June 30, 2019

Happy Trails!

Living in Fireside comes with an amenity few other communities can match: a

wonderful network of private trails and bike paths connecting our neighborhoods

together. “Walkable” communities continue to be in-demand, as residents look

for fitness options that don’t involve the tedium of a treadmill.

While trails and paths have long been marketable features for home sales, there

is now evidence that property values are boosted by a home’s proximity to

walking, hiking, and biking corridors. According to,

nationwide research shows that homes near trails and paths often command a

price premium of 5-10%. The methodology used in this research involved

statistical models of thousands of comparable homes, with the only difference

being proximity to bike paths and walking trails. And while the results vary from

city to city, there is a clear indication that trails and paths have a positive effect on

market value:


  •  In Austin, Texas, a neighborhood along a popular trail saw premiums of 6 to

20 percent, depending on views and trail access.

  •  In suburban New Castle County, Delaware, homes within 150 feet of bike

paths commanded a four percent price premium.

  •  Along the Little Miami Scenic Trail in southwestern Ohio, increases in

property values can be measured by the foot! Home prices increased by

about $7 for every foot closer a home was to the trail.


Knowing the impact these amenities bring to a neighborhood, it’s easy to see why

Fireside at Norterra continues to be one of the most sought-after communities in Phoenix.

From a lifestyle standpoint, our community is very on-brand. Hardly a day goes by

when you don’t see someone walking a dog, riding a bike, or going for a run. And

if your home happens to be adjacent to a hiking trail, bike lane, or walking path,

you just might experience a lift in home value when it’s time to sell. Just be sure

that your listing features the nearby trails and paths that home buyers love!

Posted in Around Town
April 16, 2019

3 Quick Ways to Update Your Home on a Budget


It might seem like it was only yesterday that you moved into your home, but a large number of homes in our area were built in 2007. Believe it or not, that was three U.S. Presidents ago. Maroon 5 was just releasing their 2nd album. And the New England Patriots had only won 3 Superbowls at that point.

Here we are in 2019, and much has changed – including styles. As with any neighborhood, a little wear & tear mixed together with changing tastes in design has inspired Fireside homeowners to rethink their interiors. For some homes, a few tweaks around the house are enough. Other homeowners have opted for a full home refresh. And a few motivated neighbors have taken the plunge on a major home renovation, replacing their cabinets, flooring, paint, appliances, and countertops.

Admittedly, it’s inspiring to watch home makeover/redesign shows. They make you want to rush out to a design center and order “The Works.” If that’s in your plans and in your budget, good for you. But if you’re quite not ready to sink tens of thousands of dollars into a huge project, here are 3 mini-refreshes you could tackle in a weekend for not a lot of money.

1) New paint. There is no simpler way to transform a room than with paint. A complete interior paint job will be a few thousand bucks. A single room will be in the hundreds. And if you do it yourself, your only cost will be paint, brushes, tape, and your time. You might find that your cravings for a total home makeover can be satisfied by rejuvenating a single room and getting that “new paint smell”.

2) Highlights and accents. The original color palette of the Fireside interiors is a very forgiving neutral – lots of browns, beiges, and greys. This allows you to introduce almost any accent color to the room – from bright yellows to deep reds to brilliant blues. With a few simple tweaks, you can change the entire complexion of a room just by adding color. New accent pillows, silk flowers, wall art, and area rugs can wake up a sleepy room without breaking the bank. 

3) Switch out your light bulbs. The homes in Fireside were built with good quality light fixtures. Rather than replacing the entire fixture (which can get expensive), you might consider swapping out the light bulbs for a set of Edison bulbs. You can find them online and in stores for just a few dollars each. Replacing the bulbs will make it look like you splurged on all-new fixtures, and it will transform your interior lighting in a big way.

At some point, everyone’s home will need a major redesign. But until then, try these budget-friendly design revivals to inject new life into an old room.


Posted in Home Decor
March 22, 2019

Millennials - How To Know If You're Ready To Buy A Home


Millennials have taken longer to obtain traditional milestones than the generations before them, such as getting married, having kids, and buying a home. However, that does not mean that they do not still aspire to achieve those things.

History shows that people tend to buy their first home around age 30. Nearly 5 million millennials will turn 30 in the next two years. This will continue to fuel demand for housing.

This is also one of the many reasons why the millennial homeownership rate has continued to grow over the past few years. 48.4% of Americans between the ages of 30-34 now own a home.

There are over 46 million millennials (33% of the generation) who are considered “Mortgage Ready”, meaning they meet the qualifications to be approved for a mortgage today!

a FICO Score ≥ 620

a Back-End Debt to Income Ratio ≤ 25%

no Foreclosures or Bankruptcies in the last 7 years

no severe delinquencies in 1 year

Rob Chrane, CEO of Down Payment Resource, commented on the findings of the report,

“We now know there are millions of buyers with the income & credit necessary to qualify to buy a home. The biggest question is:

Do they know it? …Unfortunately, many renters don’t investigate homeownership simply because they don’t believe it’s an option.”

The good news is that more and more millennials are realizing that they can afford a home now. Even so, more can be done to increase awareness of low down payment programs to attract even more of this generation.

New data from shows that in December, millennials accounted for 42% of all new home loans originated in the month. This is more than any other generation.

Bottom Line

If you are one of the many millennials who may be “Mortgage Ready” but are unsure what your next steps should be, contact The Sakala Group and we'll guide you on your path to homeownership.


Posted in Buyers
March 6, 2019

Picture-Perfect Homes











About 45% of buyers look at homes online before they make a purchase. They might be checking out recommendations from their Realtor (or researching homes on their own before they’ve even hired one). But no matter what stage of the buying process someone is in, the fact remains that almost half of today’s buyers are pre-shopping on their phones, tablets, and laptops. With so many people clicking on homes for sale, wouldn’t it make sense to have a flawless online presence? 

The first step is to evaluate the photos of your home. How’s the lighting? How’s the framing? How’s the composition? If these are questions you can’t quite answer, you’re not alone. The average person’s photography skills are usually limited to the capabilities of their camera phones.  But amateur equipment used by an amateur photographer will make your listing look…amateurish. Not a good strategy when trying to entice someone into spending hundreds of thousands of dollars. The last thing you need is for a buyer to move past your listing because your tan house looks green in the photos. Or because the camera angle makes your kitchen look tiny. Simply put, your photos need to be awesome. They have to generate interest, if not excitement, for the home you’re selling. 

A well-crafted home listing should include about 30 images. You need a minimum of one photo for each room in the house (including bathrooms, the laundry room, and the front entry room/foyer). Larger rooms may require multiple photos. Include pictures of selling points such as a wine fridge, a built-in barbeque, or an epoxy-coated garage floor. Be sure your listing shows pics of the front of the house, the backyard, plus any specialty shots such as community amenities or aerial shots of the mountain views.

The way your home is featured, including the photographs, should be part of the overall marketing strategy. And the marketing strategy is the responsibility of the Realtor. A good Realtor will hire a professional photographer to capture the highlights of your home. The Realtor will then choose the best shots for the listing. Resist the temptation to involve yourself in the selection of pictures - You’re not creating a Christmas card. As the homeowner, you’re also biased. Your emotional connection with a certain room or a part of the house will cloud your judgment as to which photos work best for marketing purposes. Let your Realtor handle this part. Remember: You’ve been involved in maybe one or two home sales in your lifetime. But an experienced Realtor has done hundreds of sales. When you hire someone for his/her experience you might as well get what you’re paying for! 

If you think of the home you’re selling as the product, and the online listing as the catalog, you’ll understand why having high-quality photos is so important. Proper lighting, the right lenses, plus an eye for photography can make a world of difference. Don’t put yourself out of the running because of crummy photos. And if you’re not getting any support from your Realtor in this area, it might be time for you to shop around.


Posted in Sellers
Feb. 21, 2019

It's Getting Tasty in North Phoenix

Three New Dining Options Will Satisfy Any Appetite! 

What do we want? Good food!

When do we want it? Right now! 

After more than a decade of some pretty underwhelming dining options, North Phoenix appears to be turning the corner. That’s not to say we don’t have good restaurants in our part of town. It’s just that people are hungry for more choices – and Arizona restaurants are finally responding. Part of the reason for the recent uptick in new places to eat is the recent uptick in new houses. More houses mean more people, which means more customers. The local population growth has caught the attention of restaurateurs. And this month we feature three new places close to home that have caught our attention.

Thai Chili 2go

After making a name for themselves with their full-service restaurant in Gilbert, Thai Chili created a streamlined version of their menu and launched a fast-casual dining concept known as Thai Chili 2go. Seven locations later, the Valley’s Thai food craze has made it to North Phoenix. Located in the Fry’s shopping center on Dove Valley Road, Thai Chili 2go features three appetizers, seven entrees, and their amazing sweet & smoky Thai Iced Tea. Customers can choose dine-in, takeout, or delivery. Their delivery option is powered by your choice of Grubhub, Uber Eats, or Postmates (delivery fee + tip applies for each service). While the restaurant’s interior is pleasant enough for a sit-down meal, they stay true to their takeout approach. All food is packed and served in “to-go” containers inside a plastic bag. Having eaten there, I can attest to the fact that the food is served at temperatures hot enough that your food will still be warm upon delivery. Thai Chili 2go is currently the only Thai restaurant in 85085.

Store Details:

Canyon Crossroads (Fry’s shopping center), 2750 W Dove Valley Rd Phoenix, AZ 85085

(480) 566-8065


Angry Crab Shack

This Cajun seafood restaurant dials up the fun – and the spices, serving ten kinds of seafood boils. If you’re not familiar with seafood boils, put on your bib and prepare to get messy! My shrimp boil was a delicious mix of shrimp, sausage, potatoes, and corn on the cob, swimming in a spicy sauce mix with a customizable spice level ranging from 0-6 (6 is the hottest, with the menu warning you to order at your own risk). To give you some perspective of how hot this is, their Ghost Pepper spice is only a 4. For my dinner, I wimped out at 2 (and it was fantastic). For a crispy, less-messy option, try their famous Angry Baskets, filled with fried fish, shrimp, chicken, crab, or gator nuggets. Angry Crab Shack is the only place in 85085 where you can bite an alligator! Their extensive menu also features soup, salads, sandwiches, bowls, burgers, and the most amazing Hurricane you’ve ever sipped this side of the bayou. My hurricane was so strong I almost named it. It was a category 5, for sure. Between the huge horseshoe bar and the abundance of TVs, I’m guessing this place will quickly become a game-day favorite.

Store details:

Happy Valley Towne Center, 2501 W Happy Valley Rd. Phoenix, AZ 85085



OK, OK…I realize that the opening of a new Starbucks in a shopping center with an existing Starbucks will elicit a few snarky comments, but hear me out. The Starbucks next to Fry’s (not to be confused with the Starbucks inside of Fry’s) is big, bright, and perfectly placed for anyone looking for a quick jolt of java on-the-go. Although there are three other Starbucks stores in the area (Happy Valley Towne Center, plus two supermarket locations), this one is the only drive-thru Starbucks in 85085. It’s strategically located at North Valley Parkway and Dove Valley Road, letting you get your fix driving up the parkway or down the parkway. Or both, if your caffeine addiction is strong. And with the I-17 less than a mile away, Starbucks #694 has become a great staging point for Norterrans embarking on a road trip. As a free-standing store, it also happens to be larger than other locations. Free WiFi and lots of room to get work done. All hail the green mermaid!


Store Details:

Canyon Crossroads (Fry’s shopping center), 2800 W Dove Valley Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85085


Posted in Around Town
Jan. 11, 2019

Lock, Leave, and Lovin' Life

One of the best-kept secrets of home ownership is the lock & leave concept. This refers to low-maintenance townhouses that you don’t have to think about when you’re gone. No lawn mowing. No weed whacking. No pool cleaning. No sprinkler adjusting. Just lock up – and leave. It’s an appealing proposition for homeowners who travel. It’s also an attractive option for winter visitors needing a maintenance-free home. And for retirees, it’s a dream come true. No trimming the hedges, no cleaning the rain gutters, no lawn to chase the kids off of!

One of the best communities in Arizona for lock & leave homes is our very own Fireside at Norterra. In addition to being beautifully designed, the townhouses here include the laundry list of amenities that come with the neighborhood, such as the Community Center, fitness center, tennis courts, basketball court, rock wall, swimming pools, and hot tub. In addition to being an extremely walkable community, the private trails around Fireside are designed for peaceful, easy nature walks. And we’re just steps away from the more challenging hikes of the Phoenix Sonoran Preserve. Add in the myriad of Fireside social clubs, activity groups, and community events, and you never run out of things to do.

The flipside of having such a sought-after community is that the townhouses here don’t come available very often. In fact, at the time this article was written, only 3 of these homes were listed for sale. Here are a few quick details:

Available Townhouses in Fireside: 3

Price range: $226,000-$350,000

Square footage: 1,278-2,446

Bathrooms: 2 or 2.5

Garage: 1 or 2 cars

Outdoor space: Courtyard or covered patio

Stories: 1 or 2

Townhome living at Fireside gets you the same beautiful neighborhoods with the same beautiful views, minus the yardwork and maintenance of a typical single-family home. And the townhouse interiors include the high-quality design features you’ll find throughout every Fireside home. If you’re looking for a change of pace from your current abode, you might find that the alternative you seek has been here all along.

Posted in Buyers
Jan. 11, 2019

Work It Out!

Welcome to January. New year, new you, right? The holidays were fun, but suddenly everything shakes when you laugh like a bowl full of jelly. It’s time to say goodbye to that figgy pudding and get back into shape. But what happens when the new year gives you the same old options? 

The gym? Ugh. 

Running? Double-ugh. 

Crossfit? Ouch. 

What’s a busy mom to do?

If you’re a mom in Norterra or Anthem, grab your stroller and your kid and meet up with other moms for one of the most unique fitness groups in North Phoenix: Fit4Mom. This group of motivated mothers meets for stroller-based workouts designed for moms with kids in tow. The workouts are real and the camaraderie is terrific. And the best part is you don’t feel rushed to finish because your kid is waiting in the daycare room. Your child is right there with you, and your little one’s stroller is part of your exercise equipment!

Fit4Mom offers workout programs like the total body conditioning workout known as Stroller Stride. This program features strength training, cardio, and core restoration. Throughout the session you’re within arm’s reach of your kiddo, who is entertained with songs, activities, and fun! No more germy daycare. No more mom guilt. And if you miss your beloved barre classes from your pre-pregnancy days, you’re in luck: Fit4Mom has Stroller Barre, a 60-minute cardio and strength interval class designed to improve posture, stability, and mobility. The moves are inspired by barre, ballet, Pilates, and yoga, and can help you regain your posture and alignment while strengthening your body from the inside-out. And once again, your child is there beside you, buckled-in and having a blast! Fit4Mom classes are held at close-to-home outdoor locations like The Shops at Norterra and Outlets at Anthem (In the Summer months or on rainy days, classes are indoors at Arrowhead Towne Center, aka Arrowhead Mall).

Fit4Mom is a national fitness program that provides fitness classes and a network of moms to support every stage of motherhood. The local franchise is owned and operated by local mom Shawna Weitekamp. After working as a Fit4Mom instructor for the past four years, Shawna was looking to continue building her career. She wanted a profession that allowed her to actively participate in the lives of her two kids. So, when the opportunity presented itself to take over the Fit4Mom franchise for North Phoenix/Anthem, Shawna jumped at the chance. While owning a business takes lots of work, being a Fit4Mom owner comes with built-in work/life balance. “I get to take my little one to work every day,” says Shawna. “Plus, I’m free to attend school functions like class awards ceremonies and school plays – all those little moments that a mom treasures.”

As a parent, Shawna understands that moms are looking for fitness options beyond the gym and the treadmill. And as a Norterra resident, she sees the North Phoenix/Anthem area growing quickly, with lots of new families. The response and enthusiasm to the Fit4Mom has been so good that Shawna is planning to offer additional programs in the next few months, including HIIT (High-intensity interval training).

One of the added benefits touted by Fit4Mom is the sense of community. I asked Shawna to explain what this means. “Moms are all in the same boat,” she says, “fighting the same battles. When you’re here you’re surrounded by moms at all different fitness levels. It’s supportive, not competitive. No matter what you’re experiencing, chances are the woman next to you knows exactly what you’re going through. The programs provide the strength to survive motherhood. We laugh together, sweat, together, and succeed together.” The women in the groups even socialize together, setting up playdates and scheduling the occasional Mom’s Night Out for dinner, movie, bowling, etc. As Shawna says: “Come for the workouts, stay for the friendships.” 

Sounds like a perfect plan for the new year!


Posted in Around Town
Dec. 13, 2018

Home Value: UP OR DOWN?

Just in time for Christmas, the shiny, new toys are here! Of course, I’m referring to Union Park at Norterra. If you haven’t heard, this master-planned community at 19th Avenue & Happy Valley Road is featuring single and multi-family homes, plus restaurants, retail, services, and office space. It’s an ambitious development that’s generating lots of buzz in North Phoenix. While many people are interested in buying a home at Union Park, a number of current homeowners are wondering how this development will impact the surrounding communities in Norterra/Deer Valley. Lately, I’ve been asked this question quite a bit: “How will Union Park at Norterra affect my home’s value?”

The answer? It’s complicated.

Any time you throw 1,100 new homes into the pool of existing inventory, you’re likely to see everyone’s home values take a dip. It’s a simple case of supply & demand. Home buyers suddenly have more choices, which means they can be selective.


New communities, especially communities like Union Park at Norterra, bring with them certain amenities that drive home values up, such as restaurants, retail, schools, and offices. The mere existence of a place like Union Park can make the Norterra/Deer Valley area a more sought-after place to live. Think back to when Harkins Theatres came to town. Or Starbucks. Or Fry’s. When you put in the right types of businesses and services, it really does become a case of If you build it they will come. By contrast, however, the addition of businesses such as funeral homes, strip clubs, or homeless shelters have been known to drive home values down by as much as 14%.* No disrespect to honest business owners trying to earn a living, but some businesses were never part of the “master plan” in these master-planned communities. And from what I’ve witnessed, the homeowners in Norterra and Deer Valley are pretty adamant (and well-organized) when it comes to maintaining home values and keeping their neighborhoods desirable (and not in a gentlemen’s club sort of way).

So, what’s the verdict? 

The impact of Union Park on local home values remains to be seen. My prediction is a small dip in home prices, followed by a steady ascent in everybody’s home values once the initial excitement wears off. By all accounts, the Norterra/Deer Valley area should start seeing more cool restaurants and shops in the near future, as well as opportunities for companies to lease space in offices surrounded by those cool restaurants and shops. The ability to live, work, and play, all in the same neighborhood, is enough to make anyone want to move to this part of Phoenix. And that’s how lasting home value is built.

Curious what your home is now worth?  Here's your instant home value


Posted in Buyers
Dec. 13, 2018


As of 2016, the U.S. Census showed that the average American will move 11 times during his/her lifetime. The reasons for moving can vary - upsizing, downsizing, job transfers, or maybe just a change of scenery. But lately we have seen an interesting trend developing: The combination of rising home prices and limited home inventory has made it more challenging for homeowners to change addresses. Because of this, many people have opted to simply stay in their current homes. And the longer they stay, the more their equity builds up. Multiply this by millions of homeowners across America, and our country is flush with home equity – about $15 trillion worth!

While building-up home equity is a good thing, aging homes require repairs, maintenance, and upkeep. Perhaps a major home improvement project is in your plans, such as house painting, a new roof, or a swimming pool. Due to their price points, these types of projects are often financed. Those with equity in their homes are in a perfect position to finance their projects through home equity loans (which have more favorable interest rates than credit cards). Even cosmetic or decorative home improvement projects such as new flooring or cabinets can be financed using your home’s equity.

As far as timing goes, sooner is better than later. Rates are rising! Interest rates have already increased several times this year, and there’s a strong possibility of even more rate increases in 2019. That means that if you wait, you will pay more for any project that you finance. If you’re planning to stay put, and you’ve been considering some upkeep or upgrades for your home, take advantage of the still-low interest rates. In the current economy, it doesn’t pay to wait.


Posted in Sellers
Dec. 1, 2018

A Trio of Businesses in North Phoenix

Three Times the Fun!


Question: What happens when two kids from New York who never knew each other finally meet in a bank in Anthem?  

Answer: They get married and start a dance company. And a dancewear store. And a coffee shop.

Meet Danielle and Nick Cicogna, a pair of New York transplants who each settled in the desert, met, and are in the middle of their happily ever after. They’re also the owners of three businesses in North Phoenix: Diamond Dance Works, one of the largest dance studios in the North Valley; Pearl Dancewear, home of high-quality dance apparel and accessories; Crystal Coffee, serving premium coffee, tea, and baked goods in a relaxed, casual setting. What makes these businesses so special is that they are true mom & pop stores owned and operated by a real mom & pop. And if you’re wondering how they manage three businesses all at once, it’s a combination of their seemingly tireless work ethic, their first-rate staff, and the fact that all 3 businesses are next to each other.

Diamond Dance Works

Ages 2 – 92, offering ballet, acro, tap, jazz, lyrical, cheer, hip-hop, musical theatre, contemporary, plus adult tap and Mommy & Me classes. Billed as “The elite dance studio of the North Valley,” Diamond Dance Works opened with a mission of ensuring each child gains exceptional dance training in a positive atmosphere. It’s a mission that has resonated with the public. The level of instruction is second-to-none, but even more impressive is how they consistently maintain a warm, friendly, family vibe. It’s a very safe and supportive community of students and staff, which is so important for kids working to develop a positive self-image. Megan, a mother of two dancing kiddos, shared what keeps her coming back to Diamond Dance Works: “My kids love it here. And as a parent, it’s a blessing to have a place where every kid gets to show off their ‘sparkle.’” Apparently, other parents feel the same way; In less than three years of being open, Diamond Dance Works had grown to capacity. To accommodate their swelling enrollment, they added more dance rooms and a second waiting area for parents. The decision to expand was an easy one: On any given day you could walk into their lobby and find every chair (and most of the floor space) taken by students and parents waiting for the next class to begin. With the additional dance rooms and the second lobby area, there’s room for everyone - for now. At 550 students and growing, it may not be long before “phase 3” is needed to handle all the growth in North Phoenix. I researched what makes Diamond Dance Works so popular, and discovered that it starts with experience. Their instructors are held to very high standards, with many of them being former college athletes or holding a degree in dance. Danielle herself, in addition to having studied dance at ASU, spent years teaching private dance classes, coaching cheer and pom, and eventually running the entire performing arts program at Cactus High School. Being a “cheer mom” myself, I assure you that there is no better preparation for a customer service-oriented business than dealing with demanding cheer moms.


Pearl Dancewear

Everything you need to start dancing today. Carrying apparel and gear from Bloch, Danskin, Kandi Kouture, Sadie Jane, Covet Dance and more. With a thriving dance studio occupying most of their time, why would Danielle and Nick even consider opening another business? The answer goes back to their commitment to their customers. “We kept seeing new families come in and sign up on the spot,” says Nick. “Their kids were ready to start dancing that same day, but didn’t have the proper dance shoes or apparel. Parents would either have to drive all over town to get the right gear, or order something online, wait a few days, and hope it fits.” To fix this problem, Nick and Danielle opened Pearl Dancewear, a chic boutique of high-performance dance gear. Shoes, tights, leotards, hair ties, bows, and more. They carry everything a student needs to start class the same day. To maintain consistent quality, every item is hand-selected by Danielle. “These are the products I was already recommending to everyone,” she said. “So now we carry them.” And what about price? “We made a conscious decision to price everything fairly. We realize customers can go online and buy almost anything at a discount. So, we make sure our pricing is competitive, even against Amazon and other dance stores.” One of the biggest selling points of online shopping has always been convenience. But if you’re ordering and returning shoes that don’t fit, it suddenly becomes much more convenient to get the right product in the right size and be done in five minutes. “It’s not often ‘the little guy’ can beat Amazon for convenience,” says Danielle. “We’re just happy we can super-serve our customers and get the kids dancing right away.”


Crystal Coffee

Coffee, tea, espresso drinks, bagels, pastries, fresh fruit, and snacks – and WiFi! OK, so the dance studio and dance wear boutique make perfect sense as a tandem business. But why coffee? We posed this question to Nick, and the answer was simply brilliant: “Every day, dozens of parents would sit in the waiting room at Diamond Dance Works during dance class. And every day we would hear them say ‘It would be awesome if someone sold coffee here in the building.’ We realized they were absolutely right – coffee would be pretty awesome.” So Nick did what any co-owner of a dance studio would do in this situation – he quit his corporate job and enrolled in Barista School. He’s now certified in the art of crafting high-quality coffee drinks. And with that, they opened Crystal Coffee. To nobody’s surprise, they run this shop the same way they run their other businesses: Everything is high quality, everything is done the right way, and the staff is always customer-focused. They feature locally roasted coffee and espresso, plus their amazing nitro cold brew coffee, which is brewed and kegged in-house, and served fresh from the tap over ice with a little cinnamon. It can only be described as life-changing. Something special I noticed about Crystal Coffee is that they feature house-madeseasonal flavorings like pumpkin spice and gingerbread. Yes, everyone sells flavored syrup, butCrystal Coffee literally makes the syrup in their shop, using real sugar and actual spices. If you think all pumpkin spice is created equal, just grab a bottle of commercial syrup and read the label. You’ll find at least three or four ingredients you can’t pronounce. Gross! Danielle and Nick designed the shop as a perfect hub for anyone needing a quick break from the day’s schedule. A typical dance mom (or dad) can drop off the older kid at dance class and take the younger one here for a snack pack, yogurt, or some chocolate milk. And even if you’re not part of the world of dance, you can break out the laptop and get some work done over a bagel and a latte. The WiFi is fast, the bathrooms are clean, and there’s plenty of tables, chairs, and workspaces. As an added bonus that you might not appreciate until Summer rolls around again, they have lots and lots of covered parking. In Arizona, that’s a game-changer!

When they’re not busy running their businesses, Danielle and Nick are usually home in Anthem chasing around their young daughter, who Nick tells me was dancing as soon as she was walking. “Thankfully,” says Nick, “She got her Mom’s dance genes. On a dance talent scale of 1-10, I’m a negative-five,” he says. When I asked Danielle if this is true, she assured me Nick can hold his own on the dance floor, and even rose to the occasion at their wedding. Their first dance was Brad Paisley’s “Then,” a sweet country ballad about love growing even stronger. So how did Nick do? According to Danielle, he nailed it. Nearly seven years later, their love is growing, their businesses are growing, and even their family is growing. Danielle and Nick are expecting child #2 any day now.


Posted in Around Town