Charlotte, N.C. — About a year ago I was visiting my mom in North Carolina. She wanted to get a pedicure so I grabbed a copy of the local monthly Skirt. There was an ad for Polished Nail Bar. We went in for services, but I didn’t call ahead and tell them I was coming. (Meaning, I was incognito — not Hannah the editor of NAILS, just Hannah the girl who was taking her mom to get a pedicure.) After our services, I introduced myself to the owner and promised to come back on an “official” visit next time.

So this summer I called to see if I could schedule an appointment. And as it turned out, I now had a choice in locations. Owners Sonny Kim and his fianceé Haley Tran opened a second location of Polished earlier this year. Since I’d already been to the original location, and because the new one is actually closer to my parents’ house, I decided to go check it out. The new shop is 1,600-sq.-ft. in an upscale strip mall in a neighborhood called Myers Park. It caters more to young families and “moms who lunch” (as opposed to the original location in South End, which is larger at 2,600-sq.-ft. and caters to a younger, hip crowd).

The salon has a fresh, modern feel with a row of pedicure spa chairs down one side and a long nail bar down the other. Two cool orange couches (and an extra-large bowl of brightly colored candy) separate the two sides of the salon. Flatscreen TVs adorn the wall over the nail bar, which is the direction both pedicure and manicure clients face. When you enter, the first thing you encounter is the Flavor Bar, complete with scented scrubs and soaks for you to choose from. I chose pomegranate and nail tech Monica Chum gave me an amazing pedicure. She works in both locations — Myers Park has 12 techs and South End has 20 techs — and said that about 95% of the salons’ clients come in for natural manicures and pedicures.

Owners Sonny and Haley impressed me with their knowledge and passion for the industry. Haley could probably name every professional product on the market — she definitely does her research. The salon uses an autoclave for extra protection and boasts top-notch sanitation practices. Along with stringent sanitation, Sonny says customer service is the key to their success. Not only did they open a second location in the midst of the recession, but they’re planning on opening a 4,000-sq.-ft. flagship salon in 2010.

When I moved over to the nail bar for my manicure, a party of about 10 came in for pedicures. Parties make up about 50% of their business — from get-togethers to watch “Real Housewives of Atlanta” to bridal parties. Wednesday nights are dedicated Sangria and Manicure nights and Sundays are Beer and Pedicures for the guys (they can watch sports on the flatscreens).


Nail tech Monica Chum and owners Sonny Kim and Haley Tran were gracious hosts during my first visit to their newest location.


These pedicure chairs were imported directly from China and they even had butt massage!


The Flavor Bar greets clients upon arrival. With scents like pomegranate, chocolate, mint, and citrus, there is something for everyone.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, Click here.