A year ago, Chris Crump's latest professional project was heating up - literally.

A year ago, Chris Crump's latest professional project was heating up - literally.

The stylist had set up shop eight months earlier at the first salon of her own, Strands by Chris, in the back of a boutique that was beside the old 1001 Nights hookah bar in the Short North.

Having worked as a stylist for years at Salon Lofts in Grandview, Crump was excited about the prospects of her own space.

Then the hookah bar caught on fire. The building was damaged. And Crump was back at Salon Lofts where she'd started.

"It was discouraging," she said, "like, was this really what I was supposed to be doing?"

It appears fate was just working on providing her with something bigger and better. Crump took over the former 1001 Nights location, dusted it off and opened a fully operational salon, the Strand Cafe, in December.

"It's like it was something that was meant to be," said Crump, 28. "It's a fun and different chapter for me."

Most fun for her was coming up with the salon's niche.

"I'm a theme kind of girl," she said. "We were coming up with names, and I wanted something that was fun and easy to brand."

She liked the idea of a "cafe," and the inspiration is evident - right down to the Cafelicious Menus that list the Strand's services and specials.

That menu includes haircuts and shampoos starting at $23, nail polish with designs for $10 and hair color starting at $80.

The Strand also has a zen-like pedicure room and a private body waxing and facial area.

Two makeup artists are the baristas behind special Makeup Bar events the salon hosts. During a New Year's Eve Makeup Bar party at 5 p.m. Friday, guests can get their makeup professionally applied or try out a new look. There'll be decorations, hats, party blowers and a toast to a beautiful 2011.