Soma Cura Wellness Center - a yoga studio, massage center and vegan café near Tops in the Benderson plaza - is now home to the first salt beach room in Western New York.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony Saturday heralded the opening of Soma Cura's salt room at 2154 Grand Island Blvd. in the Grand Island Tops Plaza. Salt therapy improves breathing function and reduces bronchial sensitivity.
"We're so excited to bring this to the northern communities. Our desire is to keep growing to provide a space that brings all your health and wellness wants and needs. The benefits that massage, yoga and salt therapy provides are incredible. We hope everyone gets a chance to come see what we have to offer, plus taste our delicious vegan food that even carnivores will enjoy," said Matthew Green, owner of Soma Cura.
Soma Cura has "a different take" on the salt room, Green said.
"We live in Western New York, and we decided that cold, dark places are not the thing that we need more of, so we made ours a beach instead of a cave. So we hope that you like that."
The ribbon-cutting, with Sue Zinter of Soma Cura doing the honors, was attended by fellow businessmen and women from the Grand Island Chamber of Commerce.
Eric Fiebelkorn, president of the chamber, said the opening of the salt room represents an expansion of "health and wellness for the community and can give us an opportunity to not have to travel off-Island for those services. I travel a lot around Western New York for my day work and I can tell you that this facility and these folks are well known across Western New York for running excellent programs."
Fiebelkorn said Soma Cura completes "between 80 and 150 massages alone here during the week and has the capability to both do individual and couples massage. The new salt room expands treatment for people who are fighting respiratory illnesses.
"It's a phenomenal asset for us to have on the Island to promote health and wellness," Fiebelkorn said.
The opening of the new salt room coincided with the revamping of Alz Rootz Café, which has a new option to pick up a walk-away meal on the go.
"It used to be that we made it for you regularly, and now it's going to be more geared towards meal pickup. People seem to like that," said Green.
"We're going to have things ready for you so you can just walk up and take it away, whether it's a mac and cheese or our soups or our sandwiches and things."
A redesign at Alz Rootz restored the openness to the café, which Green described once as "a bunker" and not in step with the company philosophy.
"One of the things about Soma Cura that's always been part of our success we felt is it's a community," Green said.
"We like to think that it's more than just a place that you come to do things. It's a place where you belong and you own it as much as we own it. And the café, we wanted to make it feel more that way, too."
Fiebelkorn said the local ownership in the Benderson plaza - home to Islander-owned company's like Aceti's Wine & Spirits, Plumeria, and Just Pizza - shows that having local, small, home-owned businesses in the plaza rather than Big Box corporations is a viable model in the heart of GI's business district.
"I think if you put a push pin on a map, and said 'Town Center,' it's really between here and maybe just on the other side of Town Hall, so this is really ground zero, if you will, I think for business activity," Fiebelkorn said.
"The great thing is with ownership like we have here with these locals, we can have services we need and great businesses and have them owned here and have investment in the community. So it's a really a win-win for us as we develop."
"What I always say to everybody that works here, that when somebody walks in the door here for the first time, they didn't think about this yesterday, they've been thinking about it for a while," Green said. "And they've wondered and they've wondered and then finally they came in. And so it's our job to try to connect to that."