Distinctly Downtown: Apotheclaire – An environmentally-friendly twist to beauty care

Walking into Apotheclaire is literally a breath of fresh air –the new eco-responsible salon in Downtown Akron makes natural, organic and chemically-reduced alternatives their priority.

Unlike most salons, Apotheclaire recycles 98 percent of their waste, such as color leftovers, vinyl gloves, product packaging and hair. Apotheclaire is part of the Green Circle Salons, which has warehouses that use recycled hair to make oil booms. The oil booms are used to clean up oil spills, and can be reused several times, unlike synthetic booms.

The idea of Apotheclaire began with owner Claire White, who has a long history of being hypersensitive to many chemicals and fragrances. The name Apotheclaire was inspired by the word “apothecary,” which in Latin means shopkeeper, creatively combined with Claire’s name.

“I don’t remember a time when I didn’t have some sort of rash or sneeze or actually be in the hospital,” White said. “It’s something I’ve had to deal with my entire life, and I’ve had to learn how to accommodate my personal environment for a long time.”

White told stories of the struggles she would go through when getting a haircut. The hair salons would have to make sure there were no chemical products lying around or any fragrances lingering in the air.

White said there are others like her; however, her main goal is to make sure that Apotheclaire provides the best service in the nicest environment possible, regardless of if a customer has the intention of being toxin-free.

“We try to keep the environment clean enough and comfortable enough that if you come in here for a service, you’re going to leave here feeling good,” White said.

In addition, Apotheclaire is also a retail shop that sells a variety of natural and organic beauty, skin, hair, personal and home care products.

One of White’s favorite products that she sells are wool dryer balls. These dryer balls are an eco-friendly alternative to dryer sheets and fabric softeners, which have harmful chemicals and perfumes that coat clothing. In contrast, the dryer balls have no chemicals and can be used over and over again.

White said the intention she has for Apotheclaire is to have a series of shops in one place. In addition to the services and products Apotheclaire already provides, Claire hopes that if there are opportunities for the salon to grow, she will be able to put them all under the same roof.

Apotheclaire is located on 70 E. Mill Street in Akron, on the ground floor of Greystone Hall. Salon hours are Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 8 a.m., Wednesday and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information about Apotheclaire, visit their website at www.Apotheclaire.com and check out their Instagram account @Apotheclaire.

By: Zaina Salem
DAP communications intern


Rubber City Comics thrives at new location

Rubber City Comics is the place to go for any comic book fans, young or old.

Rubber City Comics began in a small room inside Quaker Square, where it was called “Quaker Square Comics.” There, the store sold comic books but also a conglomerate of kick-knacks such as souvenirs, T-shirts, candy and more.

Now at its new storefront in Downtown Akron, Rubber City Comics focuses on comics, graphic novels, action figures, apparel, and other collectables.

Rubber City Comics outside

Owner Scott Malensek said there are three things that make Rubber City Comics stand out from other comic book stores: the customers, the free subscription service, and the consignment.

“We’re defined largely by the people right around us. We let the customers help evolve us and develop,” Malensek said. “And that’s where we have our focus. We’re a reflection of our customers.”

Manager Tom Hoff said the subscription service is flexible enough so that if someone wanted to jump on or jump off, it’s a quick process.

Rubber City Comics attracts a variety of age groups –from young children to adults. For these people, the store is not just a place to buy comic books and leave; many come just to hang out and speak the language. The staff enjoys talking with customers and hanging out with people who like the same conversations and interests.

“This is a destination. It’s the kind of place where people come,” Hoff said. “We have built a community.”


One unique thing that Rubber City Comics does is host a comic fan get-together on the last Saturday of every month. From 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., guests can watch a comic-related movie as well as discuss ideas.

If you’re a comic book fan, or are interested in becoming one, stop by at Rubber City Comics for a fun and unique experience! Their hours are Mondays through Wednesdays from noon to 6 p.m., Thursdays and Fridays from 1:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturdays from noon to 5 p.m. For more information, check out their Facebook and Twitter.


By: Zaina Salem
DAP intern

Distinctly Downtown: Ely Road Boutique

Fashionable, affordable, and unique: these are three words that come to mind when reflecting on Ely Road Boutique, the brand new retail store in downtown Akron.


Ely Road Boutique offers pieces that are timeless, ageless, and cannot be found anywhere else, according to founder Susan Pruitt. Pruitt handpicks the pieces from wholesale places, and wants customers to feel confident that they are investing in good quality clothing.

Pruitt and her husband first began the business solely through a website, elyrdboutique.com. She said wherever she was –whether it be at work or walking the streets in a city –she would have people stop and ask her where she got her outfits from. She then started being a stylist for her coworkers and friends, putting together outfits for them. She loved it so much that she decided to start her own business.

IMG_2457Pruitt was an executive assistant for a number of years, but didn’t get the satisfaction she wanted out of it. After moving from Houston to Boston to Indianapolis, Pruitt and her husband decided to move back to their hometown –Akron. Since their items would consistently sell out at fashion shows and festivals, they agreed to expand on their website and begin a storefront together.

“My husband and I are so excited,” said Pruitt. “I love this city and I see that is has really great potential. I see it coming alive year after year. I think the style and flair we have will work really well with downtown.”

Pruitt remembers moments she had growing up in Akron –from visiting the Peanut Shoppe as a child to receiving her master’s degree at The University of Akron. Because the city is so near and dear to her heart, she believed it was the best place to start her business.

“Akron means so much to me,” Pruitt said. “I want to be a part of the city’s growth and future, and a part of its culture.”


Ely Road Boutique pays homage to Pruitt’s grandparents who lived on Ely Road in Akron and were a big inspiration to her. Her grandfather was a surgeon in Akron who saw great potential in the city. Her grandmother was a fashion guru who, having lived through the depression, would put together inexpensive outfits using her own unique sense of style.

Pruitt believes her grandparents would be proud of her and her business. “They always just wanted to make sure I was happy,” Pruitt said. “I want the business to succeed because I want to do something in their memory and I want tIMG_2467o continue their legacy.”

Not only is the name of the boutique special, but so is the logo. The logo, a woman walking her dog, is Pruitt and her Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Huey Lewis Pruitt. Huey likes to greet customers as they walk into the Boutique, his tail wagging with excitement.

Pruitt hopes she can expand her business to do fashion shows and runway shows, while also collaborating with other designers. She also would like to learn how to create fashion videos as well as doing trunk shows and private parties as the business grows.

If you’re looking for clothing and accessories with unique flair and at an affordable price, stop by and check out Ely Road Boutique on 21 N. Maiden Lane in the Historic Arts District. The boutique is open Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Wednesday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturdays from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. To see some of the Ely Road Boutique collection, visit www.elyroadboutique.com.

By: Zaina Salem
DAP intern

Distinctly Downtown: My Summer with DAP


Hillary working on her final blog for DAP

The summer is finally coming to a close and so is my internship at Downtown Akron Partnership. To be honest, I am quite sad that I’m leaving such an excellent non-profit organization. As a small town girl from New Philadelphia, Ohio and a KSU student, I never knew or heard of DAP until my advisor informed me of the opening. As soon as I heard it was a non-profit, I applied immediately mainly because I’ve always wanted to work for a non-profit organization to help out the community.

My words to express the atmosphere of Downtown Akron Partnership is endless, I’ve had loads of fun during my summer doing several different tasks, like promoting new businesses, working the Market at Lock 3, helping out with the Akron Art Prize, and writing blogs. I would have to say, working the Market at Lock 3 with Tony Long (Assistant Operations) was the most fun because I was out of the office, interacting with the community advising them to be healthy. As a health freak myself, I really enjoyed giving some healthy tips to Market-lovers and telling them different ways to live a healthy life.

I also did a lot of writing for DAP, one of my biggest projects of the summer was writing a press release about all the new businesses in Downtown Akron, that was also a lot of fun. I got to go around downtown and interview business owners and CEO’s of new companies and write about what they do, what they offer, and how they benefit Downtown Akron.


Getting recipe cards for the Market at Lock 3

I wrote a blog about The Coffee Pot that’s located in the Akron-Summit County Public Library. I went down on a Friday morning and met with the owner, Scott Malensek. We sat, drank coffee, and talked for about an hour about his two businesses. This was by far the best interview I have experienced. He was so excited and so enthusiastic about his business, it made me excited for him. He even let me try out some of his new menu items and talked me into going to his other business, The Stew Pot Kitchen. I tried some of his famous Tomato Basil Soup, and let me tell you, BEST SOUP EVER!

There are so many restaurants and activities to do in Downtown Akron, it’s quite overwhelming! But it also makes me want to move here because it’s such a great community with something always going on. Downtown Akron provides a great community for locals and that’s what I love the most about DAP. They really care about providing a fun, safe, and clean place for people to live and have fun.

Joining in the Fit & Green Ride at The Market at Lock 3

Being a Downtown Akron Partnership Intern, I’ve learned so many great things that I will carry on all through my life. I’ve learned how to interview people professionally, I sharpened up my writing skills, I learned how to use different software to update the DAP website; I also learned how to break out of my shell and talk to people in the community to promote a healthy living style. I am truly thankful that I got to experience working at Downtown Akron Partnership.

By: Hillary Walker
DAP Intern

Distinctly Downtown: Biking To Work

suzie biking 2Inspired by the Chicago 8-80 Doable Cities Forum in Chicago last week and AMATS’ Switching Gears Active Transportation Conference yesterday I rediscovered a love for my neighborhood this morning by biking to work! Only eight minutes slower than driving in (obeying speed limits) and far better for my health and sense of well-being, my 20 minute ride began by appreciating how my old Akron street is built at a beautiful human scale with porches and windows facing the street to encourage a watchful and engaged neighborhood.

Every pedestrian I passed, even on the four lane Market Street route that I took, smiled and said hello. I took the street versus the sidewalk and braved the traffic. Cycling is not just for the lycra people – stuff a blazer and change of shoes in your backpack ad enjoy the ride. Hooray for our old neighborhood streets, built close-in to the city center so we can take advantage of a better life.

Skip the suburbs, stay in Akron. Thanks to the Knight Foundation for inspiring us to think differently about modes of transit and their impact on quality of life. Hope to see you at the lunchtime University of Akron’s How We Roll bike tour today with the fabulous Christine Mayer, president of GAR Foundation! The lunchtime bike rides take place every Friday at 12:15 p.m. with the Market at Lock 3. Click here for a full schedule of rides and celebrity tour guides and be sure to join us.

By: Suzie Graham
President, Downtown Akron Partnership

Distinctly Downtown: Damascus Road Coffee

Damascus Road Coffee
106 S. Main St.
Hours: Monday-Friday: 7:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.


For three years, Rob and Deb Stertz have served fresh roasted coffee, food and friendly service to Downtown Akron. Damascus Road Coffee provides a peaceful and relaxed atmosphere that many corporate employees enjoy during their breaks. All coffee is custom roasted, using only the finest quality coffee beans in their roasting process. Accessed both from the Arcade Level and Mill Street in the FirstMerit Tower in

Stop in for a variety of hot and cold drinks or a roasted coffee drink of your choice, and pair it with a sandwich or soup. All of the Damascus sandwiches are hearty and made to order to suit your favorite flavors. Try a Turkey Pastrami or an Angus Roast Beef with your choice of cheese, bread and condiments.  Damascus offers daily fresh baked cookies and brownies, as well as fruit cups of assorted fresh produce.  Specialty drinks include hot chocolate, chai tea latte, steamers and mocha. With over 10 a la carte flavors, Damascus provides plenty of variety to choose from.

Don’t be discouraged if you see a line already formed as you walk in, it’s just other regulars, ready to pick up their favorite items.  A woman who works in the Cascade building said that she is a frequent customer and always gets the egg salad. “It’s always fresh,” she explained. “It’s the best egg salad I’ve had other than my own!” An employee from FirstMerit declared that the cinnamon muffins were his favorite item, and said, “Damascus Road Coffee is always a friendly atmosphere.”

Damascus Road Coffee by the pound and tea by the stash is now available for purchase. Enjoy a premium tea like Fusion Green and White Tea or English Breakfast Black Tea at home. Coffees by the pound include the Ethiopian, bold in intensity with a sweet aftertaste, Organic Colombian, a smooth coffee with creamy chocolate tones, Breakfast Blend, a mild coffee with blends of chocolate and mild citrus, and many others!

Owners Rob and Deb intentionally pursue friendly relationships with their customers and know the majority of them by name. From noticing a new outfit, to asking how a project is coming along, the customers have an established relationship and seem happy to be there and catch up. A FirstMerit employee remarked that he comes in for “A dark roast coffee and good conversation.”

Distinctly Downtown: The Beauty Lounge

The Beauty Lounge
70 E Mill St        

The Beauty Lounge is a great location for Downtowners to beautify and enjoy the overall salon experience! New owner Erin Blackiston, previously employed with RUSK Hair International for six years, strongly believes in continued education for her stylists and the best customer service for her clients. New décor of classic pictures projecting a clean and modern feel makes The Beauty Lounge experience enjoyable for all. With a new owner and new look, you’re promised a fresh experience.

At this laid back salon, each artist will feel like your friend, not just your stylist.  The salon is ideal for busy clientele due to their flexible scheduling options and late evening hours. The non-traditional hours are perfect for anyone with a demanding work schedule. Pick a day to stop by at The Beauty Lounge to wind down after your hectic day, or stop in during your lunch hour for a swift beauty touch up. The Beauty Lounge provides beauty services that suit a variety of requests. Erin explained that her salon does modern, clean cuts as well as easy to manage every day styles. From a sophisticated, classic bob to an asymmetrical fashion forward style, The Beauty Lounge embodies diversity in their hair cuts. The stylists also demonstrate expertise in gray coverage and color correction which they frequently perform.

Get ready to celebrate the Grand Reopening of The Beauty Lounge on Saturday, May 5 from 6-9 p.m.! SKYBIRDKREATIONS Photography will be displayed throughout the salon, featuring black and white photos of Downtown Akron. The Grand Reopening, which takes place during the Artwalk, will give newcomers a chance to meet the staff and talk hair! Look out for a raffle of beauty products that will be announced over wine and appetizers. Even if you don’t win, all Kevin Murphy products will be discounted 25%!

Artist Sonya Rookstol described her work place as ideal. She discussed how she gets to show her expertise through a variety of clientele. “It’s fun, creative and a positive atmosphere,” she said. Knowledge of hair trends and treatments have lead Erin’s stylists to offer popular hair styles such as ombre, a color treatment that gives a natural look of cascading color from darker to light.

The Beauty Lounge is a convenient location to get your hair styled on a regular basis, or just for a special occasion. Make an appointment, or walk-ins are always welcome!  New clients receive 10% off with Erin or Austin.

Distinctly Downtown: The Stew Pot Kitchen

The Stew Pot Kitchen
23 S. Main St.

Open 11:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. on weekdays this spring and summer, The Stew Pot Kitchen offers Downtowners sensational soups, delicious lunches and pleasing prices! Owner Scott Malensek made a personal goal when he opened this family-owned business to make it a place where everyone can afford a cup of soup and a drink to brighten up their day. He sees purpose in providing the best prices to everyone in the community.

The Stew Pot Kitchen offers a variety of different soups from subtle but savory flavors to powerful, spicy ones. These homemade soups and stews are full of flavor and taste superior in a bread bowl! The Stew Pot Kitchen also now offers a cup of soup and ½ a panini for only $5, a frequent request from regular customers.

The menu changes weekly, but during the week of April 30 you’ll find:

BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger Soup, Chicken Soup w pears in a homemade broth with ginger and white Zinfandel, Italian Meatball Sub Sandwiches, Chicken Noodle Soup, Blue Moon Wheat Ale Beer Cheese Soup, Civil Union (wedding) Soup, Loaded Baked Potato Soup, Spicy Beef n Bean Chili, paninis, the $5 soup/panini special, salads and more!

For the weekly menu, check out www.thestewpotkitchen.com.

The Stew Pot Kitchen, which has been open two years, moved to 23 S. Main St. this past fall where many new customers have access to the delicious food. Employees from First Energy say they are glad that business moved closer to them because they love the variety it provides during their lunch break. Malensek’s regular customers take a sense of pride and ownership in the restaurant when they introduce it to their friends. The new location is double the capacity of the old location and has a relaxing back room furnished with black leather seats and handsome woodwork that projects a homey feel. A large quilt hanging in the entrance signals the warm atmosphere you’ll experience while enjoying your steamy soup!

Malensek is sincere in maintaining his objective to provide great food at affordable prices! His vegetable garden, shopping at local farmers markets, and nine years of cooking experience on a budget, help make the food at The Stew Pot Kitchen affordable. The owner’s children (ages 7 and 9) love to learn and help out with the family business and are enthusiastic about making sure that their father’s customers are happy! “They get to see all the elements of the business,” Malensek explained.

At The Stew Pot Kitchen you’re guaranteed to get your money’s worth. It’s the perfect place for students, Downtown visitors and employees, offering soups made with real ingredients at a price to fit any budget. Every soup is homemade and tastes like it! “The soups evolve over time which is what makes them so personal,” said Malensek.

Enjoy your favorite classics like chicken noodle or tomato, or try something new! Next time you’re in, be sure to ask about the story behind The Prisoner’s Plight Hot Soup!

Distinctly Downtown: Totally Cooked To Go

Totally Cooked To Go
388 S. Main St. #202


Located in the second floor atrium lobby of the AES building, Totally Cooked To Go is the latest hot spot to grab a tasty breakfast or lunch during your busy day! Totally Cooked To Go is easily accessible for employees on the south side of Downtown, but a guest parking lot at the AES building makes it accessible for everyone.

Totally Cooked To Go provides seasonally influenced menus and daily/weekly specials, ranging from healthy salads and sushi, to weekly specials such as pizza and mac and cheese! The variety includes:

  • A delicious assortment of hot and cold breakfast items
  • Handcrafted sandwiches made-to-order
  • A wide selection of fresh salads and wraps
  • Hearty homemade soups
  • Hot signature sandwiches, including four different Reubens
  • Features from the Totally Cooked BBQ Co.
  • An array of Totally Cooked side dishes
  • House made kettle cooked potato chips
  • Mouthwatering desserts

As you sit and enjoy your meal at one the tables dispersed throughout the lobby, take a moment to admire the AES building, once owned by the BF Goodrich tire company. Reclaimed by the City of Akron in the 1990s, the AES building is now known for revitalized office spaces, and serves as the new home of Totally Cooked To Go!

The chef-inspired creative cuisine at Totally Cooked To Go will have you coming back to try something new each time! Open Monday-Friday 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

This spring, Totally Cooked To Go will venture outside with the mobile Totally Cooked BBQ Co. Chuck Wagon, allowing Downtown diners to experience live action cooking and the taste of authentic, hickory smoked barbecue. Starting in May, Friday celebrations will take place from 11 a.m.- 2 p.m. under the Cedar Ave. bridge, on the AES Campus next to the Towpath trail. The celebrations will feature interactive BBQ cooking with live blues, support from 91.3 The Summit, and picnic style seating.

Join the Totally Cooked To Go email list and receive weekly menus and specials, including $5 lunch specials every Wednesday!

Distinctly Downtown: Jane Startzman, Volunteer Coordinator

Jane Startzman, the volunteer coordinator for Lock 3, Akron Civic Theatre and First Night® Akron has it all figured out as far as volunteering goes. Over the past five years, Jane has learned how to manage volunteers, ensure they are having a good time while doing their projects, and make sure they feel valued for their work. No stranger to the volunteer circuit, she knows how hard it can be to retain volunteers, but she does so by making sure she offers incentives, and assigning volunteers to projects that they want to do and will enjoy.

“If they’re not happy, they won’t come back,” Jane said of her experiences with volunteers who do not return.

With almost 700 volunteers across three organizations, ranging from ages 13 to 91 years old, one would think it would be difficult to apply such a personal approach to a large number of people. Jane does it by using the creative skills she learned from her many years in the performing arts.

Some of Jane's volunteers hard at work at the Akron Civic Theatre.

And creative she is! Jane, who was one of the first eight students to attend the dance department when it was formed at The University of Akron, has been dancing since she was very young. Trained in ballet, she was a dancer in Heinz Poll’s company, Ohio Ballet for twenty years, dancing works by master choreographers including George Balanchine, Laura Dean and Paul Taylor. She later went on to become the artistic administrator and company manager for Heinz Poll and Ohio Ballet and more recently, the director of the City of Akron’s Heinz Poll Summer Dance Festival. Jane’s favorite piece to perform was “Untitled” by Pilobilus, a company she describes as a precursor to Cirque De Soleil.

Working as a volunteer coordinator, Jane has grown to enjoy each volunteer project for different reasons. Lock 3 projects allow her to be outside in the beautiful summer weather, and she describes First Night as “magical.” She also takes advantage of the many things to do in Downtown Akron, such as dining at Cilantro and viewing shows at the Akron Civic Theatre. Jane likes that fact that there is so much activity in Downtown Akron, adding, “There’s always something to do!”

Jane enjoys her job as volunteer coordinator and stated, “This city has a lot of heart!”