Since 2004, Gulfport residents have relied on Beach Boulevard South’s TLC Food Mart for grab-and-go goodies. But, on June 18, the red-and-white storefront closed its doors after Taso Papargiriou sold the shop.
The store was sold to a private owner who is considering turning the spot into a bistro, or another convenience store, according to Papargiriou.
“I told the new owner at the closing he would be a fool to not open it as a convenience store,” Papargiriou said. “This community needs a convenience store, and for that, the community will appreciate and support him.”
Store regulars will remember Papargiriou as a friendly but no-nonsense character who worked tirelessly since to give the community what it needed. His retirement was prompted by the recent sudden death of his son, following the loss of his wife, Claire Papargiriou just last year.
“I don’t have a mind to do anything anymore. I’m focused on being in the house,” Papargiriou said. “It was a great business, I’m just too devastated.”
When pandemic shutdowns began last March, Gulfport got wind that its community newspaper was down for the count. In June of 2020, former long-time owners Ken and Deb Reichart finalized the sale of the paper to current owners Barry Loper and former Gabber reporter Cathy Salustri Loper.
In the midst of a global pandemic, the paper that started in 1968 returned to online news in June, and was back to print in July, thanks in no small part to local donations and an outpouring of community support.
With the 2020 ribbon-cuttings temporarily on hold, the Gabber – along with several other local businesses – put opening celebrations on the back burner.
On Wednesday, July 7 at 7 p.m., the Gabber finally welcomes all readers and supporters of community news to the Village Courtyard, 2902-2914 Beach Blvd. S., to celebrate a belated grand re-opening, complete with a ribbon-cutting, Gulfport chef Morgan Banno’s crafted margaritas, food creations from Pig and the Pole and live music by Hot Tonic.
Local artists Ray Domingo and Monika Watson have also generously donated several original pieces for auction.
Come out and celebrate your community newspaper!
A Year of Good Brews
Despite opening mid-pandemic, one year later Gulfport Brewery + Eatery is thriving in its shady spot on Beach Boulevard South.
Starting a new business is hard at any time, but the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic make Gulfport Brewery + Eatery’s success a testament to the owners and to the community.
“Thank you, Gulfport, for a first year beyond our expectations,” the business posted recently on Facebook.
To mark the milestone, the brewhouse and restaurant celebrated with a crab boil, beer release, and live music party on Saturday, June 26.
More at gulfport-brewing.com.
Dr. Mason Welcomes a Familiar Hand
Mason Eye Clinic – a longstanding optometry practice in St. Petersburg run by Dr. John Mason – is keeping the business in the family.
Dr. Mason’s son, Dr. Austin Mason, will join his father’s practice at 5712 5th Ave. N., making it a father-and-son establishment.
“I love St. Pete. I think it’s an awesome community that’s community orientated,” Austin said. “I want to give back and give a fresh take on optometry.”
For Austin, who graduated in the top 10 of his class from Nova Southeastern College of Optometry, joining his father was always part of the plan.
“I believe in small businesses, and I’m happy to be back,” Austin said.
More at masoneyeclinic.com.