- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 22, 2005

Day care has gone to the dogs. Happy Tails Dog Spa, which opened in Vienna, Va., three years ago, has unleashed a new franchising plan to expand its concept for pampered pooches throughout the area and eventually nationwide.

Amy Nichols, who founded Happy Tails, expects to have 200 franchised locations opened within three to five years.

“This is an ideal business opportunity for dog lovers who want to own their own business,” said Ms. Nichols, who started the spa after leaving a job in telecommunications. “This concept is so exciting.”

The day care for dogs offers everything from playtime and snacks to spa treatments and naps.

The 9,000-square-foot flagship location caters to 80 to 100 dogs daily. The cost ranges from $27 to $33 per day, depending on the package.

The demand for Happy Tails’ services led Ms. Nichols to franchise the concept.

“More and more dog owners are providing their family pets with the kind of care they would give their own children,” she said.

The expansion will focus on the mid-Atlantic area before branching out across the country. Ms. Nichols said she eventually will open another company-owned location in the area.

Last week, the first franchise was sold to Debra and Francisco Fernandez of Vienna, longtime customers of Happy Tails.

Their location is expected to open in Ashburn, Va., in October. The couple hopes to open several more spas in parts of Northern Virginia.

The franchised locations will be between 4,000 and 6,000 square feet and have about 12 to 15 employees each. Franchisees, who will pay a $35,000 initial fee to start the business, will go through a four-week program that will include hands-on and management training.

New tenants

Gallery Place is filling up its more than 270,000 square feet of retail space with myriad tenants, including a bowling alley, new restaurants and a school for hair stylists and spa technicians.

D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams introduced the new tenants in a press conference last week calling Gallery Place, at Seventh and H streets NW, an “economic engine” that is bringing new jobs and money into the city.

Lucky Strike, a bowling and dining combination, will open a 22,000-square-foot location, employing about 120 employees. Bed, Bath & Beyond will open its first D.C. store later this year with a 50,000-square-foot location, which will have about 100 employees.

New restaurants include a 25,000-square-foot, 500-seat Clyde’s and Zengo, a 195-seat restaurant with a Latin- and Asian-style menu.

Aveda Institute will open a two-story, 17,000-square-foot salon and school that will teach students about hair, makeup and skin care. Classes will begin in August. The facility also will have two stores.

The retail space at Gallery Place, which also includes tenants such as Ann Taylor Loft and City Sports, is about 95 percent filled.

The $275 million project is a joint venture between real-estate-development firms Akridge and Western Development. It also includes 230,000 square feet of office space, 192 condominiums and a garage with 700 parking spaces.

• Donna De Marco can be reached at 202/636-4884. Retail & Hospitality runs every other Monday.

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