Couple to transform downtown Niles building into hair salon, restaurant space

Published 11:00 am Monday, November 20, 2023

NILES — A local couple is giving a once-vacant building a new lease on life.

David and Jen Strickland recently purchased the building at 202 E. Main St., formerly home to The Nuggett, for the future site of Jen’s independent salon business as well as a restaurant space available for lease.

The couple closed on the property Monday, Nov. 13 following a months-long process and have been hard at work making their dream come alive. The Stricklands vision for the space is two-fold: one side of the building is being renovated to become Jen’s new independent salon. It will be walled off from the side with the kitchen, which will eventually be renovated for future use as a restaurant with the intention of leasing to a restauranteur. 

“We’re searching for someone that we can do a long-term lease with, maybe build-to-suit,” David said. “That’s our goal for that.”

While the Stricklands have no desire to be in the restaurant business, they felt that keeping that space restaurant-ready would be important to the downtown community.

“We are not in the restaurant industry but we’d love to have an awesome space for gathering, meeting, dining and hanging out. There are windows there that are all bricked over. We haven’t gotten permission from the city yet, but ideally our vision for that space would be to open those windows back up and let in that natural lighting and potentially use the sidewalk for outdoor seating. It’ll have to be approved, but that’s kind of what we see with that space there.”

A dream come true

With 30 years of experience behind the chair as a hairstylist, including the past nine years at Luminous, Jen had been searching throughout Niles for the right place to step out and start her own salon business.

“It’s been a bit and we just couldn’t find the space that matched exactly what we wanted,” she said. “I had went back to school prior to the pandemic and got my business degree and just really wanted to be able to apply that to my future business. All we needed was space and we just couldn’t find it.”

After noticing The Nuggett property was for sale, David approached Jen about the possibility of buying it.

“I had gone into work in the salon that Saturday morning and David said, ‘did you see that the Nuggett’s for sale?’ I said yeah, but we don’t want a restaurant. I really wrote it off. He said I feel it’s something we should at least look at and when we went through and walked into this space. It was kind of hard to imagine but I’m feeling this;  I think this could be it. We said it’s going to take a small miracle but there’s no way; it’s out of our price range. We never ever wanted the restaurant and an apartment. That was not part of the salon plan. It was gonna take a miracle and miracle by miracle, here we are.”

The Stricklands hope to have the salon completed by the start of the new year and the restaurant area renovated by next summer. 

“It’s an aggressive goal, but I think it’s achievable,” Jen said. “It would be a great, clean start to the new year to be able to open up.”

When the doors finally open, Jen’s vision for her salon is a warm, welcoming experience.

“God has blessed us with this building and I want to use it to bless others,” she said. “There are so many hurting people in Niles and I want to create a space where they can come in for hair services and feel refreshed and renewed when they leave. This is a place where I can pour into our community.”

The Stricklands have been overwhelmed with generosity from the downtown Niles community and are looking forward to contributing to downtown Niles’ positive momentum.

“We’ve had a lot of good feedback from other business owners,” David said. “‘Let us know if there’s anything you need help with,’ ‘Do you need a contact? Call us, we’ll get it for you.”

“I love the community downtown,” Jen added. “Everyone has been amazing.”