Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Sweet Spot for Sweet Pete's; Investor in Candy Store Has Verbal Deal to Buy Seminole Club

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Sweet Spot for Sweet Pete's; Investor in Candy Store Has Verbal Deal to Buy Seminole Club

Article excerpt

Byline: Roger Bull

The new home for Sweet Pete's is going to be a very old building. Marcus Lemonis, the investor planning to transform the Springfield candy store, said he has a verbal contract to buy the long-vacant Seminole Club.

He said he expects to sign the contract on Friday for the 111-year-old building on Hogan Street, across the street from City Hall and Hemming Plaza.

Lemonis is CEO of Camping World, Good Sam and AutoMatch USA, a used-car dealership that opened a location in Jacksonville a month ago. But he's also host of CNBC's "The Profit," and that's where he met Pete and Allison Behringer of Sweet Pete's.

He has decided to invest in the company as a partner with the Behringers. He said he will buy the vacant Seminole Club and renovate it with a goal of opening by late fall.

It will include, he said, Sweet Pete's candy kitchen, a large retail store, classrooms, party rooms and a Rose's Cafe & Bakery, a gluten-free restaurant based in Chicago.

He said he thinks the store will be the largest candy store in the Southeast and Rose's will be the only gluten-free restaurant in the state.

Lemonis owns Rose's. He also owns pieces of Key West Key Lime Pie and Mr. Green Tea Ice Cream, whose products will also be sold in the store, he said.

The total cost to buy the building and renovate it will be more than $2 million, he said.

"I'm not seeking any city funds to put dollars into the facility," Lemonis said. "If there are tax breaks that come in the district that other businesses get, we'll be one of them. But we're not asking for anything special. I'm not in favor of using the city's assets."

"The Profit" episode featuring Sweet Pete's and conflict between the Behringers and partner Dane Baird aired April 1 and was followed by Lemonis' announcement that he would invest in the company.

"I love candy," he said. "I've always wanted to be in the candy business."

Allison Behringer, the company's director of operations, said they have filed a lawsuit against Baird to remove him from the business. …

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