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Goody Goody restaurant gets a new life

Goody Goody things come to those who wait.

After a nine-year (on-and-off) quest, Richard Gonzmart is holder of the secret sauce recipe spread on hamburgers grilled at one of Tampa's most iconic dining spots - the Goody Goody restaurant.

He purchased rights to the Goody Goody name, the secret sauce and a few pieces of furniture, including the Goody Goody sign, from former owner Michael Wheeler.

Plans are to "restore the luster of its storied past," says Gonzmart, who is owner of the Ulele restaurant on Tampa's Riverwalk and a fourth-generation co-owner of the Columbia Restaurant Group which includes the Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City.

A wrecking ball knocked down the Goody Goody restaurant on Florida Avenue one year after its closing in 2005, demolishing an 85-year-old landmark.

The restaurant opened in 1925 on Grand Central Avenue (now Kennedy Boulevard) and also later had a location in Seminole Heights next to a neighborhood movie house. In 1930 Goody Goody opened downtown at 1119 Florida Avenue.  It was Tampa's first drive-in restaurant, with male car hops hustling delivery orders to customers who waited in their cars. As World War II began, female car hops, known as the "Goody Goody" girls, took over.

Inside, customers sat side by side in metal chairs and schoolroom desks. The Goody Goody brand got its start selling barbecue at "pig stands" in the Midwest. 

Gonzmart is a long-time fan of Goody Goody hamburgers and its house made butterscotch pies. Leaving his office on Saturdays, he frequently phoned his pick-up orders for a bag of hamburgers with pickles, onions and secret sauce. 

"They didn't know who I was or my connection to the Columbia," he says in a press release announcing the sale agreement. "But they knew my voice and my order."

Once a new location can be found, Gonzmart hopes to re-open Goody Goody sometime in 2015. If all goes well, he might consider additional Goody Goody locations.

"He's actively looking for a site," says Michael Kilgore, chief marketing officer for the Columbia Group. "It's premature to give much detail."

YMCA plans 3-pool aquatics center in South Tampa

South Tampa swimmers of all ages can get ready for a new aquatic experience with a choice of three swimming pools for fun and wellness.

The Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA will begin construction in November on the Carol Kennedy Aquatic Center at the South Tampa Family YMCA at 4411 S. Himes Ave. The center is named in memory of the daughter of David and Liz Kennedy who died in 1984. The Kennedys are long-time supporters of the YMCA and its mission.

The center's current pool, which is old and out-dated, will stay open during construction. Pending a capital fund-raising campaign, plans are to fill in the existing pool and expand the YMCA building.

The Carol Kennedy Aquatic Center will have a therapy pool, an activity pool with a focus on children, and a lap pool for families and training purposes. Construction costs are about $3.5 million. The center is expected to open in May 2015.

The YMCA offers a variety of aquatic fitness programs as well as swimming classes for adults and infants as young as six months. A 6-week IRS Self-Rescue course on survival swimming skills also is available for children age six months to four years.

One of the agency's priorities is drowning prevention. Florida annually has the highest number of drownings of children under the age of five.

The therapy pool will feature aquatic fitness classes and swim opportunities for seniors or people with disabilities, says Lalita Llerena, YMCA spokeswoman.

"(Aquatic exercise) is one of the softer opportunities for fitness," she says. "We're hoping to reach more active seniors with that."

For the YMCA 2014 has been an expansion year. Earlier this year a new, 11,500 square-foot gymnastics center opened on Ragg Road in Carrollwood as part of the Bob Sierra YMCA Youth & Family Center. Construction is under way on the first of three phases for the South Shore YMCA at Interstate 75 and Big Bend Road. The second phase is expected to include an aquatics center.

CSX terminal key to thousands of new jobs in Central Florida

Polk County and the city of Winter Haven are beneficiaries of a transportation, logistics and distribution hub that could bring thousands of jobs to the area over the next five to 10 years.

The terminal for the CSX Central Florida Logistics Center in Winter Haven, which opened in April, is the first step in developing about 7.9 million square feet of warehouse, distribution and manufacturing facilities, all located on about 930 acres surrounding the CSX rail line. About 300,000 containers of goods will be processed annually from rail to truck or truck to rail with state-of-the-art technology. 

Winter Haven Industrial Developers paid about $8.5 million for about 500 acres of the site, according to Polk County records. The remaining acreage will be part of a second phase of development.

About 30 employees oversee daily operations at the terminal which is a regional link to Tampa, Orlando and Miami, all within one-day truck trips from Winter Haven. CSX officials say they expect about 1,800 direct jobs and as many as 8,500 indirect jobs to be realized in the next decade.

The exact number of jobs will be tied to the kinds of businesses that locate around the terminal, says Bruce Lyon, executive director of the Winter Haven Economic Development Council.  He places job estimates in the range of 4,000 to 8,000.

"We are as a city and county well prepared to embrace any new development that occurs on the site," says Lyon. "The labor force is ready."

He points to the educational opportunities for a trained work force including Polk State College, a few miles from the CSX terminal. There also is the University of Central Florida in Orlando, and according to Lyon, a sometimes overlooked fact that Winter Haven has an immense amount of broad-band capacity coveted by the logistics industry.

"The logistics industry is very advanced in terms of technology," Lyon says.

And overall the industry offers higher than average paying jobs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, logisticians' median annual salary in May 2012 was about $72,000 with the highest paid earning about $112,000 and and the lowest paid about $45,000.

Construction of the terminal took about two years and created about 200 jobs with the aid of Polk Works, the county's workforce development board.

The intermodal terminal is located on about 318 acres off State Road 60 at Logistics Boulevard. It has five 3,000-foot loading tracks and two 10,000-foot arrival and departure tracks. Three electric cranes load and unload containers.

"They are designed for noise reduction and are environmentally friendly," says CSX spokeswoman Kristin Seay. "It's huge. It's very efficient and uses the most advanced technology."

The containers carry goods from tee shirts to televisions, Seay says.

The terminal project is part of a legislatively-approved agreement in which the state of Florida  paid about $432 million for about 60 miles of CSX tracks. The deal morphed through several years of negotiations and controversy over cost and the potential impact of increased freight traffic through cities such as Lakeland.

Proponents see the deal as an economic boost to the region and a crucial link in plans for a SunRail commuter line through Orlando along CSX tracks. The agreement required CSX to "reinvest every dime in infrastructure in Florida," says Seay.

Holiday Inn brings its brand to Westshore neighborhood in Tampa

Holiday Inn Tampa Westshore Airport is the newest hotel brand to cater to business travelers, families and local residents who want an upscale getaway in the heart of the city's largest business district.

West Shore is at the center of new residential and retail growth with new apartments, restaurants and shops along Boy Scout Road and Westshore Boulevard. It also is located near International Mall, Tampa International Airport and Interstate 275.

An $8 million renovation at the hotel, at 700 N. Westshore Blvd., features two new restaurants, Market Place Coffee Bar & Cafe and Bar 700 Grille & Lounge. Marketplace will sell grab-and-go snacks, sandwiches and specialty coffee. Bar 700 will offer dinners, specialty cocktails and craft beers.

The hotel is placing special emphasis on giving "foodies" a different and local flair in their dining and drinking options, says Holly Clifford, president of press marketing for Holiday Inn.

Craft beers from Ybor-based Coppertail Brewing Co., and pastries from Pane Rustica Bakery & Cafe in Palma Ceia will be included in menus at the bar and cafe.

"(The bar) is a much more high end look and feel," says Clifford. "It looks very today and modern."

The renovations also improve on other amenities such as arrival and welcome services, guest room comfort and a redesigned logo. The hotel has about 15,000 square feet of meeting space with a newly added ballroom.

General manager Pam Avery is chairwoman of the board for Visit Tampa Bay. "This has been a phenomenal year for tourism," she says.

That translates to a high occupancy rate for hotels including the Holiday Inn Tampa Westshore, which has 262 guest rooms.

The hotel initially began operation as an independent hotel under the name of Quorum. It also operated as the Wyndham. Quorum still owns and manages the hotel but is now a franchisee of Holiday Inn.

Avery says Holiday Inn is a well-known brand that many people grew up with but it has become much more modern and edgy. "We think it's a perfect fit for us," she says.

But there are some Quorum traditions that won't change. 

Guests can still quench their thirst with fruit-infused water and grab a handful of M&Ms, peanut and plain, from dispensers.

Tampa General Hospital opens new food court; Prepares to build new hospital

Tampa General Hospital is in the midst of expanding and renovating in major and minor ways from building a medical campus on Kennedy Boulevard to redesigning the hospital's main entrance and food court.

Hospital officials are nearing a construction start for a rehabilitation hospital on the site of the former Ferman Chevrolet automobile dealership at 1307 Kennedy Blvd. Tampa City Council is expected to give is final approval to the project on Nov. 6.

Chief Executive Officer Jim Burkhart says some design tweaking is under way but he anticipates announcing the project within the next month.

City records show the project will have a 150-bed professional and residential treatment center, a 100-room hotel or motel, 53,000 square feet of administrative offices, 100,000 square feet for medical uses and 15,000 square feet for an employee day care. There also is a free-standing garage. The campus is planned in phases.

Residents in North Hyde Park are eager to see the project completed and expect an influx of "new young people" who want to live in new condominiums or houses in the neighborhood, says Wesley Weissenburger of the North Hyde Park Civic Association. He spoke in favor of the hospital's proposal at a public hearing before city council on Oct. 9.

"People will come to North Hyde Park because of this facility," says Weissenburger. "This will bring people who will be working there. They will bring upgrades to our community and the value of our community will rise."

TGH also is celebrating the opening on Davis Islands of a new main entrance to the hospital's West Pavilion and improvements to an expanded food court.

"The entrance was not benefiting a world class organization like Tampa General Hospital," says John Brabson Jr., chairman of the hospital's board of directors, who spoke at a ribbon-cutting ceremony. "It's going to get great use. It's very, very practical the way it's designed."

The redesign by Healy & Partners Architects is the first since the former main entrance was built in 1986. Construction by Barton Marlow includes a new covered patient discharge and pickup area, a new patient discharge lounge in the main lobby and an enclosed valet station. About 250 vehicles a day drive up the main entrance.

The new food court, designed by Alfonso Architects, includes electronic and interactive menu screens that provide nutritional tips and calorie counts. The hospital serves up to four million meals a year to visitors, employees and patients. 

Menus include healthy options such as vegetarian and gluten-free dishes. Food venues include The Rotisserie which features chicken, ribs and sides; The Italian Grill with pizzas and regional dishes; and The Bayshore Grill with fried cod sandwiches and shrimp baskets.

Cost of the new main entrance is about $3.4 million. The food court cost about $2.3 million.

Recently TGH opened Tampa General Medical Group (TGMG) Family Care Center Trinity. This is the hospital's first primary care location in Pasco County. Another family care center is expected to open in Wesley Chapel early in 2015.

TGH also is in the midst of a $22 million, multiyear project to upgrade all of its operating rooms, says Burkhart.

"We have to operate and renovate and keep expanding space because it has to be refurbished about every five to seven years," he says. "You're just constantly doing it."

Tampa General Hospital opens first primary care center in Pasco County

Tampa General Hospital is opening its first primary care center in Pasco County in the Trinity area of New Port Richey.

Tampa General Medical Group (TGMG) Family Care Center Trinity is the 12th primary care location for TGH. Another Pasco County primary care center is scheduled to open in Wesley Chapel in January.

The Trinity facility, which opened Oct. 13, is located in a remodeled medical building at 2433 Country Place Blvd, near West Pasco Industrial Park.

In recent years TGH has been expanding its reach into Hillsborough County neighborhoods such as Carrollwood, Brandon, Sun City Center and Tampa Palms. Hospital officials took a look at the demographics and health care needs of Pasco as well.

"It did show there was not a lot of access for patients," says Jana Gardner, VP of Physician Practice Operations.

The review also revealed something unexpected about the age of the area's population.

"We were surprised at the older age group up there," Gardner says.

Initially TGH officials planned on a family practice clinic but instead opted to offer services to patients age 18 or older. Wesley Chapel trends younger and has more families with children so Gardner says that facility will serve children and adults when it opens in January.

TGMG Family Care Center Trinity will have two doctors and a support staff of about five people.

Joyce Thomas, a board certified doctor of internal medicine, is moving from TGH's care center on Kennedy Boulevard to Pasco. TGH has not yet recruited a second doctor, Gardner says.

The Trinity office is open from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Monday through Friday. Available services include immunizations, physicals, and management of chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes. The office also is the first TGMG Family Care Center to offer on-site physical therapy.

Gardner says the care center will have the latest in technology including electronic medical records that doctors can access from any TGH facility. Patients also will be able to go online to see their laboratory results, ask questions or schedule appointments.

Lakeland Park Center brings new shops, 200+ jobs to Polk County

The Tampa Bay area economy is getting a boost from new shops opening at the Lakeland Park Center, the 20th Florida property owned and managed by Michigan-based Ramco-Gershenson Properties Trust.

The 210,000-square-foot shopping center is anchored by Dick's Sporting Goods, Ross Dress for Less, PetSmart, and Floor and Décor. Other shops are Old Navy, Shoe Carnival, Dress Barn, Lane Bryant and America's Best (contacts and eyewear), and ULTA Beauty.

"It's the first major shopping center in awhile after some smaller projects up U.S. 98 before the Great Recession," says Jim Studiale, Lakeland's community development director. "I guess it's also a sign in that it's a major redevelopment of an area that had been badly redeveloped."

Ramco-Gershenson was patient and financially able to acquire dozens of parcels including a recreational vehicle park and wait out the market, Studiale says. "It's been a hard road for them," he says. "I don't know that I believed it until I saw it coming out of the ground."

Company officials say more than 200 jobs are being filled at the shopping center which fronts Interstate 4 on Lakeland Park Center Drive. It is across from the company's Target-anchored Shoppes of Lakeland, at U.S. Highway 98.

"Besides the obvious benefits of the project in terms of capital investments and new jobs, the new retail development brings the neighborhood enhanced convenience and quality of life," says Jim DeGennaro, Polk County's community development manager.

Ramco-Gershenson also owns parcels that surround the shopping center that will be part of a second phase of development though no start date has been announced. New retail and additional jobs are anticipated.

"There is a lot of economic development anticipated around this property now but in future as well, which is very good for the community," says Dawn Hendershot, VP of  Ramco-Gershenson's investor relations.

Investment including construction and land purchase for Lakeland Park Center is estimated at about $34 million.

The public is invited to a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 23. Retailers also plan a family-oriented event from noon to 6 p.m. on Oct. 24 with store giveaways and coupons, a bounce house, face painting and more.

In the Tampa Bay area, Ramco-Gershenson's Florida properties include Cypress Point shopping center on U.S. Highway 19 North in Clearwater. The shopping center is anchored by The Fresh Market and Burlington Coat Factory.

The Salvador is newest condo project for Downtown St. Petersburg

Residential development in downtown St. Petersburg marches on with the latest announcement of a 13-story, 74-unit condominium within a block of the The Dali museum.

Smith & Associates Real Estate will begin brokering pre-construction sales for The Salvador on Oct. 17. The public is invited to visit Smith & Associates office, at 330 Beach Drive NE, from 4 to 7 p.m. on Oct. 16 to learn more details about the project.

The upscale condos from DDA Development will feature tall windows and glass doors opening to private balconies, stainless steel appliances, European style cabinets, quartz countertops, gas cooktops and wide plank porcelain tiles for the latest in luxury flooring.

Home owners can choose among one-and-two-bedroom residences from 964 to 1,810 square feet. Spacious three-bedroom penthouses with more than 2,500 square feet will be available on the top floor.

Currently price ranges for one bedrooms along Beach Drive are about $315,000 to $450,000. Two bedrooms are about $440,000 to $750,000. And penthouses will go for about $1.2 million to $1.4 million.

The ranges may be tweaked, says David Moyer, director of developer services sales for Smith & Associates Real Estate. "We're getting a little bit of feedback," Moyer says. "We'll finalize this before we start sales."

The intent is to provide an upscale residential experience at an attractive price, less costly than other real estate along ritzy Beach Drive. "There is a lack of inventory for sale for a new product such as The Salvador," Moyer says.

The Salvador will have an "art-influenced" design by Mesh Architecture, the same firm that is working on Bliss, a 30-unit condominium on Fourth Avenue, off Beach Drive. Balfour Beatty Construction is the contractor and the building will be green-certified with the latest in energy-efficient technology.

The Salvador is the latest in a steady stream of apartment and condo projects ready for occupancy, under construction or on the drawing board. Downtown St. Petersburg continues to attract young urban professionals and others seeking the vibrant energy of an urban life style with everything within walking distance for living, working and playing.

In July Coral Gables-based Allen Morris Company announced plans for The Hermitage, an eight-story apartment building and hotel complex covering a city block at 700 1st Ave. S. Two condominiums, Rowland Place and Bliss, are planned off Beach Drive. And American Land Ventures plans a 15-story apartment tower on Third Street South. Beacon 430, Urban Edge and Modera Prime 235 also are adding to the increasing count of apartments and condos. Read Boom! Downtown St. Petersburg Awash in new apartments.

21-story apartment building to rise on Harbour Island in downtown Tampa

By the end of October construction on a 21-story upscale residential tower on Harbour Island will begin on a prime parcel of land at Knights Run Avenue and South Beneficial Drive.

Completion is anticipated by early 2016 on 235 luxury studios, 1-and 2-bedroom apartments and 2-story townhomes. The building will have a seven-story parking garage with more than 400 parking spaces.

The tower is a partnership between Forge Capital Partners and Intown/Framework Group. 

Greg Minder of Framework Group and Phillip A. Smith of Intown Group are developers of Element and Skypoint in downtown, and Meridian Lofts in the Channel District. And construction is under way on 4310 Spruce and Varela, both in the Westshore Business District.

Minder and Smith also are partners in The Residences at Riverwalk, a proposed 36-story, 380-unit apartment building next to the Straz Center for the Performing Arts. A parking garage and about 10,000 square feet of first-floor shops and restaurants also are planned.

Developers have yet to choose a name for the latest Harbour Island tower. County records show Harbour Island Residential LLC purchased the vacant parcel in December for about $2.9 million.

"Harbour Island epitomizes a high-end, master-planned community," says Minder in a prepared statement. "The addition of this modern apartment building brings new excitement and renewed interest to this thriving community."

Most apartments will enjoy scenic vistas of the waterfront and downtown. An infinity-edge pool, state-of-the-art technology and upscale amenities comparable to those provided at luxury hotels will be included in the building's design.

Other partners in the project are BBVA Compass, a bank holding company; Reese Vanderbilt & Associates, architects; Kimley-Horn and Associates, civil and landscaping engineers; and Multi-Family Construction, general contractor and an affiliate of Batson-Cook Residential.

myMatrixx relocates corporate offices in Tampa, adds 200 jobs

 With plans to double its workforce in the next three to five years, myMatrixx will nearly triple the size of its corporate headquarters by relocating to Tampa Bay Park's office complex within the orbit of the Westshore Business District.

The Tampa-based  pharmacy and ancillary benefits management company specializes in workmen's compensation claims. Its employees currently work in about 18,000 square feet of office space at a business complex at Benjamin Center Drive in Town N' Country.

In the first quarter of 2015, myMatrixx will relocate to about 48,000 square feet on the top two floors of  the remodeled LakePointe Two building at Tampa Bay Park which is managed by North Carolina-based Highwoods Properties. The new space will include open work stations, collaboration areas, an on-site fitness center, cafe and waterfront deck.

With nearly 200 employees currently, company officials anticipate doubling that number to about 400 employees within three to five years. 

Revenues for the company have increased about 25 percent in recent years, and that rate could accelerate, company officials say.

"A Class A facility is a must to help us keep our exceptional employee base and to fill current job openings," says myMatrixx President Artemis Emslie.

Available jobs include positions in customer services, marketing, health care and senior vice president.  Business Insurance Magazine has ranked myMatrixx as one of its "Best Places to Work" for the last three years.

LakePointe Two is an eight-story building with about 223,000 square feet of office space. It is one of seven buildings at Tampa Bay Park, located at the intersection of Himes Avenue and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

The site puts myMatrixx in proximity not only to Westshore's business district but also to Tampa International Airport and downtown. The new headquarters also are located outside a hurricane or flood evacuation zone.

"We're about to get all our employees centrally located," says Chris Callison, the company's corporate content manager. "We want our clients to be able to fly into the airport and easily access our site."

Lake Mirror Park in Lakeland ranks among nation's top 10 public spaces

In the 1920s Lake Mirror Park was little more than its description -- a lake with a promenade.

But what New York landscape architect Charles Wellford Leavitt designed in Lakeland nearly 100 years ago is today one of the country's "10 Great Public Spaces" for 2014.

The American Planning Association recently announced its annual top 10 list of great public spaces. It is a designation Lakeland's planning department has been pursuing for at least two years, says Kevin Cook, the city's director of communications.

"It's a big honor," Cook says. "We pride ourselves on quality public spaces."

The park's ornate promenade was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. A master plan to restore the park and some of its original elements was completed nearly four years ago.

The park and lake are at the center of Lakeland's historic downtown. Among its landmarks are the Barnett Family Park, the Peggy Brown Center, Magnolia Building and the Hollis Gardens.

About 900 events are held at Lake Mirror Park annually including the Christmas parade and the Red, White and Kaboom celebration of Independence Day. Cook estimates as many as 20,000 to 30,000 people fill the park for some events.

Lake Mirror Park competed against more than 100 sites reviewed by an APA panel, says Jason Jordan, the APA's director of policy. 

"It is one of the best examples in the entire state, really nationally, of the 'city beautification' movement of the 1920s," Jordan says. "This is a prime example of a place that is physically beautiful but also has social and cultural elements as well."

In whittling down the list of great public spaces, Jordan says the planning agency's panel considers aesthetics, social, culture and economic factors.

"By highlighting some places that are successful it can be a spur to other communities," Jordan says.

Studio Movie Grill lights up screens at University Mall

Studio Movie Grill is bringing "dinner and a movie" to University Mall with its brand of in-theater dining coupled with first-run and alternative movies.

The 14-screen movie house will open Oct. 22 in the renovated theater space vacated last year by Frank Theatres. Previously Regal 16 operated at the venue. University Mall is the 18th location nationwide for the Dallas-based chain and its first in Florida.

The University area, in close proximity to the University of South Florida, offers an opportunity for a ready audience of students who can hop on the Bull Runner shuttle for a free ride to the mall. But Studio Movie Grill also sees opportunities to play a role in increasing the mall's overall customer base and the future growth of the University area. 

"We really do look to bring economic development and impact to an area," says Lynne McQuaker, director of alternative programming, public relations and outreach for SMG. "This was an area that met that because the impact will be extra foot traffic."

The concept of restaurant-style dining at a movie theater isn't new.

There is Cine Bistro at Hyde Park Village and Grove 16 in Wesley Chapel and Villagio Cinemas at Carrollwood.

But Studio Movie Grill has its own style.

There is 100 percent reserved seating with comfy armchairs and individual dining tables. McQuaker says that eliminates waiting in line even for such anticipated blockbusters as the next installment of "Hunger Games."

Ticket holders are asked to arrive 20 minutes early to place food orders. But service doesn't end when the movie starts. A red call-button at each seat puts a server a tap away from new orders.

Studio Movie Grill will feature a contemporary look and a full-bar and lounge with daily specials, signature cocktails and micro-brews. Its menu features appetizers, such as edamame, and entrees, such as gourmet pizzas, ceviche lettuce wraps, salads, turkey burgers and chicken nachos.

The 14 screens will show first-run movies. But there also will be alternative programming, often at discounted prices, including a summer children's series, girls' and guys' nights out, independent films, special film series, documentaries and concerts. And a Family Rewind will bring back movies from the past. 

Studio Movie Grill also plans sensory-friendly screenings for special needs children including children diagnosed with autism. Theater lights will stay on, sound will be lowered and children will be free to move around the auditorium. 

Vegan dining will be "Delicious Surprise" in Seminole Heights

Michelle Ehrlich has a "Delicious Surprise" in store for Seminole Heights.

By mid-November she plans to open "Delicious (food for thought) Surprise," her plant-based, vegan restaurant at 5921 N. Nebraska Ave. She and husband Howard are sprucing up a building adjacent to the Publix grocery store. The vacant building has been home over the years to an appliance store, a sandwich shop and most recently a pizzeria. 

When it comes to the menu, Ehrlich doesn't want anyone to think of digging into a plate of lettuce and sprouts. She's out to break down misconceptions about vegan dining. 

Look for pizzas, burgers and anything else on a typical restaurant menu. But there also will be a few unexpected choices, such as tropical quinoa salad, drunk chai French toast and black-eyed pea sausage with kale and white bean gravy. The made-from-scratch menu items will feature local, organic food and produce.

"We'll be making healthy plant-based versions of these," says Ehrlich who lives in Seminole Heights and has watched the neighborhood become a destination for restaurants and bars such as Ella's Americana Folk Art Cafe, The Refinery, The Mermaid Tavern and Independent. "We want to offer delicious food for our community. We hope to be the ones to break the barriers (on vegan). There is a demand for this."

Ehrlich got a hint of that demand at a plant-based Bites in the Heights "pop-up" brunch in August when about 50 people showed up at a local business co-op to sample her dishes. She had planned two more "pop-up" events to test-market her restaurant concept but the pizzeria shop suddenly came on the market.

It was a chance too good to pass up so now her energies are in opening "Delicious Surprise." Ehrlich will be a vendor at the Nov. 2 "Taste of the Heights", serving up food samples within a couple weeks of the restaurant's opening.

Ehrlich and her husband eased into the vegan life-style about three years ago simply by trying to eat healthy and over time eliminating less healthy options. And then a co-worker at her husband's office asked if Michelle would cook lunches for her like those she made for her husband.

Within six weeks, she had a waiting list of clients, all from word of mouth and no marketing. "I think I've found my niche," Ehrlich says.

Word of mouth via social media is spreading the news about "Delicious Surprise." There is a Facebook page. And she is raising part of her capital through crowd-sourcing on gofundme. 

While the majority of donors appear to be local residents, Ehrlich says people from Orlando and Bradenton also have responded. "I feel like they have ownership now," she says. "The loyalty of folk, that's what I'm more emotional about. It's been wonderful."

Bourgeois Pig opens soon in Seminole Heights

Seminole Heights is adding yet another restaurant to its cornucopia of dining choices. But The Bourgeois Pig will be a stand-out on North Nebraska Avenue.

Owners Lysa and Mike Bozel are settling into a converted bungalow well north of Hillsborough Avenue on a stretch of Nebraska dotted with motels, tire shops and pawn shops. Though Seminole Heights has been transformed in recent years into a destination place, new shops and especially its restaurants largely have populated Nebraska and Florida Avenue, south of Hillsborough.

Think Ella's Americana Folk Art Cafe, Reservations Gourmet to Go, The Refinery, Cappy's Pizza and Independent. The Rooster and the Till is a rarity with a north of Hillsborough spot on Florida along with long-time restaurants, Front Porch Grille. and Rincon Catracho. The Mermaid Tavern is just south of Sligh Avenue. And the Refinery's owners, Michelle and Greg Baker, are building a new, north-of-Hillsborough restaurant -- Fodder & Shine -- on Florida.

But the Bozels will be at the farthest outpost of the neighborhood, just shy of the boundary with the Hillsborough River and Sulphur Springs. They are pushing beyond Sligh following the loss by fire last year of Domani Bistro Lounge.

"We believe in this community," says Lysa Bozel. "We purchased this building to make it a landmark in the area. We were really pioneers of this part of the neighborhood."

Many long-time residents believe the Bozels' restaurant is the spark that could bring more retail and restaurants to this end of Nebraska.

"It can be the genesis for a complete redevelopment," says resident Randy Baron, who spoke in support of the Bozels's request for sales of beer, wine and liquor. "It is being done by local owners who have put a lot of resources into this. It is a beautiful building."

The Bozels are converting a bungalow, at 7701 N. Nebraska, into a "Bohemian chic" style restaurant open seven days a week with closing times of midnight on Sunday through Wednesday and 1 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. The couple, who live within walking distance of their restaurant, opted against a 3 a.m. closing though that would be allowed under city code.

"We do not want this to turn into South Howard," says Baron referencing the on-going conflicts in South Tampa between bar owners and nearby residents.

A search is under way for a head chef and kitchen staff but Lysa Bozel says an opening is planned for late October or early November. Tampa City Council is expected to approve beer, wine and liquor sales on Oct. 2.

The menu will be eclectic with items such as fish tacos, steak, wraps, salads and sandwiches. Diners will have indoor and outdoor options for seating in the main dining room, wrap-around porch and patio. Some on-site parking will be available but valet services also will be provided.

And The Bourgeois Pig will be dog-friendly with little couches and food bowls.

"We really feel it's going to be amazing," says Lysa Bozel. "We've had enormous support from the entire neighborhood."

Atlanta developer to build apartments on North Franklin Street

North Franklin Street just found a new resident -- Atlanta-based Carter & Associates.

The development company plans to build a 23-story apartment building and garage on two parcels at 911 and 915 N. Franklin St. A rezoning application is under review by the city's planning department.

If approved, construction could begin in the first half of 2015.

"We've been eyeing the Tampa market for awhile," says Conor McNally, chief development officer for Carter & Associates. McNally formerly worked for the Novare Group, another Atlanta firm that developed the SkyPoint condominium building on Ashley Drive.

"It's looking good from a jobs perspective...Downtown is getting some good momentum back," McNally says. "We like being within walking distance to the river and arts and downtown offices."

While too early to discuss monthly apartment rates, McNally says the luxury apartments will be on par with others in the area including the nearby Element.

This latest project follows a list of announcements in the past year for new apartments and retail in downtown and the Channel District. And, the recent openings of Le Meridian and Aloft hotels are adding to downtown's allure.

The project from Carter & Associates could be the stage-setter for more to come. The firm is under contract to buy the property from Kress Square IV LLC, which is owned by father and daughter, Doran Jason and Jeannette Jason. They also own the iconic S.H. Kress building at 811 N. Franklin St., which is still awaiting a development deal.

"I think this is sending a signal that the North Franklin area is primed for what I think will be an explosion of projects," says Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn. "The time is right. I'm ecstatic."

McNally sees a strong market for apartments over condominiums generally but especially in Tampa, which is among the fastest growing cities in Florida.

"People want to be in urban areas," he says but they also want mobility. And many still have fresh memories of the market downturn in 2008 which has made it more difficult to get financing for condos, he adds.

"People were left high and dry," McNally says. "The 25-,27-,29-year olds, they can't tell you where they are going to be in five or 10 years down the road."
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