UNIVERSITY PARK -- Melissa Reisch realized the importance of massage therapy when she helped her mom and sister relax through shoulder massages when they ached.
"They said I was really good, and as I got older I wanted to pursue a different path," said Reisch, now 42. She worked as a medical assistant with a specialty in podiatry before she ventured into massage therapy.
"I wanted to have a career where I could help people and have more independence," Reisch said.
After the compliments on her massage skills, it didn't take Reisch long to became a licensed massage therapist. Now she and her husband Russell Reisch, 57, own and operate their own spa, Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa in University Park's The Square at UTC.
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The location fit the Reisches' desired parameters for opening a business.
"We wanted to be near the new mall with Macy's and Dillard's and Saks Fifth Avenue and everybody," Russell Reisch said. "And with I-75 and University Parkway, especially because they're rebuilding that. So we wanted to be at this intersection more so than anywhere else."
Hand & Stone is the first of a handful of retailers to open in the new plaza building in The Square at UTC, located at University Parkway and Honore Avenue. Budget Blinds is expected to open April 18, and the restaurant tenants Oak & Stone, Keke's Breakfast Cafe and Newk's Eatery will open in following weeks.
"We liked University Park because, demographic-wise, we have Lakewood Ranch and the income level was really good for what we wanted," Melissa Reisch said. "And the area is up-and-coming; there are permanent residents so it's not as transitional."
The University Park location is the second Hand & Stone to open in the Sarasota area.
With seven massage therapy rooms and three aesthetician rooms, the Reisches hope to bring what Russell Reisch calls "five-star" massage therapy and facial services at a "three-star price."
Melissa Reisch has four years of massage therapy experience. All massage therapists at Hand & Stone in University Park are licensed, according to Reisch.
Hand & Stone's signature service, as expected, is a hot stone massage. Massage therapists use the hot stones to massage tension out of muscles and promote "deep relaxation," according to the company's website. Other massage services include deep tissue, Swedish, sports, trigger-point therapy, pre-natal and couples' massages. Gentle relaxation massages are also available as well as reiki healing, lymphatic drainage services and packages for wedding parties and other groups.
Hand & Stone, 5405 University Parkway, takes appointments and walk-ins. The spa is open seven days a week, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. To find out more information, visit handandstone.com or call the University Park spa at 941-462-4772.
Janelle O'Dea, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095 or follow her on Twitter@jayohday.