New York—Center Stage Optique is located at 45 Seventh Avenue, between 13th and 14th streets, bordering Greenwich Village and the Chelsea area, making it the perfect location for tourists who want to take a break from the overcrowded New York streets, or natives who just want some breathing room.

Founded by husband and wife duo, Greg and Karen Freidus, Center Stage is the perfect optical shop for those who are Broadway enthusiasts like the Freidus’, those who want to walk a fancy red carpet as they get their eyes checked, or those who want a minimal, yet stand-out eyewear experience. Though Greg has been an optician for about 10 years now, he wanted to get a certain number of years and experience before opening his own practice.

He worked in clinics, private practice and big box stores before he and Karen decided to open Center Stage. “We wanted it to be a fun shopping experience, that had a taste of who we are as people,” Karen Freidus told VMail Weekend. “I thought we could make it a theatre/Broadway-themed store where if you’re a theatre fan, you’ll definitely feel comfortable and love all the theatre touches. But if you’re not, it’s still an eyeglass store. So it’s not a Broadway store that happens to sell eyeglasses.”

Though they are up and running now, the process to get the location at 45 Seventh Avenue was not an easy one. Before finally opening Center Stage Optique, the Freidus’ were location scouting across New York City for a number of years. “At first we thought we should purchase an existing business that we could take over when the owner retired,” Karen Freidus explained. “Starting something from scratch was definitely on the back burner, but after a few possibilities didn’t work out, we decided life is too short and gave it a go.”

The decision to start from scratch certainly paid off. Their location is right off most train lines, including the Path train and it came with a finished basement, perfect for storage purposes. When it came to designing the look of the store Karen and Greg incorporated all the things they love about Broadway. As you walk into the store, you’re immediately greeted by the “Center Stage Optique” marquee on the opposite wall. To the left of the store is the reception desk which, with the help of a wood maker in New Jersey, the Freidus’ designed themselves. The desk features the couple’s favorites Broadway tickets which have been integrated into the design.


The store’s dispensing tables also have a similar treatment. The two, long oval tables which are connected to each other, are glass top tables with a collage of the couple’s favorite Playbills underneath the glass. “It’s just another fun theatre touch. It’s a whitewashed collage so it’s not too bright and doesn’t conflict with the way someone looks at their glasses,” she explained.

For their exam room (they have a part-time optometrist who comes in for those who want to get their eyes examined), the Freidus’ got in touch with a company called Rose Brand, which supplies all the stage curtains on Broadway and were able to get the company to make some custom curtains for Center Stage Optique. The curtains have since become a popular background for customers on their Instagram.

The shape of the store also made it possible for them to put down a red carpet in the hallway to the exam room. At the end of the carpet is a full-length mirror, featuring the big light bulbs seen in dressing rooms on Broadway.


By opening their own store, Karen and Greg Freidus did not only get to set up Center Stage exactly how they wanted, they also got to set up a package-pricing deal where they bundle the frame, basic lens and basic anti-glare treatment for cheaper prices. “Greg has seen the different aspects of the industry in the last 10 years and he just wanted to do something from an insurance standpoint,” Karen stated. “We’re working with a company called Patch and we are able to take insurance out of network. Patch allows us to look up, in real time, what the customer’s out-of-network benefit is for most insurances, so we can tell them at the point of purchase how much they’re getting reimbursed. We can electronically file the claims for the customer and they get the check back in a month or so.”

Though the Broadway theme is very visible in Center Stage Optique, the Freidus’ make sure they keep the emphasis on the importance of proper eyecare. They carry various independent brands such as Article One, Iyoko Inyake and Kame ManNen, but they also offer frames from Ray-Ban, Tom Ford and Paul Smith. “Eyeglasses are more than just a quick fashion thing, this is not the place to be cutting corners,” Karen Freidus said. “We’ve had customers who come and have worn glasses since they were little kids, and they understand quality of frames and working with a doctor who really takes their time.”


Because Center Stage Optique is only six months old, the Freidus are looking to go to establish their customer base to grow beyond the theatre. “We definitely want to do more in the theatre industry, but we are also working with schools in the neighborhood. We really want to get the word out to our neighbors about our package-pricing and want to continue to grow our social media presence.”