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Katie McQuaid's Scene in Manchester: Elm Street's resurgence includes a good workout

July 13. 2014 11:26PM

The revitalization of south Elm Street has created a chain reaction that is spilling across the Queen City Bridge to the West Side. A new gym called Envy Sports Club and Café is coming to the space attached to The Comfort Inn on Queen City Avenue.

Envy owner Savino Auciello, a Memorial High graduate and U.S. Marine Corps veteran, has history in the fitness industry. He began as a personal trainer in California, then worked for Atlantis Sports Club in Nashua and helped open another Atlantis Sports Club, which he co-owns, in New Jersey more than three years ago.

Auciello said the gyms he opens are a little more high-end than the average. Envy, which should open by September, will offer group classes like Zumba, yoga, and boot camp. There will be a separate weight room and state-of-the-art cardio machines equipped with their own computers and internet access.

The café, which will have a special menu designed by a registered dietician, will open in phase two of the project.

I think the biggest draw will be the pool. Auciello said the hotel’s existing indoor pool area will be completely renovated for Envy to offer swim lessons for kids and adults and classes like Aqua Zumba. He showed me where he plans to place indoor cabanas around the perimeter.

“It’s going to be like an oasis,” he said.

I can already envision myself lounging by the pool in the middle of January while my kids have swim lessons.

Membership rates have not been finalized, but because he is a veteran, Auciello promises his club will offer discounts to any serviceman or veteran. Any city employee will also receive discounts, he said, and guests of the Comfort Inn will be able to use the facility for free during their stay.

I often drive by the 298 Queen City Ave. property, but had no idea there was a functioning hotel inside. I thought it was empty. Auciello said the entire property is undergoing a renovation, and just last week I saw landscapers working to improve its curb appeal.

I wonder what will be next in this development domino effect.

So long, O’Sullivan’s

I was sad to learn through Facebook last week that PJ O’Sullivan’s had closed. Since you can not believe everything you read on the Internet (unless it’s on, of course), I stopped by the South Willow Street establishment around noon on Saturday to see if the rumors were true. I found a handwritten note taped to the door that read, “PJ’s is closed....thank you for a great 19 years.”

I also found a patron sitting in the outdoor patio area drinking a can of beer he had brought himself. It was Kevin Collins, a retired Manchester police officer, who had come to enjoy a final drink at an establishment that had been a part of his family for years. He reminisced about all the good times he had there after completing a shift. He even hosted a welcome home party there for one of his sons when he graduated from Marine Corps boot camp.

Collins said his daughter was a waitress at PJ’s, but he had no idea what brought on the closure. Calls to the restaurant have gone unanswered.

Summer reading list

So, what are you reading this summer? May I suggest something local? Several local authors have recently released fiction for all interests – romance, zombies, and even giant, carnivorous insects.

Price of vengeance

Dr. Kurt D. Springs, a Trinity High graduate who now teaches archeology and anthropology at Manchester Community College, has recently published his first book, “Price of Vengeance,” which features the giant bugs I referred to earlier. The description at, said the story takes place 1,000 years in the future during an interstellar war between the Galactic Alliance and the Rebellion. “Price of Vengeance” sounds perfect for “Star Wars” fans, and is the first in Springs’ Dreamscape Warrior series. You can find links to buy a paperback or e-book edition at the author’s website or you can pick up a copy and meet Springs yourself at his upcoming book signing at Barnes & Noble on South Willow Street, Saturday, July 26, from 1 to 3 p.m.

ManchVegas zombies

Tara Marie Bilodeau’s first book imagines what would happen if zombies invaded Manchester one sunny Fourth of July.

The e-book is self-published through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing program, and I was able to read the first couple chapters for free online.

As a Manchester resident, it was fun to envision the landscape Bilodeau describes. She said the book references local landmarks like Elm Street, the trestle under the Kelley Street Bridge on the West Side, and the Armory. She also warned me about some grammar and punctuation mistakes she didn’t catch before publication. As someone who commits such atrocities on a daily basis, I think I can give her a pass.

Bilodeau, 40, is a graduate of Manchester West who now works as a quality control inspector at Hologic in Londonderry. She said her love of writing was encouraged by longtime West High School English teacher and Union Leader columnist Joe Sullivan, who passed away last year.

“Mr. Sullivan had a huge impact on my school life,” she wrote to The Scene.

The spy series

I had never heard of the phrase “bodice ripper” before meeting my sister-in-law Jessica Clever McQuaid. “Jessie Clever” has authored five of these historical romances, which all include mystery, suspense, and of course, steamy love scenes in a time long ago – you know, when women wore bodices.

Clever, originally from New York, lives in Manchester and works in marketing. All of her books, including four known as “The Spy Series,” are available on Amazon in paperback or e-book.

20 stories, one night

If you are more of a listener than a reader, you can hear 20 science fiction, fantasy, and horror writers read their original short stories at the Fantasy and Science Fiction Slam on Wednesday, July 30, at Barnes and Noble in Manchester.

All the authors are graduates of the Odyssey Writing Workshop, a six-week summer program for writers of these genres, held at Saint Anselm College. Jeanne Cavelos, director and creator of Odyssey, will host the evening. A former senior editor at Bantam Doubleday Dell and winner of the World Fantasy Award, she is the author of seven books, including the bestselling “The Passing of the Techno-Mages” trilogy and “The Science of Star Wars.” This free event is held from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Event of the week

An evening outdoor marionette show is planned at the Manchester City Library on Thursday. Dan Grady and his Marvelous Marionettes will appear in a fast-paced, stringed puppet production beginning at 6:15 p.m. In the event of rain, the show will be held in the library’s auditorium.

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