Hobby Lobby coming to town


The Stein Mart department store at 6111 West Newberry Road will be closing in August due to under-performance, leading to about 40 job losses.

ERICA BROUGH/Special to the Guardian
Published: Wednesday, June 19, 2013 at 2:01 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, June 19, 2013 at 2:01 p.m.

Hobby Lobby has signed a lease to open a Gainesville store in the location currently occupied by Stein Mart at 6111 Newberry Road.

The Oklahoma City-based arts and crafts retailer plans to open the store sometime next year, spokesman Vincent Parker wrote in an email last Monday.

Stein Mart plans to close its Gainesville store next to Books-A-Million on Aug. 27 after 16 years. Linda Tasseff, director of investor relations for the Jacksonville-based clothing retailer, previously told The Sun the store was not meeting expectations.

Hobby Lobby has 530 stores nationwide that carry 67,000 products in 13 departments, including floral, fabric, needlework, frames, art, hobbies, wearables, jewelry, crafts, cards and party, scrapbooking, seasonal and home accents. Many items in the stores are manufactured by Hobby Lobby at its facility in Oklahoma City. The closest store to Gainesville is in Ocala.

The stores offer space for arts and crafts classes. Classrooms are offered free of charge to teachers, but students are required to use products purchased in the stores.

Parker said the store manager and co-manager usually would train in other stores and that the store would hire 30 to 50 local employees. Full-time employees start at $14 an hour, and part-time employees start at $9.50 an hour. Hiring will not start until a month before opening, and the jobs are advertised in newspaper classified sections, he said.

Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. is owned by the Green family, which started 43 years ago by building mini picture frames in the garage of their Oklahoma City home. The stores still include custom frame departments.

"The foundation of our business has been and will continue to be strong values based on biblical principles, including integrity, service to others and giving back to those in need," Parker wrote.

The owners' biblical principles have been in the news after the company asked a federal appeals court last month for an exemption to the part of the Affordable Care Act that requires coverage of the morning-after pill, saying emergency contraception is tantamount to abortion.

Hobby Lobby stores are not open on Sundays.

Father Phil's

A new sandwich joint called Father Phil's opened last Monday in the recently closed Roly Poly Sandwiches location at 4123 NW 16th Blvd. in Millhopper Square.

Father Phil's tagline is "heavenly sandwiches, wraps, soups and salads" with a religious-themed menu with sandwich choices that include The Creator (build your own), The Apocalypse, The Pope, The Cardinal, The Bishop and The Deacon, plus Garden of Eden salads. Prices range from $3.95 to $6.95 and the restaurant is open from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day.

Rob Pruitt opened Father Phil's, saying he retired five years ago after owning large businesses and living all over the country before returning to his native Alachua County.

Roly Poly is an Atlanta-based sandwich chain. A June 1 post on the Gainesville shop's Facebook page said, "Thank you all for making Roly Poly a success in Gainesville for 10 years. ... The Parikh family has moved on to another venture."

Wharf Express

Wharf Express, a fast-casual seafood restaurant from Tallahassee, is coming to Gainesville with hopes of opening Aug. 10 at 3333 SW 34th St. in University Towne Center.

The menu includes seafood, chicken and salads. Patrons order at the counter and the food is delivered to their table.

Wharf Express has six locations in Florida, including five in Tallahassee, and two in Alabama, with another coming to Panama City Beach. The franchise agreement calls for three Gainesville locations, said Lori Fitzpatrick, vice president of public relations.

Midnight Cookies

Midnight Cookies moved out of its shared kitchen space at California Chicken Grill and opened its own storefront May 31 at 3345 SW 34th St.

The store offers fresh-baked cookies and milk for dine-in, carryout or delivery with store hours from 3 p.m. to early morning and delivery orders starting at 5:30 p.m. most days. It opens at 6 p.m. on Mondays.

The menu includes traditional cookies such as chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin and sugar, creative favorites such as cookies and cream, red velvet, birthday cake, maple bacon and banana.

Midnight Cookies is owned by husband and wife team Jonathan and Jennifer MacAllister.

Jonathan said they plan to offer coffee and other baked goods at a later date.

Schlotzsky's

Schlotzsky's in Magnolia Parke closed May 18 to make way for a credit union.

My Healthcare Federal Credit Union, formerly HCA, bought the building at 4720 NW 39th Ave. in February for $1 million from the Denney Family Limited Partnership, according to the warranty deed.

The credit union will be relocating from 916 NW 66th St. next to North Florida Regional Medical Center.

Schlotzsky's was the building's first tenant when it opened in 1999. The franchisee, Theo Deli Inc., is looking for another location but is having trouble finding the right location for the right price, said Jerry Roberts, director of operations. If they do not open another location, he said another Schlotzsky's franchisee is interested in the Gainesville market.

Five or six employees of the sandwich shop transferred to Gators Dockside, which has owners in common, he said.

BurgerFi

BurgerFi, a growing Delray Beach franchise, was the first tenant to sign on for the new Butler Plaza building at 3518 Archer Road that will replace the former Checkers and Florida Citizens Bank buildings demolished earlier this year.

Butler Enterprises was expected to award the construction contract recently to have the building ready for a fall opening, said Kristin Mamula, marketing associate.

Another tenant has signed a lease for the five-suite building but has not yet made an announcement, she said.

BurgerFi has 20 locations with 18 more opening soon, according to its website. The restaurant serves all-natural, grass-fed Angus beef, Kobe beef hot dogs, frozen custards and fresh-cut fries with an array of toppings.

Zaxby's

Zaxby's is coming to the city of Alachua.

The franchisee — Chasing Chicken 2 Inc. of Madison — bought the old Huddle House building on U.S. 441 just west of I-75 and demolished it.

The building last housed the sex shop Adult World. The owner agreed to close the business and drop lawsuits against the city in exchange for $25,000 in 2004. The property has been vacant since then.

Anthony Clark is the Gainesville Sun business editor.

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