It isn't visible from Fourth Street N, but construction of an Outback Steakhouse is under way at the old Bradford Coach House location.
Even so, the popular Australian-theme restaurant probably won't be open until the end of the year at 1900 Fourth St. N.
And there is the possibility that Panera Bread, a soup-sandwich-salad restaurant, will join Outback in the Coach House location.
However, the arrival of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, which is supposed to build a shop and distribution center on the lot next door to the Bradford Coach House, still is not a sure thing.
First, the Outback update.
"An amazing amount of work has been done," said Vicki Loges, one of the partners in 1900 Coach House Partners Inc. She acknowledged it is not easy to see that anything is being done.
The partners, who include Jack C. Bodziak, bought the long-vacant Bradford Coach House and the lot beside it. In addition to the restaurants, they plan townhouses on the back side facing Crescent Lake. The townhouses still are in the design stage. Bodziak's father, John Bodziak, is designing the project.
Loges said the Coach House is gutted inside, and construction crews are waiting for Outback to decide where its utility lines will go before work can begin on the exterior.
When the contract was signed with Outback, Loges said it was possible the restaurant would open in September.
"I'm hoping for Thanksgiving but in reality it probably will be Christmas," she said Monday.
Panera Bread may take the far north 30 percent to 35 percent of the Coach House, Loges said.
"They are an upscale bakery, soup and sandwich" place, she said, adding that Panera's space would run front to back, as will Outback's. Both restaurants will have entrances from the parking lots rather than on Fourth Street N.
Loges said when Outback was announced that the partners would put another business in the Coach House.
Frank Laisch, an area supervisor for the Florida franchise holder of Panera Bread, said the company is considering the site near Sunken Gardens, as he described the Fourth Street N location, as well as Tyrone Square Mall and somewhere near All Children's Hospital.
"We are just getting aggressive in the whole Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater area," Laisch said.
Panera Bread already has a location at Starkey and Bryan Dairy roads and one on Ulmerton Road. It also has several locations in Hillsborough County. The restaurants bake bread several times a day, offer hot and cold sandwiches and "signature soups," among other items, according to Laisch, who said he would not mind being paired with Outback Steakhouse.
Krispy Kreme and the partners have a signed agreement, but that does not mean the popular confections will be made, sold and distributed from the lot next to the Coach House, which in recent years has served as a sales lot for pumpkins and Christmas trees.
"They are still dragging their feet," Loges said of Krispy Kreme, which is based in Winston-Salem, N.C. "They have a lot of options built into their contract with what they want to do. They are not as happy with the frontage as we would like them to be."
Loges said Krispy Kreme was concerned that the sight line to its frontage on Fourth Street N would be blocked by the Coach House.
"It's still very tentative," Loges said of Krispy Kreme.
Officials with the doughnut company said earlier this year that Krispy Kreme was interested in locating in the St. Petersburg area. Its doughnuts are available now from various retailers in the city.
OUTBACK STEAKHOUSE INC. is one of the largest casual-dining steakhouse chains, with about 700 Outback Steakhouse restaurants serving steaks, prime rib, chicken, seafood and pasta in the United States and 19 other countries. It also has 84 Carrabba's Italian Grills, six Fleming's Prime Steakhouses and one Zazarac restaurant. It has opened six Euro-Asian style Roy's restaurants and one Lee Roy Selmon's in Tampa, specializing in Southern-style cooking. Most restaurants are company-owned.
Source: Hoover's Online
KRISPY KREME DOUGHNUTS runs a chain of more than 180 shops in 29 states that offer its signature doughnuts. The company also sells pastries, doughnut holes, fruit pies and honey buns. About 115 of its locations are owned or affiliated with the company. Besides selling directly to consumers, Krispy Kreme sells its wares to grocery and convenience stores _ Kroger stores account for 10 percent of sales _ and it sells ingredients and equipment to its franchisees. Founded in 1937, Krispy Kreme is expanding nationwide and into Canada. The McAleer family owns 20 percent of the company.
Source: Hoover's Online