Make us your home page

Justine Griffin, Times Staff Writer

Justine Griffin

Justine Griffin covers retail business and tourism for the Tampa Bay Times. She is a native Floridian who spent most of her childhood in Pasco County. Prior to coming to the Times in 2015, she worked for the St. Augustine Record, the Sun Sentinel and the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, where she gained national attention for her retail coverage and for a longform article she wrote about her experience as an egg donor. Justine is a graduate of the University of Central Florida, where she studied journalism. She's an equestrian. Her horse is named Belinda.

Phone: (727) 893-8467


Twitter: @SunBizGriffin

  1. Florida's first walk-in clinics for medical marijuana are opening in Tampa Bay


    TAMPA — Inside a nondescript white-washed office building across from St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa is one of the state's first walk-in clinics for patients seeking medical marijuana.

    Similar to a walk-in urgent care center, Tetra Health Care is a place where patients can see a licensed doctor about obtaining medical marijuana as a form of treatment.

    Tracilea Young, president and founder of the California-based chain of clinics, saw an opportunity to expand in Florida after the most recent round of legislation passed in Tallahassee earlier this year. She's opened six Tetra Health Care clinics in Florida so far. Five of those are in the Tampa Bay area, including St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa and Brandon locations. She plans to open 20 more across the state by next year....

    Tracilea Young is the president of Tetra Health Care, a chain of medical marijuana clinics expanding in Florida.
[Photo courtesy of Tetra Health Care]
  2. Outback Steakhouse sees growth in U.S. and Brazil markets in second quarter


    TAMPA — The parent company of Outback Steakhouse and Carrabba's Italian Grill hopes investing in restaurant delivery and international expansion will stem sluggish sales and slumping traffic at its U.S. restaurants.

    Casual dining chains, from Outback to the Olive Garden, have struggled to stand out amid a slew of new restaurants that have opened recently. Consumers preferences have changed too, as many are opting for local and independent eateries over chains. New trends, from restaurant delivery apps like Uber Eats to at-home meal programs like Blue Apron are forcing restaurant chains, like Tampa-based Bloomin' Brands, to rethink their strategy to draw more diners, as seen in Bloomin' Brands' most recent earnings report released Wednesday. ...

    The Outback Steakhouse, on 4088 Park St. N, is showin on July 26, 2017. Restaurant sales were up at Outback Steakhouse  and Carrabba's Italian Grill during the second quarter of 2017, but Bonefish Grill continues to lag at Tampa-based Bloomin' Brands. [SCOTT KEELER | Times]
  3. Cott Corp. sells beverage manufacturing business for $1.25 billion


    TAMPA — Cott Corp., a beverage manufacturer with headquarters in Tampa and Toronto, announced Tuesday it is selling its national beverage manufacturing business to Refresco for $1.25 billion.

    Cott Beverages is a 60-year-old business that grew to become one of the world's largest producers of beverages like sodas, for major retailers, brand owners and distributors. Cott Beverages generates an estimated $1.7 billion in revenues through customers in North America and the United Kingdom, the company said in a release. ...

    Cott Corp CEO Jerry Fowden
[Handout photo]
  4. The real estate pros in charge of Tampa's $3 billion makeover are younger than you think

    Working Life

    TAMPA — Brooke May, a 36-year-old senior construction project manager, knew she wanted to work for Strategic Property Partners the minute she met some team members involved with the group's massive downtown Tampa makeover.

    "I expected a bunch of 65-year-old guys to walk in the room, but they were all so young," May recalled. "It was such a surprise to see."

    The $3 billion complete overhaul of 57 acres of downtown — a project known as Water Street Tampa — is emerging as a dream job for many in Tampa Bay and beyond. Strategic Property Partners, the real estate firm owned by Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and Bill Gates' Cascade Investment, has begun expanding its workforce rapidly. Turns out a lot of those new hires are fairly young — the average age in the office is 34....

    Matt Davis, Vice President of Development posed for a portrait in the Strategic Property Partners office in Channelside on July 12, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. [MONICA HERNDON   |   Times]
  5. Frontier Airlines launches flights out of Tampa airport to 11 new destinations


    TAMPA — Frontier Airlines announced Tuesday it will expand its operations at Florida airports, including adding 11 new flights from Tampa International Airport to new destinations like Indianapolis, Kansas City, Providence, Columbus, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Colorado Springs, Buffalo, Long Island, St. Louis, Nashville, and Milwaukee.

    The new flights on Frontier will be a mix of weekly and daily service, and all new routes will begin before the end of the year....

    Frontier Airlines is launching new service out of Tampa International Airport.
[Getty Images file photo]
  6. Tampa airport's shuttle trams arrive from Japan at Port Tampa Bay (w/video)


    TAMPA — The trains arrived by boat and are headed to the airport.

    Twelve train cars, which cost $1.9 million each, make up the SkyConnect people-mover shuttle system currently being built as part of the $1 billion phase one renovation at Tampa International Airport. The tram cars arrived at Port Tampa Bay from Mitsubishi's plant in Japan Monday morning aboard an auto liner ship.

    The cars were rolled off the ship and will be installed at the airport by its manufacturer, Mitsubishi, this week. The people-mover shuttle system will connect a new rental car facility and the economy parking garage to the main terminal and will be operational early next year, eliminating the need for passengers to catch a bus....

    Tampa International Airport and Port Tampa Bay welcomed 12 train cars for the airport's new SkyConnect people-mover system during a ceremony at the port on Monday. 
  7. Interim Winn-Dixie CEO hopes to lead grocery chain into the future


    RUSKIN — The first time Anthony Hucker visited the Winn-Dixie grocery store in Ruskin, he was the company's chief operating officer. Nearly a year later, he returned to celebrate the store's recent renovation, this time as chief executive officer and president.

    Hucker, 51, was named interim president and CEO of Southeastern Grocers, the parent company of Winn-Dixie, Harveys, Bi-Lo and Fresco y Más grocery stores, in June after the company's former CEO, Ian McLeod, resigned to take a job with an Asian grocery chain. Hucker seems hopeful that the promotion would soon be permanent, pending the final decision by the grocery chain's board of directors....

    Anthony Hucker, the interin CEO of Southeastern Grocers, the parent company of Winn-Dixie, visited a remodeled store in Ruskin Thursday. [Photo courtesy of Winn-Dixie]
  8. Tyrone Square Mall redevelopment a sign of the times for retail


    ST. PETERSBURG — The fences are up and the construction has started. The former Sears department store at Tyrone Square Mall, which had been open for nearly 50 years, closed months ago to make room for new development: Tampa Bay's first Lucky's Market organic grocery store and a Dick's Sporting Goods.

    It's a classic sign of the times for the American shopping mall — traditional department stores are closing at a remarkable rate while newcomers are gobbling up the prime real estate left behind after their funeral. But in an intriguing turn of events, the flailing, though long-standing Sears store that closed in St. Petersburg and the new tenants that are coming in after it, are all benefiting the same company. Or at least, the same owner....

    The area where the former Sears store once stood is now cleared and ready for the addition of a Dick's Sporting Goods store and Lucky's market grocer at the Tyrone Square Mall, St. Petersburg. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times ]
  9. First Harveys Supermarket coming to Tampa, thanks to conversion of Winn-Dixie site


    TAMPA — Some Winn-Dixie stores in Florida are being converted into Harveys Supermarkets, including one store in Tampa.

    Jacksonville-based Southeastern Grocers, the parent company of Winn-Dixie, Harveys, Bi-Lo and Fresco y Más grocery stores, is converting seven Winn-Dixie stores in Florida into Harveys Supermarkets this year in an effort to expand the Harveys brand in the state, according to a press release. The Winn-Dixie store at 2525 E. Hillsborough Ave., is the only one in the Tampa Bay area being converted. It will be the first Harveys Supermarket to open in the region. Others are opening in the Ocala, Orlando, Jacksonville, Cocoa and Winter Haven markets. The Winn-Dixie stores will remain open during the conversions....

    Southeastern Grocers, the parent company of Winn-Dixie , is converting some Winn-Dixie stores in Florida into Harveys Supermarkets. [Photo courtesy of Southeastern Grocers]
  10. The Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club to get new owner


    ST. PETERSBURG — The Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club is about to get a new owner.

    Maryland-based FelCor Lodging Trust, the owner of the historic Vinoy resort in downtown St. Petersburg, is being acquired by RLJ Lodging Trust, the publicly traded real estate investment trust owned by BET founder Robert Johnson.

    FelCor purchased the Vinoy in 2007, and recently announced a three-year plan to make $50 million in upgrades to the property. These include building a new parking structure, a new 200-seat restaurant, and renovating the spa, fitness center, golf course and clubhouse. The company owns hotels across the country, including a few Embassy Suites in South Florida and a DoubleTree Suites in Orlando....

    Maryland-based FelCor Lodging Trust, the owner of the historic Vinoy resort in downtown St. Petersburg, is being acquired by RLJ Lodging Trust, the publicly traded real estate investment trust owned by BET founder Robert Johnson. [Rick Maiman, Bloomberg News].
  11. With Steelco arrival, Port Tampa Bay sees new growth in steel business


    TAMPA — Port Tampa Bay is beefing up its steel import/export business.

    Last month, Port Tampa Bay's board of directors approved a 25-year lease with a South Florida company called Steelco Florida for a 35-acre site located at Port Redwing, a port property in southern Hillsborough County near Gibsonton. For the next two years or so, Steelco will be building a brand new facility on the parcel, where the company will import, export and manufacture steel products. ...

    Port Tampa Bay unveiled its master plan detailing projects through 2030 in December. Plans include adding new business to Port Redwing. [Photo courtesy of Port Tampa Bay]
  12. How a little known brand at HSN is opening stores when others are closing them


    ST. PETERSBURG — HSN Inc., formerly the Home Shopping Network, is known for its long history of hawking goods on TV and more recently, online.

    But part of its business model includes overseeing several in-house home decor and clothing brands, which are sold exclusively in their own catalogs, on their own websites, and not necessarily live on HSN programming. While HSN has sold off some of these brand names in recent years to off set poor quarterly performance results, the Cornerstone Brands subsidiary of its business is expanding, not shrinking, says president, Judy Schmeling....

    HSNi's Cornerstone Brands business includes Ballard Designs, a catalog and ecommerce platform that has a few brick and mortar locations, including a store in International Plaza. [Photos courtesy of HSN]
  13. HSN acquired by rival retail giant QVC for $2.1 billion


    ST. PETERSBURG — The parent company of the shopping network giant QVC Group is acquiring St. Petersburg-based HSN, the digital and TV retailer best known as the modern-day version of the iconic Home Shopping Network.

    Liberty Interactive Corp., the Englewood, Colo.-based parent company of QVC, announced the $2.1 billion deal Thursday morning. Liberty already owned a 38 percent stake in HSN. Even though QVC is clearly the larger, more profitable television retailer of the two brands, the merger indicates dismal times for television shopping, as viewership slips and both companies scramble to turn their business models into digital, online strategies....

    The St. Petersburg headquarters of HSN on Thursday, the day a deal was announced to sell the company and merge it with arch-rival. A  "Happy 40th Birthday " banner hanging outside HSN offices refers to the company's 40th anniversary this year. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  14. Year after acquiring TECO Energy, Emera faces crisis management in worker deaths


    TAMPA — A year ago to the day that Canadian energy company Emera Inc. acquired TECO Energy, its Tampa operation is embroiled in what could well be the biggest public relations problem in its history.

    Two people are dead and four others are seriously injured after an accident at TECO's Tampa Electric power plant in Apollo Beach Thursday afternoon. Since the time of the incident, TECO and Emera have been tight-lipped about sharing information about the accident — a news conference Friday afternoon offered little details. Emera's chief operating officer, Scott Balfour, and John Hollohan, the company's director of safety, arrived in Tampa Friday morning to work with the TECO Energy team on site, said Marley MacDonald, a spokeswoman for Emera. ...

    TECO spokeswoman Cherie Jacobs spoke at a press conference at the Tampa Electric Co. power plant in Apollo Beach Thursday after two people were killed and four people were seriously injured. But the company has been tight-lipped about sharing details about what happened.
[Luis Santana   |   Times]
  15. Where are Orlando's beaches? Pinellas tourism pitch urges visitors to head west


    For years, Florida's east coast has been known as Orlando's beach.

    With the shorelines of New Smyrna, Cocoa and Daytona all one-to-two hours away from the nation's theme park capital, it makes sense. But tourism officials in Pinellas County are making a targeted push to snag the title. ...

    Pinellas tourism officials hope to lure Orlando visitors to Clearwater Beach and other West coast beaches in a new summertime campaign.