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Store hopes to make a splash in extreme sports

PALMA CEIA — Who better than a formerly professionally ranked paintball player to sell and service extreme sports gear, Chris Spena thought when he opened Alternative Sports in mid September.

"I've been in the industry most of my life,'' he said, "the last 10 years consulting and directing stores just like mine.''

At least a dozen brands of skateboards and wakeboards are stocked at the store, directly across from H.B. Plant High School, plus paintball and airsoft rifles, pistols, ammo and other related equipment.

The game of Airsoft differs from traditional paintball in the use of plastic biodegradable BBs rather than paint, said Spena, who will be organizing competitions in the near future.

A promotion to an executive position with a paintball manufacturer brought the New Jersey native to Tampa four years ago.

"I love it here,'' said Spena, 28, "and it helps that the sports I support can be played all year."

This is the place for repairs and maintenance, he adds. "We can repair almost anything you can throw at us.''

Spena is planning Black Friday specials this weekend. Alternative Sports is open seven days a week at 2307 S Dale Mabry Highway. Visit alternative-sports.com or call (813) 443-0635.

Weight Watchers store hours get a makeover

Old-school Weight Watchers employees used to open a half hour before a meeting, then turn off the lights, lock up and leave when the session ended.

Now a pilot program for the Weight Watchers of the future is being tested in the Tampa Bay area and St. Louis, Mo.

"We closed existing centers and reopened to offer retail hours in new locations," said Debbie Quinn-Williams, member service specialist.

There are five sites in Hillsborough County: the South Town Center in South Tampa, as well as centers in Riverview, Brandon, New Tampa and Carrollwood.

"So far, it's been extremely successful," she said. "Anyone can walk in anytime, not just for meetings, but to get weighed, have a consultation and purchase products."

But Quinn-Williams is most excited about the new program the company is launching Sunday. The public relations department won't let her reveal anything about it other than this: "We will be introducing the biggest changes Weight Watchers has seen in the last 13 years."

For more information, call or visit Weight Watchers, 3830 W Neptune St.; (813) 254-1290.

Restaurant owners look to FRESH idea

The numbers are adding up for FRESH co-owners Bryan Goodell and Jeffrey Morzella, who opened the Franklin Street restaurant in August.

Numbers like these: 100 toppings to create salads and paninis, 35 homemade dressings, 36 kinds of cereal, plus 10 flavorings, from Irish cream to banana, to add to the milk.

"Everything is based on a spine of ingredients that are interchangeable," said Goodell, a chef at age 22 at the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, Mass, who later switched into marketing.

Customers can choose from a menu of 32 salads or direct their own creation.

They can pick from 20 paninis or design one from the roast beef, chicken, turkey and ham made right there.

FRESH offers a dozen flavors of frozen yogurt and an array of natural sodas, sweetened with cane sugar. No artificial colorings added.

College kids like the mix of cereals, hot and cold, which cost $3.69 for 24 ounces or $5.59 for 32 ounces.

But the magic number, said Goodell is $10, as in "everything is less than $10."

And no tipping. "We make it and hand it over the glass," he said. "That helps in this economy."

Goodell said they chose downtown for its "captured lunch audience. Brown bag intentions get shoved under the desk soon as the crowd goes out to lunch."

After work and weekends, "people come in sweat clothes from a jog or the gym,'' said Goodell, a downtown condominium resident himself.

"We are the un-restaurant." FRESH is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at 507 N Franklin St. Call (813) 229-5500.

Do you know something that should be Everybody's Business? Call (813) 226-3332 or e-mail ascherzer@sptimes.com.

Store hopes to make a splash in extreme sports 11/25/10 [Last modified: Thursday, November 25, 2010 3:30am]
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