Make us your home page
Everybody's Business

Fireplace store offers backyard focal points

PALMA CEIA WEST — Most homeowners looking to spruce up their landscape are familiar with those gurgling fountains or small ponds that add interest to a back yard.

But a fireplace — in Florida?

Shelly Meadows says fire can be just the thing to "add some sparkle" to an outdoor space. Meadows, a factory representative for Australia's EcoSmart Fire products for the past three years, has opened a fire-focused retail store and showroom called Urban Concepts.

The 1,200-square-foot store at 2307-G S Dale Mabry Highway, formerly occupied by clothing boutique Suitcase, stocks fireplaces and standalone burners, most of them meant to be used indoors or outdoors as decoration or to help ward off a slight winter chill.

"We help people develop focal points," Meadows said. "Most of it is very edgy, urban contemporary. . . . We can put the 'bling' in the patio."

Meadows said the fireplaces she sells are not too hot or sooty and almost every item in Urban Concepts is fueled by clean-burning ethanol (denatured alcohol that can be found at the hardware store). The fireplaces and smaller burners don't require ventilation and can be customized to fit most any space, she said.

During the three years she has carried EcoSmart Fire products from an office on Race Track Road, Meadows said sales have continued to grow even as much of the home improvement economy has struggled. Though she calls fireplaces a niche business, especially in Florida, she said clients kept telling her to open a retail store.

"I really think the outdoor living space is underserved," Meadows said. "Especially in Florida, where the outdoor spaces need to be utilized — even side yards. Get rid of the grass, let's do rock gardens and water features."

The store, which opened in January, is a showroom for fireplaces and burners as well as modern gift items, large planters and water elements like fountains. Fire comes in all price ranges, from $90 for tabletop "fire bowls" to fireplaces that start at $900 and top out at about $7,000.

Urban Concepts also will host seminars, including one on "fireplace facelifts" at 11:30 a.m. Saturday. Store hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 10 to 5 on Saturday and by appointment. The store's Web site is

Fresh bagels on MacDill

Scott Fuchs and John Constantinopoli grew up together on Long Island, where it wasn't hard to find a place to buy a fresh bagel made from scratch.

The childhood friends wanted to bring what they called "the authentic bagel experience" to Tampa. In late November they opened the Tampa Bay Bagel Co. at 4004 S MacDill Ave., in the former home of the Junction ice cream and coffee shop.

"We felt that Tampa was missing a traditional bagel made from scratch — kettle boiled and baked on premises," Fuchs said. "There are a lot of transplants, people that come from up North that are used to that."

Constantinopoli is an experienced and formally trained chef with a baking specialty from the New England Culinary Institute; Fuchs is a former luxury hotel manager. They came up with a menu that includes 16 types of bagels made daily; bagel sandwiches with eggs just off the grill, bacon, ham or sausage; challah French toast on the weekends; chicken salad; salmon salad; and chopped salad where the customer chooses the ingredients.

The Tampa Bay Bagel Co. opens at 6 a.m. daily, closing at 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 4 p.m. on Saturday and 3 p.m. on Sunday. The store's Web site is

Do you know something that should be everybody's business? Call (813) 226-3394 or e-mail

Fireplace store offers backyard focal points 03/04/10 [Last modified: Thursday, March 4, 2010 3:31am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Air bag recalls, lawsuits lead Takata to file for bankruptcy


    Shattered by recall costs and lawsuits, Japanese air bag maker Takata Corp. filed Monday for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., saying it was the only way it could keep on supplying replacements for faulty air bag inflators linked to the deaths of at least 16 people.

    Japanese air bag maker Takata Corp. CEO Shigehisa Takada bows during a press conference in Tokyo on Monday. Takata has filed for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., overwhelmed by lawsuits and recall costs related to its production of defective air bag inflators.
[(AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi]
  2. Airbag maker Takata bankruptcy filing expected in Japan, U.S.


    DETROIT — Japanese airbag maker Takata Corp. has filed for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., overwhelmed by lawsuits and recall costs related to its production of faulty air bag inflators.

  3. Federal agencies demand records from SeaWorld theme park


    ORLANDO — Two federal agencies are reportedly demanding financial records from SeaWorld.

    Killer whales Ikaika and Corky participate in behaviors commonly done in the wild during SeaWorld's Killer Whale educational presentation in this photo from Jan. 9. SeaWorld has been subpoenaed by two federal agencies for comments that executives and the company made in August 2014 about the impact from the "Blackfish" documentary. 
[Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS]
  4. Legalized medical marijuana signed into law by Rick Scott

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed into law a broader medical marijuana system for the state, following through on a promise he made earlier this month.

    Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation on Friday that legalizes medical marijuana in Florida.
  5. Line of moms welcome Once Upon A Child to Carrollwood


    CARROLLWOOD — Strollers of all shapes and sizes are lined up in front of the store, and inside, there are racks of children's clothing in every color of the rainbow.

    At Once Upon A Child, you often as many baby strollers outside as you find baby furniture and accessories. It recently opened this location in Carrollwood. Photo by Danielle Hauser