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Whaley's Market reopens in new location

TAMPA — Stocks weren't the only market making a comeback on Monday.

Whaley's Market, a 74-year-old South Tampa institution that closed in August, effectively reopened Monday when Todd Whaley and his famous smoker set up shop in a struggling gourmet market on Kennedy Boulevard.

Whaley has partnered with Paul Ruel, owner of Paul's Meats and Seafood at 3917 W Kennedy Blvd., to resurrect the Whaley's name — and many of its deli favorites. A sign is expected to go up Wednesday.

The new Whaley's is smaller and leaner — at 2,000 square feet, less than one-fourth of its former size — and located on the fringes of South Tampa. It's about a 2-mile drive from the old store.

Todd Whaley and sisters Linda Whaley Bublitz and Laurie Pierson ran the family market, founded in 1934 by C.L. Whaley. Though they are part owners of the Howard Avenue plaza that bears his name, they had to close after failing to come to terms with the plaza's other owner.

The sisters moved on to other endeavors, but Todd Whaley said he was too passionate about the business to not reopen.

"My only intention after we closed the store was to find a way to get into a new store," Whaley said.

Enter Ruel, who contacted Todd Whaley shortly after learning of the demise of the old store.

Ruel has sold plenty of fancy grills and hosted many cooking classes during 13 years as owner of the Outdoor Kitchen Store on Kennedy. Last year, after buying the building next door, he opened the Outdoor Kitchen Gourmet Market and hired former Renaissance Vinoy chef John Pivar to run it.

Pivar left in June. Ruel renamed the store but needed someone experienced to take it over. Todd Whaley was "a perfect fit," Ruel said.

Whaley said he will do his best to retain the spirit of the old Whaley's. He hired the meat and deli managers from the old store. He has four smokers on site. He is bringing back the best-loved deli items.

Whaley's was known for its produce and prepared meals; those will find a place in the new market as the customer base grows. For now, Whaley said, he will bring in seasonal produce about twice a week.

The store also features wine — a first for Whaley's — Kobe and Black Angus beef, as well as the seafood that Ruel already offered.

"It's all high-end, high-quality merchandise," Whaley said.

Whaley's Market reopens in new location 10/13/08 [Last modified: Monday, October 13, 2008 10:35pm]
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