Monday, April 14, 2014

Darwin Brewing hopes to open tasting room while brewery piping installed

It looks like Darwin Brewing Co., wants to open May 12, but a temporary certificate of occupancy could have the bar area ready for the public any day now.

Jason "J.B." Taylor, an architect at Fawley Bryant working on the brewery building, sent an email Wednesday to Jeff Camden, Bradenton building official, saying there was a request for a temporary certificate occupancy to open the tasting room while the brewery's piping is completed.



Installation of the brewery piping will take three to four week and a final inspection is hoped to be done  May 5 for a May 12 opening date, Taylor wrote:
"I would ask that you reconsider allowing a [temporary certificate of occupancy] for the tasting room while the brewery is completed to allow for Darwin's to start to establish their presence in the area. At this time this is the only thing stopping the doors from being opened as Darwin's has their approval from the state for their beer and wine license as well as their federal permits for manufacture and sale.
As the tasting room is now complete and ready for use, it would be in everybody's best interests to get the doors open and allow this burgeoning area to feed off the momentum as started by Motorworks and the continued draw of the Marauders games."
A certificate of occupancy is the final check from the city saying a business can open its doors, having completed all requirements of construction. A temporary certificate can be granted for 30 days ensuring all the required licensing is there and certain improvements will be completed within 30 days, allowing part of the building to be open for business. A 30-day extension to the temporary certificate can also be requested.

The email chiefly covered communication issues about additional work needed for a final inspection of the brewery, as Taylor, a former Bradenton planning commissioner, requested that all the requests and issues be documented in writing after, it appears, some items have been dropped in conversation. (Of note, Taylor abstained from voting on the brewery while serving on the planning commission because he was the architect of record.)

The email also encapsulates the minutia of inner government working and folks trying to open a new type of business, but at least it offers more details for an opening date. Darwin Brewing Co., originally was due to open in March. When I stopped by on March 31, Jorge Rosabal was hoping by late April.

Darwin Brewing Co. is located at 803 17th St. W, across from McKechnie Field. It is owned by chef Darwin Santa Maria, owner and chef of Darwin's on 4th in Sarasota, and includes business partner Matt Cornelius and Rosabal, the head brewer.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Flurry of activity at Mall at University Town Center

The Mall at University Town Center is six months away
from opening . CHARLES SCHELLE/Bradenton Herald
The Mall at University Town Center is six months, four days away from opening, and in the past month building permit applications and commitments seem to happen on a daily occurrence.

At this point, I know it's hard to keep up with all the stores that are starting to build and those that have been officially announced.

To help, here is a round-up of stores and restaurants that are coming to the Mall at University Town Center so far:

Stores



Restaurants/Food


Remember that the 880,000-square-foot mall is expected to open Oct. 16, with an exclusive preview night Oct. 15. It will feature 100 stores, half of them expected to be new to the Sarasota-Bradenton market. So we're about a quarter of the way through with the list of stores that are confirmed. Some of the store lease signings and commitments could come in the final 90 days before the mall opens.

When open at Cattlemen Road and University Parkway, the Mall at UTC will be the first truly enclosed mall opened in America since 2006. (Sorry, Salt Lake City and your retractable roof mall. You don't count.)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Paid attendance low for Bradenton MLS preseason

A sparse crowd watches Columbus Crew play Malmo FF at IMG Academy
during MLS preseason play on Feb. 5. FILE PHOTO By Paul Videla
While the stands were filled for some of the Major League Soccer  winter preseason games at IMG Academy, many of those tickets were freebies.

Numbers released by IMG Academy to Manatee County Government officials show that paid attendance was abysmal. IMG's multi-purpose stadium can hold 5,000  people for one game. Over the course of eight games, 5,079 people paid to watch preseason games over the entire season, according to the attendance figures.

That comes to $28,206.13 in total revenue, and as part of an agreement with the Bradenton Area Economic Development Corporation, 25 percent, or $7,051.53 will be given to the EDC.

Here is the breakdown of attendance, courtesy of IMG:

Date
Event
Tickets Sold
Revenue
1/31
NE Revolution vs Malmo FF
688
$3,481.33
2/5
Doubleheader: Columbus Crew vs Malmo FF & Toronto FC vs DC United
942
$5,600.58
2/8
Chicago Fire vs DC United
1,565
$9,938.30
2/11
Chicago Fire vs Orlando City
920
$4,919.24
2/12
Chicago Fire vs DC United
544
$2,497.58
2/19
USF vs FC Dallas
156
$319.80
2/22
Ft. Lauderdale Strikers vs FC Dallas
264
$1,449.30


As you can see, the largest turnout was for the Chicago Fire and DC United's Feb. 8 Saturday night match and the lowest was a Wednesday afternoon game between University of South Florida and FC Dallas.

Chris Ciaccio, vice president of marketing and community outreach for IMG Performance, acknowledge the attendance issues, but was upbeat about the showing.

"Keep in mind we gave away a significant number of free tickets for the events to drive attendance. All in all for a year-one event we are pleased with the outcome," Ciaccio said in an email to county officials. "We are also pleased with the PR and marketing value the Bradenton Area received and continues to receive."

Ticket giveaways are a common occurrence in pro sports to drive attendance, especially for struggling teams and for sports that are trying to gain exposure in new markets. IMG and county officials acknowledged during the preseason that the expanded preseason was challenging to put together based on the short lead time from MLS to bring everything together and coordinate teams. They predict next year will be better because they have a year to plan.

One noticeable snafu was that games with FC Dallas were not announced until toward the end of the preseason. Fans also shared their own critiques of the production, too.

The expanded MLS preseason in Bradenton was the first time MLS brought six teams to Bradenton, exclusively holding games at IMG instead of split between Premier Sports Campus in Lakewood Ranch. International, college and minor league teams also competed during the friendlies.

The goal of the agreement is to make IMG Academy the Eastern Conference hub by hosting all 10 Eastern Conference teams for training and friendlies.

Ciaccio also told officials in the email that he is working with Elliot Falcione, executive director of the Bradenton Area Convention & Visitors Bureau to summarize the coverage and market reach to date saying the "initial stats are very positive."

The agreement also gave the Bradenton CVB exposure online on MLS club sites and the MLS site via online ads and live game streams, exposing new markets to Bradenton, Falcione previously told the Herald.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Bradenton's Champs nears construction of Mall at UTC store

Champs Sports will open a concept store with this layout
at the new Mall at University Town Center. (Provided Photo)

Bradenton-based Champs Sports is getting closer to starting construction for its concept store at the Mall at University Town Center.

Champs applied for building permits Friday with Sarasota County Planning & Development Services and are still being reviewed.

The Herald first reported Champs' commitment to the 880,000-square-foot mall at Cattlemen Road and University Parkway in March when Scott Burton, director of marketing for Champs said the store would be 5,300 square feet and be one of the newer concept stores:

"It will allow the product to shine more so than you've probably seen at retail stores," Burton said. "This new look for our store is one that started about a year and a half ago, and we've expanded it ever since."
Both the Westfield Countryside Mall in Clearwater and WestShore Plaza in Tampa feature the new concept stores, and it will mark the first such design in the Bradenton-Sarasota market.
The layout is also larger, allowing the store to display more shirts, shorts and plenty of hats catering to high school varsity athletes. Brands will be matched up with their corresponding apparel so the Air Jordan shoes will be across from the Air Jordan shirts to make it feel like there are mini-shops inside, Burton said.
Read more here: http://www.bradenton.com/2014/03/04/5025647/champs-sports-to-open-concept.html#storylink=cpy

Champs is part of the FootLocker family, which is also planning a store in the mall. The mall is expected to open Oct. 16.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

HGTV to chronicle house move of J Dub's Brewery owners

A tasty brew at J Dub's Brewery in Sarasota.
CHARLES SCHELLE/Bradenton Herald
HGTV will chronicle the house hunting of Sarasota's JDub's Brewing Co., on an upcoming episode of "New House, New Life."

Brewery owner Jeremy Joerger was once a federal agent for the Department of Defense and was ready for a move with his wife Kelly and are set to visit Sarasota to pick out an affordable condo and a warehouse for a new home and new business and a new baby. The brewery's taproom opened earlier this year at 1215 Mango Ave., near Ed Smith Stadium, in Sarasota.

The brewery posted a link about the episode on its Facebook page today to let their fans know. The episode is called "Jeremy and Kelly's Florida Brewery."

The show is set to air 5:30 p.m. on April 13 on HGTV. The premise of the show is like other "reality" house hunting shows where a couple pick from three or so choices for their new home. From HGTV:

New House, New Life takes one city-weary couple and shows them how great life could be in a new home surrounded by nature's beauty. On each episode, our city dwellers travel to such stunning locales as the mountains of Colorado, the lakes of Montana, the horse farms of Tennessee, Pennsylvania Dutch Country, Napa Valley, Calif., and more. They'll look at three homes and decide if they're ready to "drop out" and live in more tranquil surroundings. Everyone dreams of a new house, but are they ready for a new life?
Keep in mind  house hunting shows on TLC and HGTV have been criticized about augmenting reality. Some who have appeared on the show have blogged that their stories were changed by producers of why they were moving and other house hunting shows have followed couples or people who have already purchased their home and re-enact the house hunting journey without disclosing that to the audience.

Joerger had moved from suburban Washington where I can attest the traffic is enough to drive you to drink. Military records show he worked as a staff sergeant special agent with the Army Criminal Investigations Command.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Darwin Brewing working toward April opening

Darwin Brewing Co., will not make its March opening goal and instead
is targeting an April opening date. CHARLES SCHELLE/Bradenton Herald
Drive by Darwin Brewing Co.'s building on 17th Avenue West and a banner promotes "Opening March 2014" across the gates. Don't expect a brew today on the final day of March, though.

The brewery is targeting opening in April, said Jorge Rosabal, head brew master on Monday. Darwin Brewing, 803 17th St. W, received its federal brewery license last week and is waiting on its state licences and permits, Rosabal said.

The exterior is nearly complete during a visit Monday afternoon, with the work by Bradenton firm Fawley Bryant Architects bringing a fresh industrial look to the property, which housed a tired Bradenton Press warehouse. A carpenter continued sawing away Monday to complete the bar area, while the back room looked to be a work in progress with a few spare parts lying around, but all the important piping is there along with kegs and the rest of the brewing system.

The bar is operated by chef Darwin Santa Maria, who is bringing Andean-inspired beers here, some of which are already being produced at his Darwin's on 4th restaurant in Sarasota.

Keep tabs both on Bradenton.com and https://www.facebook.com/DarwinBrewingCompany for a soft opening date and grand opening announcement. It's likely going to be during the third or fourth week of April.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Taco Bell launches breakfast today

Taco Bell's Waffle Taco with sausage and egg. Provided photo

I guess Taco Bell's breakfast gives new meaning to wake and bake.

You don't have to be high to order steak and eggs at Taco Bell at 7 a.m., the food is actually pretty good.

Thursday marked the first day Taco Bell launched its breakfast menu nationwide offering the Waffle Taco, an A.M. Crunchwrap, hash browns, coffee and Cinnabon Delights, which are hot pastry puffs filled with a warm cream cheese filling. The menu is available from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m.

I decided to try it out for myself this morning on the way to work, and since tacos are never a good driving food, I declined to try the Waffle Taco. It just seemed like disaster waiting for me.

Instead, I went with the A.M. Crunchwrap with steak. They offer a choice of bacon and sausage, too. The food was hot, crunchy and a good breakfast food to have one hand on the wheel and another shoving that glorified Hot Pocket down my mouth. It wasn't greasy, surprisingly, and the hash brown delivered a better crunch than the toasted wrap. The wrap definitely needed some salsa, which I attempted to put on at a stop light, but you can't do too much before it ends up on your shirt.
The A.M. Crunchwrap I tried this morning.

But the Cinnabon Delights were something else. It's a hot puffy pastry ball with cinnamon sugar that once you bite into it, the dam breaks and the hot cream cheese filling comes pouring out. These could easily become addictive. I'm fortunate my meal only came with two. I don't know about ordering a cup of these sugar bombs.

The coffee was OK. It had a different taste to it that I had difficulty grasping what exactly it is, almost an alcohol flavor to it. A coworker thought it tasted weak, though. Jury's still out on that one.

Overall, the breakfast seems like a decent option compared to Jack In The Box from the West Coast.

Have you tried out the Taco Bell breakfast? Drop your review below.