LONG BEACH - The Akari wine bar and restaurant in front of the Akari Bungalows, at 203 Bolstad in Long Beach, has been closed since October 2009, but it was quietly reopened at the end of November as a unique house wares shop called Round 2 Boutique.
Owner and manager Paula Anast describes the new shop as a collection of shabby chic, new or repurposed items for household furnishing, decorating or gifts.
"It was the worst time to open a new shop," says Anast good-naturedly, "but when the opportunity presented itself, I just decided to jump."
Anast is no stranger to making do and "repurposing," a term that can mean restoring an item, or taking something old and making it new again sometimes by using it in a different way.
"I'm a poor girl with rich girl tastes," says Anast, who grew up in Chicago. "I saw things I wanted in magazines or on television but couldn't afford them."
"Whenever I had any money I always used it to travel, but I've got an artistic eye," she continues, "and I've always been a thrift store shopper."
Upscale Items at Reasonable Prices The shop confirms Anast's skill with aesthetics. Round 2 has a simple elegance and charm. Its upscale inventory is tastefully arranged and prices are surprisingly reasonable.
A dining room table (now sold) with brown leather chairs ($65 a piece) greets shoppers, complete with a handsome four-piece place setting of dishes ($60). In another corner are LaTaBro pillows ($22 to $32), handmade by Laila Brown, a Seaview resident.
"These pillow fabrics are from button-up men's dress shirts, a 2X skirt and lining," says Anast, "drapery, and old table cloths."
"People always come in here to ask me where I get all my things," says this Chicagoan laughing. "I always say, I could tell you but then I'd have to kill you."
She has developed sources for her shop's inventory up and down the coast as well as in Portland. Anast grew up in an admittedly hard-scrabble life and was always involved in both baking and found objects.
"I've always had a nose for collectibles," she shares.
The store features fine handmade jewelry by Debra Tolva and handcrafted barettes and pins by Katie Witherbee. Anast would like to carry the work of a local photographer if she can find someone with the right fit for the store.
There is also a selection of wine, though Anast has said it is unlikely that she will continue with the wine license. "I'd rather send folks down to Peninsula Wine Merchants - they've got a great selection of wine for under $20 a bottle."
Baking as Art
Anast moved to the Peninsula from Chicago in 2007, when long-time friend, Larry Piaskowy, owner and chef of Ilwaco's Port Bistro, gave her a call.
Piaskowy knew Anast as a pastry chef and baker and asked for her help in providing fresh desserts and bread for the Bistro.
Piaskowy closed the restaurant in December 2008 and moved to San Francisco, but Anast stayed on. (Piaskowy is now executive chef at Annabelle's Bar and Bistro in San Francisco where he creates the menu and manages a staff of 30.)
"I opened a bakery in Chicago in a huge warehouse building and, to make ends meet, I sold used stuff in the front of the store," she says. "Every Saturday and Sunday I'd just open the doors and sell retail. It was a way to use the space to help pay the note on the building."
Anast is still baking. "I've never been away from it altogether," she says - there is a kitchen in the back of the retail shop.
Interior Design Consulting
Anast also consults on interior design and she also does her own furniture refinishing.
"I move new things in every week or so," she says. "Or when something sells, I replace it immediately. I've got plenty of back-up in storage."
"I've adapted a rustic-look that fits at the beach," she says, "I can design on a dime."
Anast suggests that owners of beach or vacation rentals could benefit from her aesthetic eye and inventory of furniture and accessories. Owners of buildings or homes for sale might want to call to get her assistance in staging.
"I could help with an office or lobby," she says, "anywhere you would want to change the look or the color scheme. If you put a little into it, you're going to get a lot out."
"But I stay away from grand scale," she adds. "I'm not about taking down walls or anything architectural."
Anast indicates that she works on time and materials and would always start with a consultation on a new project.
"I was always praised in school for my artwork," she says, "but I didn't pursue that."
Kind Locals Starting a business mid-winter might be daunting to another entrepreneur, but Anast takes it in her stride.
"The locals have been so kind," she says. "I have women who stop by every week or so to look around the shop. I think it's a good place to pick up a gift or to get some ideas about how to change a room."
Anast is leasing the building from owners Jared Oakes and Tiffany and Brady Turner. (This trio of owners sold the Akari Bungalows but kept both ownership of the building on the Bolstad beach approach as well as a rental management business for the bungalows.)
Anast emphasizes, "I am not selling on consignment, but I will look at items for an estate sale."
Current winter hours, through March, for Round 2 are Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. For more information or to discuss an interior design project with Paula, call at the shop during business hours at 642-3828.