Eagle River to welcome several new and rebuilt businesses in 2020

Friday, January 3, 2020 - 09:54
  • The Planet Fitness gym in Eagle River is currently under construction and scheduled to open in early 2020. (Matt Tunseth / Chugiak-Eagle River Star)
  • Pomodoro restaurant in downtown Eagle River. The restaurant formerly known as Piccolino’s has reopened under new owners. (Matt Tunseth / Chugiak-Eagle River Star)
  • Construction workers stand atop the Eagle River Pawn building on Thursday, Dec. 21, 2019. The building suffered significant damage in the Nov. 30, 2018 earthquake and a subsequent aftershock collapsed part of the building’s roof. (Matt Tunseth / Chugiak-Eagle River Star)

While 2019 was a year of rebuilding in Eagle River, 2020 promises to be one of renewal as several businesses plan to open or reopen their doors downtown in the first months of the year.

Planet Fitness franchisee Dan Afrasiabi hopes his new business on the Old Glenn Highway can help energize the main drag through town.

“Hopefully we’ll kick-start that,” said Afrasiabi, whose gym is set to open in early February.

The gym is currently taking preorders for memberships. Afrasiabi said Planet Fitness has more than 1,800 locations across the country and members have access to all of them. The gyms are a clean, low-cost fitness alternative that he said works “to create a judgment-free zone for everyday people.”

One advantage of Planet Fitness, he said, is the gym completely replaces all its equipment every five years, meaning members always have access to the latest advances in technology.

Afrasiabi said his team has been undergoing training over the past few weeks. Shawn McTaggart will oversee the Eagle River location as well as a new gym in Wasilla.

So far, he said the buzz has been good in Eagle River, which recently saw the closure of the Body Renew location due to that company’s purchase by the Alaska Club.

“We’ll bring a lot of people to the area,” he said.

McDonald’s, pawn shop rebuilding

Planet Fitness isn’t the only new construction along the Old Glenn. Among other projects currently underway are the rebuilding of both the Eagle River Pawn Shop and McDonald’s. The pawn shop had to be partially rebuilt due to a roof collapse following an earthquake aftershock; McDonald’s was torn down after suffering quake damage and is being rebuilt.

McDonald’s is currently hiring and plans to open in early spring; the new restaurant will have a playland.

New dining options

Locals may have also noticed the face-lift at Pomodoro (12801 Old Glenn), which opened earlier this month under new owners in the space formerly known as Piccolino’s. The restaurant features Greek and Italian food.

Just across the Old Glenn, another newcomer to the cuisine scene is taking shape with a planned opening in June or July. Owner Gino Kuang said he plans to open Lime Leaf, an upscale Asian restaurant that will be similar to Kuang’s Basil Ginger restaurant in Wasilla, which features dishes from across Asia ranging from Mongolian beef to sushi.

He said Eagle River seemed like a natural place to expand his business.

“There’s a good market for it,” he said.

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