Is it too early for Halloween stuff to be on store shelves?

Cracker Barrel stores didn’t wait long after Fourth of July to bring out their Halloween items. But is it too early?

After all, back-to-school shopping hasn’t even swung into high gear.

You’re probably thinking it’s all about money, right?

But actually, back-to-school shopping is 10 times more lucrative — literally — than Halloween sales. In fact, back-to-school ranks only behind holiday shopping in importance for retailers. The Back to School vs. Halloween comparative numbers are:

  • Back to school spending is expected to reach $83.6 billion this year, up 10 percent from $75.8 billion in 2016, according to the National Retail Federation.
  • Halloween generated sales in the neighborhood of $8.3 billion.
  • But, ask any kid, and they’ll tell you Halloween is a lot more fun than the first day of school

West Palm Beach costume shop caters to serious Halloween fans

Black Friday 2016: Holiday shopping season starts early

NEW: Carl Von Luger owner in town for talks with North Palm Beach leaders

The owner of the Carl Von Luger restaurant from Pennsylvania has been in North Palm Beach for the past few days, and not for vacation reasons.

Robert Dickert and his team have been in damage-control mode, talking to village officials about a nasty lawsuit that threatens to derail the deal to bring Dickert’s steak and seafood restaurant to the village’s planned $15 million new club house at 951 US 1.

» Steak house with a fabled history coming to North Palm Beach

» Peter Luger Steak House sues eatery set for North Palm Beach

The goal is to assuage village officials caught off-guard by the lawsuit filed against their new club house restaurant operator, who has a contract with the village to operate two restaurants there.

Robert Dickert, owner of Carl Von Luger Steak and Seafood

In May, Dickert and his Carl Von Luger restaurant were sued by Peter Luger Inc. of New York in federal court. The trademark infringement lawsuit alleges Carl Von Luger is ripping off the famed Luger steak house brand by appropriating the name.

The Luger name does have allure, but Dickert said in a recent interview he’s entitled to it.

It is a name that he says is part of his family tree: Peter Luger was his great-uncle. He worked for a decade in the family restaurant, learning the trade in all manner of role.

And in 2009, he filed a trademark for the Carl Von Luger restaurant. Peter Luger didn’t object to the name and the restaurant, in business in Scranton since 2011.

Word is that’s what the Dickert team is telling village officials, who reportedly still want Dickert operating two restaurants at the club house, as per the contract with him.

Village manager Andrew Lukasik could not be reached for comment.

The club house is expected to be ready by December 2018.

Stay tuned for more details.

» RELATED: What’s driving spending on posh clubhouses in north county?


A record number of events were held at the PBC Convention Center in 2016

Convention and meeting bookings at the Palm Beach County Convention Center surged to record-breaking levels in 2016, boosted largely by the opening of the neighboring Hilton West Palm Beach and an enhanced sales push.

April and May are also shaping up to be banner months for the convention center, which opened in 2003 but struggled without a connected hotel to house conference attendees.

Over the next two months the center will host six conventions and meetings, including the governor’s annual hurricane conference. In all, the convention center will host events on 45 days during the 2-month stretch, bringing thousands of domestic and international tourists to the county.

Discover the Palm Beaches, the county’s tourism marketing organization, said hotel bookings as a result of meetings and conventions last year grew by 94 percent compared with 2015’s level.

“We’ve been fortunate to nearly double our business in the ever-competitive groups and meetings sector,” Discover’s President & CEO Jorge Pesquera said. “We’re proud of our team members who have worked strategically to secure new business in close collaboration with hotels and the excellent Palm Beach County Convention Center team. The Palm Beaches continue to earn a broader appeal and reputation as a second-tier meetings destination, and meeting planners will find a full range of local experiential services to ensure their meetings and events are memorable.”

Before the Hilton opened in Jan. 2016, the convention center was limited to competing for events that would generate a maximum of about 450 nightly hotel bookings, officials have said.

But when Hilton’s 400 rooms are combined with those at other nearby hotels, including the West Palm Beach Marriott, the Hyatt Place and the Residence Inn in downtown West Palm Beach, the convention center’s sales team can vie for much larger events.

Here’s a look at the events planned at the convention center over the next two months:

April 6-9, 2017 – Society of Pediatric Nurses

SPN 27th Annual Conference structured for individuals within pediatric nursing and those interested in pediatric healthcare who want to enhance their professional and personal growth while providing a forum and share updates in  pediatric research

April 11-13, 2017 – Environmental Systems Resource Institute Public Sector GIS Conference

State and local government professionals coming together to learn the latest GIS(Geographic Information System) technology. Geographic Information System (GIS) is a computer system build to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage and display all kinds of spatial or geographical data

April 22-25, 2017- Florida Water Resource Conference

Individuals dedicated to preserving and enhancing Florida’s water environment through an educational conference and scientific research

May 2-4, 2017- National Business Aviation Association Maintenance Management Conference 2017

Educational sessions, speakers, lectures and new technology and products exhibition on aviation maintenance

May 8-13, 2017- American College of Dermatology Nurse Practitioners

Serve as a resource to support all nurse practitioners and physician assistants with an interest in dermatology and provide information on the standards in dermatology practice, education, research, and professional development

May 14-19, 2017- Governor’s Hurricane Conference

Nation’s largest and best-attended conference focusing on hurricane planning, preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation
an opportunity to learn from the successes of others and identify proven best practices, as well as learning what mistakes to avoid before it’s too late.




Judge signs off on environmental permit for Brightline rail project

An administrative law judge has signed off on an environmental permit that All Aboard Florida’s Brightline needs to build its passenger railroad between Miami and Orlando.

Brightline’s first train rolling through West Palm Beach on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017.

In a 23-page ruling, Administrative Law Judge Bram Canter upheld the St. Johns River Water Management District’s August decision to approve a permit for the project.

RELATED: House panel pulls high-speed rail bill, Brightline takes victory lap

The Indian River Farms Water Control District had argued new bridges planned as part of the rail project could cause flooding. In its challenge, the district argued the bridges will be too low to allow clearance during a 100-year storm event, which would cause water flow to be obstructed in the area.

“This ruling is further demonstration that Brightline is adhering to all regulations for the construction of its system,” said Myles Tobin, General Counsel for Brightline. “As Treasure Coast taxpayers continue to spend millions on legal challenges fighting Brightline, we continue to invest more than $1.3 billion to connect the state’s most populated centers, creating jobs and spurring economic opportunities. We are planning for Phase 2 while preparing to launch the South Florida service in several months.”

Brightline plans to run as many as 32 trains a day between Miami and Orlando on the Florida East Coast Railway tracks. The company’s trains are expected to reach speeds of up to 79 mph between Miami and West Palm Beach; 110 mph between West Palm Beach and Cocoa Beach; and 125 mph between Cocoa and Orlando.

RELATED: Brightline tests to resume on tracks with two trains in April

Freight trains on the FEC line currently operate at speeds of between 35 and 40 mph, although the trains are capable of moving up to 60 mph, officials have said.

Brightline’s first two trains – named BrightBlue and BrightPink for the color of the passenger cars — arrived in West Palm Beach this year.

Three more trains are expected to arrive in South Florida by May, Brightline officials said. The third train to arrive will be called BrightGreen.

Brightline announced this month that it plans to launch passenger service between West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale in late July. Service between Fort Lauderdale and Miami is scheduled to start in late August, the company said.

Eventually, Brightline plans to expand service north to Orlando. Track work for the second phase of the project, which runs between West Palm Beach and Orlando, has not yet begun.

Boynton Beach bacon company wins national award

A Boynton Beach company that specializes in bacon-centered gifts has won been named the 2017 American Small Business Champion as part of a competition run by Score, a nonprofit association dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground.

(l-r) Logan Israel, 21, and Kimberly Hruda, 28, recently opened their new business called Bacon Roses in a Box. The sweet, bacony treats come in a variety of flavors, including s’mores, original, white chocolate, bourbon, and pumpkin spice. “We put a lot of love into each box,” Hruda said. Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post

Bacon Boxes, a small business launched in 2015 by two Boynton Beach women, was chosen as a winner of The 2017 American Small Business Championship.

RELATED: Bacon in a box? Local women hope buyers go hog wild for it 

The championship awarded the title to 102 entrepreneurs for their dedication to the success of their small businesses. The American Small Business Champions will each receive a $1,000 Sam’s Club gift card, an all-expense-paid trip to a training and networking event, SCORE mentoring and publicity throughout the year.


Silver Airways launches new service between Palm Beach and Key West

Silver Airways plans to offer new non-stop service between Palm Beach International Airport and Key West beginning on May 25.

A plane comes in for a landing at Miami International Airport. (Getty Images)

The company announced Thursday it is offering promotional fares of up to 50 percent off to help entice travelers to fly the new route.

Silver will offer flights five days a week — Thursdays through Mondays.

“Silver Airways’ Freedom Fares to Key West are about giving people the freedom to finally be able to fly instead of drive,” said Jason Bewley, Silver Airways CFO and Executive Vice President.  “Driving to Key West might seem like an experience, but a stroll down Duval Street is always better than the slow crawl down A1A.  When you fly Silver direct from West Palm to Key West, you’ll arrive in a fraction of the time.”

Silver operates a fleet of  34-seat Saab 340B Plus turboprop aircraft.

Brightline to bring new “safety risks” to FEC tracks, report finds

All Aboard Florida’s Brightline would bring new “safety risks” to the Florida East Coast Railway tracks, according to a report released Wednesday by Martin County officials.

The seven-page report, which was prepared on behalf of the county by rail expert George Gavalla, came a day after a House committee postponed a vote on legislation imposing regulations on high-speed rail projects like Brightline. Brightline has adamantly opposed the bill.

Brightline’s first train rolling through West Palm Beach on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017.

In the report, Gavalla says Brightline would add fast-moving passenger trains to a rail corridor now serving only freight traffic.  The FEC tracks, he says, are already among the deadliest in the nation with “with the highest pedestrian fatality rate and one of the highest crossing accident fatality rates in the entire country.”

“No other U.S. passenger rail system combines 110 mph passenger trains and 70 mph freight operating through such densely populated urban areas and along coastal recreation areas with such a high concentration of tourists and seasonal visitors,” the report says.

Brightline officials took aim at the report on Wednesday saying it was designed to fit the county’s “anti-train agenda.”

Martin County has pledged more than $2 million to fight Brightline, which plans to carry passengers between Miami and Orlando in about three hours.

Brightline is fully complying with the most stringent safety regulations” set by the Federal Railroad Administration and the Florida Department of Transportation,” Brightline said in a statement released Wednesday. “This report, funded by Martin County taxpayers, is yet another attempt to propagate misinformation and hypothetical situations intended to scare its citizens in order to fit the anti-train agenda. The Treasure Coast has a history of paying consultants to give them the story they want, as demonstrated by the previous reports developed on grade crossing impacts and the St. Lucie River bridge.”

It’s unclear how much Martin County paid for the study. A county spokeswoman said Wednesday officials have yet to receive an invoice.



Wawa to open another Florida store this week

Wawa, a family-owned chain of convenience stores known for its fanatical following, will hold a grand opening celebration on Thursday for its newest store in Port St. Lucie.

Palm Beach County Commissioner Steve Abrams and Mayor Shelley Vana with a Wawa mascot.

The store is located at 10308 SW Tradition Parkway in Port St. Lucie.

RELATED: First Wawa stores open in Palm Beach County

As part of the festivities, members from the Port St. Lucie Police Department will battle the St. Lucie County Fire Fighters Benevolent Association in a Hoagies for Heroes hoagie building.

Wawa will donate $1,000 to both team’s charity of choice, but only the winners will take the trophy home.

The chain, which is headquartered in Wawa, Pa, has earned a reputation for serving up hot coffee and tasty sandwiches along with its gas sales.

Wawa opened its first three Palm Beach County locations last week. The stores are located in Palm Springs and Riviera Beach.

Need a job? Check out this job fair in West Palm Beach

Job seekers will get a chance to meet with over 30 employers at a career fair planned April 4 at the Marriott in West Palm Beach.

application from Roxanna Rosales, right, of the Check Cashing Store, at a job fair sponsored by JOB News at the Marriott in West Palm Beach in 2012. The event was attended by around 2,500 people looking for employment. (File photo/The Palm Beach Post)

The event runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Marriott at 1001 Okeechobee Boulevard, located just east of Interstate 95. According to organizer, more than 1,500 positions will be available.

To see a list of companies attending click here. To pre-register for the fair, visit

Grupo México to buy Florida East Coast Railway

Grupo México, a mining and transportation company based in Mexico City, announced Tuesday that it plans to buy Florida East Coast Railway. 

The price tag is $2.1 billion, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Grupo México controls more than 6,200 miles of rail track in Mexico, handling just over 1.4 million loads per year.

RELATED: House panel pulls high-speed rail bill, Brightline takes victory lap

The company said the acquisition of FEC will allow it to establish itself as “an important railroad owner in the United States, adding a vital Florida rail line to the company’s existing operations in Texas.”

“The acquisition of FEC is an important strategic addition to our North American transportation service offering,” said Alfredo Casar, President and Chief Executive Officer of GMXT. “Our acquisition of the FEC will significantly enhance the scope, scale and diversification of our service.

Officials with All Aboard Florida’s Brightline said the sale would not impact the passenger rail project, which plans to start offering service in South Florida this summer.

“The sale of the Florida East Coast Railway does not impact Brightline,” the company said. “Brightline is a separate company that has dual ownership of the corridor and the right to operate passenger service. We have all shared operations-related agreements in place with the Florida East Coast Railway for us to fully build out and implement our passenger rail system.”