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Business Observer Friday, Dec. 25, 2020 1 year ago

Longtime hospitality exec-turned-entrepreneur adds another project to schedule

Keith Overton is at work on both Pioneering Resorts and OCC Road House & Museum.
by: Brian Hartz Tampa Bay Editor

Keith Overton didn’t survive 25 years as a top executive with St. Pete Beach-based TradeWinds Island Resorts without being able to sniff out and respond to trends in the tourism industry. That's why since leaving the company in fall 2019 he’s embarked on not one but two new ventures he believes will capitalize on the changing ways in which people are traveling and spending money on recreation and leisure. 

The first one, Pioneering Resorts, is developing a pair of projects designed to cater to the recreational vehicle community. RV sales have skyrocketed during the pandemic as leisure travelers seek ways to get away that don’t involve flying, staying in hotels and eating in restaurants. 

The second and latest enterprise is OCC Road House & Museum, a Pinellas Park restaurant and entertainment venue Overton is developing in conjunction with Paul Teutul Sr. Teutul is the creator of the Orange County Choppers custom motorcycle manufacturing firm that mushroomed into a clothing brand and reality TV show on Discovery Channel and even a themed rollercoaster. Overton, a motorcycle enthusiast in his spare time, says he hopes to take a page out of Teutul’s playbook and license the OCC Road House & Museum brand to aspiring restaurateurs across the country.

'I think COVID-19 has strengthened the concept because people want outdoor recreation and the RV industry, as a result, is booming.' Keith Overton, Pioneering Resorts and OCC Roadhouse & Museum

“Paul and I have done a couple [motorcycle] shows together,” Overton says, referring to his TradeWinds-era work with St. Pete Beach BikeFest, an annual event that attracted up to 75,000 attendees. “I've gotten to know him pretty well over the past 10 years, and we've always wanted to do a licensing concept together. I didn't know if it was going to be a restaurant or if we were going to go overseas and do merchandise, but Paul wanted me to help him do licensing.” 

Luckily for Overton, Bert’s Barracuda Harley-Davidson in Pinellas Park had space available on its 9.5-acre property at 10525 49th St. N., and owner Bert King sought someone to build a restaurant on the site. Overton, meanwhile, was busy exploring the possibility of opening a large, 22,000-square-foot restaurant and entertainment complex on his own. He even had a piece of land under contract, but the pandemic caused him to rethink the idea. 

“It was really pretty frightening,” Overton says of the early days of the pandemic. “We didn't know how long it was going to last. I felt like it was going to be a hard push to get people there. So Bert and I got back together on the deal.” 

Partnering with King presents much less risk for Overton. Even though he plans to spend about $6.5 million of his own funds to build OCC Roadhouse & Museum, he won’t have to invest in land — King will be his landlord, essentially, and provide a steady stream of motorcyclists to patronize the 11,000-square-foot venue, which will provide indoor and outdoor seating for up to 350 guests. When fully built out, OCC Roadhouse & Museum will also feature a 25,000-square-foot pavilion for concerts, outdoor dining, a billiards hall, floor games and other entertainment, as well as a retail store loaded with merchandise and collectibles. 

The project will create 50 construction jobs, according to a press release, as well as 90 full-time and 20 part-time restaurant positions. Overton expects the venue to open in May. 

Courtesy. An artist's rendering of the OCC Roadhouse & Museum exterior.

As for Pioneering Resorts, Overton and business partner Ed Mayer are in the permitting process for their resort near Anclote River Park in Pasco County and plan to break ground by mid-2021, if not sooner. The other resort site, a 177-acre parcel on the shore of Little Orange Lake near Hawthorne, a small town in Alachua County, is being cleared for development. One major change in the business model since he first launched the Pioneering Resorts concept is a decision to retain ownership of the resorts’ cottages instead of selling them — a shift Overton believes will make the company easier to market for sale to a larger hospitality firm in the future.

“Those projects are moving along quite nicely,” Overton says. “We have a lot of the financing secured, but we’re still looking for a little bit more capital. We should be under way as planned. Believe it or not, I think COVID-19 has strengthened the concept because people want outdoor recreation and the RV industry, as a result, is booming.”

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