The year 2019 has been extremely eventful for Wesley Chapel (and for yours truly) and the forecast for 2020 is (drumroll, please)…for much more of the same for the fastest-growing designated area in Florida.

So yes, a lot of new businesses and restaurants opened between S.R. 54 and S.R. 56 in Wesley Chapel in 2019, but there’s so much more to come.

For example, while our area got its first green grocer — Earth Fare — this year, we will have a new (and perhaps even more anticipated) Aldi opening next year.

Although news about new openings along S.R. 56 dominated 2019, with the long-dormant The Grove shopping center just north of S.R. 54 being sold to aggressive new owner Mark Gold in the last quarter of 2019, you can be sure that the 2020 news coming out of our area won’t only be about 56. There are new businesses — and plenty of mom-and-pop-owned restaurants — coming to The Grove, many of which we can’t announce yet, but we plan to continue to be the primary source of news and information about everything coming to this suddenly revitalized commercial area.

On the other hand, S.R. 56, which was extended all the way to U.S. Hwy. 301 this year, isn’t going to get any less busy anytime soon, on both sides of I-75. 

Although newbies like Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar and Bubba’s 33 (opening just after you receive this issue) have joined an already-crowded-with-restaurants area around the Tampa Premium Outlets in 2019, next year will bring The Main Event bowling & entertainment center, Rock n’ Brews and hopefully, Saltgrass Steakhouse.

Further east on (and just north of) 56, the Wiregrass Ranch Sports Campus of Pasco County is expected to open sometime next summer, and the county’s private partner, RADDSports, will bring not only thousands of hotel room nights with the indoor sports complex’s basketball, volleyball and cheerleading events on the weekends, but also will offer lots of great local leagues and events during the week, too. And, although the adjacent Marriott-branded Residence Inn may not open until 2021, it will be home to Wesley Chapel’s first rooftop bar.

Speaking of drinking, those who fancy craft beers will soon have two places to call home — as Florida Ave. Brewing will open what they believe will be Florida’s largest microbrewery at the former Sports + Field location on S.R. 56 and Double Branch Artisanal Ales will open at The Grove. Both local breweries made a big splash with local residents at the second annual New Tampa BrewFest (see pages 35-37) held Nov. 16.

And, while the first Crystal Lagoon by Metro Lagoons actually opened in Epperson in late 2018, it will soon be joined by an even larger (15-acres vs. 7.5 acres) Metro Lagoon at Mirada just a few miles to the north either by the end of this month or the beginning of January. And, based on a recent published report in the Tampa Bay Times, the first neighborhood commercial development may begin in Epperson as early as next year, too.

And, quite honestly, that is just a taste of what you can expect to see in Wesley Chapel next year. And of course, you know where you’ll get most of the news first about what’s happening in our area — and in adjacent New Tampa — the Neighborhood News print editions and!

On A Personal Note…

The year 2019 also has been very special for yours truly. It started in January, when we were one of only 23 U.S. media companies to receive a grant from the Google News Initiative. I then celebrated 25 years of Neighborhood News in February (although our well-attended party was in April), Jannah and I got married in March, Jannah became the director of marketing for RADDSports over the summer and now, we have two new grandbabies who surely will make 2020 even more special for us.

Jannah’s daughter Lauren gave birth to Rosalie (Rosie) Carolyn Cione on Nov. 7 and she and her fiancé Albert Cione have been doing an amazing job with their 6-lb., 3-oz. (at birth) little bundle (above left). Then, on Dec. 2, my younger son Jake and his wife Meghan brought the equally precious 7-lb., 13-oz. Jackson (Jax) John Nager into the world. 

So heck yes, Rosie & Jax’s “Grampa G” and “Grammy J” are kind of excited about 2020!  

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