Seven down, nine more to go.
If you’re keeping score, that’s how many spaces are now leased at Whitney Beach Plaza, compared with the number that are vacant.
But the property has come a long way recently: Four of those tenants weren’t there a year ago. And the property’s owners and tenants hope the increase in business will bring more tenants to the plaza.
Owners Ryan Snyder, a Bradenton real estate and banking attorney and Rich Juliani, principal of Boston-based JKI Investment Capital LLC, have spent nearly $2 million on renovating the plaza in less than two years.
“The property was in really bad shape when we got it,” said Snyder, who also owns LBK Liquors, which opened June 30. “But in the last six months, it’s really started to come around.”
In the past year, Caswell Legal, Engel & Völkers Longboat Key Real Estate, LBK Liquors, Linen Locker and Longbeach Café have moved into the shopping center.
Although Snyder said he couldn’t name any new tenants due to ongoing negotiations, he said they might include a bar and pizza restaurant.
“I don’t personally speak much with tenants much about how their businesses are doing, but with the liquor store open and the café doing well, we’re definitely projecting business at the plaza to be better than last year,” he said.
Current tenants are optimistic that business will improve.
Colleen Callandra, owner of the Longbeach Cafe’, says lunchtime has been the restaurant’s busiest time of day since its opening in April.
Although the business has yet to experience the peak of tourist season, she believes the breakfast crowds, as well as lunch, will amp up in the coming months.
LBK Liquors is the Key’s second liquor store besides Publix Liquors, which opened in early 2013 in the Shoppes of Bay Isles. When LBK Liquors opened June 30, the north end had been without a liquor store since 2010, when Longboat Key Liquors closed.
The liquor store has benefited from north-end boaters and people visiting the beaches near Longbeach Village in the months since its opening, and owners hope its popularity will increase as more people begin to flock to the island as winter nears.
However, Gary LaFlamme, a Realtor with Engel & Völkers, said Whitney Beach Plaza isn’t what it used to be. His family owned and operated Longboat Key Liquors from 1989 to 2003.
“Back in the late ‘90s and early 2000s, there weren’t any vacancies at all in the plaza,” he said. “There used to be Isabel’s Restaurant, Longboat Key Liquors, Tiny’s, Cousin’s Pizza, and there was even a post office.”
LaFlamme said business has been slow for his company since it moved to the location in November 2013, but he believes that as more storefronts open, more people will start to come to the shopping center.
“The Longbeach Café draws a pretty big crowd, and as more people start visit the surrounding businesses it makes them aware that we are here,” he said.
Open for business
The following seven business are currently open at Whitney Beach Plaza:
Bayou Tavern, 6814 Gulf of Mexico Drive
Bayou Tavern is an Italian restaurant and pizzeria that offers outdoor dining and a full liquor bar.
Caswell Legal, 6842 Gulf of Mexico Drive
The law firm offers wealth planning and business and real estate legal services.
Design 2000, 6840 Gulf of Mexico Drive
The full-service salon provides hair design, nail, pedicure and chemical services and professional hair care products.
Engel & Völkers Longboat Key Real Estate, 6824 Gulf of Mexico Drive
Engel & Völkers’ Longboat Key location is one of approximately 600 offices worldwide.
LBK Liquors, 6854 Gulf of Mexico Drive
In addition to liquor, LBK Liquors has a beer cave, large wine selection, cigarettes, lottery tickets and mixers such as Coca-Cola and cranberry juice.
Linen Locker, 6826 Gulf of Mexico Drive
Linen Locker is a 24/7 laundry and drycleaning kiosk that allows customers to drop off items, which are taken to parent company All Star Laundry’s mainland locations and returned within approximately 48 hours.
Longbeach Café, 6836 Gulf of Mexico Drive
The newest restaurant in the plaza serves breakfast and lunch. It’s located in the same location as the former Isabelle’s Eatery and offers many of the same menu items.