I’m happy to say I finally have an answer: Krème de la Krème Nail Lounge, a cute, clean nails-focused salon that opened in nearby Belmont Heights on July 1, 2008.  I went for my first visit to the salon a few weeks after it opened for a Krème Brulée Pedicure.

Here are the things that I thought made the salon great.

Cuteness. The salon is unabashedly girly. The decor is French-inspired, including a handpainted “Bonjour” sign. The bathroom has signs that say, “I see London, I see France, I see…” Every woman who walked in while I was in the salon said something to the effect of, “This place is so cute.”

Cleanliness. Krème de la Krème goes above and beyond with sanitation, as it uses an autoclave to sterilize instruments and FootsieBath pedicure tubs with disposable liners for pedicures.

Comfort. I was seated in a comfy armchair for my service and even the waiting area features a comfortable and stylish damask sofa. “We wanted it to look like a big living room, so we didn’t really use salon furniture,” says co-owner Angela Tsigonoff. On the weekends, clients are offered  either mint water or a mimosa.

Expertise. Angela’s been in the industry for a long time, once owning a full-service hair salon. She attends the ISSE tradeshow annually.

Befitting. Krème de la Krème fits in well with its neighborhood. Both Angela and co-owner Gina Leago live in Long Beach. The salon participates in local charity and networking events. “Location is the most important thing we have going for us,” Angela says.

Personable. The owners make it a point to get to know their clients. Actually, co-owner Gina actually started out as a client of Angela’s years ago. Angela says even now, “Our clients are so cool; they’re like friends.”

Convenience. The salon is open seven days a week, which is great for my busy schedule.

I’m happy to see places like this improving the public’s image of nail salons. And I’m happy to see that the public, at least in this neighborhood, is willing to pay a premium for it. Manicures run from $20 to $44 and pedicures from $28 to $56. Since my visit, I’ve been photocopying the salon menu and handing it to the aforementioned inquisitive friends.

One of them told me later the only problem was in finding an appointment time that fit her schedule (since the salon is already so busy) — not a bad problem for a nail salon to have.

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