Azul Salon and Spa: North Macon’s relaxation destination

Azul Salon and Spa is tucked into a little shopping center on Arkwright Road, just off Interstate I-75 north of Macon. It’s a surprisingly airy space, with natural lighting and a subdued palette, perfect for relaxing. The original works of local and regional artists decorate the walls.

Azul Lobby in Macon
Azul Salon and Spa serves all your style and rejuvenation needs. Photo by Doug Deal.

At Azul, the options are seemingly endless. The salon services vary by stylist and include everything from color to keratin treatments. The spa services include basics like manicure and pedicure, massages, basic facial waxing, and facials. Azul also offers more specialized services such as gel nail treatments,  microdermabrasion, hot stone massage, body waxing, and permanent makeup application.

One of the best feature of Azul is that each stylist works in his or her own private space. One of my favorite features of Azul is that the staff members are there for their customers. Nothing is more uncomfortable than sitting in a hair or nail chair while two or more stylists have a private conversation over your head. At Azul, the customers are the focus of attention, whether it’s your first time or you are a “regular.”

Stylist Lee Tillman specializes in curly hair, cuts, and hair coloring. One of his most unique style techniques uses undercuts with cut-in designs. He introduced us to Azul through his Facebook photos of his hair design work.

I got a far less edgy cut, long layers. My son, Sam, who is 8, also got a long shaggy ‘do, swept over the eyes. Lee talked to Sam to find out what kind of style he wanted, and he delivered. My daughter, Bell, who is 5, got a long, angled bob. Lee gave my husband a great, short professional style.

A few weeks later, I returned to Azul to find the same friendly staff greeting me at the door. After several stressful days, my neck, back, and shoulders were so tight that a deep breath hurt. I wanted a Swedish massage, and I was pleased that I could get an appointment the same day with massage therapist Tommika Clark.

I’ve had many spa massages, and Tommika is one of the best massage therapists I’ve experienced. She did a great job identifying the muscles groups that were tight, and then finding the right location to massage to release the knots in the muscles. It was a relaxing experience, and I enjoyed her work so much that I purchased a three-massage package when I left, so that I could come back. My second massage was as therapeutic and the first.

I don’t usually get salon nail services, but I wanted to experience as many of Azul’s services as possible, and so I made two separate trips to manicurist Megan Hayes. Like all of Azul’s services, manicures and pedicures are done in a private room. Megan was easy to talk to, and she helped me decide what I might like for my nails. She took the time to explain to me the difference between the different nail polishes, including gel nails. For my toes, I chose regular nail polish, but for my fingernails, I chose to try gel polish. I loved the look, feel, and durability of gel polish, and since I don’t routinely wear them, I didn’t notice any adverse effect on my nails or cuticles after the gel was removed.

Azul is a comfortable retreat, where you can relax in an intimate atmosphere and enjoy being the center of your stylists’ attention. I have enjoyed each of my visits. I didn’t call very far in advance to make my appointments: although I recommend scheduling your salon and spa services at least a week in advance, I was able to get same-day appointments for both of my massages, my manicure, and my pedicure. I also found their prices to be competitive with other local salons and spas, and their staff was exceptional.

To find more information about the services and prices at Azul Salon and Spa, check their website,



Quik Shop is a nice place to fill up your tank

One of the goals of Macon Community News is to do profiles of ordinary businesses to highlight the services they provide so that people needing those services can find them.

Eating out isn’t always about a gourmet meal in a downtown restaurant. Sometimes it is about convenience, location and friendly service.

Quickshop Pizza - Hunt Brothers
Hunt Brothers Pizza is available at Quik Shop. We got a half cheese, half sausage and pepperoni for our picnic lunch and it was made in front of us in 6 minutes. Photo by Doug Deal.

If you travel between Warner Robins and Macon, you might take GA-247 / US 129 going either north and south. If you need gas, a drink, a snack or even a meal, there are not many options. If you frequent the area for work and travel it daily, you might want to stop by the Quik Shop at 7285 Hawkinsville Road in South Macon for a fast breakfast sandwich, hearty lunch or even a dinner to take home.

My family and I were traveling that route on our way to the Museum of Aviation, just south of Robins Air Force Base. It was around lunch time, so while on route, we decided to get some food and make it a picnic lunch at the museum. Unfortunately, the places to eat are scarce on that stretch of road and we were far from the restaurants you might find closer to the main highways.

Quickshop Cold Food and Sandwiches
Quik Shop offers a selection of deli sandwiches made daily in their kitchen. They also have cut fruit and salads. Photo by Doug Deal.

Lucky, we pulled into Quik Shop and found what we were looking for. Now, a gas station isn’t gourmet food by any means, but they have an electric impingement oven, deep fryer and a small clean prep area that allows them to make food on site. They partner with Hunt Brothers Pizza, which is a fast service pizza operation. Honestly, I was surprised by the quality and in a hurry, it’s pretty good and can easily feed the family in a pinch, or serve as a nice lunch if you work at some of the industrial places near the shop.

They also have sandwiches that they make on site daily, filled with anything from deli meat to hamburgers to chicken salad. Their cookies are also made on site and we grabbed a couple large ones to split. Both the peanut butter and the red velvet were extremely good.

Quickshop owner Sam Patel
Sam Patel is the friendly proprietor of Quik Shop. Here, he poses in front of their cold prepared foods. Photo by Doug Deal.

The owner, Sam Patel, and his family run the convenience store. He was extremely welcoming and told us that during weekdays they make chicken livers, which happens to be a favorite comfort food of mine, as I mentioned in my review of Grey Goose a while back. I did not try them, as they don’t run their lunch counter on Sundays, but I might have to stop by and try them the next time I am passing through during the week.

Drink options were plentiful as well. They had the usual coffee, fountain and bottled drinks, but there was also a selection of Cappuccino, hot chocolate, and a variety of slushes. Again, it is a quick food stop in a gas station, but the strawberry slush that my daughter ordered was good. They also offer peach-mango, sour-watermelon, and sour green apple.

Quickshop Coffee
Fresh ground coffee for as little over as buck in whatever size suits your needs. Photo by Doug Deal.

Quik Shop is not where you would spend Friday night out or celebrate a birthday party, but if you want a decent meal for lunch, a quick weekday meal for the family, a carton of milk or eggs, or a picnic like us, it has a good variety of options to please different appetites. You can also fill up your other tank, your fuel tank, at the pumps out front.

You can visit their Facebook page for more information and daily specials.

Quickshop Slushes
Quik Shop has four varieties of slushes in two sizes. Photo by Doug Deal.
Quickshop Cookies
The cookies at Quik Shop are made in house and are delicious. The red velvet cookies, pictured in the second row to the left are incredible.
Quickshop Hot Sandwiches
Quik Shop has hot sandwiches made on site, including large and small hamburgers and breakfast sandwiches. Photo by Doug Deal.

The road to great tacos leads to El Camino

Craving a new place for tacos? Then you should know the way to El Camino! El Camino Taqueria and Cantina in downtown Macon is the latest entry in the Moonhanger Group’s series of eateries and stands as their first foray into the Latino side of life.

El Camino Front
El Camino means “the road” in Spanish and can be found on 2nd Street in downtown Macon. Photo by Doug Deal.

El Camino is located at 382 2nd Street and you’ll know you’re there when you see the outdoor seating and a sandwich board with daily specials on it. Oh, and it also says “El Camino” in giant lettering, so you shouldn’t have any problems finding it.

When you first walk inside El Camino, you’ll be greeted by a car hood which has been painted to permanently celebrate Dia de los Muertos as well as a bar that runs down the left hand side of the restaurant. Although the interior of the restaurant is narrow, you don’t feel cramped because El Camino makes use of clever table arrangement to make the best of the space they have. The clientele is an eclectic mix of casual diners, young professionals, hipsters, and middle aged guests. I think I even saw a nun. So basically, anyone that’s hungry is welcome here.

El Camino Mask
Mexican inspired artwork decorates the entry to El Camino, such as this car hood decorated to honor the Day of the Dead. Photo by Doug Deal.

The atmosphere at El Camino is more trendy than traditional. This is a sentiment echoed by the menu. However, this is definitely not a bad thing. Macon, and indeed the entire Middle Georgia area, is already blessed with many fine traditional Mexican restaurants. One of the first clues that El Camino is different is that you are not given complimentary chips and salsa. With that, let’s get to the food.

If you do want chips and salsa, it is $2.25 and comes with three types of sauce. In order of spice level, first up is the chunky pico de gallo. Next, you’re met with an earthy, red salsa, which would be the closest to what most people picture when they think of salsa. Finally, there is the salsa verde, the flavors of which will dance across your tongue to a tune which can only be inspired by the high notes of cilantro.

El Camino Chips and Salsa
Chips and salsa are not free, but they are worth the small charge. Photo by Doug Deal.

Besides appetizers and desserts, the menu also sports salads, wings, tortas and tacos. Tortas is fancy Spanish talk for sandwiches, and El Camino’s certainly do not disappoint. However, where El Camino really shines is their tacos.

The tacos run from $3.00 to $3.50 each and come with your choice of corn or flour tortillas. I chose three for a nice sampling. The Ranchero is a steak taco with cheese, pico de gallo, and a tasty cilantro chimichurri. The Laredo has pork, cheese, a delicious radish jalapeno slaw, and smoked tomato pasilla negro crema. That last topping was pulled straight from the menu and basically boils down to a semi-spicy sauce on the top.

El Camino Tacos
A three act play of tacos, but the special of the day, the Philly, was the star of the show. Photo by Doug Deal.

The real star of the show was the Philly Taco – a Mexican/American fusion that is El Camino’s play on a Philly cheese steak and it was their daily special. El Camino combines grilled onions, shitake mushrooms, and poblano peppers rather than the green bell peppers normally found on a Philly. It is topped with your choice of pepper jack or Swiss cheese. The delicate corn tortillas had an incredibly satisfying texture, the steak itself was perfectly seasoned and seemed to melt in my mouth and the onions were grilled to a golden perfection. This is an item that you definitely don’t want to miss.

El Camino Hot Sauces
Sauces run the gamut from mild to spicy. Photo by Doug Deal.

Another aspect of El Camino that is worth mentioning is the service. Our server was friendly and helpful. She struck the perfect balance between making sure we had everything we needed, yet not interfering too much. Her delightful attitude added to our enjoyment.

To sum up, El Camino is a unique spin on Mexican cuisine, delivering high quality ingredients and excellent flavor combinations that will be sure to satisfy. Their full menu can be viewed on their website.

El Camino Decor
The dining room is narrow but has plenty of room for a lunch rush. Photo by Doug Deal.
El Camino Sandwich
El Camino has additional items, such as this Amarillo which is pork, lettuce, tomato, pickled radish, pickled jalapeño, guacamole, and sheep’s milk cheese. Photo by Doug Deal.

Curry Mantra serves high quality Indian and Pakistani dishes

For me, Indian and Pakistani cuisines are very likely my favorite, with some intense competition from Thai and Jamaican. The theme here is that all of them are heavy with extremely intense flavors and often mouth burning heat. There are a number of good quality Indian restaurants in the Middle Georgia region, I have never really found one that was terrible, but a couple rank above the rest. One of those is Curry Mantra.

Curry Mantra Special Chicken Curry
Curry Mantra’s signature Special Chicken Curry, served extra hot. The dish is so flavorful, you will not able to stop eating it no matter how hot it’s served. Photo by Doug Deal.

My wife and I discovered the restaurant about a year ago and were so impressed that we ended up going back 2 more time over the next week or so. I would like to say that this was the only time we did that, but since there have been times when a craving has brought us back twice in a week. Not only is the food excellent, but the service has always been prompt and friendly and they give you the feeling that they are happy you are there.

On this visit, I broke away from my usual Chicken Vindaloo and ordered their Special Chicken Curry. Unfortunately, I did not ask about the ingredients of the dish and the menu description is lacking, but it was extremely delicious. As usual, I ordered it extra hot. This is likely too hot for most people, but for me it was enjoyably spicy, just enough to cause a few beads of perspiration to form at my hairline. The creaminess of yoghurt was evident as well as a slight sweetness that complimented the spiciness. Continue reading “Curry Mantra serves high quality Indian and Pakistani dishes”

Kroger hiring staff for their newly renovated store in South Bibb

The newly renovated Kroger located at 4321 Hartley Bridge Road in south Bibb County is hosting a You@Kroger hiring event for individuals interested in working at the location.

Kroger is hiring for their expanded Hartley Bridge location. Photo by Doug Deal.

On Tuesday, August 9, from 3-8 p.m., job seekers are encouraged to come to the Kroger on Hartley Bridge Road. Kroger will not be making appointment interviews, and anyone who comes during the available times will be given an interview.

Applicants must go to the Kroger website, at, and complete an online application prior to their interview.  While Kroger hasn’t set a deadline for completing the online application, it is generally a good idea to complete it as soon as possible, and at least the day before the interviews.

The application process takes about half an hour, and an email address will be necessary. Other required information will include a job history and an education background.

Kroger does not specify how many employees will be hired to fully staff the newly expanded store.