Live Local: The lowdown on neighborhood businesses

The recent foreclosure proceedings on the Lake Highlands Plaza property at Walnut Hill and Audelia, and subsequent interest of developers looking for a good deal on potential prime property, has LH residents wondering what the future will hold for businesses such as Highlands Café, T. Hee Greetings and LH Floral.

Lake Highlands residents are waiting to understand what changes, if any, may be in store for the expansive — and primarily vacant — retail space at one of the most central points of Lake Highlands. The recent foreclosure proceedings on the Lake Highlands Plaza property at Walnut Hill and Audelia, and subsequent interest of developers looking for a good deal on potential prime property, has LH residents wondering what the future will hold for businesses such as Highlands Café, T. Hee Greetings and LH Floral.

A new Thai place, Ginger Thai Express, opened at 6300 Skillman last month-behind Mariano’s. The new eatery is the third Ginger Thai restaurant for the Liki family, who have been local residents for the past 18 years. Wanda Liki, who works at all three restaurants alongside her parents, explains, “the newest Express location is more of a Panda Express-style [restaurant], where customers can choose from items on display, or place a custom order. The other two locations are designed more for those who are interested in the full dining experience.” The Liki’s opened the original Ginger Thai six years ago at Marsh and Forest. Two years ago, they opened their second restaurant at Mockingbird and Abrams. All Ginger Thai restaurants are open seven days a week and offer catering and delivery. Thai seems to be the “it” flavor right now, with several newish restaurants in the area including Zato (9090 Skillman) and Asian Mint (Forest and Central). Time will tell if any or all will have the staying power as the one that started it all 17 years ago, Tukta Thai (9625 Plano Road).

Image is everything: a popular phrase in the corporate world for decades, Lake Highlands resident Bethany Siggins is educating folks on how it applies to individuals, too. After working in corporate finance for more than 15 years, Siggins was inspired by a blog to switch gears, find her passion, and figure out how to make a living at it. Knowing she enjoyed style and color, and wanting to serve others, Siggins started researching her options and yadda, yadda, yadda — after being trained by a certified image master, Siggins founded Bethany Siggins Image Consulting four years ago. Through her home-based business, Siggins helps customers “polish their image” through: physical appearance (hair, makeup, wardrobe), behavior (skills, stress management, etiquette), and communication skills (body language, relationship-building, conflict resolution).

Siggins explains that since a lot of people have the misconception that image consulting is only for celebrities or top-level executives, she spends a lot of time educating consumers on its the social and professional benefits. “It only takes seven seconds to make the first impression, and you only get to do it once. It’s human instinct to make judgments based on that initial impression, so it’s important to make a good one.” Siggins explains, “By teaching people how to look their best, they have the confidence to do their best.”

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Siggins’ is offering Advocate readers a 15 percent discount on her services, which can be booked as packages or by the hour. Email or call 469.363.0193 for more information, and check out her website for scoop on the latest tips and trends in the biz.

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Smoothie Factory recently opened up at Skillman and Walnut Hill in the space that was once occupied by Juice It Up. Chad Piepenburg, owner and operator of the LH franchise, is no stranger to the smoothie biz. One of the original founders of Pokey O’s, the popular ice cream and cookie shop on Mockingbird near SMU (Park Cities Plaza), Piepenburg was interested in starting something else and opted out of his initial venture when he discovered a “prime location” for a smoothie shop, just a stone’s throw away from the LA Fitness he frequents. “I knew the Smoothie King concept was a perfect fit for the area. We use the best ingredients in our smoothies and carry a variety of supplements, vitamins and other nutritional products as well.” Piepenburg’s parents have been in the neighborhood for more than 12 years, and he is excited about moving into the area as soon as possible. Stop in and welcome him to the neighborhood, and take advantage of his generous offer for Advocate readers: $1 off any size smoothie, or buy any size smoothie, get one free.

Chances are, there are a few houses on your street adorned with decorative wooden signage promoting local schools and organizations. What you might not know is that a couple of local ladies are busy designing, priming, painting and polishing the handmade yard art in their garages most weekends to fulfill the 30-50 sign orders they average each month. Mary Beth Hickman and a friend purchased Lone Star Yard Art in 2007, after getting word that after almost 10 years in business, the original owner was looking to sell. Wendy Lucas joined the company in 2008. Hickman says, “We complement each other well. We have different strengths when it comes to the details of the business.”

Hickman and Lucas were both raised in Lake Highlands and are passionate about seeing the area thrive, and they see Lone Star Yard Art as a creative outlet and a way to give back to the community. “Our most popular sign is the wildcat head topper, and our favorite signs are the ones that are finished!” Hickman says. “Seriously, we put so much effort into each sign and still look at them with such pride when they are completed.”

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Sharing the workload, plus the support of friends and family, allows the women to keep up with the demands of their burgeoning business — which has more than doubled since they took over — while juggling family, their other jobs (yes, seriously, other jobs, too), and all the other things life sends their way. Visit the website to see pictures of designs currently available, learn about customized signage, or place an order. Or contact Hickman at 214.349.2872 for more info.

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