Gulfport Merchants Chamber Business Briefs



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The month of July is off to an eventful start for Gulfport, as the ongoing closing and opening of businesses continues throughout the summer. 

Local business news includes a new coffee shop that will also feature beer and wine, and the closing of a Gulfport steakhouse, the Artisan. The recent closing of El Chapo also brought changes, as Fortunato’s Pizza plans to occupy that space on Beach Boulevard in the coming months. 

Local Brews and Beans 

Michelle and Allan Bishop purchased the building on 3107 Beach Boulevard with the intention of turning it into a coffee, wine and beer spot two years ago. Finally, the couple plans to open their café, “Gulfperk,” in September of this year. “As you can probably tell, we’re really excited to do this,” Allan said. Photo courtesy of Michelle and Allan Bishop.

The city will see the addition of a new coffee shop- bar combination, coined “Gulfperk.” While renovations are to begin shortly, owners Michelle and Allan Bishop say that the café will not open until September.

“I hope it brings a nice little spot in the community where people can go and chat,” Allan said. 

To be located at 3107 Beach Boulevard, previously Mermaid Bay Mercantile Company, the Bishops bought the property two years ago. 

Originally from Canada, the couple noticed the lack of family owned coffee shops around town, and the idea for a local “beans” spot struck.

“We’ve spent a lot of time in Gulfport, and I can’t tell you how many times we wanted a cup of coffee,” Allan said. “We found a real need in the community.” 

Among the espresso, homemade pastries and iced coffee, the owners hope to include a wall devoted to local artists where they can display their work and put it up for sale. 

“We know a lot of the local artists,” Michelle said. “I think it’s important to dedicate a space for them.” 

Taco Shop Turned Pizzeria 

The building at 3038 Beach Blvd. S. – formerly the home of El Chapo Taco which went out of business earlier this summer – will soon be the third location of Vinny Fortunato’s chain, Fortunato’s Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria. 

Fortunato’s other locations are in Seminole and South Pasadena, and the owner hopes to extend the chain to the larger location. 

“We don’t have everything down yet, but it’s 99 percent looking like we will be in the old El Chapo spot,” Fortunato said. 

Previously, Fortunato was looking into moving into Stella’s Restaurant. The popular lunch and brunch spot is moving north on Beach Boulevard, which will leave the old location at 3119 Beach Blvd. S. vacant. 

However, the space didn’t quite make the cut. 

“I was looking into the old Stella’s, but it’s too small for me,” Fortunato said. “El Chapo would be a better fit.”

For now, the buildings remain vacant, but residents can expect to see changes downtown in the next months. 

The Artisan to Say Goodbye

The Artisan Art & Food Collective will be closing on August 30, and will be sold to Sea Dog Brewing Company. The restaurant will remain open until the end of August.

Tom Golden, the owner of the Artisian Art and Food Collective is calling it quits at the end of the summer. The owner says he will keep the steakhouse and sushi bar open for business until August 30. 

“I’m very open and honest about everything,” Golden said. “My partner passed away and it’s too much but I’ve tried to keep it together and do all I can do.”

Come September, Golden is selling to Sea Dog Brewing Company. 

“The owner of Sea Dog’s came in one night and said, ‘I’d like to buy your restaurant,’” Golden said. “I think he can do a lot for the community, more than I can do.”


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