ST. PETERSBURG — The landlord of the Mid Core garage project near BayWalk said Monday that a new gourmet market will replace the Atlanta Bread Co., which closed its store Saturday after a rent dispute.
Mid Core's leasing manager, Fred Bullard Jr., said Messineo's Gourmet Market has signed a lease and will move in as soon as the space at 179 First Ave. N is cleaned up and renovated in the next few weeks. Messineo's is not a restaurant, but a store that sells ready-to-eat food along with fare that can be prepared at home.
According to its Web site, Messineo's offers more than 75 items that include alternative snacks, natural and organic dried fruits and vegetables, chocolate and yogurt, natural seeds and a gluten-free product line.
Bullard said Messineo's will cater to the growing number of condo dwellers on Beach Drive and elsewhere in downtown, along with those in nearby neighborhoods and those staying at hotels and various resorts.
Atlanta Bread Co. had operated at the space since 2001, but its owners, Moe and Rhonda Jafari, were forced to leave because they couldn't agree on rent with Bullard. She said the $15,000-a-month rent hadn't been adjusted since the economy's downturn, making doing business there untenable.
Bullard said the Jafaris hadn't paid rent in months and owed more than $170,000. He scouted for a new tenant last year, and by December had told the couple that he had found a new tenant and they needed to leave, he said. He said they refused to leave and filed for bankruptcy protection. Bullard said he managed to evict them only after a judge in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Tampa dismissed the case last week.
"It's exciting," Bullard said. "We're looking forward to having a new addition to downtown."
Times researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report. Michael Van Sickler can be reached at (727) 893-8037 or [email protected]