Bradenton SweetBerries buys neighboring garage, coy about expansion

SweetBerries buys neighboring car repair shop;Westside Auto expects to close by the end of May

cschelle@bradenton.comMarch 20, 2014 

BRADENTON -- Car care and custard go hand-in-hand in a deal where SweetBerries Eatery & Frozen Custard purchased a neighboring auto repair shop.

SweetBerries III, headed by Michael and Brandon Osmond of Bradenton, bought the former auto repair shop at 4520 Manatee Ave. W. for $399,000 from Paul A. Sharff, according to property records.

SweetBerries, 4500 Manatee Ave. W., first opened in Bradenton in 1999 and serves sandwiches and frozen custard. The eatery also has locations in Sarasota and Gainesville.

"It was a smart time to buy," Michael Osmond told the Herald inside the shop Wednesday.

Expansion plans for SweetBerries would be premature, and any activity wouldn't happen for about three years, he said. Osmond said he would like to apply for a beer license for the Bradenton location, after already having one in Gainesville.

The goal now, in an effort to pay off the land purchase, is to find a tenant for the auto repair shop that houses Westside Auto & Scooters, Osmond said.

"We would like to own the property free and clear before we do anything," he said.

Kevin McGready, a co-owner of Westside, said that he plans to close his shop by the end of May or June and relocate his business. The shop used to sell cars and scooters but that business partner is no longer with the company, creating a drop in income.

Westside has operated on Manatee Avenue for more than three years, McGready said. Before the property sold, he had to make a decision about whether to stay.

"My lease is going to be up, and I can't afford to stick around," he said.

The 2,010-square-foot garage sits on 0.40 acres and was built in 1959, according to property records. Sharff purchased the property in 2001 for $350,000, according to property records.

Charles Schelle, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter@ImYourChuck.

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