SEBRING - For most of the past three decades, Tom Hovis worked as an automobile mechanic.
Then, he said, he needed a change, which came in the form of a The Bricks Bar and Grill.
"It's a cozy little place," he said, adding that its sort of a mix of a family restaurant and a sports bar.
Bricks is one of several new businesses that have opened in downtown Sebring since October. New eateries also have opened or are slated to open in Avon Park and Lake Placid.
In Avon Park, Harold's Hamburgers opened on U.S. 27 during the past two weeks and interior work is being done on a building that will house Little Italy, an Italian eatery. Havana Nights Cafe and Bakery plans to open in Lake Placid at 204 N. Main St.
Meanwhile, Hovis said, his bar and grill at 113 S. Commerce Ave., Sebring, features beer and wine, hamburgers, fries, fish, homemade potato chips, and wedgies, which are cut in the shape of pieces of pizza and have various ingredients.
His chef is Clarise Soto, who has more than 30 years of experience, he said. Bricks is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. It will be open on Sundays when special sporting events occur.
Also downtown, Brandi Gonzalez opened up Cake Wanted at 110 N. Ridgewood Drive, Sebring, in a spot that's been the location of two previous bakeries. Gonzalez, who now makes human treats in the form of cupcakes, cookies and brownies, had previously prepared doggie treats for Dogtown USA.
She found out from Lora Todd, the owner of Dogtown USA, that the previous bakery owner was looking to sell the business.
The business is a good fit for her, she said, she doesn't like to eat a lot of sweets. Therefore, she's not tempted to eat up the profits, she said.
The business is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday and Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.
Plans are for the offering to include fresh bread and cakes and pies, she said.
Another business that opened recently was Vanity Hair Salon.
Chanea Turner, the owner and stylist, said she and Vanity stylists Erin Edwards and Kayla Measner, had worked together at another salon and they decided they needed a change.
Turner likes the location at 114 S. Ridgewood Drive, which is close to the circle, she said.
A customer, Holly Taylor, said she likes the urban feel of the salon and the quality of service she receives.
The business opens at 10 a.m. Monday through Friday, but the closing hour depends on business.
Down the road, Just Plain Fancy opened at 313 S. Ridgewood Drive. Owners Amber West and Teresa Hinote sell a variety of jewelry, purses, accessories and men's and women's clothing. They said they had a vision for the past year of opening a small town affordable boutique.
Just Plain Fancy is open Tuesday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Other recently opened businesses include Heartland Real Estate, 205 Circle Park Drive, and Heartland Band Supply, 209 Circle Park Drive.