A-Treat soda has had some unusual flavors during its more than 100-year history, with flavors ranging from grapefruit to blue.
But its latest flavor isn’t a dig into its past, but a whole new treat.
The Jaindl family, which acquired the iconic Allentown soda brand in 2015 after the Allentown company went out of business, actually took a cue from one of their youngest members for the brand’s newest soda flavor. Six-year-old Jace Jaindl, who is Jake Jaindl’s son, is a huge bubble gum fan and asked grandpa, David Jaindl, if he would make him a bubble gum-flavored soda.
“My Dad said, ‘we’ll try it and see how it goes,’” said Luke Jaindl, Jace’s uncle and manager of A-treat.
The company tried a few formulations, found one they all liked and decided to move forward with the new flavor.
Luke Jaindl, said when his family took over the brand they were trying to tap into a niche that appealed to those looking for unique flavor experiences from micro-producers, like A-Treat.
The idea of a bubble gum-flavored soda, and the fact that it was inspired by a young child, seemed to fit that plan.
“It’s kind of a cool thing – a 6-year-old came out with the idea for bubble gum soda and launched it,” Jaindl said.
He said he wasn’t too surprised by Jace’s suggestion. He said his nephew is a huge bubble gum fan.
“His life’s goal is to own his own candy store,” Jaindl said.
The new A-Treat flavor launched Oct. 8.
Right now the bubble gum-flavored A-Treat soda is available at Render’s, Boyer’s and Ahart’s markets as well as the Jaindl store in Orefield.
But will the family go wider with the new flavor?
“We’ll see how the sales go,” Jaindl said. “It could be a limited edition or it could take off.”
Still, Luke Jaindl has confidence in his nephew’s idea. He thinks there will be enough people of all ages that will want to try the unique flavor and that the company hasn’t blown it, with its bubble gum soda.
Two Lehigh Valley health care providers have made the first ever Newsweek list of Best Physical Rehabilitation Centers.
Good Shepherd Rehabilitation of Allentown and Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest both made the Top 10 list of providers of inpatient rehabilitation care in Pennsylvania for 2020.
They ranked at no. 5 and no. 7 respectively.
“We are exceptionally honored to be recognized as a top-five rehabilitation hospital in all of Pennsylvania, and as the top provider in the Lehigh Valley,” said Frank Hyland, MSPT, executive director of Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network. “Rehabilitation is at Good Shepherd’s core and has been since our founding in 1908. Whether patients are recovering from stroke, spinal cord injury, amputation or brain injury, our clinical teams’ focus on providing expert rehabilitation through compassionate care and leading-edge technology allows us to deliver positive outcomes for our patients and their loved ones.”
Lehigh Valley Health Network called the ranking particularly important.
“There are times when the journey back to health from a serious illness or injury requires a more extensive and intense level of care,” said Dr. Beth Stepanczuk, LVHN Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. “That’s why inpatient rehabilitation is so important. It can help patients regain functionality and achieve their best health. This recognition by Newsweek is a credit to our entire program and especially the dedicated care providers who spend this critical time with our patients to help them return to the life they want to live.”
Newsweek used third-party research and analysis to rank providers using two data sources: a peer-to-peer reputation survey and key performance data from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services.
The reputation survey data is based upon responses from thousands of medical professionals, including therapists, physicians and administrators who work in physical rehabilitation facilities. Those medical professionals are asked to rank their peers according to quality of care, service, follow-up care, and accommodations and amenities.
Only inpatient physical rehabilitation facilities were included on Newsweek’s rankings.
HNL Lab Medicine of Allentown, formerly known as Health Network Laboratories, has acquired NLM Laboratories, Northeastern Laboratory Medicine of Hazleton.
“Together, NLM Laboratories and HNL Lab Medicine will expand access to full-service laboratory diagnostics while maintaining convenience and improving service for healthcare professionals and patients in Northern Pennsylvania,” said Matthew Sorrentino, president & CEO of HNL Lab Medicine.
NLM Laboratories will retain its current name, signage, and patient center.
Patients may see new paperwork as systems for ordering, billing, and lab results are integrated with HNL’s enhanced automation system.
Current NLM patients can continue to access lab services from the NLM location at 271 North Cedar Street in Hazleton, and will have the support and strength of extended services offered through HNL including:
“HNL Lab Medicine significantly expands the services that NLM Laboratories can provide to the community, which is especially important for our most vulnerable populations, even more crucial as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and upcoming flu season,” said Joseph Shiskowski, principal, NLM Laboratories.
HNL is a full-service medical laboratory providing testing and related services to physician offices, hospitals, long-term care facilities, employers, and industrial accounts.
HNL Lab Medicine has more than 60 Patient Centers located throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
The United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley is kicking off its 2020 campaign with an extra boost. City Center Investment Corp., the company behind much of the development going on in downtown Allentown, pledged a $1 million matching gift through its Building Community initiative.
J.B. Reilly, president of City Center, and his wife Kathleen, are co-chairs of this year’s campaign.
“These are unprecedented times and we hope through your support of United Way, you’ll help us make an even greater impact with the City Center Match for Our Community,” Reilly said in a release.
City Center will provide a dollar-for-dollar match all new and increased gifts, up to $1 million, to United Way’s Community Building Fund or to support United Way’s work in the areas of education, food access, healthy aging and emergency services.
Building Community is the community-engagement initiative of City Center and its employees. The initiative aims to revitalize downtown Allentown and its surrounding neighborhoods by providing financial support, in-kind donations and volunteer service in three key areas: the arts, education and community development.
In 2019, CCIC donated more than $2.2 million total to 120 organizations and its 23 employees volunteered at nearly 45 organizations, donating more than 2,000 total hours.
Since CCIC launched Building Community three years ago, it has donated more than $9.8 million total, mainly to organizations in downtown Allentown.
Two Lehigh Valley companies that have partnered to develop and manufacture a pair of COVID-19 vaccines said they may have a vaccine to market by spring of next year.
Aseptic medical manufacturer US Specialty Formulations and vaccine developer VaxForm, are currently developing two potential vaccines for the COVID-19 virus, an oral vaccine that a person would drink and a traditional injectable vaccine.
With positive clinical trials — both vaccine formulations produced antibodies in 100% of mice in pre-clinical trials—Kyle Flannigan, co-founder and CEO of USSF, said they will be ramping up production of the two vaccines in November with the goal of being able to produce around 300,000 vaccines per month by April.
Flanigan said there are many companies both large and small working on COVID-19 vaccines, but he doesn’t worry about competition.
“There’s room for plenty of vaccines,” he said. “With around 7.5 billion people in the world no one manufacturer has the capability to produce that amount in a reasonable amount of time.”
He also said that their vaccines have a competitive advantage – especially the oral version – because of their ability to produce the needed vaccines and because of their ease of use.
He said in the industry many of the players are either vaccine developers or vaccine manufacturers.
Once a developer has a viable vaccine they need to find a manufacturer willing and capable of bringing it to market.
Since the partnership of USSF and VaxForm gives them both development and production capabilities they can skip that step.
Flanigan said one of the biggest concerns in the industry right now is the supply chain. With such an overwhelming demand for new vaccine products and so many companies producing them, there will likely be a shortage of things like syringes, vials and needles that will be needed for the vaccines.
Such a shortage would create a slowdown in the manufacturing and distribution process.
With the oral option, the raw materials are different and will be easier to source and they won’t experience the same delays as other companies.
He said once to market he expects there to be a strong demand for an oral vaccine because it is easier to use and poses less of a risk.
Rather than relying on doctors, nurses and pharmacists to give out the vaccines, a person can take it themselves.
“When you’re trying to get a vaccine out to a large population quickly, that is an advantage,” he said. “We will be able to supply vaccines to a lot more people.”
With the positive clinical trials, Flanigan said the companies will be asking the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization, which should speed the approval process from two to three years to a few months.
That is why they are beginning manufacturing soon, so they’ll have product ready to ship out when that approval comes.
USSF, which recently moved into a larger manufacturing facility in Allentown, began working with VaxForm while they were both tenants of Ben Franklin Technology Partners’ TechVentures in Bethlehem where VaxForm is still located.
VaxForm had been working on other vaccine trials, including one for Strep, when the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Wayne Barz, entrepreneurial services manager of TechVentures, said the two businesses decided to switch their focus to address the COVID-19 crisis.
As the pandemic unfolded we were information sharing with all our clients, feeding them information and helping them find resources,” Barz said.
He noted that many of the incubator’s clients began working on projects to help fight the disease, and this has been one of the more significant successes.
He pointed out that OraSure in Bethlehem, which is also a Ben Franklin graduate, is currently hiring around 170 people to help produce a rapid in-home test for COVID-19 that it hopes to have out by the end of the year.
He said stories like this are what Ben Franklin and TechVentures are all about. By helping upstarts with new ideas get off the ground they have the running start to develop novel tests and treatments to meet society’s needs.
“For us to be on the forefront of new technologies and creating jobs you’ve got to plant the seeds,” he said.
Flanigan said he hopes that the public interest in the vaccine industry generated by the pandemic will help develop support for planting those seeds in vaccinations.
“Vaccine developers usually don’t find any glamor in the industry,” he said. “All of a sudden everyone is interested in vaccines. It’s refreshing.”
He hopes it inspires people to realize the importance of investing in vaccine development, having a strong supply chain and stockpiling.
“We’ve now found that when it happens it’s too late,” he said. “Some of the decisions, globally, could have been better in the past.”
Shift4 Payments Inc. of Allentown is announcing a proposed public offering of Class A common stock.
The Allentown company, which makes point-of-sale ordering and payment processing solutions, primarily for restaurants, had its initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange in June.
At that time Jared Isaacman, founder and CEO, purchased $100 million of the stock keeping him as the largest single shareholder in the business.
Shift4 said that it intends to offer 2 million shares of its Class A common stock for sale in an underwritten public offering.
Shift4 intends to use its net proceeds from the offering to purchase LLC interests directly from Shift4 Payments, LLC at a price per unit equal to the public offering price per share of the Class A common stock in this offering.
The company said it intends to use the net proceeds it receives from the sale of LLC interests to Shift4 for general corporate purposes.
Certain selling stockholders also intend to offer 8 million shares of Shift4’s Class A common stock for sale in the offering.
The selling stockholders also intend to grant the underwriters a 30-day option to purchase up to an additional 1.5 million shares of Shift4’s Class A common stock.
Shift4 will not receive any proceeds from the sale of shares by the selling stockholders.
Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC, Credit Suisse and Citigroup are serving as joint active bookrunners.
A registration statement relating to this offering has been filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission but has not yet become effective.
The offering will be made only by means of a prospectus. These securities may not be sold nor may offers to buy be accepted prior to the time when the registration statement becomes effective.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s announcement Tuesday that restaurants can return to 50% seating capacity starting Sept. 21 is giving with one hand but taking away with the other, industry leaders complained.
The new order would create a self-certification system that restaurants could participate in that would have them agree, among other things, to stop serving alcohol by 10 p.m. in order to gain that additional capacity, which is currently cut off at 25%.
“That really doesn’t help us,” said Joe Clark Jr., co-owner of Stooges in Allentown, which recently opened and has late night hours. “I think that’s even worse than what we have now because we have extra seating outside.”
John Longstreet, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association, said “the sudden 10 p.m. curfew on alcohol sales just doesn’t make sense,” and will take away an important source of revenue for an industry that he said has been devastated by the COVID-19 restrictions.
“While it provides some relief, it has some significant disadvantages,” he said.
It has enough disadvantages that Clark said he probably won’t participate in the self-certification program to get the additional capacity.
“I’ll probably just keep the 25% and not change anything,” Clark said.
He noted that the later hours attract customers who want to watch sports games like hockey and baseball that often go past 10 p.m.
He said he may, however, have to re-evaluate the idea when it gets colder and he no longer can utilize outdoor seating.
Chuck Moran, executive director of the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association, also had serious reservations about the plan.
“We’re thankful for being allowed to move back to 50%, but would prefer the same social distancing requirements of all other retailers, the 10 p.m. cutoff of alcohol sales effectively weakens any assistance Gov. Wolf offered to these businesses through increased occupancy,” Moran said in a statement. “This rule totally discriminates against establishments that do not offer daytime service. Many establishments open late in the afternoon to serve dinner. “
Moran said he believed the curfew rule would put more establishments out of business.
He cited a 2019 survey of Pennsylvania small business taverns and licensed restaurants that showed alcohol sales make up 63% of their business.
“Cutting four hours of sales off a 10- to 14-hour business operation hurts significantly,” he said.
Longstreet told Lehigh Valley Business that restaurants were hoping the governor would have instead opted to go back to the original rules which allowed for such things as bar seating, which he said many restaurants need to reach 50% capacity, and did not tie alcohol sales to meals.
He said that rule has been an inconvenience to servers and those just looking to have a drink.
Now with the curfew, Moran added that the rule hurts shift workers getting off late who wish to have a drink with their dinner after work.
Longstreet said he hopes the governor addresses the concerns of the industry, if not, he said he expects the legislature will.
He noted that House Bill 2513, which was passed recently by the house, just passed unanimously out of the state Senate Law & Justice committee.
It would revert COVID-19 restrictions to the way they were pre-July 16, when the governor put the stronger restrictions in place.
The bill, which he said has bipartisan support, would also increase event attendance to 50% of a venue’s capacity. Events are currently limited to 10 or fewer people regardless of the size of the venue.
“Many establishments need the revenue from these events to keep their team employed and to stay open,” Longstreet said.
He said not only are the current limits hurtful to the businesses, he said he believes they’re also counter to the governor’s goals of slowing the spread of COVID-19.
By taking events, like weddings or birthdays, out of a venue with a staff trained in virus mitigation they often end up in unregulated places like back yards, where protocols wouldn’t be followed and virus transmission could be more likely.
One of the reasons Wolf has left more stringent restrictions on restaurants is that the tracking of people who have contracted COVID-19 has shown that the vast majority had visited restaurants or bars in the two weeks prior to getting sick.
In last week’s Pennsylvania Department of Health survey of 236 COVID-19 patients:
60% (157) of those who said yes reported going to a restaurant;
21% (55) of those who said yes reported going to some other business establishment;
11% (29) of those who said yes reported going to a bar;
14%(35) of those who said yes reported going to a gym/fitness center; and
7% (19) of those who said yes reported going to a salon/barbershop.
The health department said that compared to the data reported on Aug. 31, this past week saw an increase in people who reported visiting a restaurant, 60% compared to 50%.
From cuisine to cars — the former Louie’s restaurant off Lehigh Street in Allentown has been purchased by a company that sells used cars.
The once popular Italian restaurant, owned by Louie Belletieri, had been located in the 4,100-square-foot space at 2071 SW 31st St. in Allentown for several years after moving from a smaller downtown location where it had been for decades. Belletieri, who did not own the building, closed the restaurant late last year after plans to move to a space in Emmaus fell through.
Before Louie’s a number of restaurants operated in the space. While the property has always served as a home to restaurants, the switch to an auto dealership isn’t out of character with the area. The buyer, Flexible Auto Mall, already has a used-car dealership nearby at 3030 Lehigh St. It provides sales, service and bad credit auto loans.
There are a number of used and new car dealerships in the immediate area, which is sometimes referred to as the Lehigh Street Auto Mile.
The restaurant building will be renovated into a service facility and to expand sales. The property has more than 70 parking spaces for the car lot according to NAI Summit, which represented the owner of the building, LEAD 112 LLC in the sale.
A man answering the phone at Flexible Auto Mall could not say when the work would begin.
The Great Allentown Fair may be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic this year, like most events, but organizers have invited many of the fair’s popular food vendors to set up shop for a Feast of the Fair event Labor Day weekend.
Fair food vendors will be on the Fairgrounds property outside the Agri-Plex serving up all the fair’s food classics to go. Participating vendors include Vince’s Steaks, Take-a-Taco, John the Greek and Joe’s Homemade Pierogies, and yes, there will be funnel cake.
There will even be some Fair music Saturday.
The Pennsylvania’s Music Preservation Society will present “Music Alive” at the Farmerama Theater. That will be an afternoon of live musical entertainment featuring performance from the Large Flowerheads, the BC Combo and The Jimmy Supra/Sarah Ayers Band.
The Feast of the Fair will run Sept. 4-7 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Admission is free, but participants will be asked to bring a non-perishable food item donation for the Second Harvest Food Bank. Everyone who attends are asked to follow social distancing guidelines and wear a mask.
The buzz of local journalism will soon be leaving its longtime home on Sixth Street in Allentown.
The Tribune Co., owner of the Morning Call, confirmed that it will be shuttering the doors of the daily newspaper’s offices at 101 North Sixth Street in Allentown.
Max Reinsdorf, chief of staff for the Chicago-based Tribune Co., said with the COVID-19 pandemic it has been safer for staffers to work remotely.
“Out of an abundance of caution we do not anticipate having employees that can work remotely coming back into the office for the remainder of the year and into 2021. With no clear path forward in terms of returning to work, and as the company evaluates its real estate needs in light of health and economic conditions brought about by the pandemic, we have made the difficult decision to permanently close the office,” he said in a statement.
Speaking to Lehigh Valley business, he clarified that the newspaper, itself will continue.
“We are leaving the physical office on Sixth Street, but we’re not shuttering the newsroom,” Reinsdorf, said. “We’re asking people to work from home.”
Staff have been told they should have their work areas cleaned out by mid-September.
The newspaper vacating the building doesn’t come as much of a surprise. The Tribune Co. has not owned the building since 2016 when it sold the structure to City Center Development Corp., the company behind much of the recent development in downtown Allentown.
Still, the closure of the building is a sad milestone for many of the reporters who currently work in the building or who have worked there over the years.
“It Stings,” said former Morning Call Allentown beat reporter, Joe McDermott, who now works in the real estate industry. “I’ve been out of there for 14 years and it still stings.”
While he decried the death of the newspaper industry, nationally, as someone now working in commercial real estate in the Lehigh Valley he understands the reason The Call is vacating the building.
As the newspaper industry has struggled over the years The Morning Call, like all other daily newspapers, has been reducing its staff size. Staff is now a fraction of the size the building was intended for.
“That real estate property is too valuable to sit there nearly vacant and [City Center Development Corp.] certainly knows that and I’m sure has ideas for the property,” McDermott speculated.
Reinsdorf said he could not comment on whether or not the newspaper’s staff would be relocated to a smaller building or would continue to work from home. The company’s evaluation of its real estate needs is ongoing, he said, but with the current pandemic conditions he doesn’t expect to end remote working in the near future.
PPL Corp. plans to sell its United Kingdom utility business, Western Power Distribution, to focus on the U.S. market.
The Allentown-based company said in a statement that selling the U.K. business it will make the company a “purely U.S.-focused utility holding company and create additional shareowner value.”
PPL president and CEO Vincent Sorgi said the move comes after the board of directors assessed a comprehensive strategic review of the company’s business mix and future growth opportunities.
“WPD is a very strong business that continues to perform exceptionally well as the premier distribution network operator group in the U.K., but we believe it continues to be undervalued by the market as part of PPL,” he said. “We believe that greater value can be achieved for PPL shareowners through a sale of the U.K. business and use of proceeds that would be focused on strengthening PPL’s balance sheet and enhancing the company’s long-term earnings growth, which could include supporting strategic growth opportunities in the U.S. and returning capital to shareowners.”
WPD, which serves about 8 million customers in central and southwest England and south Wales, is expected to play a critical role in supporting the U.K.’s transition to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, he noted.
PPL engaged JP Morgan Securities LLC to act as its financial adviser on the sale process. PPL hopes to complete the sale in the first half of 2021.
PPL said it expects to evaluate a variety of offers for the purchase of WPD, including all cash or a combination of cash and U.S. utility assets.
The Honorable Rebecca Warren (Ret.), a member at the law firm of Norris McLaughlin, devotes her practice to labor and employment, business and corporate matters, and general liability litigation. She was a former in-house corporate attorney and having counseled businesses for over 25 years and is a former prosecutor.
LVB: What is the single biggest legal concern business should have at this phase of the COVID-19 pandemic?
Warren: Every business should ensure that they have a legally compliant COVID-19 Action Plan in place, along with a named Pandemic Safety Officer.
As a result of the ever-changing orders issued by the Pennsylvania Governor and Secretary of the Department of Health, businesses need to be able to pivot quickly. One moment we are in the green phase and the next we have reverted to a new form of yellow. Businesses should expect that more changes are in store. A solid plan for each phase will allow a business to react as swiftly, efficiently, and effectively as is possible under the circumstances.
LVB: Are there legal issues that you are concerned businesses are overlooking?
Warren: Yes. There are many legal issues created by COVID-19. Three that I have seen repeatedly are FFCRA Benefits — When an employee refuses to return to work, they may actually qualify for mandatory benefits under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. FFCRA seems like it was passed ages ago when many businesses were closed or had furloughed employees. As a result, FFCRA did not apply to the business at that time and was overlooked. However, FFCRA is in effect through December 31 and employers must engage in the interactive process with employees who mention a situation that may trigger eligibility for FFCRA sick leave or family medical leave benefits.
The need for a Pandemic Safety Officer — In speaking with many business owners, it seems as though many are unaware of the requirement in Pennsylvania to name a Pandemic Safety Officer prior to re-opening. Name your PSO and communicate the contact information to your employees.
Use of Loan Proceeds — Many businesses have received loans through the Paycheck Protection Program and the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan. Do not use the EIDL monies for PPP allowable categories to avoid disqualification of loan forgiveness. Ensure that you read the restrictions regarding use of any loan proceeds and follow those guidelines.
LVB: What are some legal issues with the workforce returning to in-person work? What about with those who don’t want to return to the office because they don’t feel safe?
Warren: In counseling businesses on return to work issues, I have repeatedly heard two main concerns expressed: co-workers failing to abide by the social distancing and CDC guidelines, and co-workers’ belief that allowing some, but not all, employees to work remotely is unfair. Businesses need to be proactive in clearly communicating the reason for staff assignments and the required protocols, as well as enforcing these requirements. Again, implementing a COVID-19 Action Plan will assist with addressing such issues.
A generalized fear of returning to the workplace will not insulate an employee from termination. However, as mentioned earlier, if an employee’s refusal to return to work is legitimately grounded in a FFCRA-eligible reason, an employee is entitled to that benefit.
LVB: Safe Harbor protections for businesses during COVID-19 is a hot topic. What do you see as the positives and negatives of such protections?
Warren: Safe Harbors have been instituted for businesses with regard to employee retention and reinstatement under the PPP loan forgiveness. This realistic approach to circumstances is a positive for businesses and our economy.
There is discussion of implementing safe harbors for business liability related to customers contracting COVID-19. Although a person may be precluded from recovering for their injury, a positive effect would be less lawsuits and burden on the courts arising from a widespread contagion that cannot be completely prevented.
At the end of the day, I think we have to remember that businesses are already struggling to survive in this COVID-19 era. A lawsuit filed against a business already crippled by COVID-19 may very well be its death knell.
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