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Most-read 2013: Bi-Lo, Tebow, Khan

By Karen Brune Mathis, Managing Editor

Bi-Lo Winn-Dixie, Tim Tebow, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Shad Khan, Nordstrom, Macy’s, Wawa and Allied Veterans dominated online readership in 2013 at jaxdailyrecord.com, the website for the Financial News & Daily Record.

Four of the top headlines comprised two each related to Bi-Lo’s acquisition of Jacksonville-based Winn-Dixie and Tim Tebow’s plans to open PDQ restaurants in the area.

Showing the power of the doughnut, the Krispy Kreme story was from 2012.

Other than Krispy Kreme, the nine other most-read stories were published from February through September, indicating that a lot of big financial stories break outside the holidays, or at least outside the heart of football season.

Here’s a brief summary of the stories ranked as most-read online in 2013.

1. Bi-Lo Winn-Dixie cutting $100M in labor costs, to focus on customers

Posted May 13

After Bi-Lo LLC acquired Jacksonville-based Winn-Dixie Stores Inc. in March 2012, the company began cutting $100 million in labor costs from the merged company, which has combined sales of $10 billion. Dallas-based Lone Star Funds, which owns Bi-Lo, bought Winn-Dixie for more than $560 million in a merger that was completed March 9, 2012. Bi-Lo LLC, formerly based in Greenville, S.C., moved the combined headquarters to Winn-Dixie’s base at 5050 Edgewood Court in West Jacksonville.

Update: The combined company took on the new name Southeastern Grocers Inc. as the holding company and filed for an initial public offering, although it has not said when it plans to complete the stock sale.

2. Plans filed for Tim Tebow’s PDQ Jacksonville restaurant

Posted May 3

Tim Tebow’s PDQ restaurant in Jacksonville is designed as a nearly 4,400-square-foot building, including a patio, in the Hodges Pointe Plaza shopping center, anchored by Walmart, at Beach and Hodges boulevards.

Plans filed with the St. Johns River Water Management District show the building on about an acre at 3260 Hodges Blvd. next to the Bob Evans restaurant. PDQ, which stands for “People Dedicated to Quality,” is a Tampa-based chicken sandwich chain. Its menu features chicken tenders along with chicken and turkey sandwiches, salads, sides and shakes.

Update: The first PDQ opened Nov. 3 and a second will open early this year at 13702 Old St. Augustine Road in Bartram Park. A third is planned at Bartram Walk West in St. Johns County along Florida 13 at Race Track Road.

3. City reviewing Tebow’s $1.1M PDQ restaurant in South Jacksonville

Tim Tebow’s PDQ restaurant planned in South Jacksonville is

a $1.1 million construction project.

The City is reviewing a building-permit application and plans for the one-story “People Dedicated to Quality” restaurant at 3260 Hodges Blvd. in Hodges Pointe Plaza.

The shopping center development property is owned by the Pablo West Land Trust, part of Sleiman Enterprises.

The TBO.com site said Tebow is financially backing several North Florida locations of the chain.

4. Westsiders: Krispy Kreme returning to Cassat Ave. site

Posted Sept. 27, 2012

Krispy Kreme Doughnut Corp. intends to rebuild at its 810 Cassat Ave. location, which the North Carolina-based chain closed in 2005 to the dismay of many Westside customers after 35 years in business. Development site plans filed with the city show a 2,300-square-foot Krispy Kreme with a drive-thru lane.

“The proposed site will include the demolition of the existing building and parking spaces and construction of a new Krispy Kreme building and (a) new drive-thru lane,” according to the site plans. Krispy Kreme is based in Winston-Salem, N.C., and its signature is the Original Glazed – and that’s a registered trademark – doughnut.

A Florida Times-Union report on Dec. 14, 2005, said Krispy Kreme closed two of its four area stores – the Cassat Avenue location and one in Orange Park. Property records show the Cassat Avenue building was constructed in 1970. Krispy Kreme owns the property, which is a little less than half an acre.

Update: The store was rebuilt and reopened May 28.

5. Nordstrom Rack opening Jacksonville store Nov. 7

Posted Aug. 27

While it’s still a year before the full-line Nordstrom is expected to open at St. Johns Town Center, the off-price Nordstrom Rack is scheduled to open at 9 a.m. Nov. 7 at The Markets at Town Center.

Nordstrom Rack will open at 4924 Big Island Drive, not far from the site of the area’s first full-line Nordstrom under development. The City is reviewing construction plans for the Nordstrom wing, whose shell project costs total $9 million. The Rack will be the first of the Nordstrom brands to open.

Update: Nordstrom Rack opened as planned and the full-line Nordstrom is expected to open in October.

6. FOP President Nelson Cuba arrested, Allied Veterans shut down: Federal search warrant looking for illegal gambling, fraud, money laundering

Posted March 13

Daily Record news partner WJXT Channel 4 reported the leader of Allied Veterans of the World — a Jacksonville nonprofit that runs dozens of Internet cafes in Florida — and Fraternal Order of Police President Nelson Cuba were among several who have been arrested. While no one will confirm the charges against them, they appear to be in connection to what sources will only call a racketeering investigation.

Channel 4 learned that all 51 Internet sweepstakes cafes run by Allied Veterans were closed and searched — including all eight in Jacksonville, which recently changed their names to “Elite.”

Jerry Bass, of Allied Veterans, was arrested in Jacksonville and held on a felony out-of-county warrant. Also arrested was Kelly Mathis, attorney for Allied Veterans.

According to federal documents, the arrests are connected to a gambling, mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering probe that resulted in a search warrant issued out of Oklahoma on Monday.

The warrant indicates that investigators are looking into how much money Allied Veterans donates to charity. The document says the organization claims it gave 70 percent of $290 million in revenue over the past five years to charity, but investigators can only document $6 million — or 2 percent — was given to qualified nonprofit organizations.

The warrant also says that machines used in the Internet cafes are not games of chance, but slot machines, which are illegal outside of licensed casinos.

Update: Most of the 57 defendants have entered into plea agreements where they will serve no jail time. A few cases — including those of Cuba and union first vice president Robbie Freitas — are pending. Mathis was convicted in October by a jury on 103 counts and faces time behind bars. He remains free on bond and returns to court in February for a pre-sentencing hearing. He was suspended from practicing law.

7. Shad Khan finances $3M deal to buy Laura Street Trio

Posted April 2

A development company led by Stephen Atkins, with financing from a company led by Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan, has bought the old Barnett Bank Building and the three Laura Street Trio buildings in Downtown Jacksonville, according to City records.

Property records filed at the Duval County Clerk’s office show two affiliated companies bought the four buildings for a total of $3 million. A company called Barnett Tower LLC acquired the Barnett building from JDI Adams Street LLC of Chicago.

Documents list Atkins as the manager of Barnett Tower. The nearby Florida Life Building, Bisbee Building and the Marble Bank Building, collectively known as the Laura Street Trio, were acquired by a company called Laura Trio LLC.

There is no document filed showing Atkins’ role with Laura Trio LLC, but the deeds filed for Barnett Tower and Laura Street Trio show that both sales were “part of one transaction.”

The $3 million mortgage for the sale was provided by

Stache Investments Corp. Corporate records filed with the Florida Department of State show that Khan is the president of Stache Investments.

Update: Details are scarce, but Atkins said in September that Marriott International had approved a franchise for part of the project. He said then that the next step was to propose a public private partnership to the city, which has not happened.

8. Wawa convenience chain expanding in Florida: Plans 100 stores in Orlando, Tampa; could Jacksonville be on the map?

Posted Feb. 22

The privately owned Wawa convenience store chain, with more than 600 stores in five East Coast states, has been expanding into Florida with a goal of 100 units in Orlando and Tampa over five years.

The Philadelphia-based chain, based in the Wawa area of suburban Philly, began opening in July in the two Florida cities and now has 11 open, two opening by early March and six under construction.

Could Wawa be coming to Jacksonville? There’s talk circulating around town that it could, although the company says only that it is reviewing other areas in Florida.

“While we are actively looking at areas throughout the state for sites, it is premature to confirm any activity outside of Orlando/Tampa Bay at this time,” said spokeswoman Lori Bruce with Wawa Public Relations.

Update: No Wawa stores have been announced for Northeast Florida.

9. Macy’s or not? Jacksonville speculation continues

Posted May 31

The rumors are circulating again, this time like this: Macy’s is looking at Jacksonville to develop a department store, rejected one site and has decided on St. Johns Town Center.

Television advertising and a recent ad in The Florida Times-Union supporting Florida’s Teacher of the Year no doubt fueled the speculation.

The response from Macy’s: “Nothing new to report. As you know, our policy is not to disclose where we may or may not be looking for store locations,” said Jim Sluzewski, senior vice president of corporate communications and external affairs with Macy’s Inc.

“Whenever we have a new store announcement to make, we make it. But other than that, we do not comment,” he said. “Note that Macy’s does national broadcast advertising that appears from coast to coast, and that Florida Teacher of the Year is a statewide program,” he said.

Update: Macy’s has not announced a store for Jacksonville.

10. Bi-Lo Winn-Dixie transfers logistics, related jobs to C&S Wholesale Grocers

Posted May 15

Bi-Lo Holding LLC, the parent company of Jacksonville-based Bi-Lo Winn-Dixie, announced that C&S Wholesale Grocers Inc. will provide warehouse, transportation and most procurement services for all 480 Winn-Dixie and 206 Bi-Lo stores.

As part of the agreement, employees in Winn-Dixie’s six distribution centers and the functions that support them will become employees of C&S “with minimal change to existing associates or their wages and benefits,” according to a news release.

The transition will be complete by the end of the year. Asked how many employees would transition from Winn-Dixie to C&S, Brian Wright, company senior director of communications and community, said that information has not been released. Keene, N.H.-based C&S has provided the services for Bi-Lo stores since 2005.

The new agreement covers Winn-Dixie. The combined Bi-Lo Winn-Dixie has about 60,000 employees, of which 42,000 work for Winn-Dixie, according to a Winn-Dixie executive who spoke to the Southside Business Men’s Club.

kmathis@baileypub.com

@MathisKb

(904) 356-2466

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