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Recession takes toll of two sweet shops in Hyde Park

HYDE PARK — As the temperature rises, shoppers at Hyde Park Village are going to have a much harder time finding a cool treat.

Both the Abbott's Frozen Custard and JJ Smoothy stores have closed in the past two months. Business wilted quickly during the recession and showed few signs of a renewal anytime soon, representatives of both companies said.

Abbott's, which closed April 19, had been open since March 2008. It is the only franchise location of the Rochester, N.Y.-based Abbott's ever to go out of business, said the company's marketing director, Scott Joseph.

"It doesn't sound like they generated the traffic," Joseph said. "We've done fairly well in Florida, but for some reason that location just didn't work. … And with economic times and things like that, the timing wasn't good."

Calls to two of the Rochester-based franchise owners of the Hyde Park store were not returned.

JJ Smoothy, a health-oriented smoothie cafe, opened in late 2007. Owner Joe Kozlar said the store did well in the early months but began to suffer once gas prices hit $4 a gallon. Even the store's location next to a Lifestyles Family Fitness could not guarantee its survival.

"A lot of people just really cut back," he said. "We had a type of business where you really don't sell to the masses.

"The landlord wasn't much help. It's very expensive to have a location in Hyde Park. My concept, just like Abbott's, relied on a lot of people coming in. … You sell a $5 smoothie — that's a lot of smoothies to pay for $4,000 a month in rent. I think if they would have come back to us and said, 'Times are tough and we want to work with you,' I think we probably would have stayed open and tried to see it through."

Hyde Park Village general manager Susan Martin declined to comment on the two closings.

Hyde Park Village has lost a number of tenants since last fall, including Talbots in January, and its Web site (www.hydepark village.net) has been out of service for more than a month. But one end of the retail center has seen some progress in recent weeks: Birmingham, Ala.-based Cobb Theaters Inc. recently began the conversion of the old Sunrise Theaters location into a six-theater CineBistro that is expected to open this fall.

Coffee-and-ice cream spot closes storefront

Bayshore Beautiful also has lost a neighborhood coffee-and-ice cream hangout. The Junction at 4004 S MacDill Ave., a local source for Joffrey's coffee and Old Meeting House ice cream, closed its storefront last month.

The building will continue to house the offices and distribution center for Old Meeting House ice cream. The ice cream will continue to be produced and remains available at Daily Eats at 901 S Howard Ave. and Joffrey's at Channelside Bay Plaza.

Scooter shop moves in to old SoHo gas station

A long-vacant 1940s gas station building now is home to a colorful collection of gas sippers.

SoHo Scooters opened in early April at 401 S Howard Ave. Owner Tom Anderson has renovated the art deco building, which has been unused for 15 years, into a showplace for gas-powered scooters both retro and sleek.

After gas prices shot up last year, Anderson sold his ATM business and began making plans for a scooter shop. The goal was to bring quality scooters to South Tampa, he said, offering them both for sale and for rent and providing owners with reliable service.

"They're economical, they're ecological," Anderson said. "They (help with) parking problems we have in this area as well.

"It's exclusively an urban type of accoutrement. It's like cell phones in that it becomes an extension of your personality."

Anderson's scooters, meant for travel at speeds up to about 35 mph, range from $1,199 to $2,500 and come with a three-year warranty. Rentals start at $25 for two hours, and $65 a day.

Anderson said he plans to offer classes for new users on Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings. Hours at SoHo Scooters are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 5 Sunday.

Do you know something that should be everybody's business? Call (813) 226-3394 or e-mail sharonlginn@yahoo.com.

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Amy Scherzer

Recession takes toll of two sweet shops in Hyde Park 05/14/09 [Last modified: Thursday, May 14, 2009 4:31am]
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