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At Lee Roy Selmon's and Chico's, confidence spurs expansions

In a sign of confidence, Lee Roy Selmon's will open its first new store in five years on June 14.

Located at 34200 U.S. 19 in Palm Harbor, the BBQ place promises to up the big-screen HDTV ante among bay area family sports pubs.

The new-look Selmon's sports side-by-side, 120-inch behemoth TVs hung over the bar, plus 30 more screens 51 inches or larger inside and outside. That's about one screen for every seven seats in a 232-seat restaurant with stadium-style seating. Three levels of tables set on risers will offer unobstructed views.

It will be the seventh Selmon's location and first expansion since the chain's onetime parent, Tampa-based OSI Restaurant Partners Inc., decided the company's future was as a Florida chain. OSI sold the chain to a group of founding managers two years ago.

Selmon's has been private about its performance, but confirmed traffic and sales are up despite diners' average tab slipping.

"We're pleased with where we are," said Greg Lynn, president.

• • •

Women linger Longer for Lingerie: Chico's FAS is finally ramping up the growth of its Soma Intimates chain after seven years and no profits.

"We think we've found a profitable model once we build sufficient scale," said David Dyer, chief executive of the Fort Myers apparel chain. He sees Soma as the first new choice for women ages 30 to 70 after Victoria's Secret or Frederick's of Hollywood.

By opening 50 new Somas this year, Dyer sees profitability with 180 stores by the holidays.

He sees Soma as a growth vehicle for Chico's, which also owns White House/Black Market.

Part of the holdup: Women regard the lingerie buying experience as so personal it takes twice as long to persuade loyal customers to change stores.

The average Chico's needs two years to draw enough loyal customers to hit design productivity. Soma needs four to five.

• • •

Budget Bridal Bonanza: Goodwill Industries expects lots of overnighters to camp out for its annual Wedding Gala that starts at 6 a.m. Saturday at 3929 Tampa Road in Oldsmar.

The nonprofit has gathered 165 donated bridal gowns once priced as high as $4,000 that will be sold first-come, first-served at prices starting at $90.

The gowns for the fundraiser were donated by Athena's Bridal Boutique of Clearwater, CC's Boutique of St. Petersburg and Natasha's Boutique of Seminole. Also contributing were Diana's Bridal, Jon's Bridal and Olga's Bridal, all of Tampa.

Brides who don't find what they want can try again June 11 when Goodwill offers 165 more gowns at its Ocala store, 2830 SW 27th Ave.

• • •

Is Waffle House Next? Except for Bob Evans, there are no restaurant brands in the ever-growing 30-foot lineup of frozen breakfast items in supermarket coolers.

Until now. IHOP just launched a line of eight frozen breakfast items ranging from a Griddle and Sausage Wrap to French Toast Stuffed Pastries. Priced at $2.85 to $3.79 for a box of six at Walmart stores, the microwavable meals are made to be eaten by hand and exploit the fact that four of five breakfast meals begin in the home — even if many end in a car.

Part of Dine Equity, which owns Applebee's, IHOP signed the deal for a cut of licensing fees and the advertising value of having its name linked to breakfast in more places, said spokeswoman Jennifer Pendergast.

Ironically, the new dishes will not be sold in IHOP restaurants.

Mark Albright can be reached at albright@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8252.

At Lee Roy Selmon's and Chico's, confidence spurs expansions 05/30/11 [Last modified: Monday, May 30, 2011 8:06pm]
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