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Frog Pond to spawn at St. Pete Beach

By PAUL SWIDER
Published January 7, 2007


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ST. PETE BEACH - In a move that allows for growth opportunities in more ways than one, the Frog Pond will open a new restaurant this spring in St. Pete Beach.

"We have a lot of young people that have been with us for quite some time and they've got to put their stamp on something," said Bill McGavren, one of the owners of the North Redington Beach restaurant famed for its oversized portions of gourmet omelettes and Benedicts. "We've got to give people an opportunity for management. Otherwise they'll go stagnant and we'll lose key people."

McGavren said he and co-owners Denis Merkle and David Hitterman are well along with their plans to open the new spot on the southwest corner of Corey Avenue and Gulf Boulevard. The new restaurant will have 70 seats like its 24-year-old sister up north and otherwise be the mirror image of the Frog Pond in Redington Beach Plaza.

This is actually the business' second foray south, McGavren said. A 1984 quasi-franchise experiment failed internally, he said, but not for a lack of customers.

"We know what the business is down there," he said, adding that the new location has more of a tourist market than the original. "We lost all our mom and pops motels to high-rise condos up here."

About half of the personnel will come from the Redington site. Managers and staffers will rotate between the two restaurants so the new one will show the same quality of product and service that made the original a beach icon, McGavren said.

He said there will be no skimping on the ingredients of the signature dishes or on their sizes, which have made doggie bags required luggage when leaving the breakfast- and lunch-only restaurant. He said other successful businesses have failed when they've lost sight of what made them popular, so his staff is focused on continuing with the winning formula.

"People get tired and don't watch their product, and then they fade away," he said, adding that he's not concerned about the cost of quality because it brings people back. "You have to give back what you get."

Though the new location won't open for a few months while the partners remodel the space and work through city regulations, McGavren said they are already thinking about further expansions.

"Sometime down the road, we hope to open another," he said. "Hopefully we have all our ducks in a row so Frog Pond can go another 24 years."

Paul Swider can be reached at 892-2271 or pswider@sptimes.com or by participating in itsyourtimes.com.

The Frog Pond

7390 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach

The restaurant won't open for a few months, but when it does, the hours will be: breakfast, 7 to 11 a.m. Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday; lunch, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

For details, call 392-4117.

[Last modified January 6, 2007, 22:17:40]


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