Developers for First Watch Restaurants, a breakfast, brunch and lunch chain, are looking at downtown as part of their national expansion.
"Certainly downtown has been targeted," said Michael Pacini of Sunrise Development Services. First Watch "has a little over 50 restaurants in nine states ... and is going to start a national expansion. Consistent with expansion is filling out all areas of Florida."
First Watch, with headquarters in Bradenton, has restaurants in Tampa. The only one in Pinellas is in Countryside, Pacini said.
"We're looking throughout the state of Florida now. We've done studies and St. Petersburg looks like it would support a unit."
Several areas of St. Petersburg, including downtown, have been revitalized over the past five years. Downtown's residential population has increased, and a number of new restaurants have opened.
Stores consolidate on Beach Drive
ST. PETERSBURG _ D'Mura fashion and Shandra Designer Shoes, two separate shops, moved this weekend and consolidated in the empty Coplon's boutique space at 156 Beach Drive NE.
Owner John DiMura said his family, including mother Irene, had wanted to combine the two businesses. They were located in two different spaces at the Plaza Tower and Courtyard shops at 111 Second Ave NE.
"It's like a mini department store," DiMura said of the former Coplon's space. "It's a beautiful space. There is a lot of potential here."
He said D'Mura will be the name of the new store but there also will be some sort of sign for Shandra Shoes, although the shoes will be a "salon with the store. It will be the way it used to be when it was John Baldwin's," DiMura said.
Coplon's closed in June because its owners had most of their shops consolidated south of the Sunshine Skyway. Previously the name was Johnston of Florida. The store began as John Baldwin Fashions and offered designer clothes.
DiMura, who plays double bass in the Florida Orchestra, said the new store will be upscale.
Partners split firm into two ad agencies
ST. PETERSBURG _ Devine Communications has split into two separate agencies to accommodate the partners' growth plans.
Barry Devine, who does advertising for Hungry Howie's, moved five of a staff of 17 to a new spot in Koger Executive Center, leaving Tony Ceresoli with 12 workers and the larger office, also at Koger.
Devine founded the company 22 years ago. Ceresoli joined him 11 years ago; his new firm is Ad Partners Inc.
"We've got different thoughts on how to grow the business," Ceresoli said. "Ad Partners is definitely in a growth mode."
Ad Partners' clients include Amscot Financial, Sonny's Bar-B-Q and Orange Blossom Groves, among others.
Devine said he preferred the small agency and staying out of the limelight. Both said it was an amicable split.
Pinellas Park to see new townhouse projects
PINELLAS PARK _ Beazer Homes will start two townhome projects in the next four months.
Construction is beginning on Hidden Creek, at 66th Street N just south of Ulmerton Road. Hidden Creek will have 64 two- and three-bedroom homes of 1,200 to 1,650 square feet. Some will have garages. Prices will start in the $130,000s, said Ed Suchora, Beazer Homes division president for the Tampa Bay area.
April will see the start of 300 townhomes at Sawgrass Village, on the site of the former Earl Small Growers, off 49th Street N just south of Park Boulevard.
Caterer to open cookie, lunch stop on Beach Drive
ST. PETERSBURG _ Margaret Ann's Gourmet is scheduled to open Jan. 15 at 212 Beach Drive.
Margaret Ann Burtchaell is taking the space formerly occupied by the Sandwich Boutique to offer cookies, frozen entrees and appetizers and serve lunches of sandwiches, salads and soups.
Burtchaell is owner of Margaret Ann's Catering and Gourmet Cookies, 5625 Fourth St. N. Her catering operation will remain there.
"This is something I have wanted to do. I had to wait for the right space," said Burtchaell of new Margaret Ann's Gourmet. She said she wants to offer takeout options such as cheese, smoked salmon or tarragon chicken salad.