Make us your home page
Instagram

Chicago-born Corner Bakery Cafe coming to Tampa Bay area

Corner Bakery Cafe, a Panera Bakery clone, has signed a deal to have 10 of its fast casual restaurants operating in the Tampa Bay area within five to seven years.

The local franchisee says the first store will open within a year and is initially scouting the usual suspects for locations: Westshore, Palm Harbor, Brandon and St. Petersburg.

The 130-store chain sprouted from of an awning-graced bakery in downtown Chicago set up in 1991 to make breads for the first Maggiano's Little Italy restaurant next door. The bakery turned into an espresso cafe and then a chain dishing up breakfast, lunch and light dinner fare.

"We're best known for our panini, soups, salads and, of course, fresh-baked bread," said Nirav Mehta, president of Yum & Chill Restaurant Group, the Warraen, N.J., firm that won the regional franchise and also operates 12 Golden Corral restaurants.

The average Corner Bakery meal is $10. The average 110-seat restaurant and 250-seat patio generates a healthy $2.2 million in sales. About 20 percent of the business is catering.

No download needed Sweetbay Supermarket has launched a mobile website formatted for smart phones that does not require downloading an app.

Shoppers merely click on sweetbaysupermarket.com to build a shopping list (complete with grocery prices), check nutritional information, buy gift cards and fetch recipes or coupons (which must be printed).

So far it's nothing flashy.

"It's very task oriented for shoppers trying to save time," said Nicole LeBeau Gavin, spokeswoman for the 105-store Tampa chain. "As the site evolves, we'll make improvements."

Big gets bigger With the march of the mega-filling stations, including newcomers Wawa and Thornton's, well under way, the volatile convenience store landscape in the Tampa Bay area is no place for the meek and weakly financed.

C-store global giant 7-Eleven has not been waiting around. By building new stores, converting 37 into franchises owned by former store managers and recently acquiring and rebranding 183 locations across Central Florida from Exxon-Mobil, longtime Florida force 7-Eleven has been marking its territory.

Through the recession, 7-Eleven increased its store count in the four-county bay area from 95 to 126. This year, 15 more will be added as 7-Eleven works to be the closest C-store to the most people.

"We're using convenience to build our market share," said Grant Distel, the chain's director of development for Florida. "And we're stepping it up."

Statewide, the chain's store count jumped from 541 in 2007 to more than 800 this year, plus a commitment to return to the Jacksonville market with 80 stores over the next several years.

Telling resumes Job histories of freshly hired top executives are often a barometer of a retailer's aspirations.

The Gap's choice for president of Old Navy, its budget-priced preppy kids apparel unit, is Stefan Larsson, a high ranking executive culled from Swedish fast fashion chain H&M.

Cheap, chic H&M and Spanish Zara both leapfrogged Gap Inc. a few years ago, ending Gap's reign as the world's largest apparel chain.

Meantime, HSN hired Ann Martin-Vachon, the former chief marketing officer of fashionable Nordstrom Inc. and a veteran cosmetics and personal care products executive with Bath & Body Works and Procter & Gamble Inc. She becomes the St. Petersburg TV shopping network's top merchant, heading brand product choices and development.

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

Chicago-born Corner Bakery Cafe coming to Tampa Bay area 05/14/12 [Last modified: Friday, May 18, 2012 5:44pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. In advertising, marketing diversity needs a boost in Tampa Bay, nationally

    Business

    TAMPA — Trimeka Benjamin was focused on a career in broadcast journalism when she entered Bethune-Cookman University.

    From left, Swim Digital marketing owner Trimeka Benjamin discusses the broad lack of diversity in advertising and marketing with 22 Squared copywriter Luke Sokolewicz, University of Tampa advertising/PR professor Jennifer Whelihan, Rumbo creative director George Zwierko and Nancy Vaughn of the White Book Agency. The group recently met at The Bunker in Ybor City.
  2. Tampa Club president seeks assessment fee from members

    News

    TAMPA — The president of the Tampa Club said he asked members last month to pay an additional assessment fee to provide "additional revenue." However, Ron Licata said Friday that the downtown business group is not in a dire financial situation.

    Ron Licata, president of the Tampa Club in downtown Tampa. [Tampa Club]
  3. Under Republican health care bill, Florida must make up $7.5 billion

    Markets

    If a Senate bill called the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 becomes law, Florida's government would need to make up about $7.5 billion to maintain its current health care system. The bill, which is one of the Republican Party's long-promised answers to the Affordable Care Act imposes a cap on funding per enrollee …

    Florida would need to cover $7.5 billion to keep its health care program under the Republican-proposed Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017.  [Times file photo]
  4. Amid U.S. real estate buying binge by foreign investors, Florida remains first choice

    Real Estate

    Foreign investment in U.S. residential real estate recently skyrocketed to a new high with nearly half of all foreign sales happening in Florida, California and Texas.

    A National Association of Realtors annual survey found record volume and activity by foreign buyers of U.S. real estate. Florida had the highest foreign investment activity, followed by California and Texas. [National Association of Realtors]
  5. Trigaux: Tampa Bay health care leaders wary of getting too far ahead in disruptive times

    Business

    Are attempts to repeal Obamacare dead for the foreseeable future? Might the Affordable Care Act (ACA), now in dire limbo, be revived? Will Medicaid coverage for the most in need be gutted? Can Republicans now in charge of the White House, Senate and House ever agree to deliver a substitute health care plan that people …

    Natalia Ricabal of Lutz, 12 years old, joined other pediatric cancer patients in Washington in July to urge Congress to protect Medicaid coverage that helped patients like Ricabal fight cancer. She was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma in 2013 and has undergone extensive treatments at BayCare's St. Joseph's Children's Hospital in Tampa. [Courtesy of BayCare]