By Emily Hoover | EHoover@flagler.edu
The most convenient store in downtown St. Augustine just got a little more convenient.
Carmelo’s owner Joe Tringali has owned the corner Shell for 20 years. He is adding Carmelo’s Pizzeria to the bistro and gas station, ideally on March 21.
“Business has been unbelievable,” Tringali said. “This concept I’ve had has done better than I thought, especially the food part. We were doing so well, people love our food. I wanted more of a formal environment. Because this is a food court environment, we decided to expand, creating something more upscale.”
For locals and students that eat inside Carmelo’s, expect a few changes. The menu of fresh, Italian food paired with Boar’s Head meat will remain unchanged, apart from some new pasta dishes and possibly Chicken Parmesan.
Some changes include a separate entrance to the restaurant, which will also serve beer and wine, and servers to create what Tringali calls “a sit down environment.” Hours at the current take-out side will be from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. and hours at the pizzeria will begin at 11 a.m. for lunch and end at 11 p.m.
“People want to be waited on,” Tringali said. “People don’t want to eat in a gas station, so we’re trying to get rid of that perception. We wanted to create a place that is upscale, to show the fresh market of gas stations. We are going to target locals and college students. We have to draw people in with everything closing down around here.”
Tringali, who frequently donates to Flagler College and has a young daughter, Brittany, enrolled in the college as a freshman, always looks to students for support, especially in an uncertain economy.
“Students are a big part of my success,” Tringali said. “In fact, I get scared in the summer when they leave; it’s my slowest time. I see so many kids in line from my perch. The old store wasn’t like that.”
Tringali’s former store, Conner’s Corner Shell, was known primarily as a repair facility, he said. The decision to remodel and reopen under the name Carmelo’s, after Tringali’s grandfather, occurred in October 2008.
As the City of St. Augustine immediately agreed with Tringali’s proposition to upgrade his beer and wine license to a serving license with on site consumption, the only obstacle Tringali sees is the issue of parking. Currently, employees park off site. When Carmelo’s Pizzeria opens, Tringali fears more congestion. People will gather for dinner and a few drinks, he said, making parking more of a hassle.
However, Tringali’s plans to create a new and unique eatery alongside a 24-hour gas station and convenient store will attract people, even in the lazy days of summer. Future plans include making a new Carmelo’s outside of downtown.