COURIER CITY/OSCAWANA — For members of the Whaley family, the hardest part about closing their 75-year-old market was not knowing when, or whether, they would see their customers again.
"Telling everyone goodbye is the hardest part," co-owner Linda Whaley Bublitz said Sunday. "Everyone is like family to us."
Whaley's Market, the South Tampa institution at 533 S Howard Ave., closed Sunday. But whether the business is gone for good depends a lot on the real estate market.
Todd Whaley is keeping his smoker at the ready. One of the fourth generation of Whaleys to own the market, Todd has begun his search for a new, smaller location. Despite the family's status as half-owner of Whaley's Plaza, family members could not come to an agreement with the other owner on the terms of a new lease, Bublitz said.
The Whaley family is looking for a buyer for its interest in the plaza and for a parking lot nearby, Bublitz said.
With the economy struggling, the family plans to wait until both properties sell before finding a nearby location for another version of Whaley's Market. The ideal spot would be about half the size of the 9,000-square-foot store on Howard, she said, and would focus on deli items, meats and produce.
Bublitz has begun teaching at Monroe Middle School but hopes to be able to serve Whaley's loyal customers again soon.
"We just want to start on our own somewhere else, not too far away. We're not silly; we know all our customers are here.
"A lot of our customers are elderly and we prepare their meals every day. That's the hard part. Every day they came in and said, 'What did you make today?' We made food that you would make at home for your family."
The Turkey O'Toole lives on
Bennigan's customers have been driving from all over the Tampa Bay area to Channelside to get their fix — and to redeem their gift cards.
Local Bennigan's restaurants — with the exception of the Channelside location, which was a franchise and not company-owned — closed July 29 after the company filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. A few of the more profitable locations may reopen soon as franchises, as franchise owners are banding together nationwide to try to make this happen. Meanwhile, lovers of the signature Turkey O'Toole and Monte Cristo sandwiches have kept the Channelside location busy.
"We track it by periods and we are busier than we usually are this time of year," Channelside senior manager Aaron Cook said. "We get people from Brandon and all over, just to get a Monte Cristo. We're the closest (Bennigan's) for 60 miles."
Customers can redeem Bennigan's gift cards at Channelside, Cook said. Texas Roadhouse, in Wesley Chapel, is also honoring the gift cards. (It is not affiliated with the company that owned Bennigan's.) The restaurant is offering a free entree until Aug. 30 to anyone holding a gift card for Bennigan's or Steak and Ale, which also filed for bankruptcy.
Jewelry shop to close
The Sydney Buchanan silver and fine jewelry boutique will morph into an online-only business soon, said owner Sydney Dickie. The South Tampa store at 4017 Henderson Blvd. is closing within the next several weeks.
In the meantime, Sydney Buchanan is holding a clearance sale of 25 percent off all items. Until it closes, hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday and Saturday and 10 to 5 Tuesday through Friday.
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