The Sea Breeze Manor has been sold. Located at 5701 Shore Boulevard in Gulfport, the bed and breakfast was built in 1923 and was most recently owned by Lori Rosso, who acquired the property in November 2002 from Lawrence and Patty Burke. After running it for 14 years, Rosso – who worked in politics in Washington, D.C. for many years before turning her focus to business and entrepreneurship – decided it was time for a change.
Frank Keller, who lives in Germany but spent time in Tampa as a child, is the new owner. He closed on the property on February 28 and is in the process of relocating his family to the area, Rosso said, adding that she fielded several offers for the property before accepting Keller’s.
“I couldn’t be happier,” Rosso added. “Frank’s a great guy. I had the opportunity to spend some time with him when he came to visit. The first time we met wasn’t across the table signing documents, you know? We had gotten some good quality time in to chat and get to know each other a bit. I was always concerned about who would come in and really care about the property, as well as Gulfport, and I think he’s a good fit.”
Rosso said Keller is an experienced restaurateur and might add a new dining option to the Sea Breeze, or possibly reconfigure it into more of a boutique inn, but for the time being, it’s business as usual for the iconic property.
“It’s going to take Frank about a year to relocate here because he has other business interests in Europe,” she said. “They might keep it running and just fix and update things before coming up with a new master plan. But they have no intentions of closing it, by any means.”
Rosso said Keller’s ties to the Tampa Bay area run deep, but he looked at properties all up and down the Gulf coast before deciding to stake a claim in Gulfport.
“He lives in Germany and German is his primary language, but he has a cousin who lives in Tampa and he was basically raised here by his aunt.”
Rosso explained that Keller came here to look at properties so he could be closer his family.
“He has a little baby girl and she’s happy as can be,” about the move, she said. “It will be nice to see this new family in town.”
Rosso, who serves as executive director of the Ybor City Chamber of Commerce and is a former president of the Gulfport Area Chamber of Commerce and the Gulfport Merchants Association, said she’ll continue to visit Gulfport and be an advocate for the city.
“Even though I’m over in Ybor, I’m constantly working to promote Gulfport,” said Rosso. “One of the things I love now is that when I go back to Gulfport, I go back to enjoy it. It’s not just another job for me. Now, you will probably see more of me out enjoying Gulfport than when I owned the manor.”