Monday, August 18, 2014

Mall at University Town Center launches Facebook fan page

Mall at UTC advertising its grand opening on Facebook.
Photo provided
The Mall at University Town Center is updating its official Facebook fan page as the shopping center has less than two months to go before its opening.

The page,, was created in April, but started posting updates this past week. The biggest of course, is a Facebook event invite for the grand opening party. The mall is expected to open Oct. 16, but the festivities are advertised to last through the weekend until Oct. 19.

The invite advertises live entertainment and special activities during the grand opening weekend, but no additional details yet. The mall is hosting a media preview night Oct. 15 where people who bought tickets to the event from non-profits will be able to shop that night as well and on Oct. 16, there might be a small opening ceremony, but don't expect it to last long as the doors will fling open quickly at 10 a.m.

Taubman Centers used to have celebrities show up and make a grand spectacle for its mall openings, but a former spokesperson for the company said the mall operator realized that enough people come out simply for the stores.

I've seen the lights on (Saks) Fifth Avenue

While the Mall at University Town Center is still much of a construction zone, at least part of it has turned into some nice drive-by entertainment.

Saks Fifth Avenue's building will have a nighttime glow and light show as its building is projected with white, yellow and blue hues. I drove by the site Sunday night and captured it in the video below:

It's a much better sight in person, and the light show won't be relegated to Saks Fifth Avenue. The rest of the mall is expected to have blueish-purple lights beaming through its louvered-glass ceiling.

The flagship store in New York City is known to have 3D Christmas light shows on the exterior of its store. I'd have to wonder if that would be possible here, too.

The lighting, design and glass treatment for the Mall at UTC suddenly makes the area seem much more cosmopolitan.

The mall, and Saks, is expected to open Oct. 16.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Real estate blog says Bradenton is sexy and knows it

The Peek-A-Boo Lounge on 14th Street West helped
give Bradenton a No. 5 ranking for adult entertainment
per capita in a Movoto ranking for sexiest city.
File Photo by Paul Videla
Bradenton and Sarasota are two of the sexiest cities in the country, according to real estate blog Movoto.

Sarasota took top spot, Bradenton is third while Pensacola was No. 2 because it has the most lingerie stores per capita in the nation, according to the blog. Movoto is known for creating quirky real estate trend stories and rankings.

Looking at the qualifications for the ranking, kinky would be a more appropriate descriptor.

Here is what gets Bradenton and Sarasota their dirty distinctions, Movoto says:

First, we made a list of small cities with populations between 50,000 and 60,000, which gave us 140 places. Then, we collected data from the U.S. Census (2010) and business listings in seven sexy criteria:
Nightlife per capita (bars, clubs, comedy, etc.)
Lingerie stores per capita
Adult stores per capita (novelties, videos, etc.)
Adult entertainment per capita (strip clubs, burlesque, use your imagination…)
Massage parlors per capita (hey, it can be a sensual experience)
Hotels per capita
Average summer temperature (hotter means fewer clothes *wink*)After that, we ranked each place in each category from one to 140, with numbers closer to one being sexier. Then, we averaged each places’ rankings into one Big Deal Score, with lower scores being better.
Incidents like having sex in public parking lots in Lakewood Ranch were not included either.

Considering those qualifiers, the ranking might not be a surprise given the number of questionable spas and massage parlors that line Tamiami Trail from the airport into the city and the cluster of adult novelty stores around the DeSoto Square Mall. Yet, surprisingly, Bradenton ranked lower for massage parlors compared to other cities, the blog said.

Bradenton's store was helped by being ranked No. 5 for nightlife options, bolstered by a sudden boom in craft breweries.  Bradenton also earned No. 5 for hotels per capita, which is a needed  and given the romantic views along the Riverwalk and so many hotels to serve Anna Maria Island.

Check out the difference between Bradenton and its southern neighbor from Movoto:

I'm actually surprised how low the massage rank is for Bradenton compared to Sarasota and wonder if Tamiami Trail's parlors might have influenced the rankings. Depending who you ask, some folks consider the 34243 ZIP code Sarasota. That area runs from the county line north to just past the Bearded Clam Tiki Bar where spas and parlors proliferate.

Sarasota also ranked higher for adult stores and lingerie stores per capita, too. Would anyone agree? Some folks in Bradenton would joke that Sarasota considers some of these businesses as "culture."

In either case, congratulations Bradenton and Sarasota. Shake what your momma gave you.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

How to apply for Mall at University Town Center jobs (updated)

Finding a job at the Mall at University Town Center is now a little easier.

CareerSource Suncoast has launched its portal at that links to application and job information for the new mall.

The Herald was the first to report in July about the creation of the jobs site and the challenges the agency has finding the openings. The mall is expected to create 2,000 full- and part-time jobs.

The site lists openings so far at Ann Taylor, Dillard's, Janie & Jack, Loft, Gymboree, Pottery Barn and Williams-Sonoma.

Employers at the mall must visit to register in order for job openings to appear on the CareerSource website. Employers should list University Town Center Drive as the location of the work site address to show up on the dedicated website.

Another big chance to land a seasonal job will come Saturday as Crate & Barrel will host a job fair for seasonal sales and merchandising associates from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Hampton Inn and Suites, 8565 Cooper Creek Blvd. Applicants should download an application from Crate & Barrel's website and complete it before coming to the job fair. For permanent positions, Crate & Barrel is directing applicants to its website for all openings.

For Macy's, the company announced that it will offer jobs first to employees at the DeSoto Square mall location as the store will close in favor of the Mall at UTC location. However, Macy's is still advertising for positions at the new mall.

Here is a list of all the openings we could find online with links of where to apply:

Universal Protection Service (Mall at UTC retail security), full-time supervisor and full- and part-time officers

Aldo, various positions, send cover letter and resume to

American Eagle Outfitters, sales associate and store management. (Search for Sarasota)

Ann Taylor, various positions

Anthropologie, management and supervisors

Aveda, store management, retail associates,

Art of Shaving, various positions,

Bebe, various positions. Submit resume at

Bose, store manager 

Boston Proper, assistant manager

BRIO Tuscan Grille, various positions

Brooks Brothers, tailor, visual coordinator, supervisor

Brow Art 23, open applications

Cache, various positions, email

Calypso St. Barth, store manager and assistant manager

Camicissima Milano, various positions

The Capital Grille, various positions

Cheesecake Factory, all positions

Chico's, various positions

Crate & Barrel, all positions; job fair information for seasonal positions listed above.

Dillard's, sales associates

Everything But Water, various positions, email cover letter and resume to

Express, store manager

Godiva, store manager and sales associates

Gymboree, management and store associates

H&M, department manager, department supervisor and visual merchandiser,

Invicta, various positions, email

J. Crew, store director and associate store manager 

J. Jill, store manager

Jackie Z Style Co., various positions. Send resumes and cover letters to

Janie and Jack, management and sales associates

Kona Grill, all positions

L'Occitane En Provence, part-time sales associate

Lilly Pulitzer, management

LOFT, co-manager and sales associates

Lovesac, store manager

Lululemon, educator and key leader

LUSH Fresh Handmade Cosmetics, store manager

MAC, various positionssend resume to
Deborah Brown
Executive Director, Human Resources
M·A·C Cosmetics
130 Prince St, 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10012

Macy's, various positions

Mandarin Express, download application

Mayors Jewelers, management and sales (Location listed as Miami)

Papyrus, sales supervisor

Peter Elliot Blue, sales manager and sales associate

Pottery Barn, various positions seasonal and permanent

Rise Pies, general manager and assistant manager

Robert Graham, store manager

Seasons 52, all positions

Sephora, various positions (Enter 34243 in search)

Smoothie King, general manager

Solstice Sunglasses, store manager

Soma, various positions

Stuart Weitzman, sales associate

Swarovski, store manager

TINA Stephens, store manager

Tommy Bahama, store manager (When performing new search, select retail division then location for UTC jobs to appear.)

Tumi, sales associates, store manager

Vera Bradley, various positions

The Walking Company, send resume and salary history to, ATTN: Human Resources

Williams-Sonoma, various positions seasonal and permanent

Z Gallerie, e-mail inquires to ATTN: Human Resources

Zales Jewelers, jewelry consultant

Friday, August 8, 2014

Jon Stewart pokes fun at Manatee County drug maker, corruption trial

"The Daily Show with Jon Stewart"
Political news junkies are probably aware of the scintillating corruption trial of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen McDonnell.

The trial entered the bigger pop culture arena Thursday night when Jon Stewart devoted the first eight minutes of The Daily Show to the trial, and notably about the product of a Manatee County drug company.

Even those who follow the trial might not be aware that the company and the man once in charge of it, Jonnie Williams, has strong ties to Manatee and Sarasota counties. So before we get to the funny, we need a quick history lesson.

The trial coverage makes frequent mention of the drug company Star Scientific and its Anatabloc drug that was being hawked for some attention and favors from the governor. What was supposed to be a nutritional supplement was being privately pitched as a wonder drug that might have benefits for inflammatory diseases like Alzheimer's. 

After the company dumped Jonnie Williams in December, right around the timing of the indictment against the McDonnells, Star Scientific made a series of moves that included renaming itself Rock Creek Pharmaceuticals and moved from Virginia to the Roskamp Institute in Tallevast here in southern Manatee County. The man in charge of Roskamp research, Dr. Michael Mullan, would then oversee Rock Creek. Williams is still an adviser to the company getting $1 a month until the company becomes profitable. Williams was testifying as a witness with partial immunity. 

Williams himself keeps the company for his private jet based at the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, which was loaned to the McDonnells.  He also has a beautiful, large compound on Bay Shore Road in Sarasota's Indian Beach-Sapphire Shores neighborhood, a condo near IMG Academy and his Star Tobacco, which preceded Star Scientific, was based in Sarasota.

So, on Thursday's episode Stewart sought to recap the insane details of love triangles and favors in a segment, "The Giving Spree." 

Watch the video here:

"That's right, Virginia is for lovers...for money," Stewart said as he placed his Dr. Evil pinky to his mouth. "But you know cold hard cash can't hold you at night and a blank check can't wipe away your tears."

He tackled the drug, Anatabloc, asking how do you make a wonder drug out of tobacco, filled with "wonder carcinogens."

"You're going to kick yourself for not thinking of this first. He nuked the tobacco in 200 Walmart microwaves," he said. "Tired of feeling bad? Try some of our highly irradiated cigarette pills.

"Apparently when you put two terrible things together it makes something great. Gonorrhea is terrible, but when you mix it in a Crock-Pot of dog vomit, it's transformed into a healthy part of any child's breakfast."

He later asks if there's anything weirder for this quid-pro-quo. Oh yeah. At an event where McDonnell was endorsing former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for president, Maureen McDonell told Ann Romney, according to the indictment, that the drug could cure her multiple sclerosis. 

"How do those two live with themselves?" Stewart asked. "I guess it's easy thanks to: Forgetulex. From the makers of Anatabloc. The herbal supplement guaranteed to wipe out the memory the time you trivialized a woman's debilitating, incurable disease so that a whacked-out supplement huckster would buy you a watch. Foregetulex: It's made up of crushed-up heroin needles and bed bugs."

Well, the watch part is real. Earlier during the trial, the jurors got to handle a $6,000 Rolex bought for McDonnell as part of the $165,000 in gifts the former governor and first lady were showered with.

Next, he moved onto the supposed love triangle where Williams said he didn't know Maureen McDonnell was interested in him despite texts like "I felt the earth move and I wasn't having sex!"

"How did he not pick up on the signals? Maybe because he's a crazy-eyed inventor, got his head filled with so many ideas, doesn't know when the ladies are trying to hit him up," Stewart offered before impersonating Williams. "I didn't know you liked me. I was just thinking if I put my farts in a George Foreman grill, maybe I can cure lupus. I don't know! I'm an inventor!"

"Please don't try doing that at home," he said.

The trial is ongoing and will only provide more fodder for Stewart and company.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Mall at UTC Cheesecake Factory now hiring for all positions

The Cheesecake Factory is now hiring for general positions, in an effort to get most of its staff in line.

The mega menu and dessert specialist is hiring for the following positions at the Mall at University Town Center:

  • Dessert/ espresso makers (up to $13 per hour)
  • Line cooks (earn up to $14 per hour)
  • Prep cooks (earn up to $13 per hour)
  • Bussers (earn up to $500 per week)
  • Bartenders (earn up to $900 per week)
  • Servers (earn up to $700 per week)
  • Host (no salary given)
  • Steward (no salary given)
  • Dishwasher (no salary given)

The steward position is described as someone who orders the food inventory and communicates with vendors.

Positions available are both full time and part time.

To search for available positions, visit

The 7,983-square-foot restaurant will features a 1,239-square-foot patio and is expected to open on the mall's first day, Oct. 16. The mall is expected to create 2,000 jobs for the area.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

DeSoto Square Macy's moving sale starts with up to 50 percent off

Macy's is closing at the DeSoto Square mall.
File Photo by Grant Jefferies
The DeSoto Square Macy's started its moving sale Monday with some good deals.

The store is trying to sell off as much merchandise as possible before the new Macy's opens at the Mall at University Town Center on Oct. 16. Macy's expects the DeSoto store to close sometime in late September, but the closing date could reach into early October.

During a visit to the store Tuesday, items ranged from 30 to 50 percent off the lowest ticketed price. That means if shoppers rummage through the existing clearance racks, they will find a great deal. But there are no red flags directing shoppers to the old clearance racks, so good luck finding the clearance racks.

Most items were marked for 30 percent off the lowest ticketed price including clothing, cosmetics, handbags and small appliances.

Mattresses and down comforters were marked 50 percent off. The bedding area is a little tricky because the cotton comforters are 40 percent off and bedding is 40 percent off while those other categories had higher markdowns.

China, flatware, luggage and table linens were some of the other items marked 40 percent off.

Expect merchandise to move quick regardless of the markdown. Employees were already packing up the sunglasses and the sunglass case Tuesday afternoon, to ship out all the shades.

Signs also told shoppers that all sales are final and if items were purchased before the sale began Monday, they can be returned at any Macy's until Sept. 6.