RIVERVIEW — It may not quite qualify as a celebrity endorsement, but a major music and film star praised Winthrop Liquors for its cleanliness.
Just a few days after the store opened on June 4, owner Thomas Manchesi said, a woman walked in, took a look around and expressed surprise at the store's appearance.
"She said it didn't look like a liquor store," Manchesi recalled. "She said, 'Why is it so neat?' I told her we had just opened."
The woman bought a bottle of Patron tequila and chatted a bit with Manchesi. It was only after she left that an employee told Manchesi that he thought the customer was famous. He checked the name on the credit card receipt and found that he had just sold tequila to Dana Owens, who's better known as Queen Latifah.
The surprise visit by the actor and hip-hop star may be a highlight, but Manchesi said his first couple of months in the liquor business have been pleasant and successful.
"It's going really well," he said. "We're not doing any advertising. We don't even have our sign up yet. We're just relying on word-of-mouth, and we're doing all right with that."
Manchesi had been working in data processing when he decided it was time for a career change. He said he raided his retirement fund to open Winthrop Liquors, with co-owner John Sullivan, the developer of Winthrop Town Centre. The liquor store is next to the Publix in Winthrop Town Centre, which is at the corner of Providence Road and Bloomingdale Avenue.
The store's official grand opening is set for Aug. 27 from 5:30 until 8:30 p.m. The celebration includes free food from Green Iguana, Publix, Acropolis Greek Taverna and other neighboring businesses, plus drawings every 15 minutes for wine, liquor and cigars.
For the time being, Winthrop Liquors is in a 530-square-foot space in a modular building. Plans call for its permanent home, about 1,800 to 2,400 square feet in a new building in Winthrop, to open toward the end of next year, Sullivan said. The permanent store will feature a cigar lounge. The current store has a patio designed for cigar smokers.
Manchesi said his store offers a wide variety of beers, wine, liquor and cigars, with an emphasis on craft beers and Italian wines.
Winthrop Liquors is open from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, 10 a.m. until 10:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 10 a.m. until 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and Sundays from 11 a.m. until 9:30 p.m. For more details, call (813) 382-9463 or visit the Winthrop Liquors' page on Facebook.
Qdoba Mexican Grill to open in Brandon
BRANDON — You'll be able to grab a quick meal at the new Qdoba Mexican Grill when it opens later this year.
But according to its owners, quick service doesn't equate to fast food.
"It's quick-turnaround," said Wade Gosnell, the director of Jed Fresh, a company that owns three Qdoba franchises in Tampa and six in Orlando. "But we marinate our chicken for 24 hours, and we slow-roast our beef and pork."
The Brandon location is set to open in November or December at 1013 W Brandon Blvd., Gosnell said.
The first Qdoba opened in Denver 15 years ago. The chain now includes nearly 500 restaurants around the country.
Qdoba doesn't take shortcuts on food preparations, Gosnell said. But because the food is served cafeteria-style, diners can get their meals quickly.
The Brandon Qdoba will be open from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. daily. For more information about the Qdoba chain, visit qdoba.com.
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