ST. PETERSBURG — For 22 years, residents of St. Petersburg's Snell Isle and Shore Acres neighborhoods have popped into Mickey's Snell Isle Market to buy milk, eggs and other staples.
They walk over to pick up twice-baked potatoes, bacon-wrapped filets and the deli's signature smoked chicken salad with dried cranberries and walnuts.
Generations of their children have tended the sales register, assembled sandwiches and stocked the shelves.
That tradition will come to an end later this month. Tenants of the Snell Isle Plaza, where the grocery has been an anchor, learned several weeks ago that they must vacate the property by July 31.
"I'm really going to miss my customers," said Mickey Huguet, who co-owns the market with her husband, Bill.
Carlos Yepes, a manager with the Belleair Development Group, which oversees the shopping center for the Snell Isle Development Co., says the strip mall will be demolished.
"The building is way too old and falling apart," he said. "The building is costing way too much money to keep it going the way it is. We can't keep putting Band-Aids on everything."
A SunTrust Bank branch in the plaza has been shuttered, and Brophy's Bistro recently closed. Yepes said his company is filing evictions and terminating leases of other tenants.
"Everybody's doing what they need to do," he said.
Through an agreement with the St. Petersburg Yacht Club, the Belleair group last year finished reconstructing the adjacent marina and rebuilt the dockmaster's building. Plans to build a luxury condominium complex and a new commercial building on the property have stalled. Once the plaza building is down, Yepes said, the area will become a green space until the real estate market improves.
The Huguets will move the market about 2 1/2 miles southwest, to 1545 Fourth St. N, but longtime neighborhood customers have lamented the Snell Isle store's closing.
"It's been sad, because I've had a lot of people come to me and say, 'My grandson worked here. My son worked here. I worked here,' " Mickey Huguet said.
"We have a lot of old people, we have a lot of young people who are our customers. I know everything about them. You just appreciate those people. It's part of being a community."
The Huguets also own Mickey's Kork & Kleaver on Beach Drive NE, across from the St. Petersburg Yacht Club.