WESLEY CHAPEL — Who's up for building a sexy new Quarter Pounder, the longtime blue-collar thug on the McDonald's menu? You know, pretty that sucker up a bit. Maybe some guac, garlic sauce, caramelized onions, all on a lettuce wrap and presented to you via perky tableside service.
After suffering severe revenue losses lately, the Golden Arches needs to make a move, and they think their new "Create Your Taste" reinvention campaign, one aimed at competing with fast-casual DIY restaurants a la Chipotle, could be the ticket. ...
03/24/15 Real Estate
If you're a Tampa Bay Lightning diehard and you're currently house-hunting, here's a deal for you: Vinny Lecavalier's Davis Islands estate went on the market Monday.
But you might want to check under the sofa cushions twice for this one: You're going to need about $4.5 million to buy it.
As a bonus, you get to be Derek Jeter's neighbor. The retired Yankee great lives three doors down....
With only two episodes left in the debut season of Better Call Saul, University of American Samoa alums Sean Daly and Chris Tisch are in a frenzy. Surely something awful yet awesome (and holy-moly Breaking Bad-ish) will be cliffhung soon, right? Space Blanket Chuck doesn't seem long for this world. Saul loves Kim more than we thought -- but will that end in nookie or tragedy? And as for Mike -- our favorite fixer is about to go dark for the sake of his granddaughter. Herewith, the boys sound off on last night's installment, "Rico."
Despite the relentless protests, the bad press and the plummeting attendance, SeaWorld is staying in the Shamu business.
On Monday, the theme park company launched the first phase of an aggressive marketing campaign that touts how much it loves and cares for its trademark killer whales — and how much it vigorously disagrees with myriad detractors.
SeaWorld Entertainment, the parent company of Busch Gardens Tampa, saw attendance decline by 1 million visitors in 2014 in its 11 parks. That's a drop many attribute to the 2013 documentary Blackfish, which focused on disturbing behavioral issues of captive orcas, including Tilikum, the 12,000-pound whale that killed trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010 at SeaWorld Orlando. In the last quarter, the company recorded a $25.4 million loss....
After receiving more than 1,000 customer complaints in 2013 alone, Pinellas Park-based Kane's Furniture has filed a lawsuit against Mississippi furnituremaker Southern Motion for what the local company is calling defective "bonded leather" items.
Kane's — whose motto is "Quality so good, it's guaranteed for life" — seeks damages for breach of warranty and negligence from Southern Motion, whose motto is "The World's Best Reclining Furniture."...
McDonald's is struggling these days. It's more grimace than Grimace at the Golden Arches, as both revenue and net income have declined in the same year for the first time since 1981. Customer visits are down, too. February was a flat-out nightmare, with sales down 4 percent compared to a year ago.
New CEO Steve Easterbrook, whom the Wall Street Journal calls a "change agent," has promised a new direction at Mickey D's, even going as far as emulating fast-casual restaurants a la Chipotle. It's already testing a "Create Your Taste" campaign where you build your own sandwich, a move that got major play in the New York Times. ...
Chatting about the weather is often the nadir of small talk, a sign that a dullish dialogue is about to fizzle like a hurricane hitting cold ocean. Unless you live in Florida, when the weather is basically all we talk about and obsess over: too hot, too cold, too humid, too perfect.
That 24-7 fixation on Mother Nature could be hindered for thousands of Tampa Bay Verizon FiOS subscribers, and some 5.6 million subscribers nationwide: The pay-TV provider dropped the 24-7 Weather Channel from its lineup on Monday, citing an expiration of their network carriage contract. (In other words, they fought about money, although streaming content, and the continued dominance of Netflix, has become a major issue between content providers and cable and pay-TV companies.)...
Two of Walt Disney World's most popular rides — read: brutal lines, Fast Passes gone instantly, your kids are sobbing, you need an adult beverage — will get considerable expansions in 2016 to accommodate crowds: Toy Story Midway Mania at Hollywood Studios, and Soarin' at EPCOT.
Completed sometime in 2016, the expansions will involve a third theater for Soarin' (a ride that combines an IMAX screen with up-and-away ride technology plus funky smells) and another track at Midway Mania (a ride that combines 3D shooting gallery and Woody-centric hijinks)....
Power to the pachyderms and the people who love them. • Citing pervasive public outcry against the use of elephants in its shows, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus promised on Thursday that it will stop making its biggest stars — literally and figuratively — tour and perform for the masses. • Dumbo is leaving the Big Top. • "This decision was not easy, but it is in the best interest of our company, our elephants and our customers," said Kenneth Feld, president of the Palmetto-based Feld Entertainment, parent company of Ringling Bros. • Thirteen out of the company's 43 elephants will continue to tour with the 145-year-old "Greatest Show on Earth" until 2018, when those animals, along with most of their performing brethren, will retire to the company's Center for Elephant Conservation, located in Central Florida. • Animal rights activists were mostly elated. They have protested for decades that elephants are emotion-rich roamers not suited for touring and performing. "Wild animals have never signed a contract to perform stupid human tricks in circuses," said the Florida Voices for Animals in a statement. "What can the public learn about elephants that wear a tutu and pivot around a stool on a front leg?"...
When Adventure Island opens for the soaking season Saturday, the perfectly fine water park will finally have its first perfectly star-making attraction: Colossal Curl, a 622-foot-long thrill slide with a "weightless wave wall" as its looming gut check finale.
I conquered Colossal Curl twice during media day, but I could have splashed down that beast 10 more times and still wouldn't have been ready for the drop-then-rise of that finish. ...
Sex toilets aside, Episode 5 of Better Call Saul went to a very dark place at the end of its hour on Monday -- and that place is called Mike's House. Ooooh, Breaking Bad chills! Herewith, our resident weekly Saulers (Sean Daly, Michelle Stark, Chris Tisch) gush, debate and predict how the AMC hit show will unfurl as it creeps into the (hopefully twisted) second-half of its debut season...
SEAN: You guys are gonna eye-roll at me again (or maybe you never stopped), but I realized my affections for Better Call Saul were approaching Breaking Bad-ish intensity last night when I kept peeking at my clock to see how much time was left. I wanted more, to cram two hours into one. But I also felt that giddy-nervous stir when it blinked to 10:50 p.m. That's Vince Gilligan's magic window, always has been. All inventive, never-saw-it-coming hell would break loose on BB in the closing ticks; it does with Saul & Co. too. And Ep 5 finally, thankfully took us into a dark storm cloud, with fixer Mike (who loves his granddaughter -- and considers killing everyone else) finally seeing his story arc creak open. We might be happy about it -- but he sure isn't. Actor Jonathan Banks is the master of the deadpan deathstare; so much going on in that smooth-pated terrifying dome. The ex-cop is casing someone (hey Michelle, is that his daughter?) and the cops don't like it. Presumably, Mike is gonna call on Saul, and that's how America's Bittersweethearts will start doing business together....
Do the words "locally sourced produce" make your pulse quicken? Is your Instagram page chockful of sexy snaps of you shopping for dry-aged beef in the hippest, selfie-coolest new market? Did you fake a sick day at work to celebrate the joyous arrival of a Trader Joe's to your city?
If you're from the Tampa Bay region, there's a good chance you excitably answered yes, yes and #heckyes to all of the above....
Tampa-based Bloomin' Brands, parent of Outback Steakhouse and more, has sold off its interest in the seafood-based Roy's chain for $10 million. The sale, between Bloomin' and United Ohana, involves 20 restaurants and was agreed upon months ago, although the final tally wasn't revealed until Wednesday.
The $10 million — or only about $500,000 per restaurant — raised some eyebrows among industry analysts, although it was clear last fall that Bloomin' CEO Liz Smith had grown weary of celebrity chef Roy Yamaguchi's namesake restaurants. "Roy's is a terrific founder-inspired brand that is constantly pushing the envelop with innovative Pacific Rim cuisine," Smith told analysts. "The brand, however, is a small part of our portfolio and not a priority for investment, given competing opportunities. Roy's deserves to be in a situation where it can get the time, attention and resources it needs to grow. We are confident that they will thrive under new ownership."...
Chris: So I've been more down on Better Call Saul than most for the first three episodes, but I feel like the show hit a bit of a stride with its fourth installment - "Hero." What's grabbing me the most is the relationship - both present and past - between Jimmy and his lawyer friend Kim, played by Rhea Seehorn. I loved how she smirked at Saul's efforts to undermine Hamlin; she is the most compelling supporting player in the show so far.
Oh, and what about her invitation to go see - of all things - John Carpenter's 1982 remake The Thing? Some "Kurt Russell action," she said. How about some Wilford Brimley as a bad guy action? What's next week's feature, The Firm? (Really, Tisch? Michelle and Sean invite you to join them on this and you give them Wilford Brimley jokes?)...
After a radical Islamist group released a video on Saturday threatening to terrorize various shopping centers around the globe — including those owned by the Westfield Corp., which operates several malls in the Tampa Bay area — local retail hubs promised security would be of the utmost importance.
"There is no evidence of an imminent threat to our shopping centres," the Westfield Corp. said in a statement. Westfield operates malls in Countryside, Brandon, Citrus Park plus two in Sarasota. Westfield malls in London were specifically threatened in the video. "Our heads of security in the U.S. and U.K. continue to coordinate their activities with police and government agencies."...