MANATEE -- Whatever happened to that restaurant that was supposed to open? Or that brewery? Hey, how about that grocery store?
Sometimes the hype machine gets the best of the business world -- and so do bureaucratic brick walls. Announcements and deals are made, but some new retailers never come to fruition or are extremely delayed.
Here's an update of some of the more highly anticipated new restaurants and retailers that had plans to come in 2014 but never made it. Many of these are on track to open in 2015.
Burger 21: This competitor to Square 1 Burgers announced in December 2013 that it signed a franchise agreement with The Melting Pot Sarasota franchise owners Barry Berkowitz and Brian Marshall. The company's own announcement said the restaurant is expected to open in 2014.
"At this time, we are still searching for the best site for Burger 21 in Sarasota so we don't have an update on opening plans at this time," said a spokeswoman for Front Burner Brands, a restaurant management company for Melting Pot and Burger 21.
Little Giant Brewery: Michael Wagner was one of the first out of the gate to announce plans for a microbrewery in Bradenton, but will be the third to open at best. "We're trying to do it the right way for us, and it just takes time," Wagner said this month. The 5,400-square-foot warehouse at 301 Seventh St. E. has been renovated and recently had a new paint job. Tasting room construction is up next and, if all goes well, an April opening is anticipated.
Armani, Gucci, Tiffany's: Others touted in 2013 that these luxury retailers would be coming to The Mall at University Town Center, which opened Oct. 16. Those reports were based off a document that was out of date and, as store announcements rolled out from building permits, these retailers weren't on the list. Don't expect these luxury retailers to be coming to Mall at UTC unless the economy fully recovers here and the mall decides to build an expansion wing.
Beer and Burger Joint: This South Florida chain is taking over a space inside the Mall at UTC that was supposed to feature Zinburger Wine and Burger Bar. Zinburger, based in Arizona, told the Bradenton Herald earlier this year the Sarasota-Bradenton market isn't in its plans for now. Zinburger had plans for several other Florida locations, but none of them opened. So for B&B, they signed on late with the mall as part of a three-mall deal for Taubman. After expecting to open originally on Black Friday, company officials said they are expecting a February opening.
Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches: Each day in the Herald's downtown newsroom, someone asks, "Is Jimmy John's open here yet?" The freaky-fast sub shop is highly anticipated as downtown Bradenton's first chain restaurant at the former Retro City Café, 1001 Third Ave. W. The location is being operated by Tommy Venema, who operates the Manatee Avenue and Cortez Road shops. When announced in August, there was an outside chance for a December opening. Venema says he could open by the end of February/beginning of March. The location will also have outdoor dining, according to city officials.
World of Beer Bradenton: A third-quarter opening was anticipated for the World of Beer at 497 Cortez Road, but either way, it was always anticipated to open after the World of Beer on Main Street Sarasota in the former Eat Here. Dean Lambert, owner of the two locations, said he anticipates WOB Sarasota to open Feb. 1 and WOB Bradenton to open March 1. He is still waiting for his master building permit to make the Sarasota date, while the permit has been acquired for Bradenton where renovation work is more extensive.
How Do You Roll? This Austin, Texas, sushi shop announced in December 2013 that it was eyeing the University Park area to expand to join its Gainesville and Sunrise locations. The company said via Twitter that the market is still in the works, but its next location in Florida will be in Fort Myers beside the Golf Coast Town Center.
First Street Save-A-Lot: The discount grocery store's anticipated arrival is probably the king of premature announcements in Bradenton. A groundbreaking ceremony was held in October 2012. But the Minnie L. Rogers Plaza and Retail Center has yet to be built with the 16,000-square-foot grocery store.
Reporting by colleague Mark Young showed that the financing was never settled and still isn't for the project. The city approved an agreement this past August that provided a $300,000 pre-development loan. Now the project is in the hands of the developer, Upward Sal Bradenton LLC, who was expected to use tax credits and federal loans to finance the project.
The city is still part of the project as master lease holder, responsible for finding additional tenants. City Clerk/ Treasurer Carl Callahan said the developer is still working on closing on its $6 million of federal tax credits, and loans and dirt should be turning in the spring. But those statements have been made many times before by city and business leaders.
Charles Schelle, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter @ImYourChuck.