One has a "secret menu" and a beef-and-marinara monster sandwich called "the Godfather." Another makes pretty pizzas with spicy twists. And another is a breakfast joint that serves an omelette called "the Bacquezo" (bacon, chorizo, cream cheese).
Several restaurant chains are about to attempt a Tampa Bay takeover, including Deep South staples McAlister's Deli and Newk's Eatery, both considered "fast casual," (an unsnobby way to say quick, inexpensive but nicer than McDonald's) and Another Broken Egg Cafe (somewhere between a Denny's and a First Watch)....
ST. PETERSBURG — Krista Schmidt is giving a tour of her dream come true, even if it sounds like a nightmare. "When you first walk in the store," she says, "you'll see the body parts: duck feet, antlers, cow tracheas."
Husband Keenan Atkinson is totally grooving on the tracheas as well: "Cattle windpipes from grass-fed, free-range cows. All kinds of primal things in here."
The couple, both 29, are standing and smiling just inside the door of St. PetersBark!, an all-natural pet food shop that opened Saturday in the MLK Business District....
When you pony up $4.5 million for a 30-second Super Bowl commercial — this year's whopper price to plug away, some $500,000 more than 2014 — you'd probably like a little hype, some bang-for-your-buck hullabaloo leading into the big game.
Alas, despite that hefty expenditure, there's a distinct lack of overall chatter and buzz for the cha-chingy spots that will air during Sunday's brouhaha between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks. ...
Radio personality Todd Schnitt picked a good time to split town.
Leaving the Tampa Bay market after 20-plus years — a market that's become a crowded dogfight in the mornings, especially with nemesis Bubba the Love Sponge Clem back in the fray — Schnitt is headed to New York City to launch a new gig, Len Berman and Todd Schnitt in the Morning, on 710 WOR, New York's oldest radio station. That's scheduled to start Monday....
WINTER HAVEN — After breaking attendance and revenue records in 2014, Legoland Florida Resort is looking to smash them again by addressing the brick-happy park's two greatest needs: a hotel on property, opening May 15, and a "land" aimed at preteen girls called Heartlake City, which will be pink and perky and pegged for later in the summer.
Opened in 2011 on the site of the old Cypress Gardens, the 150-acre Legoland Florida has proved a success mainly because it has little interest in trying to compete with Walt Disney World and Universal Studios. "We've never tried to be all things to all people," said park general manager Adrian Jones, who adds that the park has kept the same demographic in sight: kids ages 2 to 12....
NEW YORK — The future of retail has a lot of head-spinning syllables: analytics, omnichannels, integrated shopping experiences. And yet the underlying theme of the National Retail Federation's 104th annual "Big Show" is a simple, altogether human one:
You, the Consumer, are a fascinating, mysterious creature, a riddle yet to be fully solved.
Oh, and you are definitely being watched....
Seven years ago, Michael Jamrock of New Port Richey co-founded a small tourism website with a big, hopeful name, EnGaygedWeddings.com, dedicated to same-sex-friendly vendors. Back then, advertisers and hits were few; states that legally recognized gay marriage even fewer.
But this month, the former Miami radio and TV personality saw his EnGaygedWeddings site — which has since become one of the world's largest LGBT online directories for same-sex nuptial vacation spots, hotels, venues, you name it — set records for global traffic. ...
Take note, coaster freaks: Feb. 1 is your last chance to brave Gwazi, the vertebrae-rattling thrill ride at Busch Gardens Tampa. The theme park announced last month that it will shutter the roaring, rickety attraction, which was the first dueling wooden roller coaster in Florida and the largest of its kind in the Southeast.
Gwazi, which both fans and wobbly foes praised for its hair-raising nature, was built in 1999, offering a top speed of 50 mph over 6,800 feet of twin tracks: Lion and Tiger....
Wet Seal, a specialty retailer for teen girls and young women, is closing 338 stores — including its Tampa Bay locations at WestShore Plaza and Westfield Citrus Park — triggering nearly 3,700 job cuts.
The California retailer's locations at Tyrone Square Mall and International Plaza were not affected, according to employees working there Wednesday morning.
All told, two-thirds of the company's stores across the country are being shuttered, with 173 remaining open....
Some guys — and pachyderms — have all the luck.
A male Asian elephant at Busch Gardens Tampa will soon be added to an existing herd of five female Asian elephants.
Ganesh, a.k.a. "Spike," is 33 years old, more than 12,000 pounds and, not to put too much press-release pressure on him, charged with "sustaining this critically endangered species."
That's right: It's single-mingle time for Spike — all part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Species Survival Plan. According to the World Wildlife Foundation, in 2014, the total population of African elephants was estimated to be around 700,000, but the Asian elephant population was estimated to be around 32,000....
ST. PETERSBURG — Need a gig? Have a Magnum P.I.-level love for Hawaiian shirts? Then get ready: The soon-to-open Trader Joe's at 2742 Fourth St. N will start accepting applications for potential new employees Monday.
Job seekers should apply in person from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday until Jan. 30.
Scheduled to open to the masses on Feb. 13, the specialty market is looking for part-time "mates" with pay ranging from $10 to $12 an hour. Trader Joe's opened its first bay area location in Tampa last year. ...
TAMPA — Fans of $395 English openwork sconces rejoice!
Restoration Hardware, the San Francisco-based "up market" retailer known for sating posh tastes for lavish furnishings, will open a palatial location at International Plaza later this year.
It will be one of only a few specialized "Restoration Hardware Gallery" locations in the United States and is expected to be much larger than its current Hyde Park Village location in South Tampa. RH currently has five stores in Florida, and about 70 total throughout the country and Canada....
ORLANDO — When you're a dude at the American Girl store, you lay low, seek shadows, hug walls. Hiding's cool, too. Samuel Gaskin, visiting from Las Vegas, is motionless on a bench, sitting directly beneath a wall-sized portrait of a young lass cradling a rubber-faced 18-inch doll that's dressed exactly like her.
The girl and the doll are smiling; Samuel Gaskin is not.
"I found my spot and sat down, stayed put," says Gaskin, a Chicago Bears cap pulled low over slightly glazed eyes. "They're out there, somewhere, trying on dresses. I'm good here. I'm good."...
Tampa Bay's best concerts of 2014, Part 3: Bruce Springsteen, Lionel Richie, Counting Crows and more12/24/14 Blog
(Through the end of the year on Soundcheck, our contributors are looking back at the best local concerts of 2014. Today: tbt*’s Sean Daly.)
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band (May 1, MidFlorida Credit Union Amphtheatre): “These are loose, more curious days for the blue-collar bard, his three-hour-plus shows all things to all people, including himself. He plays for the newbies (Badlands, Born to Run), for the diehards and rabid set list hunters who come to his shows praying for rarities (Brothers Under the Bridge), for his own well-worn, needy soul (a screaming cover of Them’s Gloria). His shows are still epically long, sweaty, comprehensive, but it’s a different feel now. There is nothing left to lose; he’s earned the right to do whatever the heck he wants.”...
MADEIRA BEACH — The Alligator Attraction is a classic Florida joint, the kind of place where tizzied tourists can toss turkey dogs to snappy reptiles. But this week, old-school fun will start accepting new-school funds: bitcoin, an online "cryptocurrency" that has gained buzz — if not exactly a stronghold in the financial realm — the past few years.
"There are so many benefits to bitcoin," says Sonny Flynn, business manager at Alligator Attraction, home of Chompers the star reptile, who, it should be noted, doesn't care how you pay for his snacks. "It's hack-proof. There's no transaction fee. It's almost as if you are paying in cash."...