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Craig Peden

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  • | 9:25 a.m. October 19, 2012
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Business: Craig Peden says any major business decisions he takes will be delayed until after the national elections in November. “I'm not doing anything until after the election,” Peden says. “That's going to steer me for where we're going to go.” Peden won't say which candidate he's backing, but he's holding off on plans to open four more Rib City barbecue restaurants from Tampa to Fort Myers until the election is resolved. That includes plans for two restaurants in Sarasota, one in Port Charlotte and another in Fort Myers. “I need to make sure that we're heading in the right direction economically,” he says. “It'll make me feel a little better.” Peden hopes to increase sales in 2013 after a flat year in 2012, but he says consumers remain cautious about spending. Rib City currently operates 13 corporate-owned restaurants and 16 franchises.

Industry: The restaurant industry is in a state of confusion over the requirements of Obamacare, which could dramatically increase the health care costs for employers. Peden points to the recent news that Darden Restaurants, the Orlando-based chain that owns such restaurants as Olive Garden and Red Lobster, is considering changing the status of full-time employees to part-time status to avoid that cost. “Darden is a huge corporation and they can pay people to figure out what that means,” says Peden, who says he'll be watching closely.

Region: Peden's discussions with other business owners from Tampa to Fort Myers indicate that the recovery is uneven. He says that cuts across all major industries, from construction to hospitality. “I hear good and I hear bad,” says Peden. Consumers remain very cautious. “You could have great service and product, but people don't have money,” he says. The biggest impediment to growth is the lack of available financing. “Right now, if you try to get a loan it's near impossible.”


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