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Coffee Talk
Business Observer Friday, Oct. 12, 2007 14 years ago

Coffee Talk

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Papa's Calistoga's empire to be: There's only one Calistoga Bakery Cafe. But the single Naples location will multiply to eight by next year, including restaurants in fast-growing Bonita Springs and Estero between Fort Myers and Naples.Former politician turns to real estate: Former Florida State Rep. Donna Clarke, who ran an unsuccessful campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2006 after leaving state government, is getting back into the game.First Community Bank unshackled: The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. recently lifted its "cease and desist" order on First Community Bank of Southwest Florida in Fort Myers, more than two years after it criticized the bank for its high number of residential construction loans and the need to beef up its scrutiny of customers who might have links to terrorism.Magnetic Receives Web Award: Magnetic, a Tampa-based Web development firm celebrating its 10th anniversary (featured in the June 25, 2007 Review), has received a 2007 Shopping Standard of Excellence WebAward from the Web Marketing Association for its work on www.askergoworks.com, the Web site for Ergo Works Inc., which provides ergonomic products and consulting services.Trump Tower minus Donald equals lawsuits: In another legal wrinkle to a continuing saga, a new lawsuit has been filed against the developers in the Trump Tower condo project in downtown Tampa, a building that if built, would be the tallest on the Gulf Coast.Market Stree

Coffee Talk

+ Papa's Calistoga's

empire to be

There's only one Calistoga Bakery Cafe.

But the single Naples location will multiply to eight by next year, including restaurants in fast-growing Bonita Springs and Estero between Fort Myers and Naples.

The coffee-and-sandwich shop has the backing of John Schnatter, founder and chairman of the hugely successful Papa John's pizza chain. Naples real estate developer Mark Bates started the restaurant near the corner of Vanderbilt Beach and Airport Pulling roads and it has become the gathering place for business executives and tourists alike.

"What we're doing now is prove the concept," says Michael Cortino, Calistoga's president and chief operating officer. Once that happens, you can expect to see Calistoga's name pop up in cities all over the South, including Sarasota, Tampa and Orlando.

Cortino is the former senior vice president of Papa John's, overseeing 2,500 restaurants.

+ Former politician turns to real estate

Former Florida State Rep. Donna Clarke, who ran an unsuccessful campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2006 after leaving state government, is getting back into the game.

Well, she's sort of back in the game. Clarke, 61, recently took a job with the Sarasota office of Coldwell Banker Commercial NRT, one of the largest commercial brokerages on the Gulf Coast. It's not politics exactly, but with the constant networking, marketing and glad-handing it takes to succeed in commercial real estate, it's a close cousin.

To Clarke, though, the change might as well be heaven. "I'm excited about being a real person for a while," Clarke tells Coffee Talk, adding that since leaving office she's taken some time off to spend with her family, including her grandchild in Fort Myers.

Clarke, who prior to politics ran an environmental permitting and consulting firm in Sarasota and Fort Myers, says she's also excited about working in commercial real estate. Not only the deal-making part, but also the big-picture part of selling Florida and the Gulf Coast to businesses from outside the state looking to relocate here.

Clarke says pitching Florida, as well as Coldwell Banker commercial properties, is a natural fit for her because she's always been a proponent of business growth, both in office and in her past business life. Her niche, she says, will be utilizing her expertise in the laws and politics of the state to help clients find the best location.

Already in sell mode, Clarke tells Coffee Talk that Florida, and the Gulf Coast, is and will remains a good place to be despite the pair of elephants - property insurance and taxes - blocking the way. Those problems will prove to be short-term, says Clarke, while the good parts of Florida, such as job and population growth and the weather, are long-term.

"I'm like a free ambassador for the Chamber of Commerce," Clarke says. "I just love Southwest Florida."

Clarke, a Republican, served three terms in the Florida State House. She represented District 69, which covers north Sarasota County and parts of south Manatee County. Her other previous governmental roles include serving as chair of the Water & Natural Resources Committee, as well as serving on the State Resources Council, the Elder & Long-Term Care Committee and the Insurance Committee.

Despite her new job, politics isn't completely out of Clarke's system. Asked if she will run for office again, she didn't say no. And she didn't say yes. She will follow the 2008 presidential election, she says, and she plans on giving commercial real estate her full attention for now.

+ First Community

Bank unshackled

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. recently lifted its "cease and desist" order on First Community Bank of Southwest Florida in Fort Myers, more than two years after it criticized the bank for its high number of residential construction loans and the need to beef up its scrutiny of customers who might have links to terrorism.

A cease and desist order is the most severe action regulators can take short of shutting down a bank. But in hindsight, bank officials say there were fortunate to start winding down their residential lending business in 2005 before the real estate bust.

"Thank goodness we got out of it," says Diana Black, senior vice president and director of business development.

+ Magnetic Receives

Web Award

Magnetic, a Tampa-based Web development firm celebrating its 10th anniversary (featured in the June 25, 2007 Review), has received a 2007 Shopping Standard of Excellence WebAward from the Web Marketing Association for its work on www.askergoworks.com, the Web site for Ergo Works Inc., which provides ergonomic products and consulting services.

 Now in its 11th year, the WebAward competition recognizes Web developers and marketers worldwide. Entries are judged on their design, innovation, content, technology, interactivity, copywriting and ease of use.

  In 2006, Magnetic received the Association's Standard of Excellence WebAward for its work on the Gardner-Gibson Web site, www.gardner-gibson.com. In 2005, the company was honored for its work on The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce Web site, www.tampachamber.com.

+ Trump Tower minus

Donald equals lawsuits

In another legal wrinkle to a continuing saga, a new lawsuit has been filed against the developers in the Trump Tower condo project in downtown Tampa, a building that if built, would be the tallest on the Gulf Coast.

Jugal and Manju Taneja of Largo claim in their suit, filed Monday in Hillsborough County Circuit Court, they were misled to think that Donald Trump was an investor in the project. They later learned that Trump only licensed his name to local developer SimDag LLC.

+ Market Street

to be divided, sold

Clearwater-based Market Street Mortgage will be split up and sold in pieces and 53 people in the headquarter's office will lose their jobs, according to federal regulators.

The future of Market Street has been uncertain after regulators shut down the parent company, NetBank. The FDIC, unable to find a buyer, is looking to sell individual offices. Market Street employs 590 and has operations in 16 states.

+ Virtual tech

tour opens

You're an entrepreneur and you want to see what technology opportunities there are in the region? You don't need to rent a small plane.

Instead, you can check www.VisitTheCorridor.com, a new virtual tech tour of west central Florida developed by The Florida High Tech Corridor Council.

The site is hosted by a virtual tour guide, Wendy Chioji, anchor for Orlando's WESH-TV Channel 2.

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