DOWNTOWN — It may be one of the toughest times in recent memory to open a new restaurant, but Bob Dorfman is betting on downtown.
Dorfman and his TCH Restaurant Group Inc., which holds the area franchise rights for Five Guys Burger and Fries, plans to open a new location in SkyPoint by the end of the year, in time for Super Bowl XLIII, which comes to Tampa in early February.
"Things may be slower right now, but they will eventually and hopefully pick up down the road," Dorfman said. "It's one of those calculated risks."
Retail space at the 32-story condo building at 777 N Ashley Drive has been largely empty since the building was completed in summer 2007. Upscale eatery Taps Wine and Beer Merchants, which opened in April, is the only current retail tenant.
"In the evening they (Taps) draw a good crowd," Dorfman said. "We're going to sort of help each other in a sense."
Dorfman expects his franchise will be busiest at lunchtime, but said the younger professionals living upstairs might fuel the evening business and even demand later hours on the weekends. The SkyPoint Five Guys will be one of the few locations to sell beer, which was a request of the developer, Dorfman said.
"Given the type of customer we're going to have there — young professionals — and people who might come down at night, it's going to be something that's going to attract them in the restaurant, and may be a necessity," he said.
Dorfman also plans to open a South Tampa location at 4304 S Dale Mabry in coming months. One goal is to take the pressure off the Five Guys that opened last year at 3841 W Kennedy Blvd.
That location attracts customers from both downtown and MacDill Air Force Base and has severe parking problems, Dorfman said. He hopes for walk-up customers during the day and that people will park on the street at night when the meters are off.
He especially wants to cater to military employees, many of whom drive 25 minutes to his Kennedy store.
"We appreciate their business so much, and we want to have a place that is more convenient for them," Dorfman said.
Double the bling at DKM
After her DKM Accessories store at WestShore Plaza lost its lease in January, Debbie Karam took her time searching for another location for her popular South Tampa brand.
She considered expanding to New Tampa, but decided to stick even closer to her customer base. Last week, Karam opened a DKM at 4017 Henderson Blvd., not far from her main store near the corner of MacDill and Palmira avenues.
The new store, which formerly housed higher-end jewelry retailer Sydney Buchanan, will have about 700 square feet and focus on DKM's midrange jewelry lines such as Kenneth Jay Lane. Karam's other store is about 1,000 square feet and carries a larger selection of clothing than the new shop.
"We just thought it would be good for a lot of our customers who live on the West Shore side," Karam said. "A lot of the merchandise will be different between the two stores. The MacDill store will continue to carry a lot more variety. ... This location will be a little heavier in jewelry."
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