After sitting vacant for five years, the building that was the former French Hen restaurant owned by Linda Hogan and her ex-husband, professional wrestler Hulk Hogan, is bustling with new business. Directly across the driveway at Antique Alley in Belleair Bluffs is another freestanding building that houses Magnolia Marketplace. Owner Kathy Ross-Johnson has started a new business in a next-door shop and a former business, Biscayne Art & Framing, has returned to the Alley for the third time and grown its business.
Slipcovers, upholstery and curtains
Jeanne Waldow recently moved her Slipcovers Etc. business just steps away in Antique Alley to the building remembered best as the restaurant.
She is leasing 1,000 square feet of the 3,000-square-foot building for her business that includes professional upholsterer Ruby Mawby. Claudia Farrow, who owns Curtains Etc. and often works on projects with Waldow, also leases a section of the space dominated by a north wall of windows the length of the room.
Waldow's services include slipcovers, cushions (indoor and outdoor) for antique chairs, sofas, sofabeds, benches, stools and other furnishings. Furniture repairs are available from several experts working in Antique Alley.
"We're thrilled with this location," Waldow said. "The lighting is incredible and the room is so much more people- and work-friendly."
Waldow's husband, Warren, a pediatric dentist, is planning to open the remaining part of the building for a coastal-style furnishings business.
Vintage, garden, antiques and traditional furnishing
Kathy Ross-Johnson's Magnolia Marketplace specializes in the eclectic — vintage interiors, garden elements from old homes and farms, artworks and salvaged metals and woods made into new things. After 21/2 years, she was running out of space for her other businesses, floral design and staging houses up for sale.
"My kitchen had become a floral shop," she said. Her family wasn't thrilled.
Voila! Magnolia II, an airy shop right next door in the Alley that features unusual and dramatic antiques, traditional furnishings, rugs, floor and table lamps, as well as accent pieces. It also has room for the floral work she does for parties, weddings and other events.
The furniture has been used only for home staging. Among the pieces are a hand-carved 18th-century Danish cupboard, a teak coffee table, hand-carved Tibetan moldings from doorways and windows, leather recliners and a Tommy Bahama bed and sofa series.
Framing and vintage postcards
Steve Kalter, in the business of framing original art, posters and prints for 17 years, has returned to his first home in Antique Alley and opened Biscayne Art & Framing and a new business.
Your Town Memories features some 5,000 vintage postcards from all over the country with scenes from 70 to 100 years ago. Kalter enlarges the cards to 11- by 7-inch size, mounts them on hard board and finishes them with an acrylic coating. The cards can be framed or used as placemats and postcards.
Local cards include the old Tarpon Springs sponge industry, and St. Petersburg's famous green benches and Webb's City.
The cards are featured in Ace hardware stores nationwide and Hallmark shops in several states, Kalter said. Locally, they are in Clearwater Beach stores and Hammerheads Ace hardware in Largo.
To handle the sales, Kalter has two part-time employees and 25 sales reps in 10 states. After the first of the year, he said he will extend his current 700-square-foot space to 1,400 square feet next door.