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MORE BEER HERE: ST. PETE BREWING OPENS; SEA DOG EXPANDS BREWERY

St. Pete Brewing Co., which has already made a name for itself locally with its St. Pete Orange Wheat and others, finally opened its doors at 544 First Ave. N in St. Petersburg on Thursday. Originally set to open in November, the federal government shutdown in October gummed up the works for owners Tom and Michele Williams, holding up their Brewer's Notice application. Since that time, permitting, construction issues in the 100-year-old building and other problems further slowed the opening of St. Petersburg's newest brewery. Baseball fans may recognize the name: The Trop has started serving St. Pete Brewing Co. on tap this year. Meanwhile, in Clearwater, Sea Dog Brewing Company debuts its new 20-barrel brewing system on Thursday. This system hails from the Shipyard Brewport which used to operate at Orlando International Airport as the world's first airport microbrewery. The Sea Dog in Clearwater is located at 26200 US Highway 19 N.

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Seffner Beef's plots huge expansion

Music and lazers, games and technology, even a scene straight out of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Dennis Edmonds' vision of an expanded Seffner Beef 'O' Brady's excites him so much he has compiled 27-pages of drawings and an endless supply of beer and chicken wings to help bring it to life. Edmonds serves as the general manager of the Seffner Beef 'O' Brady's, but it's his 18-years of experience as a senior manager of resort sales at Disney that fuels his latest work. Edmonds and his son, Eric, the restaurant proprietor, have agreed in principle to expand their family sports pub to include an adjacent 1,400 square foot venue for private parties. "I'm going to give the people a Disney experience," Dennis Edmonds said. "We like this neighborhood. There's not a Beef 'O' Brady's that does what we can do." He's envisioning lively birthday parties, rehearsal dinners, chamber meetings and business gatherings in the new space. "I think it will be a 50/50 split between birthday parties from customers and the other half will be business events," Eric said. Dennis plays the ukulele and bass guitar, along with Eric, so they want to host musical events in the new space as well, including something called "Pickin' in Seffner," an idea Dennis borrowed from the tiny town of Franklin, N.C.

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Brass Tap closes, Rococo plans growth

After a very brief life, downtown St. Petersburg's Brass Tap closed last weekend. The historic former YWCA at 653 Second Ave. S opened at the end of October with Rococo Steak on one side and the craft beer concept on the other. Brass Tap intends to move to another location in St. Petersburg, and nationally the company aims to expand enormously, quadrupling the number of existing locations in Florida over the next several years and adding dozens of franchises in the rest of the country. Caledon Concepts, parent company of Ceviche Tapas Bar & Restaurant as well as Rococo Steak, has announced that it will introduce a third concept to the brand in the vacated Brass Tap space. Joe Orsino, Caledon's CEO, was not yet willing to give details about the new restaurant, but said, "We wanted to expand and do more food in that building. We're really going to take the St. Pete dining scene to a new level by doing something that doesn't exist yet in the city." Construction on the new project will begin this spring and Caledon's new concept is slated to open in late 2014.

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Vitamin Shoppe joining Trader Joe's

A 3,000-square-foot freestanding Vitamin Shoppe will join the 12,500-square-foot Trader Joe's in the 2700 block of Fourth Street N in St. Petersburg. Demolition of the former buildings is done and construction is taking off. The project should be completed by the end of the year, according to developer Jay Miller of J. Square Developers. The shopping center will have 89 parking spaces. Several trees, some of them diseased, had to be removed for the 1.5-acre site. The wood that could be salvaged from the trees is being made into furniture by a local artist.

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