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Everybody's Business

Cactus Club wavers with sluggish sales

The restaurant in Old Hyde Park Village has been open since 1987, but sales last year were down significantly.

By MICHAEL CANNING, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 17, 2003


GET YOUR TACOS NOW: The Cactus Club is not closing, as some rumors have it. But it's not out of the question, either, as far as co-owner Mike Shimberg is concerned.

The lease for the veteran Old Hyde Park Village restaurant ends June 30, he said. After that, "I can't say what's going to happen. I can't tell you that sales were very strong last year," Shimberg said.

In fact, sales were down "significantly" from 2001, he said. Shimberg added that he doesn't plan to close the restaurant before its lease expires.

The Cactus Club has served southwestern cuisine in the village since 1987. Increased mall competition in recent years has contributed to hard times for the shopping district. Several key retailers have pulled out, and Shimberg says he's unsure if the restaurant can afford to weather the lean times.

ANOTHER TOWER NEAR BAYSHORE: The tentatively named Bayshore Center III will join Bayshore Center and Bayshore Center II at Ysabella Avenue and Bay to Bay Boulevard, one block off of Bayshore Boulevard.

Construction on the seven-story office building should begin this spring or summer, according to Rob Holmes, president of the Back Forty Properties Group, which owns Bayshore Center.

To many people, Bayshore Center is best known as the home of Pach's Place restaurant and as an after-hours parking place for Bayshore joggers and skaters. The new office building and a four-story parking garage will replace the lot.

The building itself will have additional parking on the second and third levels. The remaining floors will have 100,000 square feet of leaseable office space, Holmes said.

The building will feature a Mediterranean look with a three-color paint scheme. Every floor will have views of Hillsborough Bay.

Holmes wouldn't give details about possible tenants but said he is working with several.

Construction on the $15-million project should take 10 months to a year.

GOOSE GOING TO KENNEDY: The Silly Goose children's gift store on Bay to Bay Boulevard is moving to co-owner Mindy Socher's Baby Boomerang consignment store at 2902 W Kennedy Blvd.

The Goose will get the upstairs space of the two-story 1924-vintage house (formerly the Next City Grill). It's a bit smaller than the 1,100-square-foot store on Bay to Bay, but Socher is considering a few construction changes to make up for the deficit.

Socher, who owns Silly Goose with business partner Mary McDonald, decided to consolidate the businesses, because "I can't be in two places at one time." She also added that traffic at the Bay to Bay location could have been better.

ITALIAN MARKET ALMOST READY: Gaetano's Italian Market is about a month away from opening in the Town Square shopping center at Kennedy and West Shore boulevards.

Its impresarios first predicted an opening last Labor Day, then last December. Co-owner Tom Lamb said he and his business partners Enrique, Carlo, Cordoves and Anthony Castillo pushed it back another few months so they could work out the kinks.

"We knew there'd be no way to meet the holiday demand," he said.

Expected to complete the renaissance of the shopping center, Gaetano's will offer gourmet specialty foods. It will have an "old world chic" look with white tile, black painted walls, marble floors and chrome refrigeration racks, Lamb said.

Although the 5,200-square-foot space recently showed no signs of construction, Lamb said it is going through the building stage.

"Definitely by mid-February we'll be up and running," he said.

-- Do you know something that should be everybody's business? Call 226-3382, or e-mail citytimes@sptimes.com .

Vintage lunch boxes

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-- AMY SCHERZER

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