MIDTOWN — Hillsborough County's only Ya-Ya's Flamebroiled Chicken franchise has closed, paving the way for a new community bank.
John Cox, who owned the Ya-Ya's and the building that housed it at 2514 W Kennedy Blvd., closed the 5-year-old restaurant this month and sold the property to Anderen Bank.
The Palm Harbor-based banking startup has aggressive expansion plans and wants to open a Tampa office in the fourth quarter of this year or the first quarter of 2009, said Charles Allcott III, the bank's chairman and chief executive.
Hungry drivers in need of a quick dinner were surprised by the closure. Even Ya-Ya's officials were a bit taken aback when contacted last week.
"We knew that something was cooking, but we didn't know it would be that quick," said John Chinonis, president of the Flint, Mich.-based Ya-Ya's Inc.
Cox, who also owns a Ya-Ya's franchise on Fourth Street in St. Petersburg, said he did not want to pass up the opportunity to sell the building. Chinonis said Ya-Ya's has a liberal policy of letting franchisees out of their agreements, even if the company wants to keep a store in the area.
"Now that (Cox) is out of the picture, I'll possibly develop something," Chinonis said. "We'd like to be in Tampa. It's been a great market for us."
He said he already has one potential franchisee interested in a Florida location. If — or when — Ya Ya's does reopen in Tampa, "I would imagine it would be somewhere nearby, because people know about the business," Chinonis said.
Meanwhile, Anderen Bank is hoping to make a name for itself. The bank opened in November 2007 with $34-million in financial backing, which Allcott called "significant for a community bank."
Anderen has plans to expand to Hernando and Citrus counties and the Orlando and Jacksonville markets, despite the nation's current woeful banking climate.
"Right now, I think that there is still an opportunity for banks to be successful," Allcott said. "We've got a really good group of shareholders that are strong supporters of the bank. Even though the general economy is still struggling, there still are plenty of good businesses out in the market, looking for that personal relationship with a community bank."
South Tampa closings
Hawk's Neighborhood Grill, at 3114 W Bay to Bay Blvd., has closed. The sign outside says the restaurant is closed for remodeling.
The owner of the restaurant, Tampa attorney Michael Addison, did not return calls last week seeking comment.
In recent years the Hawk's building, which is near the corner of MacDill Avenue and Bay to Bay, also has housed a similar incarnation called Cherry's Bar and Grill, as well as Divino Bar Ristorante Italiano and Caffe Italia.
Meanwhile, South Tampa is home to one less tanning salon. Ecstasy Tanning, which was at 701 S Dale Mabry, next door to Berryism yogurt, closed this month.
The owners of Ecstacy could not be reached.
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