Open & Shut: Houseplants and produce under one roof; Uncle Leroy’s adds location

This is an installment of an occasional series in the Anchorage Daily News taking a quick look at the comings and goings of businesses in Southcentral Alaska. If you know of a business opening or closing in the area, send a note to with “Open & Shut” in the subject line.


That Feeling Co.: An Anchorage couple who loved relaxing at home after they packed their house with plants opened a houseplant shop and cafe to introduce others to the same feeling.

Carson Baldiviez and his fiancee, Tanya Val, opened That Feeling Co. in late January in a converted automotive service shop at 1721 E. Dowling Road.

It’s not a location where you’d expect to find an oasis from the traffic and cold. But inside, sunlight streams through windows in a roll-up door. Leafy foliage cascades from walls and fixtures. Soft tunes float from speakers.

“Cool vibe,” said first-time customer Christine Elias.

“We want it to be a home away from home,” Val said.


The multiple bay doors will stay rolled up in summer so customers can “spill” outside and sit in the sun, said Baldiviez, 30.

The selection includes flowering plants, vining plants, cactuses and succulents, plus ceramic pots and other products. They’ll sell local items as much as possible, but also tropical plants and other exotic items.

“We’re offering stuff I could never find in town,” Baldiviez said.

The store shares a space with another unlikely business for that part of town: a produce store run by Baldiviez’s father, Johnny, and mother, Ginna.

Johnny’s Produce: This business, in the other half of the transformed space, sells an array of fruits and vegetables, including hard-to-find peppers, okra, dragon fruit, green dragon apples and papayas.

Ginna runs a juice bar serving fruit-and-veggie drinks. Vegan smoothies made with almond and coconut milk include the “blueberry breakfast,” with cinnamon and oats, the “PB&J," infused with peanut butter and strawberries, and the cucumber-and-kale-based “Green."

Johnny’s Produce also sells wholesale produce to restaurants and shops out of a separate Anchorage warehouse.

The Baldiviez family owned the House of Bread in Anchorage for years, but sold it last year.

Father and son said they’ll give customers advice on plant care and produce selection.

“We’ll offer a little bit of an experience,” Johnny said after showing customers how to pick a good papaya.

Uncle Leroy’s Coffee: The Anchorage-based coffee roaster opened its second cafe in early February, at 6307 DeBarr Road near the Hacienda Mexican Restaurant.

The coffee is roasted locally in small batches to ensure consistent quality, said Allison Ackles, store manager.

The shop showcases local art and has space for performers.

The business began in 2015 as a mobile cafe in an old blue school bus. Co-owner Austin Schwartz roasted the beans in pans, but now use air roasters. The other brick-and-mortar location is located near West 36th Avenue and Arctic Boulevard.

The new Uncle Leroy’s is located in the former home of Waffle Rush.

Waffle Rush: This specialty waffle maker moved late last year to a new spot at Glenn Square, at 3048 Mountain View Drive, Suite 101, near Bass Pro Shops.

The restaurant outgrew its former location on DeBarr Road, said co-owner Debe Stevens. The restaurant serves breakfast, sandwiches and all-day waffles, including the honey-butter-pecan-chicken waffle, the maple-bacon waffle and sweet dessert waffles.


Mekong Pho: This maker of the noodled-filled Vietnamese soup, pho, opened last month at 4015 Mountain View Drive.

The restaurant also serves Thai food and a variety of Vietnamese dishes. It’s located where the Alaska Pho Restaurant operated a few years ago, said co-owner Soulivanh Khamleu.

Denali Pretzels: The airport food concession kiosk that serves pretzels with an Alaskan twist, plus fresh Krispy Kreme donuts, Kaladi Brothers coffee and energy drinks, opened its second location in January in the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.

The new kiosk is located just after the security gate, said co-owner Ryan Manzek. The original location is just before the security gate.

Denali Pretzels offers old-fashioned pretzels, pretzel sticks and other items. Locally made dips include Midnight Sun Brewing beer cheese and Trapper Creek smoked salmon dip.

That Wing Place: The wings, burger and sandwich diner serving beer and wine opened its second Anchorage restaurant in early January, a Midtown location at 751 E. 36th Ave., Unit 107, near the Old Seward Highway. Its other restaurant is in East Anchorage on Boniface Parkway.


Johnny Chicago’s: That Wing Place opened in the old home of Johnny Chicago’s. The Chicago-style hot dog and pizza restaurant closed late last year.

Alex DeMarban

Alex DeMarban is a longtime Alaska journalist who covers business, the oil and gas industries and general assignments. Reach him at 907-257-4317 or