World of Beer -- and food
Tavern fare and mixed drinks help drive growth.
Before he became World of Beer's CEO in January 2013, Paul E. Avery considered becoming a franchisee of the fast-growing tavern chain. Before buying in, though, Avery did his due diligence. By the time he finished his research, the former COO of OSI Restaurant Partners decided he wanted to do more than just own a franchise. He wanted a job at the company.
"The deeper I dug into it, the more enamored I became with the business model," says Avery, who had overseen operations at Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba's Italian Grill, Bonefish Grill and other OSI brands before leaving in 2009. "I knew there were certain elements that I was experienced at that I could bring to World of Beer. "
Tops on his to-do list after being named CEO last year was broadening the beer-heavy tavern's appeal. That meant adding food and mixed drinks. "One of the first things I did was bring in a very talented culinary manager," he says.
The full food menu, branded "tavern fare," still isn't offered at every location. The locations that have implemented it serve, among other items, soft pretzels, wings, soups, sandwiches, salads, hamburgers, flatbreads and full-out entrees including Atlantic salmon and steak frites. There's also a dish called "Pint O' Bacon," thickcut bacon glazed in brown sugar and spices.
The chain has grown to 55 stores in 16 states from 36 in 11 states in January 2013. Avery says the food is helping to fuel World of Beer's growth, but beer remains the star attraction. Each location sells more than 500 types of beer, including nearly 50 on tap.
"We'll build probably 35 new taverns this year, including five to seven in Florida," he says. "The craft beer dynamic is nationwide. It's growing into more and more generations, into a greater demographic profile. "
Red Light Cameras Voted Down
City Council members voted 6-2 to discontinue St. Petersburg's red-light camera program by the end of this year. The city installed its first red-light cameras two years ago. Since then, crashes at the intersections that have cameras declined, while the cameras generated $841,862 in traffic ticket revenue. Meanwhile, Tampa, which was considering cutting its red-light camera program, decided instead to keep it for another two years. The cameras accounted for $1. 64 million in ticket revenue last year.
From its headquarters at the Punta Gorda Airport, Arcadia Aerospace makes inspection equipment for commercial and military aircraft. When inspecting a fuselage, for example, the company's equipment makes sure the contoured shape has kept its intended shape and that components show no signs of separating. The company, which employs 23, up from five employees four years ago, won a 2013 manufacturer of the year award from the Manufacturers Association of Florida.
BONITA SPRINGS — The Bonita Bay Club has completed an $11. 5-million renovation, including converting its golf shop into a 4,700-sq. -ft. open-air bar and grill.
CLEARWATER — New Jersey-based KEE Action Sports, which makes paintball equipment, has closed its Clearwater factory, resulting in 109 lost jobs.
DADE CITY — After relocating from Kentucky, Arielle Management Group, a projectmanagement frm, has moved into the SMARTstart Dade City Incubator, located in the Dade City Business Center.
HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY — Commissioners approved $300,000 worth of incentives for two flm projects: $250,000 for a flm called The Infltrator, about a drug-enforcement agent, and Saat Hindustani, a Bollywood flm. Tampa hosted the International Indian Film Awards last month.
LAKELAND — Lakeland Regional Medical Center plans to build a $250-million facility specializing in the care of women and children.
LEE COUNTY — A mixeduse development is planned for 886 acres near Florida Gulf Coast University. Proposed by the Private Equity Group, CenterPlace will include 1,950 residential units, a 250- room hotel, a 68-acre park and a 30,000-sq. -ft. conference center.
PINELLAS COUNTY — Stonegate Mortgage is expanding its regional headquarters and plans to add 139 jobs by the end of 2016. The Indiana- based company will get $5,000 in state and county tax incentives for each job it creates.
The state is committing $131 million to fund a road project that will include an elevated roadway linking I-275 to U. S. 19, the Bayside Bridge and the St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport.
PINELLAS PARK — The Florida National Guard plans to build a $5. 7-million facility on the campus of an armed forces reserve center.
POLK CITY — The Fantasy of Flight aviation attraction, known for a DC-3 airplane parked alongside I-4, closed but plans to reopen later this year as a smaller museum.
PUNTA GORDA — Cheney Bros. Broke ground on a distribution center complex projected to create 380 jobs.
SOUTHWEST FLORIDA — Edison State College, which has campuses in Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties, is getting a new name: SouthWestern State College.
ST. PETERSBURG — Republican David Jolly defeated Alex Sink, a Democrat, in a special election to replace the late C. W. Bill Young in Congress.
TAMPA — MacDill Air Force Base, already home to 16 KC-135 Stratotanker aerial refueling jets, is scheduled to get eight more by 2018, a move that would mean added staff, including 220 active duty personnel and 75 reservists.
Tampa International Airport is in line to get $194 million in state money for various projects, including building a new rental car center.
Less than three months after it opened, the Epicurean Hotel – a joint project between Bern's Steak House and Mainsail Lodging & Development – has been given a four-diamond rating by AAA.
TAMPA BAY — Bi-Lo Holdings plans to convert more than 50 SweetBay supermarkets between Naples and Tampa to Winn- Dixie stores.
Sozon Vatikiotis is CEO of Alltrust Insurance, an employee benefts frm based in Palm Harbor. Former CEO Karen Brayboy stepped down.
Tom Walrond has been named COO and senior vice president at Raymond James & Associates Private Client Group, a subsidiary of Raymond James Financial.
19% Increase in resort tax collections in Lee County beach communities during January, compared to a year earlier
$3. 16 million January 2014's resort tax collections, the most ever for a January
Source: The Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel Tourist Development Council