Bob Spoto and Michael Paloscio, friends for more than 20 years and Harley-Davidson motorcycle devotees equally as long, three years ago decided to try their hand at renting Harleys and arranging excursions and trips to bike rallies.
With only five bikes, they opened Street Eagles at 12505 66th St. Today, they have grown to an inventory of more than 20 Harleys and are expanding into the franchise arena.
"We hired a firm to put together the franchise package," Spoto said. "It's completed and, although we haven't advertised yet, we just sold a franchise for Sarasota and Bradenton."
To purchase the franchise licensing rights costs $25,000, Spoto said. But total cost to open a business could easily reach $500,000, he said. "There's nothing inexpensive about this business," he said.
Paloscio, who owns and operates Paloscio's Pizza & Pasta restaurant on Sand Key, is rarely in the shop. Spoto, who previously worked for General Mills' restaurant division, operates the shop with the help of his brother, Peter. The Spotos grew up working in the restaurant business with their father, who owns The Steak Joint in St. Petersburg.
In addition to renting the bikes, Street Eagles also maintains them. Technician Joe Granahan handles repairs and conditioning.
The bikes can be rented for The bikes can be rented for half-day rides for $75, trips out-of-state for a month or two, or "as long as anyone wants to ride," said Peter Spoto. "The longest we've had bikes out was two guys from Switzerland who toured the South for 22 days."
The rental fee includes emergency 24-hour roadside assistance, unlimited mileage, helmets approved by the Department of Transportation,, visors and padlocks, windshield, saddlebags and fork bags and detailed road maps. Renters must be 25 or older.
"We have a steady local clientele, but we also get a lot of vacationing Europeans," Peter said.
"I'll never forget the day a 65-year-old woman from England walked in here in high heels and a dress," said Peter. "She said she and her husband are motorcycle instructors in England. She rode off in the dress and those high heels _ she was wonderful."
Scott Alessi of Clearwater, who works as a promoter and sales motivator, is a steady customer of Street Eagle. He rents bikes for both short and long excursions.
"I work pretty hard, and when I have time to get away, it's usually spontaneous," Alessi said. "I just grab a bike and a lady friend and we head toward the Keys."
Last summer, after finishing a motorcycle riders' safety course, Michael Castelli knew he wanted to buy a Harley-Davidson but hadn't the foggiest idea what model he wanted. While driving on 66th Street one afternoon, he spotted Street Eagle.
"I went in and asked if I could rent a Harley for a day," Castelli said. "Not only did I rent one that day, but every weekend afterward. They let me rent every model that Harley makes. I put 700 miles on one on an overnight ride."
Castelli, who owns a commercial building maintenance company in St. Petersburg, said that after nearly a year of test riding, he has ordered a Dyna Wide Glide. "I never would have been able to make a positive decision like this if I hadn't invested 12,000 miles in rental time," he said.
Street Eagle's phone number is 524-7999. The Web site is www.streeteagle.com.
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Another motorcycle shop, Iron Horse Rentals at 3665 East Bay Drive in Largo, recently moved to a larger store in the shopping center, more than doubling its size. "We ran out of space," said Fred Brownbill, the Orlando-based company's national sales manager.
The shop has increased its Harley rentals from seven to 12 bikes, said operations manager Pat Sheehan.
Brownbill said the company is opening a new 20,000-square-foot store in Orlando in early 1999. "If that format works," he said, "we'll introduce it here about a year later."
Iron Horse is at 539-6335.
on Hollywood Video
Scherer Constructon of St. Petersburg has started construction on a Hollywood Video to be built at the southeast corner of Park and Seminole boulevards. The store is scheduled to open in mid-June and will be the eighth in the Tampa Bay area.
Paul Gershen & Associates provided the architectural services, and Tampa Bay Engineering of Clearwater provided the engineering services.
Pool company wins design awards
Hawaiian Pools of Pinellas, a fiberglass swimming pool sales and installation company at 6640 118th Ave N, has won two National Spa & Pool Institute Region VII swimming pool design awards.
Winners are selected from entries received from swimming pool contractors around the state. A board of judges selected from the industry picks the winners for uniqueness of design, quality of installation and the builder's attention to detail.
Two associates join Seminole Realty
James Dolan and Bernard Y. Cockrell have joined the sales staff of Seminole Realty at 7148 Seminole Blvd. Dolan is a retired Navy chief petty officer and came here from Washington, D.C., in 1984. Cockrell moved here in 1967 from Greensboro, N.C., and has worked eight years in real estate.
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