Friday, May 25, 2018
Business

Trader Joe's may be headed to Fourth Street N in St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG — Businesses in the 2700 block of Fourth Street N will be closing soon and employees think it's to make room for Trader Joe's, the grocery chain known for discount prices on eclectic and gourmet foods.

Ringside Cafe, the Classy Closet and others received a letter from their landlord Friday stating the block was set to be sold in January.

"We know it's Trader Joe's," said Alex Ohanian, Classy Closet manager. "That's what everyone here has heard." Her store is moving to 540 Central Ave. in December.

"We're really sorry to have to go," said longtime barber Dave Happ, who works next door at Northeast Pyramid Barber Shop. "I don't think there is any chance they are going to back out. I think it's a done deal." He's not sure where the barber shop, which has been on Fourth Street since the 1960s, will end up.

City Council member Leslie Curran, who represents the district that includes the property, said she has heard around town that Trader Joe's is moving to the site but has no official word from City Hall.

"I want to think it's a good fit for the neighborhood. Other Trader Joe's bring a lot of traffic. It's great to have new businesses but they really need to be sensitive to the neighborhood," she said.

Mayor Bill Foster said he could not confirm or deny if Trader Joe's is coming to Fourth Street.

Greg Pugh, who has owned the Ringside Cafe with his wife Kelly for 20 years, plans to relocate the popular bar and restaurant that features live music.

"I've been actively pursing options and have been approached by a number of people, and we have one very exciting possibility in particular that will be great for Ringside, the employees, St. Pete and the music scene," he said. "St. Pete is about places like Ringside and Harvey's (4th Street Grill). I'm not knocking Trader Joe's but St. Pete is about the independent places. I think we want to maintain that individuality."

Pugh has seen surveyors and others looking at the property for several months and repeatedly asked his landlord if it was being sold. He was told no.

"I don't like to be in this kind of position nor do I like having my employees in this kind of position," he said. Some have worked there for 15 to 20 years.

Chuck Ross, who owns the site with other investors, recently told the Times it was not listed for sale, but added: "I'm not saying I would never sell the property."

Ross has applied for permission from the city to demolish three houses that back up to the businesses and build a parking lot for 38 cars. He said the parking was needed for the businesses, which also includes 4th Street Boxing, yet the tenants said more parking isn't needed.

Staying mum is part of Trader Joe's strategy to build demand and excitement. A store in Tampa at 3808 W Swann Ave. is expected to open in 2014. The company didn't announce it until several months after filing paperwork with the city.

Melissa Greene's face lit up Monday when she heard Trader Joe's might be coming to Fourth Street, but she quickly said she hopes Casita Taqueria, where she was picking up lunch, will find a place nearby to reopen. The restaurant has had a second anniversary party in the works for a few weeks, set for Oct. 12.

"It's good news and bad news," said Greene, who was a frequent Trader Joe's customer when she lived in Atlanta. "It has specialty items you can't get at a regular grocery store. "

The California-based Trader Joe's has carved out a niche in the gourmet grocery segment selling fewer but more unique products than competitors. It offers more than 2,000 items under the Trader Joe's private label and introduces about a dozen new products weekly.

Katherine Snow Smith can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8785.

Comments
Restaurants like Fordís Garage use the experience to get you in the door

Restaurants like Fordís Garage use the experience to get you in the door

Tim Butlerís first car was a Ford Model A pick-up truck ó a pearl fawn and cherry red pick-up he got his senior year in high school from his dad, who renovates antique cars.Thatís why as Butler waited for a table at the Fordís Garage restaurant in do...
Updated: 12 minutes ago
Broadcomís CEO tops highest-paid list with a $103 million payout

Broadcomís CEO tops highest-paid list with a $103 million payout

Times staff and wiresNEW YORK ó Chief executives at the biggest public companies got an 8.5 percent raise last year, bringing the median pay package for CEOs to $11.7 million. Across the S&P 500, compensation for CEOs is often hundreds of times highe...
Updated: 29 minutes ago
Denis Phillips, hurricane season guru, talks his signature beer, suspenders and Rule #7

Denis Phillips, hurricane season guru, talks his signature beer, suspenders and Rule #7

SAFETY HARBOR ó Denis Phillips cracks a pop-top and pulls a can that looks a lot like him to his lips."Itís got that citrusy feel to it," he says. "Which is a Florida thing. Thatís not bad." Indeed, thereís a grapefruit finish to Rule #7 Hurricane Sa...
Updated: 5 hours ago
At Pinellas Parkís iconic model train store, an ownership change goes off the rails

At Pinellas Parkís iconic model train store, an ownership change goes off the rails

PINELLAS PARK ó The iconic model train store that has sat at U.S. 19 and Haines Road for close to 30 years announced on its website it will be moving to another location."Itís difficult trying to stock a store thatís bigger than the reality is these ...
Published: 05/25/18
Behind the deal: $52 million boutique hotel coming to Ybor City started with cafe con leche at La Tropicana Cafe

Behind the deal: $52 million boutique hotel coming to Ybor City started with cafe con leche at La Tropicana Cafe

TAMPA ó Joe Capitano Sr. invested in the 1400 block of E Seventh Avenue in 1985, never doubting the huge potential of the property for Ybor City.But the deal to build a $52 million boutique hotel on the site didnít start to come together until six ye...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Tampa Electric to shut down Big Bend coal unit that killed 5

Tampa Electric to shut down Big Bend coal unit that killed 5

APOLLO BEACH ó Tampa Electric Co. is taking a big step away from coal. The Tampa-based utility is spending $853 million to convert its coal-fired Unit 1 at its Big Bend Power Station to natural gas and retire coal-fired Unit 2 in 2021.Five workers di...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Sprouts Farmers Market to open new store in Riverview

Sprouts Farmers Market to open new store in Riverview

RIVERVIEW ó Sprouts Farmers Market is opening a new location in Riverview, the chain announced Thursday. The new store will be located at Summerfield Crossing Shopping Center, though Sprouts did not have a specific opening date.The announcement comes...
Published: 05/24/18
Hooper: More than a restaurant, Lee Roy Selmonís was a meeting place

Hooper: More than a restaurant, Lee Roy Selmonís was a meeting place

Itís where former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Doug Williams had lunch with current Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston.Itís where University of South Florida fans often gathered to watch the programís biggest road games.Itís where folks showed up in...
Published: 05/24/18
An Amazon Echo recorded a familyís conversation, then sent it to a random person in their contacts, report says

An Amazon Echo recorded a familyís conversation, then sent it to a random person in their contacts, report says

A family in Portland, Oregon, received a nightmarish phone call two weeks ago."Unplug your Alexa devices right now," a voice on the other line said. "Youíre being hacked."Apparently, one of Amazon.comís Alexa-powered Echo devices in their house had s...
Published: 05/24/18
As home sale prices rise, a lack of homes makes it tough on buyers

As home sale prices rise, a lack of homes makes it tough on buyers

Home sale prices continued to rise both nationally and statewide in April as a prolonged dearth of available homes on the market is making it tough on buyers. A total of 24,804 single-family homes changed hands across Florida last month, up 4.1 perce...
Published: 05/24/18