Jimmy’s Personal Care
Owner: Jimmy Nguyen
Address: 1327 11th St.
Startup date: July 7
Square footage: 1,090
Jimmy Nguyen said he comes to work every day with a smile on his face. He has a passion for working, and he especially loves taking care of his customers.
For 12 years, he fed his customers Vietnamese and Thai cuisine at his downtown restaurant, Jimmy’s House of Orient.
Nguyen sold the restaurant last year after having completed cosmetology school in Seattle and hand-and-foot massage school in Vietnam.
Now, instead of taste buds and bellies, he will be taking care of customers’ nails and skin. With his new day spa, Jimmy’s Personal Care, Nguyen said he wants to help people look great, but mostly to make them feel special and relaxed.
“I want to create a clean and healthy environment where people can come in and get well-taken care of,” Nguyen said.
Originally from Vietnam, Nguyen and his family moved to Whatcom County in 1989, where Nguyen attended Bellingham High School.
The only full-time employee, Nguyen provides services for the skin such as facials, microdermabrasion as well as hand and foot massages. He developed his own method for facials using small hot stones, which are usually reserved for other parts of the body such as the back.
Having sterile facilities, materials, and using pure, healthy products are the number one priority at Jimmy’s Personal Care, he said.
All pedicure water is ozonated, which means that all algae, viruses, bacteria, and fungi has been destroyed on contact. SpaRitual, the skin and nail product line used in the shop, is vegan-friendly and made without harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde.
Manicures, pedicures, waxing and facials may be a little pricier at Jimmy’s. However, customers aren’t paying for these services alone. They are treated to an upscale yet welcoming atmosphere, pedicure chairs with built-in heating and massage, plus complimentary nuts, fresh fruit and beverages such as Pellegrino or espresso.
Ear piercing, private group parties, personal shopping and personal chef services are also available upon request.
Nguyen said he thought it better to go big or not at all — better to make the spa according to his dream-design and not worry too much about extravagance or expense.
Classic, sophisticated style makes up the Fairhaven shop. Some of the seating includes white leather couches and pedicure chairs. A large, mod-era lighting fixture and windows that practically run the length of the front wall allow light to pour into the space. Fresh flowers rest in vases. Orange accent colors complement a primarily steely-grey and silver décor palette. Abstract paintings line the walls.
Nguyen said part of the inspiration for the spa stemmed from a desire to provide his restaurant customers with something more, even after having moved on from the food business. He said he’s grateful to the local community for keeping his restaurant successful for more than a decade.
“I wanted to build the nicest spa for everyone who supported me at the restaurant,” Nguyen said. “Taking care of people requires a lot of trust and I’m grateful that [they put that trust in me].”
Bridges Treatment and Recovery
Owner: Dylan Brashear
Address: 1221 Fraser Street Suite E1
Startup date: July 10
Square Footage: 2,380
Dylan Brashear has firsthand experience with how substance abuse can destroy families.
Brashear’s father walked out when Dylan was only two years old, choosing to tend to his heroin addiction instead of his child.
Brashear’s mother struggled with a dependence on alcohol before she became sober 16 years ago.
Brashear, a certified counselor and Bellingham native, now runs Bridges Treatment and Recovery, an out patient rehabilitation center on Fraser Street. He said helping others regain control of their lives is fulfilling because he understands how precious and essential the process of healing is.
“[There are] so many instances of the same [success] story,” Brashear said. “People get their lives back. They get their children back. Their children get their parents back. The biggest thing for me to see is for that little child to have his parents. It means so much to me because [my father] chose drugs over me.”
At Bridges, patients walk into an airy, Zen-like environment with light brown walls, hardwood floors and small bonsai trees decorating the front office area.
Each type of room at the recovery center comes in twos: two group counseling rooms, two individual counseling rooms and two rooms used for massage therapy and acupuncture.
Programs include one-on-one and group counseling, assistance for families wanting to pursue an intervention, relapse prevention services and intensive outpatient programs.
Although Bridges does not limit the amount of patients admitted, it caps the amount of people in a counseling group to 12.
Additionally, Brashear works with patients who have received DUIs and are court-ordered to undergo a certain amount of outpatient treatment. Brashear works with the court system to evaluate the amount of help a patient needs before providing it.
Healing the body, mind and spirit is important at Bridges Treatment and Recovery, Brashear said. This approach is inspired by Brashear’s mother, Janice Edin, who is an addiction counselor with a private practice. Edin developed a method for pairing holistic modalities such as acupuncture and massage with traditional outpatient recovery techniques, like counseling.
Brashear said he loves being a counselor because he loves helping people to make more responsible choices. But it’s not an easy job to have. In this business, the customers are deeply troubled, plagued by habits that are ruining their lives.
“It’s hard to not go home and worry about them and try and fix their problems in my head,” Brashear said.
Brashear originally worked as a counselor at a business his mother owned for 10 years called Pacific Recovery and Healing. He then moved on to owning his own business, a day spa in Seattle, which he ended after he found the work to be less than meaningful.
Brashear no longer works just to make money, but to fulfill a sense of purpose.
He and the other full-time employee, clinical supervisor Cari Jones, hope they’ll be able to help some Whatcom County residents find happiness and stability in their lives.
“This business won’t make me rich by any means, but I love to do it,” Brashear said.
Il Caffé Rifugio
Owner: Richard and Shu-Chun “Candice” Balogh
Address: 5415 Mount Baker Highway
Startup date: July 11
Square Footage: 1,500
Richard Balogh knows all about transforming spaces. In an old, well-known Whatcom County diner he saw the opportunity to create a sophisticated Italian coffee shop, a refuge on Mt. Baker Highway near Deming.
The transformation is now complete: Richard’s Il Caffé Rifugio has emerged from the same 45-year-old building that held Carol’s Coffee Cup, owned by Carol and Bill Vander Yacht.
In Italian, Rifugio means refuge or sanctuary.
“It’s a resting place,” Balogh said. “It’s a place for people to gather and share their ideas and talk about politics and love and romance.”
Richard was inspired by the artistic, intellectual atmosphere of European cafes he had visited as a teenager, and became eager to start his own as an adult.
When he and his wife, Shu-Chun “Candice” Balogh, moved from Cleveland to Whatcom County four years ago, they started looking for places to open a coffee shop.
The couple made the move for Richard’s work. Aside from being a small-business owner, he is a Canadian national operations manager working with airlines and hotels for a company. Shu-Chun holds a master’s degree in hospitality management from New York University.
When the Baloghs’ Realtor pointed the couple toward the Carol’s building, Richard became excited by the thought of opening a destination-spot business, a place to which customers would have to take the long, but scenic route.
Richard’s new destination-spot business is a reflection of his experiences in more ways than one.
“It’s an amalgamation of everything I am and everything my family is,” Balogh said.
Richard is half Italian, and the menu includes Italian items such as Mortadella sandwiches and pizelles, pastries dusted with powdered sugar and made with lemon or orange extract. Shu-Chun is Taiwanese. Taiwanese and additional Asian influence can be found in the teas offered in the shop, such as jasmine pearl, blood orange and green teas, and in menu items such as egg tarts, which are custard-filled desserts.
The majority of the baked goods and pastries are made fresh daily on-site by the Baloghs.
Richard even made an effort to carry on the legacy of the Carol’s famous cinnamon rolls. He was able to get the recipe from the Vander Yachts’ daughters, Kathy Hillard and Susie O’Connor, who ran a business called Carol’s Girls’ Catering.
Sandwiches at Il Caffé Rifugio are priced between $7 and $8 and pastries are anywhere from $1 to $7.
Customers are able to enjoy their food and beverages in a newly renovated space with chic, lime green walls. Lighting fixtures shaped like lotus blossoms hang overhead. The café includes a fireplace, a sofa area in addition to table seating, and a flat screen TV that displays the menu.