Southeast Florida Roundup
Battle brews over half-gallon ‘growlers'
The Piaseckis, father and sons, and a family friend, opened their beer place, the Crafted Keg, in a historic building in downtown Stuart about a year ago, looking to score on the refill station trend.
The Crafted Keg sells about 60 kinds of beer by the glass, but as a refill station it also sells to consumers who bring in resealable "growlers" that hold a quart or gallon. The Piaseckis knew the most popular growler nationally — the half-gallon, about as much beer as is in a six pack — was prohibited in Florida. They also knew the Legislature was looking at ending the prohibition, a move that seemed so logical to the Piaseckis that they expected the prohibition to be gone by the time they opened.
But the beer business, politics and law are complicated, and the Legislature took no action. The Crafted Keg, through the Palm Beach County office of the free-market Pacific Legal Foundation, sued in October to have the state ban overturned, arguing it has no "rational basis" and, as such, violates a business's rights to due process and equal protection and is unconstitutional. The suit brought the Crafted Keg state and national attention. The Florida Beer Wholesalers Association's Mitch Rubin says his group supports legalizing 64-ounce growlers but that the Legislature is the body to do so.
The elder Piasecki, Guy, 52, an IT consultant by day, came to Florida during high school and raised his family here. He says it's quite an accomplishment that even with the state ban on what should be the Crafted Keg's most popular product size, the business ended its first year in the black. "We just want to sell beer and we can't," Piasecki says.
West Palm Beach-based TooJay's Restaurant and Deli chain appointed Jim Vinz CEO as it opened its 26th location. Vinz formerly was president and co-CEO of Le Duff America, the parent of 650 Bruegger's Bagels, la Madeleine Country Fresh Cafe, Mimi's Cafe, Brioche Doree and other stores.
Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties promoted Gloria Ortega Rex to executive vice president and CFO. She joined the foundation in 2004 as vice president for finance and administration.
SOUTH FLORIDA - In one of the largest venture capital deals ever, Magic Leap, a Dania Beach startup founded by Mako Surgical founder Rony Abovitz, who sold that robotic med device company for $1.65 billion, raised $542 million from Google, Qualcomm, Legendary Entertainment, KKR, Paul Allen's Vulcan Capital, Kleiner Perkins, Andreessen Horowitz and others. Magic Leap hasn't revealed much about its mobile, wearable, visual computing system. Hollywood startup Altpay, a six-employee mobile payment app company, got a $1-million investment in December. The company targets midmarket retailers, and its customers include people without bank accounts. It launched in the U.S. in 2014 and launches in Latin America this quarter. Managing partner Victor Cook is a serial entrepreneur.
BOCA RATON - Miamibased forensic accounting consulting firm Yip Associates opened an office in Boca. > Edison Insurance, a company based in St. Petersburg and later absorbed into Boca Raton-based Florida Peninsula Insurance, was relaunched as a Boca Raton-based statewide homeowner and condo unit insurance company.
FORT LAUDERDALE - Port Everglades moved more than 1 million cargo containers for the first time thanks to organic growth and expanded service from King Ocean and Grand Alliance. > Highend fabric maker and supplier of upholstery fabrics for the hospitality industry Valley Forge Fabrics will create 40 jobs as it expands at a newly remodeled facility.
DAVIE - Regent Bancorp, parent of Regent Bank, raised $20 million from existing shareholders and new investors.
HOLLYWOOD - Nova Southeastern University named its Oceanographic Center in honor of wildlife artist and conservationist Guy Harvey after Harvey and his foundation made an undisclosed gift to the university.
MIRAMAR - Intra- Americas shipper SeaLand will create 65 jobs as it establishes its headquarters at MetLife's Huntington Centre.
PORT ST. LUCIE - A Delaware bankruptcy court judge returned $18 million in tax credits to the state's control from the failed Port St. Lucie studio of special effects company Digital Domain.
RIVIERA BEACH - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued permits to deepen the Intracoastal Waterway near Riviera Beach, work long sought by local officials to allow marinas and boat yards to expand their business by catering to the market for larger vessels.
SUNRISE - The nation's largest outlet mall, 350-store Sawgrass Mills, began an expansion of its open-air luxury retail arm, Colonnade Outlets, to add 80,000 square feet for 30 luxury outlet stores and restaurants.
Melbourne-based Harris opened a new engineering facility and Caribbean and Latin American sales hub in Sunrise for its tactical radio business for the U.S. military and foreign militaries and public safety markets.
WEST PALM BEACH - McCraney Property plans a 600,000-sq.-ft. warehouse distribution project on 34 acres. > Greenwich, Conn.-based private equity firm Stone Point Capital acquired professional employer organization Oasis Outsourcing on undisclosed terms.