Seminole Heights’ Health Mutt pet food, supply and care store is on the move and expanding in a big way.
Founder Kendra Conze told Creative Loafing Tampa Bay that her shop—which has been on the corner of Central and Hanna Avenues for the last decade—is moving to a 12,500-square foot, two-story building on Florida Avenue, across the street from Independent Bar & Cafe.
What’s more is that the new location at 5023 N Florida Ave. will also be home to a new brewery led by Conze’s husband Mike, who’ll leave his post as head brewer at Lakeland-based Brew Hub. “We were running out of space,” Kendra said about the decision to move.
The new Health Mutt location will be 4,500-square-feet, a little over 1,000-square-feet larger than the current location. That means an improved layout that creates more room and more prominently displays Health Mutt’s grooming services, which are presently booked out weeks in advance due to the current shop’s configuration.
“We’re going to have a blow dry room for the self-service dog wash, and there’ll be cageless kennels, so the animals will have a larger, lounge-ier space to wait in,” Kendra explained. “Plus we’ll get to build a reception and waiting area for grooming and finally put in an ID tag engraving station that’s going to be cuter than what you see at [other big box stores].”
She added that expanded digs give Health Mutt a more shoppable layout including room for shopping carts and better signage, more variety of raw food, treats, chews, custom store fixtures and Health Mutt branded products. The move also makes space for Kendra to expand a customer base where 80% of the patrons come from just two zip codes in the Heights neighborhoods where the Conzes have lived for the last 12 years.
Pending construction, final wet zoning and permitting, Kendra and Mike expect the new spaces to be open before the end of the year. The move to a new location also means they’ll both be closer to their family, which includes two kids, an 11-year-old mixed-breed rescue hound named Jethro and three chickens (Calamity Jane, Annie, Belle) that all live together just two blocks away from the new store.
“We’ve been searching for a bigger building to move into for four years,” Kendra said. They’d put offers in on other properties and had grown tired of renting; the building they’re moving into has been in their sights for two years. Kendra knew it was time for her and Mike—who met in 2009 while she was at the University of South Florida—to really put down roots in a neighborhood that not only cultivated her business, but their relationship. “Location was really important—I want to serve my neighbors and my friends.
What’s more is that the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) already has plans to install a traffic signal and three crosswalks at the intersection of Florida and Wilder Avenues, making that somewhat treacherous stretch of the road just a little safer for pedestrians. In January, Alex Henry, Bicycle and Pedestrian/Public Involvement Coordinator at FDOT told Kendra that the department was coordinating with the City of Tampa on construction and the implementation timeframe for the project.
Kendra said that that buildout for both properties—including soft costs, plus brewery equipment and more—will end up costing just about as much as they paid for the property. Details of the Conze’s deal to acquire the property are not disclosed, but recent listings from when the 33-year-old property was last sold in December 2020 list the price of a square foot at just above $173, for a total sale price of about $1.4 million.
The Conzes are still waiting on a trademark for the brewery space, which they hope to call Mockingbird Brewing, but Mike said that their 10-barrel facility (similar in size to Tampa Heights’ new Woven Waters Brewing Co. or Seminole Heights’ Angry Chair Brewing)‚ would eventually become home to a core lineup of beers, plus foeder-aged mixed fermentation offerings.
Mike brings six years of Brew Hub experience—where he started in packaging before moving to cellar operations and then ending up head brewer—to his own facility.
Working with countless partners both nationally and locally at Brew Hub allowed him to collaborate with some of the best brewers in the U.S. and opened his eyes to so many different brewing and business processes.
Mike said mixed fermentations would need to be made specifically at his brewery, so beer lovers shouldn’t expect those until much later down the line. In the meantime he hopes to collaborate with other brewers in the area, not to use their facilities for production, but to just get together and have some fun.
“To start off at the new space, we’ll have pilsners, maybe something barrel-aged, plus some double IPAs and IPAs—a pretty standard tap list for us as we’re getting started,” Mike said.
At the end of the day, both Mike and Kendra just want their businesses to be neighborhood go-tos. Kendra said there’ll definitely be a pet-friendly beer garden that’ll play host to puppy meet ups and other family-friendly events. She hopes to have some cold brew on tap and is in talks to bring a semi-permanent food truck on site.
And you can bet the neighbors are ready.
"We are super excited to have Health Mutt and Mockingbird Brewery moving in across the street,” Veronica Danko, founder and owner of the Indie, told CL. “That space has been vacant for years, and needs some love. Kendra and Mike are pioneers in the neighborhood and we wish them the greatest success in this new location. Cheers to independent business owners in Seminole Heights!"
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