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Larmon's merges with Happy's Homes; John Rolfe Tobacco smokes downtown; Wandering Eye art gallery pops up in Ybor

EAST TAMPA — After 82 years in Ybor City, Larmon Furniture is selling off inventory, closing its Seventh Avenue location and reopening next month in partnership with Happy's Home Centers, a 3-year-old appliances, electronics and furniture business.

"Our old, established family business is merging with a good company and a great family," said Jimmy Kalamaras, who bought Larmon's in 1992 with his wife, Elizabeth Larmon Kalamaras, granddaughter of founder Rubel Larmon.

Kalamaras didn't have to look far to reinvent the store. He has known Happy's Home's owner Chris Kale Sr. since their Plant High School days. Kale's sons, Chris Jr. and Jeff, and his brother Rick Kale are also in the business, selling furniture, flat-panel TVs, computers, washers, dryers and more.

Happy's Home Center's fifth location opens Jan. 2 in Columbus Plaza at Columbus Avenue and 50th Street. Others are on S Dale Mabry near Gandy Boulevard and in Brandon-Riverview, Largo and St. Petersburg.

"For eight decades, Larmon Furniture has been helping out the community … at Metropolitan Ministries and the Tampa Housing Authority," said Kalamaras, "and we'll continue to do so."

Happy Home Centers, 5016 E 10th Ave., will be open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 am. to 6 p.m. Saturday. Visit larmonfurniture.com or happysnation.com or call (813) 247-4711.

New cigar bar has historic name

Cigar aficionados and downtown Tampa neighbors are discovering John Rolfe Tobacco Lounge, opened Nov. 1 on Cass Street near Franklin Street. Three partners combine varied backgrounds to offer top cigar brands, craft beer and wine, bar snacks and music.

A mutual friend introduced wholesale cigar distributor Brian "the Lion" Willingham to Dan Mouneimne and attorney Joseph Williams, "because of our common interest in cigars," Willingham said. He named the lounge for Pocahontas' husband, the Virginia colonist who introduced tobacco as a cash crop in 1611.

"We're business class by day; more entertainment at night," said Willingham.

"With a very friendly atmosphere for women," adds Mouneimne, who is known for his Lebanese specialties, such as hummus, baba ghanouj and tabouli. He designed the 50-seat interior using reclaimed wood, salvaged artwork and chandeliers from Dubai.

Happy Hour specials run daily; music is booked on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Thursdays are Open Mic Night.

John Rolfe Tobacco, 214 E Cass St., is open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Visit johnrolfetobacco.com or call (813) 200-6067.

Wandering Eye for art

A collaboration of 22 artists has popped up in a vacant Seventh Avenue storefront, displaying and selling work at the Wandering Eye Art Gallery, courtesy of an Ybor City landlord.

"First we asked if we could just use the windows for display," said abstract artist Susan Doscher, one of more than a dozen members of the Ybor Art Colony who rent studios above the empty shop. "Then he let us clean it up and fill the whole space with paintings, sculptures, glasswork, jewelry and photography."

Each co-op artist keeps 80 percent of a sale, the rest goes to support the gallery. Doscher, Judy Strong and several other artists offer classes on Thursday evenings and Sunday afternoons. Reservations are required. A monthly artist launch party is free. On Saturday, the work of Princess Simpson Rashid will be featured, along with live music and refreshments.

Wandering Eye Gallery, 1527 Seventh Ave., is open 6 to 9 p.m. Thursdays; 1 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday. Call (813) 922-8278.

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Larmon's merges with Happy's Homes; John Rolfe Tobacco smokes downtown; Wandering Eye art gallery pops up in Ybor 12/11/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 11, 2013 6:11pm]
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