UNIVERSITY PARK -- When Matt Taneja would treat his young daughter to a manicure in an adult salon, the service was almost always the same.
"You could tell they were not interested ... They're like, 'Well, OK, quickly, quickly.' And as they're putting the polish on, they're looking at all the adults coming in," he said.
So Taneja, who was in the car business for 14 years, decided to buy a hair salon and spa geared toward children ages 1 through 12. A place where children could come, get pampered and feel welcome.
Taneja, 39, and his wife purchased the Lil' Divas and Dudes at 8415 Honore Ave. a few months ago from a couple who were running the salon from California.
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Together, the Tanejas varnished the floors with Kickin' Kiwi and replaced old styling chairs with toy airplanes, sports cars and fire trucks. They revamped make-up, up-do and facial stations and added more manicure-pedicure stations to the front of the store. And they brought on a few new employees to improve customer service. The new Lil' Divas and Dudes officially opened in October.
The 1,500-square-foot space serves as a hair salon, but with an emphasis on spa services and birthday parties.
The two-hour parties include pampering, crafts and dancing. Decorations, invitations, pizza from Bellacino's and a birthday cake or cupcakes from Thompson's Cakes in Sarasota are also included.
"We handle everything. That's the beauty of it. The mom just books the party and doesn't have to do anything," Taneja said.
Renee Cozy, a hair stylist at Artisan Salon in Sarasota, brought her 4-year-old twin grandsons in for haircuts Thursday morning.
"I decided to take a break from cutting their hair and come here because I heard so many good things about it," she said, as her grandson, Nicholas, pretended to vroom-vroom in a red fire truck.
Business has been so steady that Taneja is looking to open another location, either in St. Petersburg or Venice.
Haircuts range from $15 to $18, with spa and up-do treatments ranging from $8 to $35.
Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.
Sabrina Rocco, East Manatee reporter, can be reached at (941) 745-7024. Follow @sabrinarocco on Twitter.