On the corner of 34th Street and West University Avenue in Gainesville, at the entrance of Westgate Plaza, sits a faded Grandy’s sign. Other than memories, it’s all that is left of the restaurant, which was torn down earlier this year after 28 years in business and was the last location in Florida.
A chicken restaurant, People Dedicated to Quality, which is partially owned by former UF alum and Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow, will soon open in Grandy’s place. Although Tebow himself may not spend much time in the restaurant, his investment in it and the impact it’s had on Westgate Plaza is evident.
When Byron Young, the owner of CordaRoy’s, learned about PDQ’s new location he knew it would have a positive impact on the plaza.
“Seeing that Grandy’s was about to be gone and completely cleaned up was a catalyst for me,” Young said. “I knew there was about to be a rebirth.”
The location of the plaza was also very appealing to Young. Bookended by UF and I-75, thousands of cars pass it everyday, which is great for businesses, according to Young.
“It’s a pretty damn good location,” Young said.
However, sometimes location isn’t everything. Over the years, stores that once filled the plaza began to close and slowly disappear –leaving the plaza to deteriorate, which is something Young and other business owners are working on changing.
The out of date streetlights have been replaced with new LED lights, the trees have been trimmed and the entire building was pressure washed and then repainted.Young admits more work needs to be done, but knows the changes are bringing a revived energy to the plaza.
Melissa Glikes, who is the owner of Sisset’s Home and Patio, which is located in Westgate Plaza, agreed. She said people are getting back to “shopping locally” and realizing the plaza has a lot to offer – an energy different from what Archer Road offers.
“It’s far enough from Archer Road to set us off as being a different type of shopping experience,” said Glikes.
That small business experience is something that Glikes think runs deeper than just getting what you’re looking for.
“We (as small businesses) show the personality of Gainesville better than the large businesses do,” Glikes said.
Though for many it was difficult to see Grandy’s go, business owners inside of Westgate Plaza are working to fill that void and offer a unique experience to the residents and visitors in Gainesville.
From Pennington and Bailes to Plato’s Closet and from Powerhouse Gym to Sweet Dreams homemade ice cream – and soon PDQ and many more – Westgate Plaza has something for everyone.
What can I find at Westgate Plaza?
- Mi Apa Latin Cafe
- Mildred’s Big City Foods
- New Deal Cafe
- P&B Outfitters by Pennington & Bailes
- PDQ Restaurant Gainesville (People Dedicated to Quality)
- Pinner’s Fine Shoes
- Planet Beach
- Plato’s Closet
- Play it Again Sports
- Powerhouse Gym
- Renaissance Jewelers
- Sisset’s Home and Patio
- Sweet Dreams Homemade Ice Cream