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Around the Bay

Business news from around Tampa Bay

By Times Staff Writer
Published May 21, 2007


Brandon

Good food is leaving, but it's not going too far

In 19 years, the quaint and friendly restaurant known as the Brunchery became a special place for area residents. So it's not surprising that customers have pledged to follow owner Kevyn Farley to her new location in Lithia. For some people, the Brunchery is the first place their kids ever had a meal out. For stay-at-home moms and busy professional women, it served as the perfect backdrop for getaway gatherings. For local businessmen, the country ambience and warm coffee proved steady amid Brandon's explosive growth. Farley, who co-owns the restaurant with her husband, Bill, closed over the weekend. They'll reopen Thursday at a new and larger location in the Riverhills Shopping Plaza on Lynx Paw Trail near Lithia Springs Elementary School. "I am excited to have brand new electricity and plumbing, " Kevyn said. "But I've put my heart and soul in this building for 19 years. I'm scared. I'm exhausted."

Largo

A new dream for Halloween store after code nightmare

The 12-foot gargoyles are gone. So are the broken-down hearses. The spooky Halloween-themed store at 1751 Missouri Ave. has been eerily silent lately. The city made sure of it. In February, code enforcement officials shut down the business called Castel Bantuit before it even opened, calling it a fire and safety hazard. But one of its owners, Helene Urbin, has hired Clearwater engineering firm Scott & Scott to renovate the building. The engineers said she wants to be open by August. "We're going to bring the place into operation, " said Peter Scott, the owner of the engineering firm. Urbin is spending about $150, 000 to revamp the 15, 000-square-foot former car parts store, including adding an elevator and restrooms with access for the disabled, creating a 900-square-foot ground-floor sales area, an upstairs events area for 40 people and living quarters for Urbin, Scott said.

St. Petersburg

Hotel hopes to build before new rules

Resting on the border between downtown and residential Old Northeast, a controversial hotel proposal is defining the border between downtown's underdeveloped past and its popular future. Tampa developer Fuel Group International is looking to put 260 hotel rooms, 111 condominiums and more than half a million square feet on a 37, 000-square-foot parcel. Fuel Group is hoping to get approval under land development regulations that could change next month. If the regulations are approved, the new rules would cut the development in half. "We're right on the cusp of these new LDRs, " said Nicole Durkin, a lawyer and a resident of the Old Northeast neighborhood who opposes the proposed Westin Hotel. "Everybody recognizes the old rules didn't get us to the long-term place we needed to be. We're not the city that's desperate anymore. Developers are clamoring to be here now." Fuel Group is pressing ahead with plans for the 33-story hotel on Fifth Avenue N at First Street. "We worked hard on this design, " said Ron Weaver, attorney for Fuel Group, of a nearly 400-foot building crafted to resemble a sailing ship. "We believe it will be an asset for all the citizens of St. Pete, the crown jewel of the northern downtown."