The Greenery, a low-key pub frequented by USF students, was sold Thursday, marking an end to its 12-year ownership and management by Fadi Achkouti.
Although the day-to-day operations of the bar will be officially turned over to the new owners in late December, news of the change has generated both excitement and apprehension among both patrons and employees.
Achkouti, who said he genuinely enjoyed his work at the Greenery, said he decided to sell the pub because he wanted to focus on his other businesses, such as the convenience store adjacent to it.
“Why did I sell the Greenery? Because I’m getting old!” Achkouti said. “In the bar business, you have to be on top of everything, 24-7 – or you lose your business. Because I have other businesses, I don’t have time to be here at the Greenery all the time. Other than that, I would never shut it down.”
Achkouti was not permitted to give details on the new owners or specifics about the business deal.
Kelly Dean, a bartender at the Greenery and third-year student majoring in performance communication, also said she didn’t know much about the new owners, but added that they were young and they ate lunch at the Greenery on Nov. 29 and played a game of pool.
Achkouti said he introduced several changes to the services and products offered at the bar during his tenure at the Greenery, such as selling a broader selection of food and wine in addition to beer.
Achkouti said he decided to purchase the Greenery in 1994 because of the location.
“The Greenery is the only place that you can go that’s almost on campus,” he said. “This is the main reason I thought about the Greenery.”
According to Achkouti, the Greenery is busy nearly every night of the week, but less so on Saturdays when many college-aged people go to Ybor City.
Achkouti said he’ll miss the atmosphere of the Greenery as well as interacting with the clientele.
“The Greenery – it’s just fun,” he said.
Achkouti did caution, however, that business at the Greenery grew increasingly lean with the advent of Florida ‘s indoor smoking ban several years ago.
“This hurt the Greenery and hurt many other restaurants. I think that’s wrong – it’s not supposed to be like that,” he said.
Achkouti said he lost at least 35 percent of his business and said his competitors’ marketing techniques suggest similar peril.
“I know that everybody is hurt by this,” he said. “I know rumors. I know what’s going on. I see. I look around. I look to other places to see what they’re doing, their specials. I’m not going to hide it – I go to these places once every three weeks to see what’s going on. I knew what kind of business they had and the business they’re doing now. Trust me. It hurts – big time.”
Dean said she hopes the new owners will be able to bring some of that business back.
“Hopefully with the new owners, they might bring a fresh look, maybe like how it used to be,” Dean said. “Everyone comes in just saying that there was a lot of business. And hopefully they’ll bring that back.”
Luke Weronik, a junior majoring in physical education, said he’d frequented the Greenery for several years because it was a great place to relax.
“It’s cheap,” Weronik said. “And it’s just a good place to come after class for a couple beers and get something to eat.”
Both Weronik and his friend, Marcus Weaver, a junior majoring in marketing, said the only major change they wanted to see at the Greenery was for the pub to start selling liquor and attracting more women.
“More girls,” Weaver said. “Maybe a dance floor. I don’t know. I have no clue. There’s not a whole lot of girls that come in here at night sometimes, so any way to get more girls in here.”