There’s a lot of buzz in town about a new bar opening at Whitney Beach Plaza in the space that used to be home to Tiny’s of Longboat Key.
But don’t raise your glasses just yet.
Plaza owner Richard Juliani confirmed to the Longboat Observer that a bar and liquor store are coming to the shopping center and that he hopes to be a partner in the venture. But, as of Monday night, that’s all he could confirm.
“Anything more than a handshake, it hasn’t happened yet,” he said. “We haven’t determined who the partners will be. A lot of people are jumping the gun.”
It may not be a done deal, but that hasn’t stopped the rumor mill from churning. The rumored partner: Sam Lastinger, a trained chef and former bartender at Pattigeorge’s.
The Longboat Observer was unable to reach Lastinger.
Juliani said he’s been in negotiations with two separate partners but declined to name names until a lease is signed, which he said could happen later this week or next week.
Meanwhile, Engel & Völkers Longboat Key announced last week that it would open in the plaza no later than August — making it the plaza’s first new tenant to sign a lease.
“We’ve been focused on finding the right location in north Longboat Key that best captures our formula-driven ‘shop’ concept,” said Ray Alexander, broker/owner, in a prepared statement. “The Engel & Völkers shop design is the lynchpin to our brand. It’s crucial that we scouted and selected the best possible location to ensure our formula-driven shop design works best for us, and we believe the newly renovated Whitney Plaza fits our profile.”
“Our ‘shop’ locations are typically in retail areas that augment our concierge/lifestyle approach to helping our clients, and our waterfront-oriented space within Whitney Plaza suits us well,” Alexander said.
The property has been the subject of ongoing speculation since December 2010, when Juliani’s company, JKI Investment Capital LLC, purchased it with assets in a commercial short sale for $3.7 million, with many residents expressing frustration with the mostly vacant plaza.
Construction began in November, but it wasn’t until last month that Juliani listed the property with Ian Black Realty agents Nick DeVito II and Debbie Anglin because he wanted construction completed before he would lease out the building.
Since November, the property has received upgrades, including new roofing, landscaping, painting, air-conditioning and heating units and stucco. Last week, contractors finished the property’s new parking lot.
New walkways will be completed later this week, and he hopes construction will be finished within a month.
Juliani listed a variety of businesses that have expressed interest in the property, including another real-estate office, gym, restaurants and a small market and/or convenience store.
“We hope to have it leased out as soon as humanly possible,” he said.
Meanwhile, many Longboaters are on the edge of their barstools waiting for news about the new bar coming to the old Tiny’s. The bar opened in 1979 and was a favorite gathering spot for many residents and Key employees until it closed in March 2010.
Terry Griffin, a Tiny’s regular, described his excitement at the possibility of a new bar.
“’Ecstatic’ would be the word,” he said. “I just miss all those people who were regulars at Tiny’s. It was always a place to go to share a story and a drink with friends and share some lies with each other.”
Ian Black Real Estate agents Nick DeVito II and Debbie Anglin are listing the Whitney Beach Plaza property, located at 6840 Gulf of Mexico Drive.
The listing advertises 15 spaces available ranging from 401 square feet to 10,138 square feet for $16 per square foot.
Contact Robin Hartill at [email protected].