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Cookie crumbles for dessert shop

Sugar3's owners planned to cater to sweet tooths, but the store didn't quite catch on.

By MICHAEL CANNING, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 21, 2002

SUGAR CUBED ON THE ROCKS: The signage says said Sugar3, but you pronounce it "Sugar Cubed."

Get it?

Apparently not. The bakery-cafe-dessert shop at 4110-A Henderson Blvd. closed two weeks ago, after a year of struggle. Co-owner Roger Chamier said a host of factors, most financial, brought about the demise.

No investors and little startup capital left Chamier and business partners Kim Yelvington and Paul Demeza hurting through the slow months. Plus, Sugar3 lost many wholesale accounts with local restaurants in the wake of Sept. 11.

Sugar3 also aspired to become a hip dessert cafe, like the original incarnation of SideBern's. But Chamier admitted that the store's mid peninsula location was less than ideal for the concept. "South Howard would've been prime," Chamier said. SoHo was too expensive, though. "New York prices for Tampa is ridiculous," he said. "We're not New York."

Chamier, a sculptor, said this would be his last food-related business venture. He's considering moving to California with his wife, Mercedes.

SOHO 500 COMING: Sorry, race fans. South Howard won't be converted into a grand prix course. Rather, the avenue's ongoing commercial boom will be marked by the arrival of a striking new retail building.

It's the comparatively grim warehouse-like structure at 500 S Howard that formerly housed Eye in the Sky and Photo Trackmaster, businesses that supplied closed circuit TV and photo finishes for parimutuel tracks around the country. Building owner John Holmes said the structure will get a radical, modern-industrial makeover and will yield 6,000 square feet of retail space.

Construction will start this month, with completion tentatively scheduled for the fall.

Holmes, who recently sold Eye in the Sky and Photo Trackmaster, is hoping for upscale retail tenants. He wouldn't name names, but said discussions have been held with a chocolatier and a cellular company.

THE "N" STAYS: But it will get new bookends. Namely "Kash" and "Karry."

The former Save n Pack at 2525 N Dale Mabry Highway will be converted into a 49,000-square-foot Kash n' Karry, complete with pharmacy, liquor store, deli and bakery. The construction project will also create an adjoining 11,000-square-foot retail space, plus an outparcel building.

Tonja Jones, spokesperson for project developer Crescent Resources, said there are no planned tenants for those spaces yet.

Construction is scheduled to start in late July, and finish by Spring 2003.

HYDE PARK MOVIES MOVING? One couldn't be blamed for assuming that Old Hyde Park 7 movie theaters at Old Hyde Park Village are in trouble. South Tampa's movie audience has been divvied up by the recent openings of three other multiplexes: Muvico Centro Ybor 20, Channelside 9, and Westshore 14.

Jessica Sandler, marketing director for Old Hyde Park Village, said, "There's no question that the sales figures at this theater have decreased," with the coming of the other theaters.

Sandler said that even though AMC Theatres -- Old Hyde Park 7's owners -- have given no indication that they are leaving, Village management has seen the writing on the wall. The theaters' lease expires at the end of 2003, and "We've acknowledged that we are looking at other options if the theaters are leaving," Sandler said.

AMC spokesman Rick King declined to comment about future plans for those or any other AMC theaters, but said he doesn't disagree with Sandler's comments.

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