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Showroom promises comfy wood furniture

Wooden picnic chairs, gliders and a version of the Adirondack chair, all of them actually comfortable. GreenBenches & More outdoor furniture makes that promise, and now there's a showroom for customers to try out the handmade wooden furniture for themselves.

The showroom opened over the weekend at 703 Franklin St. in downtown Clearwater.

"Flash" Gordon Williamson has operated a do-it-yourself woodworking shop called the Workbench at that location for 14{ years. The outdoor furniture line evolved from benches he makes. The benches are replicas of the famed green benches that years ago lined the streets of downtown St. Petersburg.

The business also has been crafting custom doors for more than a dozen years. The mahogany doors to the showroom are a sample of that work.

"We build high-quality doors, primarily of mahogany from Honduras," said Williamson, 37. "We work with different glass artists in the area when we need stained or beveled glass for the doors."

The front of the warehouse-type building has never been attractive until now. Williamson said he bought the 11,000-square-foot building in May, and his first goal was to create the showroom and a new storefront.

Dovetail Design and Wood Studio, a custom woodworking business, leases 3,000 square feet of the building and will remain a tenant for a couple of years, Williamson said.

The Detroit native said he opened the Workbench in 1980 on Ulmerton Road in Largo. "It didn't do well there and I intended to close it when I got a chance to move here," he said. Showroom hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays.

Expansion

Eric Kofler, owner and chef of Madkof Restaurant and Bar, 1280 Main St., Dunedin, said he has expanded the kitchen, and bar and lounge. Two new features are a bar menu and a selection of German draft beers, he said.

The restaurant, which has been open three years and serves only dinner, seats 160, including 50 in the bar and lounge. The expansion cost about $20,000, Kofler said.

New business

Roger Palmer has started Lattice Unlimited in Clearwater. The business specializes in the installation of several styles and colors of plastic lattice for swimming pool enclosures, porches, decks and gazebos.

It also comes in a style for fencing. Palmer said he does lattice creations for garden weddings that can be rented.

The lattice is made of "fiberglass-reinforced, high-density structural plastic," Palmer said. "It's real tough; it's made for high-activity and high-moisture areas like swimming pools and screened-in areas for pets."

Palmer, 46, previously worked in the building business. "I've been a contractor for over 10 years," he said.

He installed the lattice in Judy Spring's birdcage-style pool enclosure in Clearwater.

"I have cats, and they were climbing on the screen and tearing little holes in it," she said. "I was afraid they would get out. I had the lattice put in to keep the cats in. It's been great."

The lattices are made in panels, Palmer said. A 2- by 8-foot panel costs $12 and a 4- by 8-foot panel costs $22.

Real estate

Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate of West Central Florida has acquired Harborside Realty, 2519 McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. Roseanna Martin-Hardy, former owner and manager of Harborside Realty, and 12 Harborside associates will join the Coldwell Banker Countryside office at 2536 Countryside Blvd., Clearwater.

Martin-Hardy will be the new assistant manager to manager Clark Toole. She was a 1994 recipient of the Greater Clearwater Association of Realtors' President's Award and is a director of the association. She also is a member of the Florida Association of Realtors' Honor Society.

Retail

Express, a women's specialty retailer and division of the Limited Inc., has opened Express Petites store in Countryside Mall. The new store opened last week. It has 1,517 square feet and is adjacent to Express but will have a separate entrance. Merchandise ranges from casual wear to career clothing.

Television

Thirteen new staffers have joined CPN Television, 14375 Myerlake Circle near Largo: Harry Greene, producer; Larry Ray, account executive/producer; Walt Rassel, editor; Chris Benner, editor; John Guerrero, editor; Steve Radley, editor; Ed Gorman, engineering; Christine Wiley, receptionist; Pamela Raber, production assistant; and Josh Walowitz, video librarian. Alex DiMella heads the 3-D graphics and animation department, which includes Manny Gonzalez and Tai Tang. CPN president Stuart Arnold said the company has produced or had in production more than 200 network shows this year.

_ News of businesses and business people can be faxed to the Business Digest at 445-4119 or mailed to Business Digest, 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 34616. We are interested in new and unusual businesses, promotions, expansions and major new contracts. Photos can be sent, but not all will be used and they cannot be returned.

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