shopping center by the end of May to make way for an estimated $1.5 million to $2 million in upgrades, including a new roof, utility replacement and ADA enhancements.
“We opened on Aug. 2, and we were busy right off the bat because tourists were here ... and now slowly all the locals are finding us,” said Robin Dworkin, owner of Coffee Connexion, which is serving caffeinated drinks and treats from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily out of a concession trailer called Coffee Connexion Too! in the Lighthouse Center parking lot.
The post office and Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate — both of which have previously undergone upgrades — were exempt from moving from the center, as were Safeway and CVS Pharmacy, properties not owned by Austin, Texas-based Schlosser Development Corporation.
“I always hope things happen for a reason, and I think it did this time,” she said. “(Relocating) was a lot of work and a little worrisome, but for me, I think it worked out well.”
Steve Hanson, co-owner of Video Stop — now at the Big Tree Center — said that by the end of July, business was on par with its previous location and it’s seeing twice as many new accounts.
“There just aren’t enough feelings to express what I’m feeling for the community,” said Steve, whose wife, Sara, also owns the store. “We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them, and every time they come in, it’s like, ‘Thanks for finding us. Thanks for coming in.’
Sassafras, which was renamed Keena, is also faring well in Truckee’s Gateway Center, said owner Roxanne Williams.
“I would say things are good, but I think I need to build a customer base in Truckee,” Williams said. “... My reception has been really good here. The people who have come in have been really nice and excited about a new option in Truckee.”
Meanwhile, for Unique Nail Spa — now in the Bechdolt Building — business has been “quiet, slow,” said Manager Tuan Lee.
While locals have found the new storefront, visitors are finding it difficult, he said.
Project completion at the Lighthouse Center is anticipated for next summer, said Paul Gaddis, project manager at Schlosser. At that time, affected business can return.
“We would love for everyone to move back in, but we realize that’s an individual business decision,” he said.
When asked if Coffee Connexion would move back, Dworkin said it would return.
“Everyone else found a new location, but I decided I’m going to move back in when they finish ... because it’s the best spot for me,” she said. “... I did look around town, but this was really the best because of parking and the post office.”
As for remaining open in the winter, Dworkin said days of operation will be weather-dependent.
“If it’s a snowstorm, I just won’t open,” she said. “... I’m doing it one day at a time; figuring things out as I go.”
Other businesses such as Keena and Video Stop have signed multi-year leases for their new spaces.
“It’s going to work out,” Steve said. “... I’m hopeful about it.”