Llazar and Alyssa Konda
outside Meli on Monday. Llazar runs Meli and Alyssa
runs Reaching Treetops Yoga a block away on Grand
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff
WAUKESHA -The faces of business owners Alyssa and
Llazar Konda have become so familiar in downtown Waukesha in
just a few months that people are constantly waving at them and
it takes Alyssa about 20 minutes to walk from the front of the
restaurant to the back during meal time because so many people
stop her to talk. But this is exactly what the couple was hoping
for when they opened a yoga studio and a restaurant in downtown
“It’s a real neighborhood in downtown and we feel
comfortable here,” she said.
Llazar said downtown Waukesha reminds him of a
small city in Europe where people can walk everywhere.
Alyssa Konda opened the Reaching Treetops Yoga at
820 N. Grand Ave. in May, which was the second location for
Reaching Treetops Yoga. Its original location inside the Badger
Health Center, S31-W24757 Sunset Drive, remained open, but the
Grandview Boulevard location closed and was relocated downtown.
At the time, Konda said she “wanted to be in the heart of the
A few weeks later, Llazar opened Meli bar and
restaurant in the former Generations at 5 Points location at 294
W. Main St. with business partner Nicko Sifnaios.
“(Waukesha) has a big city feeling in a small
environment,” he said.
This past Friday, the two businesses held grand
opening celebrations, but their owners made sure their presence
was felt in the downtown community from the start. Success of a
small business is dependent on passion and presence, Llazar
The couple was attracted to downtown Waukesha a
few years ago when they were apartment-hunting, and they liked
the idea of being able to walk to shopping and dining. After
opening up her first Reaching Treetops Yoga location, Alyssa was
invited to demonstrate aerial yoga at Friday Night Live as a
different form of entertainment. When the right location opened
on Grand Avenue with high-enough ceilings for the aerial
exercises, Alyssa and Llazar decided to take the step and become
downtown business owners.
While Llazar is working full time at Meli, Alyssa
has a full-time job for a pharmaceutical company. The couple
also has two children - ages 5 and 2 - and have since moved into
a house in Pebble Valley. Even with their busy lives, Llazar and
Alyssa remain committed to being at their businesses so they can
provide great customer experiences and continue perpetuating a
neighborhood feeling, which they say is vital to the downtown’s
“We work very hard at what we do. We get up early
in the morning and work as hard as we can,” Alyssa said.
What also helps businesses succeed, especially in
a downtown area, is offering unique services or products. Alyssa
wants to expand her offerings to include aerial hoop, aerial
silks and aerial chains and have some more circus-oriented
“We’re taking aerial up and beyond at this
point,” she said.
Llazar hopes to make Meli the best restaurant in
the area. He is also working with downtown Waukesha business
owners, including Jeff Barta of Nice Ash, to form a hospitality
group that would partner to promote the dining and drinking
“I think we need to be a little less afraid of
our community and adapt more to it,” Llazar said.
Now that downtown regulars have gotten as
familiar with the Kondas as the couple is with the area, it’s
reminding Llazar more of Greece, his home country. Before
leaving Athens to come to the United States, Llazar was a
well-established business owner who was used to being recognized
Alyssa said downtown Waukesha is still somewhat
divided, but that is to be expected when there are politics
involved. She said she always strives to be courteous to people
who live downtown because she recognizes it’s not solely a
She continues to believe in the future of
downtown despite opening her yoga studio when there was
significant turnover at some well-known businesses. The growth
of the farmers market and its increased attendance as well as
the number of people Friday Night Live draws downtown are huge
successes, she said.
Alyssa said it’s key for businesses to have their
doors open and to welcome patrons during these busy times.
Waukesha is missing the mark, she said, in regard to so many
businesses being closed on Sundays. She does recognize it is
often a day of rest for business owners, but she knows there are
people who live downtown or come specifically downtown to
frequent the businesses on Sunday.
“People want that charm back. They want that
recognition point of a downtown,” Alyssa said.