Open & Shut: Anchorage gets a new vintage clothing store, a veterinary clinic opens, and Uncle Leroy’s ends its run in Midtown

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.


Penny Royalty: Nessa Nouveau has a passion for upcycling -- improving and boosting the value of old items.

So in December, she opened a vintage clothing, jewelry and art store in Spenard, just north of Bear Tooth Theatrepub.

“I like to bring life back to old things,” she said.

It’s a collective of a dozen female artists, Nouveau’s friends, who sell their creations and get a cut of the sales, she said.

“It’s a group of cool girls doing cool things,” she said.

She also buys some items for resale and accepts others for consignment.


Nouveau said she got inspired to open Penny Royalty after working for a decade with other strong-minded women at the former Modern Dwellers Chocolate Lounge in Anchorage.

“As we get older we get into this groove and we forget about creating, and that’s important for me, to inspire creativity,” she said.

She’s planning a fashion show on April 23, to celebrate Earth Day and highlight the work of several artists. They’ll show off upcycled fashions, like a corset she made out of silken tea bags.

Penny Royalty is at 1241 W. 27th Ave. It’s open Tuesday through Saturday, from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Anchorage Veterinary Clinic and Urgent Care: Emily Mehlman and John Knudsen are already getting calls for appointments. But the veterinarian couple isn’t opening their new clinic until Tuesday.

It’s a sign of the acute need for more veterinary services in Anchorage, magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic, Mehlman said.

Last week they saw a husky named Stewie for a wellness check, after the owner found them on Google but had few other options, Mehlman said.

“It’s hard to turn people away when pets are in need,” Mehlman said.

She said there’s a shortage of veterinarians nationally and in Anchorage. Veterinary schedules backed up during the pandemic, as more people got pets and clinics were ordered to halt elective procedures, such as neuters and spays, to prioritize medical supplies for people.

The husband and wife recently left jobs at other Anchorage practices to open the clinic in South Anchorage at 8811 Toloff St., off Abbott Road.

They plan to offer curbside service starting Tuesday, meaning technicians will come outside to pick up pets for treatment.

Final construction work is still going on inside, so the clinic isn’t expecting to open indoors for pet owners until April 11.

Ravens Ring Brewing: Four guys with a passion for brewing opened this South Anchorage business in February after getting a good deal on equipment that came from a Kenai brewery.

Alongside beer, they’re serving wine, mead, ciders and sodas, said Lee Butterfield, an applied technology teacher at South High School.

Butterfield and the other owners are all fathers, thus the sodas for kids, he said.

“We wanted to build something in our community that would be long-lasting and bring people and families together,” he said.

They also wanted to create something they could someday hand off to their kids, he said.


The other owners are Dave Parker, former lead brewer at Broken Tooth Brewing, the brewing operation for the Moose’s Tooth; Buck Voeller, who works at Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility; and Zac Hays, with First National Bank Alaska.

They all spend time behind the bar, Butterfield said.

They planned to open Ravens Ring in summer 2020 but “the world ended,” he said, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Construction materials arrived late. And subcontractors were hard to find.

But all is well. The opening month of sales was good, thanks to word-of-mouth advertising, he said. They serve creations like blueberry vanilla meads, rhubarb cream soda and Concord wine.

“We won’t be Elon Musk by the end of next year, but this is working,” he said.

Ravens Ring Brewing is across Industry Way from Play it Again Sports, at 12150 Industry Way, Unit Q1. It opens weekend days starting at noon, and Wednesday to Friday at 4 p.m. It closes nightly at 8 p.m.

Sonic Drive-In: Like other fast food restaurants in Alaska, the first Sonic to open in Anchorage was met with long lines of cars during its soft opening last month, when it offered only drive-thru service.


The true opening began last week, with car-hop and dine-in service, said Larry Clark, managing franchise owner.

The Sonic, the third in Alaska behind Fairbanks and Wasilla, has spent recent weeks training employees and working out software kinks to improve drive-thru service.

The Sonic at 1137 Huffman Road, with an indoor play area, was supposed to open last spring. But pandemic-related challenges getting building materials and builders delayed progress, Clark said.

Sonic’s service will be working out glitches for a few more months as it improves its procedures, he said. It’s so busy he’s had to send out employees to direct traffic outside the restaurant. And some people are placing huge orders.

“It’s very strong demand,” he said.

Apex Auctions: Craig Aglietti said he had a hunch a decade ago that Anchorage needed more auction houses.

At the time, he cleared out foreclosed properties for banks and took the abandoned items to auction houses. Business at the auction houses was always brisk, even when operations were poorly managed, he said.

He opened Apex Auctions late last year and realized he was right. Sales are taking off, and there’s plenty to sell, he said. Every Alaskan has quality stuff to get rid of.

Apex is holding online auctions daily at It’s selling firearms, jewelry, tools, motorcycles and even cars, including a 1966 Plymouth Barracuda, among other items.

The auction house will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony with the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce at its storage warehouse on Tuesday starting at 4 p.m., Aglietti said.

It’s located in South Anchorage at 625 W. 59th Ave., Unit G. It’s near Brewerks, a new brewery. Apex will hold a reception there after the ribbon-cutting.

Maple Springs of Anchorage: The retirement and assisted living home opened recently. It has dozens of units for assisted living, with kitchenettes and private bathrooms, and a memory care unit called The Lighthouse that includes 28 private studio rooms, serving people with diagnoses such as dementia.


Several people are moving in each week, highlighting the need for assisted-living support in Anchorage, said Ethan Tyler, a spokesman with Cook Inlet Region Inc., which owns the land at Maple Springs at 11000 C St. in South Anchorage.

United Physical Therapy: The locally owned business in January opened its fourth Anchorage clinic in South Anchorage, at 2203 W. Dimond Blvd., Suite 100A, near Walgreens.


Uncle Leroy’s Coffee: The small-batch roaster last month closed its coffee shop in the Olympic Center mall in Midtown.

Co-owner Carla McConnell cleared everything out Thursday night. Then she sat there and cried, she said.

“It was quite emotional,” she said.

She said the landlord wanted another tenant in the space, but offered Uncle Leroy’s a new spot in the mall. But the coffee shop had spent more than $100,000 to upgrade its place more than four years ago, she said. So the owners decided against that.


“We did not have the funds or frankly the energy to start all over,” she said.

She said Food and Wine magazine recently named Uncle Leroy’s the best coffee shop in Alaska. The business, which got its start roasting coffee beans in a pan in an old bus, will stay alive, she said.

Its overnight roasting operation will move into The Writer’s Block Bookstore and Cafe in Spenard. The bookstore will serve up cups of Uncle Leroy’s coffee. So will That Feeling Co., Cake Studio and Blue Market. Coffee beans will still be available at

Bistro Red Beet: The Wasilla restaurant and bakery closed its doors on Saturday after 15 years, after the retiring owners were unable to find a buyer for the business, according a Facebook post for its “Beetniks.”

But Bistro Red Beet, which focused on Alaska Grown ingredients, isn’t going away entirely.

Sally Koppenberg and husband Jay Erickson always planned to retire this spring, Koppenberg said Monday. But they are “worker bees” with a small commercial kitchen at home and lots of plans. For one thing, they’ll have a commercial booth at the Palmer Midsummer Garden and Art Faire in July, she said.

Bigger plans include releasing a cookbook someday, plus “private catering, teaching and subscription baking (think donuts, cakes, and bread),” according to the Facebook post.

IMPORTANT BEETNIK ANNOUNCEMENT!! (a little long, but a must read!) For the past fifteen years, Bistro Red Beet has been...

Posted by Bistro Red Beet on Wednesday, March 2, 2022

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