Wesley Chapel’s Jamie Hess envisioned a Grand Opening for his new dueling piano bar and restaurant TrebleMakers when that day came, which was supposed to have been in early June. He pictured hundreds of people lined up outside, loud singing and tons of laughter inside and an event to remember forever.

Covid-19 has thrown a wrench into those plans.

Hess still plans to open his doors in June as part of The Grove’s revival, but he’ll have to live with a more subdued opening, more of a ripple than a splash, with the big crowds replaced by scattered customers maintaining social distancing. 

“It’s a shame,” Hess says. “Coronavirus has definitely changed it. We’ll open and be safe and smart, but we’ll have to hold off on the official grand opening until we’re fully released.”

While bars have to remain closed, according to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Executive Order that took effect May 4 for Phase I of reopening the state, Hess is classified as a restaurant.

A number of local businesses are nearing the finish line for being completed and open, like Double Branch Artisanal Ales brewery (above), but that will all depend upon the state’s new rules governing business openings and reopenings. (Photo: Charmaine George)

However, the Double Branch Artisanal Ales brewery, located right across from TrebleMakers in The Grove, also was planning to open around June 11. Unless there’s another executive order or phase easing the restrictions, Double Branch will be unable to make its debut that soon.

The same goes for F45 Training, the new fitness center in The Grove that is ready to open; DeSantis’ current order also is keeping gyms closed.

While area businesses that are up and running are feeling the sting from the current pandemic, there are many that, like Hess, were planning to open over the next few months but are now in limbo. Any new businesses may not see the benefit of opening in this environment, which limits the numbers of people that can be inside any location at one time, combined with mandatory social distancing.

Aldi, the popular discount grocer located on the corner of S.R. 56 and Wesley Chapel Blvd., was expecting a spring opening and would already be open now if not for the virus. 

Also on S.R. 56, Rock & Brews, the family restaurant founded by Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons of KISS, looks ready to go, as does Main Event, the bowling and entertainment center that relies on large crowds interacting.

On the north side of S.R. 56, Aussie Grill by Outback is nearly complete (with Bonefish Grill also close to being ready and Carrabba’s Italian Grill also on the way).

“All of that stuff is pretty much ready to roll,” says Hope Kennedy, the CEO of the North Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce. “It’s just going to be a matter of how they open up.” 

Kennedy says that while the actual buildings may be finished, another problem for the new businesses is being able to train their new employees. 

“Everyone is going to have to figure out what they can and can’t do,” she says. “It’s a difficult situation for everyone.”

ZAXBY’S IS COMING: While businesses that are open or close to opening try to figure out the best course of action, a number of new projects are under way across Wesley Chapel, including some neighbors for the new Aldi store.

The strip of land between the western side of Costco and Wesley Chapel Blvd. —part of the Cypress Creek Town Center development on the south side of S.R. 56 — has a sign posted announcing that Tidal Wave Car Wash is coming soon, next to Aldi.

Immediately south of the 3,120-sq.-ft. car wash, plans for a Zaxby’s, a fast casual restaurant that specializes in chicken wings and fingers, as well as sandwiches and salads, were filed with the county in late February.

Founded in 1990 in Statesboro, GA, Zaxby’s has more than 900 locations in 17 states, mostly in the south. The Wesley Chapel location will have seating for 70 inside its 3,652-sq.ft. space.

And, just south of that, plans were filed April 9 for an 8,700-sq.-ft. commercial retail/office plaza, though none of the five potential tenants has been named.

On the north side of S.R. 56, work continues on a number of businesses located on the land between Bahama Breeze and the Hyatt Place Hotel. There are permitting requests by Zukku Sushi, Crumble Cookie, Charles Schwab and IVX Health, all filed in March and April. Eurowax Center and Woofgang Bakery & Grooming are also in the currently unnamed plaza.

We’re not sure if Crumble Cookie, which is opening in a 1,200-sq.ft. space, was misspelled in permitting or if it may actually be Crumbl Cookie, a popular cookie joint out west. They told us on Facebook they didn’t have any current plans for Florida but hope to soon, and to stay tuned. Hmmmm.

COMPLEX SITUATIONS: While retail and restaurants are all the rage in the Cypress Creek Town Center, two apartment projects also are in the works on the northern end of the development.

At the northeast corner of Sierra Center Blvd. and Garden Village Way (north of the Hyatt Place, alongside I-75), plans were submitted in March and April to build a 300-unit, three- and four-story multi-family community on 12.7 acres.

Named the Silverslaw Apartments, the site plan indicates the complex will have a dog park, yoga lawn and large areas of green space between the buildings, including a neighborhood park.

The Garrett Apartments are another project in Cypress Creek Town Center North with plans filed with the county.

The 11.84-acre project site is located east of CR 54/Wesley Chapel Blvd., a half-mile north of SR 54/SR 56. It will include 260 luxury apartment units.

Garrett has developed more than 50 apartment home projects in 14 states, for a total of more than 11,000 rental units, according to the project’s narrative. This will be Garrett’s third venture in Florida, as the developer also has projects in Davenport and Fort Myers.

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