Business

Bellydancing studio opens in Chapel Hill

BellyBlast Fitness owner and bellydancing instructor Jessica Hannan Sultan leads students at the loom during an experienced belly dancers class Monday. Hannan Sultan invented the device after an injury.
BellyBlast Fitness owner and bellydancing instructor Jessica Hannan Sultan leads students at the loom during an experienced belly dancers class Monday. Hannan Sultan invented the device after an injury. mschultz@newsobserver.com

When bellydance instructor Jessica Hannan Sultan injured her hip and was also diagnosed with diastasis recti, she thought her dancing days were over.

The condition, like in Hannan Sultan’s case, can stem from a pregnancy, and involves the separating and weakening of abdominal muscles – some of the same core muscles used for bellydancing.

Hannan Sultan, determined to bellydance again, took the opportunity to work with physical therapists to create a product called the Loom, a resistance device that helps the users have a low-impact workout that works their cores and keep their hips aligned.

“It makes it almost impossible to do it wrong,” said Hannan Sultan, who is in the process of patenting the device. “The Loom makes you feel your muscles, but it’s also gentle as it’s correcting you and putting your body parts in the correct places at the correct time.”

Hannan Sultan is now using that Loom with her clients at BellyBlast Fitness studio, a facility in Chapel Hill she opened in August as a way to “blend (her) love of fitness with belly dancing.”

The small, boutique studio offers 10 classes a week that range from circuit training to beginner and advanced levels of bellydancing. The Loom is incorporated into every class, and each class holds a maximum of 10 students, Hannan Sultan said. The place also offers a nutrition program.

“It focuses on building fitness,” she said. The classes use basic movements, such as squats and lunges, and participants do movements and sequences that have a little bit of artistic flair.

An annual membership to BellyBlast is $150 per month, and includes unlimited classes and discounts on events. Monthly memberships range from $120 to $180.

The studio is having an open house Saturday from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. It will include mini classes, Loom demonstrations and bellydancing performances. Through Halloween, BellyBlast is having demo days every other Saturday, allowing potential clients to test the equipment for free.

BellyBlast Fitness is at 300 S. Elliott Road in Chapel Hill.


Mark Heath said it was not uncommon for people to show up at his Carolina Brewing Company looking for a pint of beer. The problem was CBC didn’t have a taproom.

This week that changed. The brewery, which started selling its craft beer in 1995, on Thursday opened a 750-square-foot space with a bar, tables and lots of pints of its brew for those who stop in.

The place is starting with seven taps that include CBC’s pale ale, brown ale, IPA, Hop Roar IPA, Belgian IPA and seasonal Oktoberfest, along with Crispin Cider and red and white wines.

CBC will eventually have 10 taps. It will always have four of its year-round beers on tap and rotate its seasonal beers. It also plans to offer taproom-only beers on two taps and cask beers twice a month.

The beers will be served in $4 pints and $6 flights of four 5-ounce samples. Heath says CBC will initially fill growlers that customers bring in and gauge if it will need to eventually have its own.

The brewery, which seats about 32 inside and another 32 outside, plans to have food trucks twice a month. Its retail side sells its beer in six-packs and kegs along with merchandise that’s been re-branded for the company’s 20th anniversary.

CBC is open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays; its taproom grand opening will be from 4 to 9 p.m. Friday and noon until 9 p.m. Saturday.

It’s at 140 Thomas Mill Road in Holly Springs.


The Waffle House near the campus of Meredith College in Raleigh has reopened.

The restaurant, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner 24 hours a day, was torn down about three months ago and rebuilt as a larger and cleaner space for customers, said manager Wislande Maxy.

“It’s not just a renovation,” she said. “It’s considered a brand new unit.” It’s at 3909 Hillsborough St.


Nashville, Tenn.-based restaurant chain J. Alexander’s is opening its first North Carolina location in the second quarter of 2016.

It upscale menu offers wood-fired dishes such as steaks, seafood and burgers.

The 8,700-square-foot space will seat about 180 and its 450-square-foot patio has room for another 12 to 14.

It will be part of Crabtree Commons, near Crabtree Valley Mall at the corner of Crabtree Valley Avenue and Creedmoor Road in Raleigh.


Tide Dry Cleaners, a franchise created by the Tide laundry detergent company, is opening its first Triangle location with a ribbon cutting with food and beverages on Sept. 25 at 11:30 a.m.

It will be at 6144 Falls of Neuse Road, in the North Ridge Shopping Center in Raleigh.

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