By Seth Daniel
The owner of the MiniLuxe Nail Salon, announced to the Eight Streets Neighborhood Association on Tuesday night, April 11, that he is preparing to open a location on Tremont Street in June at the old Emilio’s Pizza store, .
Owner Chris Mastrangelo, a former long time Union Park resident who now lives in the Back Bay, assured neighbors and abutters that the controversy over the proposal to paint the storefront white to match their branding is over.
“We listened; we know what people say,” he said. “Emilio’s wasn’t perfect…but having a darker presence with a stained, but updated, look is what we’ll have…We plan to fix some of the rot and damage, but other than that, on the exterior, we will look like Emilio’s looked.”
He said the clean, white look matches their brand concept, which focuses on changing the paradigm of the nail salon business by treating workers well, having a clean, non-toxic product and being very transparent. However, he said he understands it wasn’t probably the best thing for the South End.
“We chose a classical facade like the look we have in Dallas, Los Angeles and the Fenway, a very white aesthetic character,” he said. “When we proposed that to the South End Landmarks, the gasps were audible…Landmarks correctly said they had no right to tell us what color to paint it, but they told us they didn’t like it either. We could have gone ahead with it, but that doesn’t make a lot of sense. Why offend the neighbors you want to have as your customers?”
Mastrangelo and his brand manager, Whitney Armstrong, said they had a best-guess estimate of opening in mid-June.
Mastrangelo also spent considerable time letting Eight Streets know that the company was a local company. He said many falsely assumed when they proposed the business that it was a big chain from outside. In fact, he said, he is a long-time former Southender who lived in Union Park and remembers the fights that went with Starbuck’s and Dunkin’ Donuts coming into the neighborhood.
“We are not that chain,” he said. “MiniLuxe started 10 years ago. It’s Boston-based and a family business.”
He said the business started when the owners, aligned with Cue Ball Capital, were looking for a business that could be done better, something they could transform into a better product and experience. In the end, they all felt that place was nail salons.
He said most of their 21 salons are in Greater Boston, with locations also in Dallas and Los Angeles. However, he said the South End has long been eyed as a place for growth.
“The South End is a big strategy to the company’s growth,” he said. “When they hired me, they said to find the best location in the South End. When I heard Emilio’s was coming online, that was an A-plus location. It’s the perfect location for us. The size and space fit.”
Some neighbors had concerns over the signage, which will sit above the woodwork on the brick wall.
Other neighbors wondered about the toxicity of the business.
Mastrangelo indicated that they don’t do acrylic nails, which are largely considered unhealthy for workers applying the treatment. He said part of their brand is to have a healthy environment, and Armstrong said the smell is more likely to be that of a soothing candle than the usual paint smells at a nail salon.
Another concern was the black and white checkered entrance on the corner, which Mastrangelo said they do want to get rid of. He pledged to have his architect look at solutions, but added the main entrance will be on Tremont Street.
Neighbors seemed to be satisfied with plans after full discussion.