Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hudson bar stays put in face of Wal-Mart

Bobkatz Bar & Grill remains in its old U.S. 19 Hudson location as a Super Wal-Mart prepares to open. The bar endured clouds of dust and ground-shaking noise during months of construction.

BRENDAN FITTERER | Times

Bobkatz Bar & Grill remains in its old U.S. 19 Hudson location as a Super Wal-Mart prepares to open. The bar endured clouds of dust and ground-shaking noise during months of construction.

A spanking new 211,000-square-foot Wal-Mart Supercenter opens today in Hudson. It's a beauty, compared with so many other big box stores, and definitely an improvement over the abandoned mall that sat rotting on the property for so many years.

Nearby residents, though concerned by the traffic that the new 24/7 store will bring, are optimistic that it will also attract some nice new stores and other businesses to the neighborhood.

Then there is the bar right smack in the front yard.

Bobkatz Bar and Grill is badly out of place, but it stands as an example of stubborn independence, the little guy against the giant, if you will.

U.S. 19 can be a raunchy strip, a mishmash of adult businesses, car lots, pawn shops. Some see Bobkatz as part of what needs to change along that strip. But others, especially the regulars who show up for birthday parties and karaoke nights, feel this neighborhood bar is taking a stand against the avalanche of suburban sameness that Wal-Mart often represents.

To be fair, this was a stand more on price than principle. Had Wal-Mart made the property and building owner Henry Javer a more generous offer (he says it was $150,000), he might have gone away.

That would have been so much easier.

During months of demolition and construction, Bobkatz lost its usual driveway to U.S. 19 and endured clouds of dust and ground-shaking noise.

That didn't stop the beer flow.

Bobkatz co-owner Pete White, who tends bar on Tuesday, says regulars didn't let the confusion deter them. They'd play darts or pool or watch either of the two small TV sets that hang above the bar. They also came to celebrate.

On a recent afternoon around 4 o'clock, business was still good. Customers lined the bar, while employees inflated balloons and hung festoons for a two birthday parties that night. White believes the new megastore will drive even more business.

"There's going to be a lot of traffic," said White, who owns the business along with his wife, Debbie, her sister, Karen Graham and her husband, John, and father-in-law and mother-in-law, Ed and Janet Beck.

Their offerings are simple: Beer, burgers, banter. The new place will employ 400. You can get an oil change or your hair done. You can shop for groceries, eat in the restaurant, bank at SunTrust.

The early opposition to Wal-Mart led to some concessions and considerations. One exit from the store directs traffic onto U.S. 19, away from the Beacon Woods subdivision, which is also getting new sidewalks along the main drag. Wal-Mart also promised to build Bobkatz a new sign on U.S. 19 so its customers don't end up in Bobkatz's parking lot.

Time will tell if those concessions will avert the feared traffic headaches. But in the meantime, Bobkatz regulars will belly up and grab a cold one. Most guys will tell you, it sure beats shopping.

Andrew Skerritt can be reached at askerritt@sptimes.com or (813) 909-4602 or toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 4602.

Hudson bar stays put in face of Wal-Mart 03/06/08 [Last modified: Thursday, March 6, 2008 8:54pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. New center opens in Tampa to help those with missing, damaged limbs

    Veterans

    TAMPA — Justin Lansford, his service dog Gabe by his side, smiled broadly Thursday as he imagined the future of a sprawling, resource center for people who need artificial limbs and those interested in helping them.

    Justin Lansford, 27, lost his left leg above the knee in Afghanistan. He was one of dozens of people attending the opening of the Veterans International Institute of Orthotics & Prosthetics in Tampa on Thursday. [HOWARD ALTMAN   |   Staff]
  2. Still worried about family, Tampa Bay Puerto Ricans ramp up relief effort

    Hurricanes

    TAMPA — Brenda Irizarry is worried.

    Brenda Irizarry of Tampa, while agonizing over the status of family in storm-ravaged Puerto Rico, is helping lead an effort to collect and send supplies to the island. [ALESSANDRA DA PRA  |   Times
]
  3. Was it a crime? 10 patients at nursing home died after Irma

    News

    HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (AP) — A 10th elderly patient has died after being kept inside a nursing home that turned into a sweatbox when Hurricane Irma knocked out its air conditioning for three days, even though just across the street was a fully functioning and cooled hospital.

    The Rehabilitation Center of Hollywood Hills, 1200 N. 35th Ave. [EMILHY MICHOT | Miami Herald]
  4. Oh, Florida! Irma's gone, but she left behind plenty of lessons for us

    Columns

    I don't want to make light of the misery and death that Hurricane Irma inflicted on Florida this month. A lot of it was ugly, and some of it was downright criminal. We saw greed and pettiness on display, and it brought illness and death.

    Tampa Bay Times staff writer Craig Pittman.
  5. 'Toxic' times: How repeal of Florida's tax on services reverberates, 30 years later

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Long before Hurricane Irma attacked Florida, the state faced a troubled fiscal future that the storm will only make worse.

    Robertson says the tax debate is now “toxic.”