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On the boardwalk: plenty of fresh stores

At the expanded John's Pass Village, the first store is open.

By PAUL SWIDER, Times Staff Writer
Published November 24, 2007



Though the full operation is still a few months away, new stores are starting to open in the expanded John's Pass Village.

With the $17-million construction completed on the oft-delayed 24,000-square-foot expansion, vendors are starting to move into new boardwalk spaces. Kilwin's, an ice-cream and sweet shop, is open and others should open soon, said Patty Hubbard, who operates the center for the Hubbard family.

The new, three-level boardwalk area will include some long-time tenants, like Treasure House and Gray Jewelers, but also new entrants like the Shipwreck Store and Jim's on the Pass, an offshoot of Jim's Harley-Davidson.

"We always thought that would be a good location, but it was hard to get in," said Steve Greenstein, the general manager of the motorcycle dealership on 54th Avenue N that also has another outlet in St. Pete Beach. "Soon, you'll be able to see the Harley-Davidson bar and shield as you're coming over the bridge."

The store won't sell motorcycles but like the other beach store will sell souvenir items like T-shirts and keychains and even Harley-Davidson beachwear.

"Leathers and boots and helmets don't really sell in touristy areas," Greenstein said. "It is a beach store."

More in keeping with the John's Pass fishing village theme will be the Shipwreck Store, run by Scott and Kiki Stemm.

The store will draw some of its merchandise from Odyssey Marine Exploration, the Tampa-based treasure-hunting business where Scott used to work and where his brother, Greg, is a director.

"It won't be a shipwreck. It will be a retail store," Scott said of the space he'll soon occupy on the top of the new boardwalk. "You usually see these things in connection with a museum."

The store will sell coins and other artifacts taken from sunken ships. There will also be related items, like pirate- or mermaid-related souvenir items and jewelry.

Greenstein said he was hoping to open in December, but construction delayed his buildout. Stemm is still aiming for the holiday season, and Hubbard said other vendors are trying to do likewise. The project was to have new stores open in October but has had several delays.

Construction of the new boardwalk was preceded by that of the five-story garage-retail complex to its north. That space is nearly full but is waiting on its anchor tenant, the 9,400-square-foot Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. restaurant that may further boost village traffic that already tops 2-million people a year.

Bubba Gump's probably won't open until March, Hubbard said. She said there is plenty of demand for Bubba's and the family's established Friendly Fisherman restaurant, but the Hubbards closed their business for a month to revamp their own.

The Fisherman rebuilt its kitchen and moved some of its interior seating outside to open up the dining room. Now holding more than 230, the restaurant is also reorienting its menu.

"That's in response to Bubba Gump's, which sells a lot of shrimp," Patty Hubbard said. "We'll still sell shrimp, but we're going to put more emphasis on local seafood."

The village will also have a fresh-fish market adjoining the Hubbard's charter boat business. The boat business is operating out of a trailer awaiting the rest of the retail buildout, Patty Hubbard said, so the fish market will be one of the last businesses to open.

The village has already had its first commercial casualty with the departure of the National Comedy Hall of Fame.

Replacing that now is the House of Terror, a gift shop/haunted house in the garage complex.

Owner Helene Urbin was involved in a similar business in Largo, the Castel Bantuit.

Paul Swider can be reached at or 727 892-2271.

Fast facts:

John's Pass Village boardwalk businesses

Friendly Fisherman Restaurant

Kilwin's of John's Pass

Treasure House Boutique

Hubbard's Marina, Sea Adventures, Tampa Bay Ferry, Tampa Bay Ghost Tours

Gray Jewelers


Two Sides of Nature Too

The Walking Company

The Shipwreck Store

American Royal Arts

Jim's on the Pass

Hurricane Pass Outfitters

Sun Cruz Casino

Parking garage side

Julio's Crepery & Cafe

Two Sides of Nature

Addicted to the Bean

House of Terror/Costumes and Fantasies

Pirates of the Pass

Picture this!

Sully's Beach Game Land

Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.

[Last modified November 23, 2007, 22:53:03]

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