In a prior article, we introduced our readers to Ritz Midtown and the mission and vision new owners Jim, Melody and Jenny Chapman have for the historic Paducah building. The Ritz Midtown is home to many individuals. We’re pleased to introduce you to five of the seven businesses who are Ritz Midtown tenants as well.
MOVE Realty — Seth Manea
Seth Manea founded MOVE Realty when he had a vision for something greater. Before finding his niche for real estate, Seth originally worked in manufacturing until he decided to attend college and launch a new career. He was initially uncertain about his career path but decided to take a few real estate classes which spurred his interest to pursue a career in real estate. He obtained his real estate license while in college and earned a degree in residential real estate and a degree in business administration from West Kentucky Community and Technical College.
Seth began his work in real estate by working for other real estate brokers in Paducah until he decided to strive for something greater. He wanted to pursue his dream of being an entrepreneur and provide an enjoyable experience for his clients who buy and sell real estate. In 2017, he launched MOVE Realty.
“My agents and I have a strong drive for providing the best service possible for our clients, says Seth Manea, owner and founder of MOVE Realty. “The real estate market in Paducah is very unique and rewarding. It isn’t cookie cutter like large cities which sometimes makes it a challenge, but my agents and I can provide several different options for our clients, whether they want to live central to town or have more space in the country. Every buying and selling experience is unique.”
MOVE Realty opened its first location in Lone Oak and then Seth heard about an opening at the Ritz Midtown building. He knew the owners of The Treasure Tree were moving to a larger location, and he acquired about the soon-to-be vacant space.
“I heard what Jim and Melanie were doing with the Ritz. I liked what was being done to the building in addition to its central location for walk-in traffic and easy access for clients.”
Seth approached Jim Chapman, owner of the Ritz Midtown, about the space but Seth could tell he wasn’t thrilled about filling the space with a real estate brokerage. But the more they talked, the more Jim warmed up to the idea. Plus, he liked another factor about MOVE Realty leasing the space.
There was a large spare room in the back of the space that Seth had an idea for. He didn’t need all of the space for his business and his wife, Tabitha, rented a space on Broadway for her photography studio. She was open to moving her studio to a new location and the Ritz Midtown felt like the perfect option.
Jim agreed to Seth and Tabitha Manea renting the space and developing it to meet their business needs. Seth worked alongside his brother, dad and nephew to transform the space into what it is today. At first, Seth envisioned an open concept space but decided he wanted multiple spaces where he could host meetings with clients, spaces for his agents to work and a space for himself.
He designed the conference room around the sturdy columns of the Ritz building and picked out large French doors for a sophisticated entrance. Instead of traditional cubicles that he felt looked dated and temporary, he built permanent spaces for his agents with enough space for them to come to the office, do their work and have a space to themselves. MOVE Realty currently only uses 1 story of the 2 story space but Seth has future plans for the remaining space.
“I think the passion the owners have for the building and providing guests with a great experience is key to the success of its business tenants. There are so many options for people who visit whether they want to visit my business or grab a bite to eat at Hajimari. I believe in what the Chapman’s are doing for the Ritz and for a better Paducah.”
Tabitha Stoffel Photography
Tabitha is a natural light photographer who photographs children, families, seniors, engagements, events and a variety of other subjects. She specializes in photographing candid images that express the emotion and depth of her subjects and creates each image with a dramatic mood that coins her unique style.
“I wasn’t expecting to turn my passion for photography into a career, but I love it so much that I couldn’t see a career in anything else,” said Tabitha Manea, owner and founder of Tabitha Stoffel Photography.
Tabitha’s interest in photography quickly developed as she took photos of her nieces and nephews. As her interest and talent grew, she expanded her client base to family, family friends and then turned her love for photography into a full-time career in 2015.
“I love my job and the most enjoyable part is working with clients that keep coming back. I love forming relationships with families and watching the kids grow. There are children that I photographed when they were born and now they’re toddlers. It’s neat to form those lifelong connections,” says Tabitha Manea.
Tabitha is specifically a natural light photographer but wanted a space where she could serve her clients in an indoor studio if needed. Tabitha leased a space on South 5th Street and transformed the space into her first studio. When her husband, Seth Manea, inquired about a space within the Ritz Midtown, he told her about a space that would fit her photography needs and it piqued her interest.
“Seth and I have a good dynamic of working alongside one another, even though people question how we are able to stand to be together so much. It works for us and it helps to have him nearby if I need help with something in the studio.”
Seth and his family worked hard to transform the space into what is now Tabitha’s photography studio. When describing the space, Tabitha notes that it stays true to its historic roots while displaying a modern feel. Though she primarily photographs outdoors in natural lighting, she uses the space on special occasions to photograph children or other clients who request studio photos.
While the studio is still undergoing renovation, Tabitha loves how her studio is already transforming into an ideal space for her photography.
Founded in 2011, The Grey Hare was established by Tiffany and John Gust to broaden their ability to provide interior products and design services to their customers and design projects.
“Our favorite part of owning The Grey Hare is being a part of the ever changing design industry and meeting new people. We are privileged to rekindle old and ignite new friendships through our business,” says Tiffany Gust, co-owner and founder of The Grey Hare.
Tiffany and John Gust are a husband and wife team who guide their clients through the entire interior design process—from start to finish. Inside the store, clients can find eccentric wallpaper, classic antiques and fine furniture to match a variety of styles.
Their first brick and mortar location is still their current location within the Ritz. Tiffany instantly fell in love with the original architecture of the historic building and how natural light floods the space their store resides within.
“We have been pleased to see the ongoing renovations taking place at the Ritz,” said Tiffany about the renovations taking place at the Ritz Midtown by the Chapman family.
For brick and mortar stores like The Grey Hare, foot traffic is important and Tiffany credits word of mouth across Paducah and people passing by the Ritz and stopping in her store for the success of her business.
Hajimari means “the beginning” in Japanese, a fitting name for one of Paducah’s newest restaurants.
Michael and Thomas Talley opened the doors to Hajimari on December 26, 2018. The father and son duo both had a vision for a successful restaurant in Paducah and wanted to bring their dream to life through Hajimari.
Thomas is the co-owner and head chef of Hajimari. He launched his career in the food industry as a dishwasher at a local nursing and rehabilitation center. Interested in the culinary arts, Thomas learned how to cook from his grandmother and from the chefs at the nursing and rehabilitation center. He moved up the ladder in his culinary career and became a sushi chef and then a manager of two restaurants, one in Murray and one in Nashville.
Taking the next step in his career to own a restaurant of his own, Thomas partnered with his father, Michael Talley, in business. They launched their first Hajimari location in Owensboro. As time passed, Michael and Thomas, who are Paducah natives, entertained the idea of bringing their restaurant closer to home and opening a location in Paducah.
One weekend afternoon, Michael was driving around Paducah and noticed a “for lease” sign outside a vacant space in the Ritz Midtown. Michael recalls fond memories of visiting the Ritz to eat at the Holman House Cafeteria years ago and knew it could be a prime opportunity for his own restaurant.
Envisioning the space for Hajimari, Michael called Jim Chapman, the owner of the Ritz Midtown, to inquire about the space. Originally, the space was already spoken for but when the opportunity became available again, Jim gave Michael a call to ask if he was still interested in opening a restaurant in the Ritz.
Michael and Thomas rented the space within the Ritz Midtown for Hajimari. They renovated the space primarily themselves, adding new flooring and a fresh coat of paint to give the space a style of their own. Today, the Hajimari is open to the public and offers a diverse menu of a full sushi bar, three types of steaks, fish, chicken and more.
“We want to be known as a local family restaurant and liquor emporium. We’re very fortunate to be here in the Ritz Midtown and in Paducah to make our mark in the community by serving old and new friends delicious food in a comfortable space,” says Michael Talley.
Kentucky Brow Co.
One of the newest tenants to the Ritz Midtown is Kentucky Brow Co., a microblading studio that moved to Paducah from Bowling Green. When asked about her move to Paducah, Kali Lindsey, co-founder of Kentucky Brow Co, replied, “The stars aligned.”
Kali Lindsey and Kristy Corley are a mother-daughter duo and partners in the only microblading studio in Paducah. They chose to relocate to Paducah when they visited for a weekend and fell in love with the small Southern river town.
“It was everything we were looking but had not found yet,” said Kali.
Kali said she impulsively decided she needed an adventure and, along with her mom, decided to move away from her home state of Arizona. With the appeal of four different seasons, they narrowed their search down to the South. They also wanted a small, clean community and, with her husband’s job relocation in mind, they picked Bowling Green.
“When Kali said she wanted to move to Kentucky I asked ‘What am I going to do in Kentucky?’” Laughed Kristy.
With a great paying job, Kristi had no reason to leave Arizona. It was where she had raised her children and it was home. But after living in Arizona for 27 years, she felt the area was outgrowing her. So she packed her bags and followed her family to Bowling Green.
Though Kali found great success with her microblading studio in Bowling Green, she and her mom knew it would not be their forever home. Soon after arriving in Bowling Green, they discovered Paducah.
“I remember we were booked solid during the summer before moving to Paducah, but we had one weekend in July free,” Kali said. “My husband encouraged me to go on a girl’s trip with my mom and we chose to visit Paducah for the weekend. That’s where it all started!”
All Kali knew was that Paducah was a “cute little water town that had things to do and places to go.” Curious, she and her mom visited and spent the weekend shopping, eating and walking around town. It didn’t take long for them both to realize that it was what they wanted all along.
Kali and Kristy felt they had just moved and couldn’t move again, but a week passed and neither of them could put Paducah out of their minds.
“We ended up coming back every week for the next month, even if it was just for a quick day trip, to see where we would live, where we would work, and where would life fit for us in this new town,” Kali said. “We wanted to make sure we were making an informed decision.”
The biggest hurdle about moving to Paducah was Kali’s husband’s job. He relocated to the same company from Arizona to Bowling Green, but that company did not have a location in Paducah. To Kali’s surprise, she sent her husband to visit Paducah and he came back to Bowling Green with a job offer!
“We had the time to make an informed decision about our move and it worked out for us and Jim Chapman, the owner of the Ritz,” said Kristi.
Jim Chapman had several requests for the space that Kentucky Brow Co. is located within, but he felt like they were the best fit thanks to their unique business and clientele.
Microblading, is most commonly referred to as a semi-permanent tattoo. The procedure requires a small hand tool that puts pigment in the epidermis. The hand tool is a series of little pins in an angled row. With one tool, you can create any design you want to. Kali stumbled upon the art of microblading when she had her own procedure done due to suffering from an autoimmune disorder that caused her to lose a lot of her hair, including her eyebrows.
Her first procedure was seamless but her second procedure was less successful. The microblader decided to go from a hand tool to using a machine and it left scaring and tissue damage on Kali’s face.
“That’s what launched me into my career,” Kali explained. “It became my personal mission for people to not have a machine on their face ever again because it can be so harmful. That’s what moved me to where I am today.”