Grilled cheese fans will have to look beyond University Park to get their fix.
The Tom + Chee at 5231 University Parkway, in The Market at UTC plaza, is closed for good. Tom + Chee is a restaurant concept inspired by the classic grilled cheese-tomato soup combination and was once featured on start-up business competition show “Shark Tank.” The University Park store opened in December 2015.
Franchisee Dave Williams could not be reached for comment on the location’s closure or to confirm a closure date. A notice of levy and seizure for the amount of $1,067.85 was posted on Tom + Chee’s front door by the Manatee County Tax Collector’s office on Feb. 14. The closest Tom + Chee location is now in St. Petersburg at 6802 22nd Ave. N.
Tom + Chee isn’t the only University Town Center shopping center to lose a tenant recently.
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Shoe Carnival, 8473 Cooper Creek Blvd., located in The Shoppes at UTC, is closing on Sunday, the store’s general manager confirmed.
“That store is closing as of now just due to some logistical issues but we are exploring some additional options in the market,” Shoe Carnival spokeswoman Kelsey Sheehan said.
There won’t be a big closeout sale usually associated with store closings because all inventory from the Cooper Creek Boulevard location will be moved to other area stores. The company was able to transfer the store’s eight employees to other locations.
In the big picture it’s not significant. ... It’s all very positive news in the University Park area
Mark Chait, executive director of southeast leasing, Benderson Development Co.
In Shoe Carnival Inc.’s third-quarter earnings call from the most recent fiscal year, President and CEO of Shoe Carnival Inc. Cliff Sifford said the company expected to open four stores but also close four stores in the fourth quarter. Sifford did not disclose specific locations. For the 2016 fiscal year, Shoe Carnival expects to have a net growth of 16 stores, per the earnings call.
Shoe Carnival’s fourth-quarter results will be announced March 23.
Both The Market and The Shoppes at UTC are owned by Benderson Development Co., one of the area’s largest commercial property development firms. The company’s executive director of southeast leasing, Mark Chait, said Shoe Carnival and Tom + Chee’s closures are a drop in the bucket compared to the rest of University Park’s success.
“We have over two-and-a-half million square feet of retail commercial property here,” Chait said. “And it’s more than 98 percent leased, which is extraordinary. I’m confident we’ll have them replaced soon. I don’t think it’s anything negative except for those two stores, obviously.”