The short-term plan: Re-open the building at 5600 Gulf of Mexico Drive, site of the former Longboat Key Foodmart, as Harry’s Convenient Mart, a convenience store with the same basic items for sale — snack food, wine, beer and cigarettes.
But in the long term, possibly over the next year or two, Harry Christensen, who owns the building, hopes to open a market with grocery items, such as produce and meats. Christensen, who also owns Harry’s Continental Kitchens just behind the building, also plans to sell pre-made sandwiches and salads from his deli.
“For the people that live on the north end, it’s going to be such a benefit because they won’t have to go six miles to buy a loaf of bread,” Christensen said.
Although certain products from the deli would be available at the store, Christensen said he has no plans to move the deli into the 2,184-square-foot convenience-store building.
Longboat Key Foodmart operated in the building for approximately 10 years before owner Hathim Alhabita moved out June 27.
Since then, Christensen has cleared out the store’s shelves for renovations.
Christensen plans to open Harry’s Convenient Market Friday, Oct. 9, to coincide with the re-opening of the restaurant and deli, which closed last week for the summer.
According to Steve Schield, planner for the Longboat Key Planning, Zoning & Building department, the convenience store is ready to open as is, provided that Christensen is not planning to make structural or electrical changes, which would require permits.
Christensen said that he must apply for other permits, including those required by the state to sell beer and wine, cigarettes and lottery tickets. He also plans to install a new ATM and payphone.
For now, Christensen said that many of the products he will sell at the convenience store are to be determined.
“We’re going to find out what the neighborhood wants,” he said.
Harry Christensen previously had four outside tables under the overhang of his restaurant. Then, three years ago, he added an awning and more tables. Last year, he extended the patio to allow for more tables, bringing the total to approximately 10 outdoor tables and 35 seats.
Christensen thought he was following the rules.
“It seems like every restaurant has tables outside,” he said.
But last week, the town served Christensen with a code violation.
He will need to submit two separate site plans for the restaurant and deli to show that he has sufficient parking for the outdoor dining seats. In order to re-open the restaurant and deli in October, Christensen will need to submit the plans by Tuesday, Aug. 4.
The applications will cost Christensen approximately $7,000.
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