Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Sarasota Blaze Pizza to give away free pizza all day Friday

A new pizzeria will be tossing up free pies all day Friday.

Blaze Pizza opens Thursday at 215 N. Cattlemen Road, University Park, beside Jos. A Bank, but on Friday from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., the restaurant will give away free pizzas all day long. 

At the company's last opening, it gave away 1,300 pizzas, according to a spokeswoman.

Don't think you're walking out with an extra large Pizza Hut pizza. Blaze Pizza makes pizza pies that are 11 inches and thanks to their oven, bakes in 180 seconds. Customers make their way through an assembly line, kind of like Chipotle. All pizzas are $8 and under.

Sounds similar? Blaze Pizza is a lot like Rise Pies that opened inside the Mall at University Town Center across the street in October.

The University Park store is its first in Tampa Bay and Southwest Florida. A Gainesville location opened earlier this month and the first in Florida opened last year in Fort Lauderdale. The company's first restaurant opened Aug. 6, 2012, in Irvine, Calif.

The company was founded by Elise and Rick Wetzel (co-founder of Wetzel’s Pretzels).

Read more about Blaze Pizza in Thursday's Bradenton Herald.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Mall at University Town Center app launches

Screenshot of Mall at UTC app
The Mall at University Town Center now has a smartphone app that will serve as a pilot for Taubman Centers properties nationwide.

Taubman announced Tuesday the free app available for Apple iOS devices while an Android version will launch soon. Users can search for "Mall at UTC" in the app store.

Technology company MXM created the app using real-time mall-based navigation features using Bluetooth beacons from another technology company called SPREO.

These Bluetooth beacons are able to sense where a shopper is in the mall and send special offers and deals when they are near certain stores. That feature won't immediately be available but could in the future, officials said.

“Our new mobile app changes the shopping experience, bringing mall navigation and personalization to the forefront like never before,” said Ivan Frank, director of digital marketing for Taubman in a news release. “Taubman is pleased to be the leader in bringing this technology to shoppers to enhance their in-mall experience.”

SPREO Co-Founder and CEO Avi Sacajiu said, “Through our work with Taubman, we are leading the way in using radio frequency signals for precise navigation in large, multi-level spaces like The Mall at University Town Center. This is truly a unique amenity for shoppers.”

Check out the full story on Download the Mall at UTC app here in the App Store.

Here's what Taubman officials say users can do with the new app:

Map It:
Easily locate stores, restaurants and entertainment as you shop.
- With Bluetooth on, the “Map It” screen recognizes your location within seconds;
- Click to view the location of any store – and then click again for directions to that store from your current location;
- Navigation directions then appear, helping you navigate step by step and floor by floor to your destination.
Plan It:
Plan your shopping trip in advance, to get the most out of your visit.
- Add stores to your “Plan It” trip itinerary to make shopping a breeze. You can add stores to your itinerary any time by clicking on the “Plan It” icon.
Love It:
Save your favorite stores for quick information and a personalized experience.
- When you first install the app, you will be asked to mark your favorites;
- The app offers recommendations, including a personal “inspiration board” driven by your “Love It” favorites and their related stores;
- And you can customize your map simply by pressing the “Love It” filter so that only your “Love It” stores appear.

Here are other screenshots of the UTC app to give users an idea of what it can do:

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

TréborStyle opens at Westfield Southgate in Sarasota

A European-inspired jewelry store has opened in Westfield Southgate mall in Sarasota.

TréborStyle opened this week in the mall as it continues to fill vacancies lost from tenants leaving for The Mall at University Town Center.

“We’re thrilled to announce the addition of TréborStyle to Westfield Southgate,” mall general manager Jim Ralston said. “This is an exciting time for Westfield Southgate as we enhance our retailer mix and entertainment options.”

The jewelry company has been around since 2011 created in Sarasota and owned by Marilee Roberts, according to business filings with the state. Roberts formerly worked at Bamboo Homes in marketing and had her own fashion company in Sarasota in the 1990s called Designs by Marilee.

TréborStyle features handmade bracelets, earrings, necklaces and rings imported from Europe exclusively sold at TréborStyle. The store is located near Starbucks.

Bradenton Wawa to give away free coffee for 10 days

Bradenton Herald File Photo
When Wawa opens its first Bradenton location Thursday, it will be followed by 10 days of free coffee.

On Tuesday, the Pennsylvania-based convenience store and gas station announced the free cups of Joe as part of its grand opening plans.

“We are so excited to be continuing our year of celebration with our latest store in Bradenton, and we look forward to many more years of growth and success in this incredible community. Here’s to the next 50 years in Bradenton,” said Chris Gheysens, Wawa’s president and CEO.

Wawa will open at 8 a.m. Thursday followed by a ribbon cutting at 10 a.m. The store is located on the corner of U.S. 301 and Sixth Avenue West.

Kristin Segermark will serve as general manager of the store, the company also announced.

This will be the first of several Wawa stores over the next three years in the Bradenton and Sarasota area as the company continues its Florida expansion. The Bradenton store will be the company's 59th in Florida.

For the rest of down-low on Wawa's grand opening, check out our previous coverage.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Burger and Beer Joint now aiming for February opening

Provided Photo
The final full-service restaurant to open inside The Mall at University Town Center is still at least 45 days away.

Burger and Beer Joint is now expecting to open in early February, said Bill Herman, who is in charge of brand development for the Jupiter-based company.

The restaurant signed with the mall fairly late in the lease signing game, picking up the 5,300-square-foot space after Zinburger Wine & Burger Bar dropped out of the mall. Burger and Beer Joint originally expected to open by Black Friday before being pushed back to December.

Burger and Beer Joint will be located on the east side of the mall beside Kona Grill and will feature a 2,600-square-foot patio where live music is planned to be a staple. The restaurant is also hiring for floor managers.

The restaurant features an eclectic mix of sandwiches, salads and burgers, including the popular Hotel California with bacon and a fried egg. There's also a $150 10-pound mother burger for either anyone with a bottomless stomach or who has enough friends to split one.

The restaurant group signed on with Taubman Centers for a three-center deal that includes the Mall at UTC, the Mall of San Juan in Puerto Rico in March and Dolphin Mall in Miami to open in early fall 2015. Another location will be opening in the spring in City Place in West Palm Beach. The restaurant started in South Beach in 2009 before expanding to Miami's Mary Brickell Village. Last year, the company licensed its first store in Pembroke Pines.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Cutting cheese at Cortez Road Winn-Dixie

At Winn-Dixie's Shoppes at Paradise Bay, not only will store officials cut the ribbon for the grand re-opening tonight, but they will also cut the cheese.

The store, 7400 Cortez Road W., has a new cheese gallery at the front of the store staffed by a cheese steward who tends to the more than 100 artisan cheeses.

Joey Medina, regional vice president for Winn-Dixie, said the section was added because of  shopper demand and the area's affluent demographic.

Cheese stewards are sent to a so-called cheese college for training with Alco Fine Cheeses in Miami where they get the goods on everything from brie to Zimbro.

Bubba Chavez with Alco Fine Cheese was on hand this week to show how he scores and cuts a 75-pound wheel of parmigiano-reggiano. Check out the video above.

Here is the schedule for the grand re-opening:

Friday from 5:30–7 p.m.
Grand Opening
Winn-Dixie invites the community to join in the celebration and experience the store’s new amenities and offerings. Customers will enjoy product tastings, live entertainment and giveaways. A donation will be presented to Meals on Wheels PLUS of Manatee at 5:15 p.m. before the grand opening event.

Dec. 11 from 4–6 p.m.
Celebrate Delicious
Winn-Dixie will host an in-store holiday food celebration including sampling, a holiday cooking demo, wine and cheese tastings, face painting, live music and giveaways.

Jan. 8, 2015 from 5:30–7 p.m.
Fresh New Year
Winn-Dixie welcomes the Bradenton community to enjoy samples of healthy options from its newly expanded fresh departments, watch a cooking demo by the Florida Beef Council and enter to win giveaways.

Jan. 22, 2015 from 5:30–7 p.m.
Wine and Cheese Tasting
The first 200 customers will receive a giveaway at this customer appreciation event. Customers and neighbors are welcomed into the newly remodeled store to enjoy samples from the fresh departments, wine and cheese tastings and exciting raffle prizes.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Bradenton Wawa to open Dec. 18

Provided Photo
Manatee County's first Wawa will open Dec. 18.

Wawa will open its Bradenton convenience store at 701 First St. E., Bradenton, on the corner of U.S. 301 and Sixth Avenue.

The doors will open at 8 a.m. with a ribbon cutting scheduled for 10 a.m.

The grand opening will also include an event called the "Finest vs. Bravest" Hoagie Building Contest where five representatives from local fire and police departments will compete to see who can build the most hoagies in three minutes the traditional Wawa way. The winner and runner-up will each have $1,000 donated to the charities of their choice.

Members of the USO will sing the "Star-Spangled Banner" with a performance by the Suncoast Mummers String Band of Bradenton. Wawa will also present a donation to the Mummer's scholarship fund.

Wawa mascots Wally Goose and Shorti will also be on hand.

This is the first of several Wawa gas stations planned for Manatee and Sarasota counties over the next two years joining the dozens of stations that popped up in Tampa Bay and Orlando.

Site work has begun on another store on 4455 State Road 64 while the Pennsylvania-based company also has plans to build at 5301 14th St. W., and at State Road 70 and Lorraine Road, 4536 State Road 70 E. at Lockwood Ridge Road,county line at University Parkway and Honore Avenue, U.S. 301 and Myrtle Avenue in Sarasota and another in Venice.

Wawa signed a 20-year lease on Nov. 22 for its Lockwood Ridge Road and State Road 70 E. location, according to documents filed with the Manatee County Clerk, the same day GH & G Lockwood bought the entire former