Category Archives: Business

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Sababa Tasting Success After a Year at Sun Center

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Riley Sullivan and Yael Goldstein opened their Mediterranean-style restaurant in downtown Gainesville on St. Patrick’s Day 2015. A year later, they are a married couple and couldn’t be happier.


Yael Goldstein and her husband, Riley Sullivan, at Sababa. Photos by Gainesville Downtown)

Yael Goldstein and her husband, Riley Sullivan, at Sababa Israeli Cuisine. (Photos by Gainesville Downtown)

It’s St. Patrick’s Day. For a chef named Riley Sullivan, you’d think that would mean preparing the traditional corned beef and cabbage or perhaps fixing up an Irish stew over a hot stove.

You know, Erin go Bragh and all that stuff.

Sababas salads, hummus and tabouli.

Sababa’s salads, hummus and tabouli.

Sullivan has Irish roots, for sure. However, on this holiday honoring the patron saint of Ireland, you’ll find him laboring over such savory Mediterranean dishes as shawarma, falafel and bourekas.

The Gainesville native is not turning his back on his Irish heritage. He’s simply pursuing the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow in the form of Sababa Israeli Cuisine at 101 SE 2nd Place, next door to the Hippodrome.

“It’s been incredibly satisfying,” Sullivan said while pulling a pan of roasted potatoes from the oven.

Coincidently, March 17 happens to be Sababa’s one-year anniversary at its Sun Center location. For Sullivan, 25, and his 24-year-old wife, Yael Goldstein, the past year has been more rewarding than they had ever imagined.

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Bo Diddley Plaza Ready for Close-Up

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After a year of construction, the City of Gainesville is ready to unveil a new look and feel to its main downtown gathering space. Improvements include new buildings, landscaping, lighting, acoustics and a cool water wall illuminated with LED lights.


An artists rendering of the new "front porch" of the Bo Diddley Plaza.

An artist’s rendering of the new “front porch” of Bo Diddley Plaza, featuring four water walls (in blue).

Starting Thursday night, when soul singer Charles Bradley performs in concert, Bo Diddley Community Plaza will finally be a happening place again.

diddleyThe public square in the middle of downtown Gainesville has undergone more than a facelift during the past year—it has experienced a $1.8 million renaissance!

The entire north side of the plaza is new, including a decorative water wall, two new outbuildings and an expanded backstage area with large dressing rooms and new airport-style restrooms. The improvements extend around to the stage area, where new speakers and lighting will enhance the concertgoer experience.

“It’s a dramatic difference,” said Nathalie McCrate, a project manager for the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA), the City of Gainesville agency overseeing the project.

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SoMa Art Media Hub Turns 1 With Bash

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To commemorate the anniversary, the Gainesville Arts Market and Gainesville Art Scene are hosting an expanded event that will include local musicians, artists, crafts, vendors, food trucks and beer. 


Celino Dimitroff stands in front of the store he co-owns with Charley McWhorter. Photos by Gainesville Downtown

Celino Dimitroff stands in front of the arts supply store he co-owns with Charley McWhorter. (Photos by Gainesville Downtown)

Nothing pleases Celino Dimitroff more than seeing a steady stream of customers—typically UF architecture students and local artists—browsing his SoMa Art Media Hub and finding what they’re looking for.

After all, that’s why Dimitroff and fellow artist Charley McWhorter decided to open their retail space at 601 S. Main St. one year ago this month.

“I think this is a wonderful store, and it’s something Gainesville has needed—a resource for arts supplies,” said Roz Miller, a longtime resident and abstract artist.

To mark the store’s first anniversary, SoMa Art Media Hub is throwing a party in the form of a larger-than-usual Gainesville Arts Market today from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. in the shaded parking area behind the store. There will be live music from five acts, food trucks and more than 30 artists and vendors offering their work—from T-shirts and jewelry to visual art and Henna tats.

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Art, Exercise Merge at Visionary CrossFit

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The artistic owners of the year-old gym on North Main Street are hosting an eye-opening exhibition during Artwalk Gainesville on Friday night.


Carrie Wachter Martinez and Jesus Martinez in front of the mural they worked on at High Dive.

Carrie Wachter Martinez and Jesus Martinez in front of the mural they worked on at High Dive. (Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

This has been a hectic week for Carrie Wachter Martinez and Jesus Martinez—all for the sake of art.

The Gainesville couple has been busy painting a mural on a wall at High Dive in time for the music venue’s monthly food-truck rally on Saturday. Meanwhile, they have been hustling to put together an impressive art exhibition they will host Friday night at their Visionary CrossFit studios at 716 N. Main St.

Titled “Expanded Visions” and featuring the work of seven artists, the show will be one of the featured stops during the first Artwalk Gainesville event of 2016.

Artwalk Gainesville is a monthly self-guided tour of downtown area galleries, art spaces and other arts-minded businesses. The event takes place from 7-10 p.m. at 21 venues.

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Cyclops Cinema Has an Eye for Film

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Video Rodeo has left town, but Cyclops Cinema has taken its place, offering the same extensive collection of DVDs and Blu-ray discs not available anywhere else in Gainesville. By the way, owner Jason McNeal knows a thing or two about film.


Jason McNeal (aka Jason Armadillo), owner of Cyclops Cinema.

Jason McNeal (aka Jason Armadillo), owner of Cyclops Cinema.

Jason McNeal is living his dream. He’s a diehard film buff who now owns a movie store and, soon, a screening room.

On Dec. 1, McNeal took over Video Rodeo at 10 E. University Ave. and renamed the DVD-rental place Cyclops Cinema at the beginning of the year.

Cyclops is an appropriate name for a couple of reasons. First, a movie projector—like the beast from Greek mythology—has just one eye. Also, Cyclops is a likable character in Marvel’s X-Men series, made into a popular movie franchise. Not to mention that McNeal is an artist known for painting cartoonish monsters.

“I was trying to come up with something catchy,” said McNeal, known artistically by the moniker Jason Armadillo.

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First Magnitude’s Can-Do Spirit

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The 17-month-old craft brewery off South Main Street now has a nifty canning operation that puts its beer on local store shelves—and into your refrigerator.

John Denny keeps an eye on his canning operation at First Magnitude Brewing Co.

First Magnitude co-owner John Denny oversees the canning operation. (Photos by Gainesville Downtown)

Empty cans line up to be filled with 72 American Pale Ale.

Empty cans line up to be filled with 72 American Pale Ale.

You could say that First Magnitude is the little brewery that could can.

Last year, the 17-month-old brewing company off South Main Street began canning its 72 American Pale Ale (APA) on a newfangled canning line it had purchased. Until then, First Magnitude’s brews were available only on draught or in growlers.

“It’s a great thrill to see our product in cans,” said John Denny, FM’s head brewer and one of the brewery’s co-founders. “This just opens up so many more markets for us.”

On Monday, Denny supervised First Magnitude’s 10th canning run, which involved filling about 330 cases of beer. That run only added to the cans of 72 APA already distributed to stores and bars from St. Augustine to Tallahassee and from Jacksonville to Ocala.

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Bank Bar Offers History Lesson, Too

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Those who think they know the full story behind The Bank Bar & Lounge on West University Avenue might be in for a surprise. Its new co-owners are determined to link the past with the present.

Inside the old Dutton Bank, now The Bank Bar Lounge. Photo courtesy of the Matheson Museum)

Inside the old Dutton Bank, now The Bank Bar & Lounge. (Photo courtesy of the Matheson Museum)

Josh Hubner behind the bar at The Bank.

Josh Hubner behind the bar at The Bank.

Jeff Hickey and Rich Pusateri are not history scholars, but as new co-owners of The Bank Bar & Lounge, they certainly can appreciate the building’s historical significance in downtown Gainesville.

Long before the place sold beer, wine and money-themed martinis, Col. Henry Forest Dutton conducted transactions of another type there as president of Dutton Bank, the first financial institution in Gainesville and only the third bank in Florida.

This week you can ring in 2016 in the very room where Dutton did much of his wheeling and dealing 140 years ago. Dutton’s former office is now known as the President’s Room, and it is one of the many cool features of The Bank Bar & Lounge at 22 W. University Ave.

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Persona Vintage Clothing Always in Halloween Spirit

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Owner Nava Ottenberg has a wide selection of authentic costumes for rent or purchase at her downtown store — and a whole lot more.


Nava Ottenberg holds a glittery Roaring 20s gown between displays of disco-era outfits, left, and a pirate's costume.

Nava Ottenberg holds up a green-beaded belly dancer’s outfit between displays of disco-era dresses, left, and pirate costumes.

When new customers begin browsing the many racks of costumes at Persona Vintage Clothing, they soon realize this isn’t a run-of-the-mill Halloween store with plastic masks and cheap, disposable outfits.

“I have people come in everyday and go, ‘Oh my God, you have great stuff!'” said Nava Ottenberg, who owns the eclectic store on the southeast corner of Union Street Station in downtown Gainesville.

In fact, many of Ottenberg’s authentic costumes come with stories. Some appeared onstage in Broadway plays. Others were used in Warner Bros. films from a bygone era. Still others have more personal stories. Continue reading

Hippodrome Stages Monster of a Show

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Candace Clift as Victor has a monstrous task ahead of him/her during All Girl Frankenstein. (Photograph by Michael A. Eaddy)


In All Girl Frankenstein, Candace Clift plays misguided Victor in a dramatic retelling of Mary Shelley’s classic tale.


Candace Cliftin front of the Hippodrome before a recent rehearsal.

Candace Clift relaxes in front of the Hippodrome State Theatre before a recent rehearsal for All Girl Frankenstein.

In the first act of All Girl Frankenstein —playing through Nov. 7 at the Hippodrome State Theatre—the audience is pulled into the turbulent world of Victor Frankenstein. The young man copes with his mother’s death, goes off to university and creates a grotesque monster, then confronts the untimely death of another beloved family member.

The consequences of all that drama leave poor Victor with unbearable anguish that only intensifies during the second act. It’s a grueling role only the toughest stage actor could pull off.

Thankfully, Candace Clift is up to the task.

For two heart-wrenching hours, Clift breathes life into a confused character that definitely could use a hug or two.

“It’s a juicy, juicy role,” Clift told gainesvilledowntown.com. “I’ve always loved old, scary Halloween movies, and Frankenstein is so iconic—the hubris of this man who attempts to play God.”

Frankenstein was the creation of Mary Shelley, who published her first novel, Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus, in 1818, when she was just 21 years old. Shelley’s own tragedy-filled life provided fodder for her ill-fated protagonist.

“You will never meet a character in literature so full of denial as Victor,” Clift said. “He’s very conflicted.”

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Photo Page: Active Streets/Fall 2015

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