Open & Shut: A Peruvian chicken restaurant opens in Anchorage, as well as a boxing-inspired fitness studio and a cafe-playhouse for families

Open & Shut is an ongoing series looking 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 reporter Alex DeMarban at with “Open & Shut” in the subject line.


Spinz Pollo a la Brasa: Not long before the pandemic began, a human resources manager for an Alaska cargo airline grew weary of a life with constant corporate pressure.

So Daniel Mainor, a frequent diner at Anchorage restaurants, teamed up with a young but experienced Anchorage chef.

Working together, Mainor and Aaron Schropp devised a plan to create a version of the Peruvian fast-food restaurants where Mainor often eats when he visits family on the East Coast.

What followed is Spinz Pollo a la Brasa at 3024 Mountain View Drive, just north of the Glenn Highway.

It blends Latin American flavors centered around the rotisserie chicken the Peruvian diners are known for, deeply brined and, in this case, slow-roasted and spun over wood charcoal in special ovens ordered from Lima, Peru.

Mainor, the owner, put off the business plan early in the pandemic as the economy crashed. But it soon got back on track. Spinz overcame shipping challenges and employee shortages to launch soft openings in mid-January.


Customers place orders in advance, over the phone, or by scheduling a pick-up time online. They walk away with containers of juicy chicken and sides such as roasted corn, Peruvian fried rice and crispy fries, as well as creamy salsas and Peruvian guacamole. There’s a drive-thru window, too.

Spinz is slowly expanding its schedule. The restaurant is currently open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday. A goal is providing fast, healthy and inexpensive meals in Anchorage, Mainor said.

“You’ll be back tomorrow,” a repeat customer shouted to a first-time customer last week.

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Rumble Boxing: The owner of Pure Barre workout studio in Midtown Anchorage opened a boxing-inspired fitness studio in the Dimond Center last month, near Chili’s restaurant on the west end.

Rumble Boxing Anchorage provides high-energy, 45-minute workouts that alternate between punching aqua-bags and strength training on benches.

It’s all about building muscle, stamina and coordination, said owner Susie Grobler.

“Ten rounds, two fists, zero experience necessary,” she said.

The concept opens up boxing and its benefits to people who avoid traditional boxing gyms, Grobler said.

“Your average person won’t come to box in a basement somewhere,” she said. “This is about the fitness aspect of boxing, but we take out the fear and intimidation factor.”

Fresh Cup Playhouse: Fresh Cup Playhouse is a full-service cafe for parents and an indoor play area for kids 6 and younger, said co-owner Egzona Dobrova.

Egzona Dobrova opened the business on Oct. 1 with her sister, Rehana Dobrova, who owns Fresh Cup Espresso coffee hut in Muldoon.

At the playhouse, parents can chat over London fogs, mochas and cappuccinos while kids bounce in the ball pit and on the trampoline.

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The playhouse is located just west of the Seward Highway at 1201 E. Dimond Blvd. It shares a kitchen with Sicily’s Pizza.

Vitus Energy: An Alaska company that got its start delivering diesel fuel to rural villages opened its first gas station and convenience store in Anchorage last month.

Vitus Energy’s new Midtown Anchorage gas station, at the intersection of Tudor Road and Arctic Boulevard, replaces a former Shell station. Vitus Energy in recent years has opened a bunch of gas stations and convenience stores in communities such as Cantwell, Healy and Tok.


Vitus plans to soon open a second Anchorage location at the intersection of Northern Lights Boulevard and Minnesota Drive. That will also replace a former Shell station. It will carry beer, wine and some spirits, and is expected to open by late February, said Justin Charon, chief executive of Vitus Energy.

Fire Island Rustic Bakeshop: The bakery’s long-awaited downtown Anchorage location opened Wednesday, after it upgraded a former medical building at 718 K St.

The bakery is creating a downtown market that will share space with La Bodega, the beer, wine, sake and liquor store; That Feeling Co., a cafe and houseplant store; and Johnny’s Produce, serving smoothies and selling fruits and vegetables.

The idea is to help revitalize downtown, said Rachel Pennington, who owns Fire Island with her parents, Jerry Lewanski and Janis Fleischman.

As of Friday, Fire Island was the only retail shop at the site — a physical therapy business also operates there. The other shops will soon get their municipal permit to operate at the location, Pennington said.

The bakery was supposed to open in October. But shipping hiccups caused equipment delays, including a large freezer that is still out there in the supply chain somewhere, Pennington said. Labor shortages added to the woes: A demolition crew was out sick with COVID-19 at one point, she said.

[Investors revive proposal for $65M hotel project in downtown Anchorage]

“It’s been one obstacle after one barrier after another,” she said. “But we’re thrilled to be operating.”


The new bakeshop, which late last year closed its location to the south off G Street, is open from 7 a.m. until 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.

With its open-interior design, customers can view bakers at work. And the building retains some of the flavor of the old Anchorage Medical and Surgical Clinic, reusing some of the original medicine cabinets and retaining colorful glass blocks on the exterior.

A grand opening with a big celebration is planned for March 12, Pennington said. Fire Island and many other businesses, including athletic store Skinny Raven Sports, will host a fun run and other activities.

Great Northern Guns: The owners of this Midtown Anchorage landmark shut its doors in October after more than 50 years in business.

But a longtime employee at the store and an Anchorage gun shop owner who was buying up some of the leftover inventory teamed up to keep it alive, employees said.

Jeff Nowak, an employee for 24 years, agreed to manage the shop after Niels Green, the owner of Gun Runners at 601 E. Northern Lights Blvd., agreed to purchase it. The store’s former owners, Joe Andreis and Clair Dalton, who are in their 80s, worked with Green to keep the store alive, Nowak said.

Great Northern Guns, off Tudor Road at 4425 Wright St., acquired a new firearm license from the federal government. It reopened in December, Nowak said.

“I didn’t want to see the place go away and neither did a lot of people,” Nowak said. “So he agreed to buy store. I agreed to work for him and manage it.”

The store was known in part for its mascot, Nellie the cat, who graced the shop. She’s currently retired and living at an employee’s house, Nowak said.

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