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New business openings and business expansions in Cedar Key mark a trend that defies the current climate of recession, giving the island community more variety for consumers and a dose of economic hope. In this multi-part series, the Beacon examines more than a dozen businesses located on the major arteries of State Road 24, 2nd Street and Dock Street that have opened or expanded on the island since last summer. The Cedar Closet, a clothing store located on SR24, opened in November and has been steadily increasing its inventory ever since. Cedar Key native Brenda Everidge, Owner/operator of The Cedar Closet, has combined her accounting and managing experience with her love and talent of shopping to create a clothing and accessory store unlike anything else Cedar Key has to offer. Most of the clothes are new, with about 15 percent pre-worn. “We’re not consignment, though,” Brenda said. “We just have some used items I’ve picked up here and there.” Many items in the store’s inventory are name brand, such as Calvin Kline, Ralph Lauren, Gap and Levi. The prices of the clothes, however, do not necessarily reflect their brand name stature. Brenda shops department store sales and outlet stores then passes on the savings to her customers. Some of the prices are about the same, Brenda said, but often they are less than what you’d find at the mall. The Cedar Closet has something for everyone – women, men, and children. The store mainly features clothing, but one can also find accessories, gift baskets, and some housewares. Brenda also offers personal shopping services. “If someone is looking for a specific item or style, we try to do what we can to accommodate.” If the Cedar Closet doesn’t have what you’re looking for, Brenda will use her considerable resources to track it down. A little further along SR 24, Pete and Frankie Petrie have opened three new businesses, covering a range of services: food, real estate, and legal. The Petries said their appreciation for the history of Cedar Key is what led them to choose the site of Henry Brown’s old fish house for their new restaurant, The Old Fish House Cafe. The restaurant displays dozens of historical photo reproductions of Cedar Key, many of which were provided by the Cedar Key Historical Society. Restaurant Manager Vicky Baker said The Old Fish House Café wants to preserve “real” Cedar Key. “We serve traditional Cedar Key dishes, and we’re incorporating recipes from some of the community’s old family matriarchs,” Baker said. “We want to bring back the old flare of the island.” Some of these “Old Cedar Key” dishes on the menu include “Fried Mullet Strips with grits or rice and lima beans,” and “Cedar Key Clam Chowder - the old fashion way.” One can also order the “Hangtown Fry” – an open-faced fried-oyster omelet with onions, cheese and bacon. The restaurant is just one focus for the Petries. With over 35 years of experience as a civil trial lawyer, Granville "Pete" Petrie has moved his law office to Cedar Key, stationed next to the Old Fish House Café. He specializes in personal injury, contracts, and estate and financial planning. Frankie, who lived in Cedar Key during part of the 1950s and early 60s, recently retired as a psychologist – a field she worked in for over 35 years – and has started a new career as a real estate broker. She is the owner/operator of Frankie Petrie Realty. Pete said that he and his wife Frankie, along with all the staff at The Old Fish House Café, are looking forward to providing quality food and services to the public. Heading over to Dock Street, one will find Niko’s Bait Bucket, located next to Kona Joe’s Island Café. Niko’s offers a variety of equipment and services to the fishing public. The bait shop rents and sells fishing poles, and carries an assortment of bait and tackle. “We have anything you need to go fishing,” said manager Robert Boling. Niko’s stock fluctuates and changes with the needs of area fisherman. “We’re all about taking care of the community and providing what they need and want.” Wine and cigar bar Black Dog Bar and Tables offers a relaxing atmosphere filled with newspapers, magazines, art, chess, a juke box, and wireless internet. Located at ground level on Dock Street, visitors can enjoy the well-ventilated inside, or sit out on the deck and enjoy the Gulf breeze flowing in from water. Patrons can bring their own cigars or choose from the Black Dog’s wide assortment. And yes, smoking is permitted inside. Dogs are welcome too. Otis, the wine bar’s mascot and friendly host, is a big black pure American Labradoodle. Careful, though, he’s a bit wary of large cameras with big lenses. Otis’ parents, Black Dog owners/operators Jay and Connie Edge are almost as friendly as loving Otis. Jay and Connie invite guests to sit around the venue’s tables and enjoy the relaxing pace of Cedar Key. Black Dog is great for meetings, parties, an after dinner drink, or anything in between, they said. Black Dog offers a large variety of specialty beers and wine, and also serves specialty drinks made with wine-based spirits, such as the Flirtini – wine-based vodka, pineapple juice and champagne. Also on the menu are Bloody Marys, house-made sangria, and various beer cocktails. Coffee, cappuccino and tea are also available. The Black Dog Bar and Tables does not have a food menu, but one can enjoy all the peanuts desired, as well as popcorn and other snacks, like Philidelphia-style soft pretzels. Black Dog’s upstairs neighbor is soon to be the Pickled Pelican Bar and Eatery. Restaurateur Dustin Messner said the Pickled Pelican will have a casual menu, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. “I’m going to mix up the menu,” Messner said. “We’ll have seafood of course, and also some Mexican dishes – a little bit of everything.” Messner is new to Cedar Key, having left snow-covered Michigan in search of warmer weather. He was born into the restaurant business, he said. His parents have owned several, and his mom still runs one she opened 32 years ago. The Pickled Pelican will have a fun atmosphere, Messner said. “I have a couple ideas, but I won’t share them just yet. I want people to be surprised.” Messner said he is hoping for an April opening. Look for more new businesses in next week’s Beacon.