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Clearwater site being considered for new Cajun restaurant

A chic restaurant specializing in authentic Cajun cuisine is coming to Clearwater, but it's not likely to open until early next year. The owners are waiting to see if the restaurant's prototype in Jacksonville is a success.

The site of the proposed restaurant is the former Village Inn, an acre property at 29492 U.S. 19, north of the Countryside area. It was purchased last month for $825,000 by Expansion Enterprises Inc., a new company formed by the owners of the Cajun Big Easy fast-food chain based in Jacksonville to design, build and operate the new restaurants.

Cajun Big Easy has 39 locations throughout the country in malls and large office centers.

"This isn't going to be anything like our fast-food business," said Tom Farmer, vice president of finance. The restaurant, he said, "will be upscale with nice decor and the price range of your better restaurants."

The prototype is expected to open in October or November, he said. "We're still working on the name, the current choice is Big Easy Acadian Bistro. Once the concept is working, we'll move quickly to bring it to Clearwater."

Farmer said the Village Inn building will be demolished and a new structure with 7,000 to 8,000 square feet will house the restaurant.

The prototype will serve to measure public interest and "iron out the bugs," he said.

Marshall Harris, president of Harris & Co. commercial investment, realty and leasing in Clearwater, represented the buyer in the sale of the property listed by Klein & Heuchan Realtors.

Resort fills two

management posts

Tom Manno has been hired as general manager of Westin Innisbrook Resort, Palm Harbor, and area managing director. In addition to the Palm Harbor resort, he will be responsible for the Blue Tree Resort in Orlando and the Westin Fort Lauderdale.

The New Jersey native has more than 20 years' experience in the hotel industry. He most recently was general manager of the Ritz-Carlton in St. Louis, a position he held more than six years. Before that, he worked 14 years with Hyatt Hotels in Hawaii, California, Texas, Maryland, New Brunswick and other locations.

Michael Choiniere has been hired by the resort as director of sales and marketing. The Boston native previously was vice president of sales and marketing for Boyne USA Resorts in Michigan, an independently owned ski and golf operator.

The resort, at 36750 U.S. 19 N, has 700 suites, golf courses, five restaurants, a golf school, tennis courts, swimming pools and meeting and banquet space. It will be the site of a PGA tour event, the Tampa Bay Classic Tournament, Oct. 18-22.

Foot specialist joins

orthopaedic group

Dr. Eric Kron has joined Orthopaedic Associates of West Florida and will work in the group's offices in Clearwater and Seminole. He received a podiatric medical degree from Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine in Chicago and completed a three-year residency in foot and ankle surgery at Western Pennsylvania Hospital in Pittsburgh. He was the hospital's chief resident of foot and ankle service in his last year of training.

Clearwater chamber sales

and marketing luncheon

Creative Sales and Marketing Solutions will be the featured program of the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce business luncheon from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 22 at Belleview Biltmore Golf Club, 1501 Indian Rocks Road, Belleair. The event is open to the public.

The speaker is to be Charles Coffman, a sales engineer with Cox Heating and Air Conditioning. He has a master's degree in human resource management from Florida Institute of Technology. His career includes 23 years with Florida Power, marketing instructor to West Coast Contractors Association, student adviser to American Marketing Association and adjunct instructor at Tampa College.

Cost of the luncheon is $15 for chamber members, $25 for non-members. Reservations are required and can be made by calling Krista Hinrichs at (727) 461-0011, ext. 234.

Boards, officers

and designations

Wayne J. Boyer, of Boyer and Schiltz law firm in Dunedin, has been appointed to the board of directors of the American chapter of the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. Scott E. Schiltz has been chosen president-elect of the Clearwater Bar Association for 2000-2001. The firm, at 1968 Bayshore Blvd., limits its practice to divorce, custody and related appeals.

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Dawna Sarmiento, director of volunteers at the St. Petersburg Free Clinic, has been elected president of the Volunteer Directors Association of Pinellas County for the 2000-2001 calendar year. Other officers elected are vice president Sandi Mahood, volunteer partnership programs coordinator of Hospice of the Florida Suncoast; secretary Donna Morin, volunteer manager of the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Pinellas County; and treasurer Cathy Hakes, coordinator of special services at St. Petersburg Junior College.

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Scott A. Spencer, CPA, and president of Spencer International Advisors, 600 Cleveland St., Clearwater, has received the certified financial planner designation from the national board of standards in Denver.

Creative Contractors

renovate car dealership

Creative Contractors, 620 Drew St., Clearwater, has been hired by Lindell Motors to renovate and expand its Volkswagen showroom in Tampa. The $652,015 project is 6,800 square feet and expected to be completed in November. The architect is FleischmanGarcia Architects.

_ 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 33756. 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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