A lot of you know my son James, he’s a pretty exceptional kid. At times he can be extremely driven and motivated, and when that changes…..just hint that he is a quitter and watch him come back with double the effort.
Last year, when asked what he wants to be when he grows up…James told his teacher that he wanted to play in the NFL The teacher told him those were unrealistic expectations, and that he should look into something different. Afterwards he told me that was the maddest he had ever been and the he WAS going to prove her wrong.
That’s my boy. He has a mean streak, but he’s also stubborn. This is why, while I support his goals…I let him know that he has to plan ahead for AFTER Football and have a great education.
Here is an article I will be sharing with him today. I’ve always like Jeff Faine, from his days at ND through the NFL. He has that same mean streak and tenacity that I see in James. He’s not a quitter.
Congratulations to Jeff and good luck in the future. Thank you for being a positive role model and showing that Education never stops.
Cheers & Go Irish.
Leaning against the bar of downtown Orlando's new Frank & Steins hangout, the 300-pound man with the shaved head, blue jeans, untucked shirt and taped fingers looks more like a bouncer than a businessman.
But when Tampa Bay Buccaneers center and hometown celeb Jeff Faine opens his mouth, he lays out with aplomb a series of real estate deals that he has consummated, some investment opportunities he has missed, and his concerns about the downtown club scene.
The 30-year-old, who is entering his ninth season in a professional sport with an average career span of three to six years, said he realizes he should leverage his sports fame while he can.
"I want to be able to set myself up," said the 1999 graduate of Seminole High School in Sanford. "For some reason, I think the doors open a lot more easily now than they will later. … People want to meet a professional athlete, and we're taking advantage of that."
In recent years, the former Cleveland Browns and New Orleans Saints player has amassed interests in 14 restaurants in Ohio, several nightclubs and an office building in downtown Orlando, a shopping center in Tampa, and a growing collection of rental houses near Orlando's urban core. Most of the properties were distress sales.
"All we ever hear about with athletes is that they make a lot of money and then burn through it quickly," said Cliff Stein, principal of Tower Realty Partners, who with partner Reid Berman counsels Faine at regular Tuesday lunches. "Jeff's not only very talented athletically, but he may be better from a business perspective."
Commercial real estate investors must dissect the numbers behind a deal, but they also have to get a sense of more than that, Stein said. "Jeff has an innate sense to be able to smell out a deal where others might be scared away, and he's willing to work through problems."
When Faine first started investing, he fronted the money himself, but that's changing. Last year, for instance, he took a 10 percent stake in Poppa D's Nuts in exchange for helping market the snack food, which is being distributed nationally.
Not all of his deals have succeeded.
In 2008, he and Ohio-based investment partner Pete Downing opened Forty VII Clothing in the Plaza Building at Church Street and Magnolia Avenue. Faced with bleak sales, they closed the store two years later. Faine conceded that the shop was "pushing the envelope" for Orlando's current downtown culture. The city center, he said, is different from those in larger urban areas because its residents still tend to shop elsewhere.
In the old Forty VII space, Faine last month opened Frank & Steins brew pub and downtown eatery. With a menu of hot-dog varieties and 300 international craft beers, it draws a business crowd for lunch and a mix of customers for happy hour. Unlike other downtown nightspots, the music volume is set low enough for conversation.
He also has a two-year lease for the Other Bar, a Wall Street club that caters to the early-20s crowd. And, come September, he plans to open the beach-themed Dive Bar in 2,500 square feet at Orange Avenue and Washington Street.
In other deals, he has leased Central Station on Central Avenue and is working with entertainment concepts for the space. One possibility: a country bar. He said he also looked at forming a partnership with Orlando lawyer Mark NeJame for the downtown club Bliss, but the timing wasn't right.
Downtown-nightclub entrepreneur Doug Taylor, co-owner of Church Street Entertainment, said he appreciates the "friendly competition" that Faine brings to the market.
"Jeff Faine is operating his clubs like they should be operated," Taylor said. "We want more people coming downtown and coming to Church Street. We need good operators who have longevity and have the financial well-being to withstand the storm."
Faine's acquisitions are poised to benefit from last year's opening of the Amway Center, home of the Orlando Magic, but the entrepreneur says he worries the downtown scene could be hurt by an NBA player lockout or by losing marquee Magic playerDwight Howard.
Having studied film at Notre Dame, where he played football from 1999-2001, Faine polished his business acumen last year with an NFL-sponsored class for pro athletes at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. Bucs players elected him their union representative earlier this year in the face of contentious labor talks.
Faine said he has also learned from the missed opportunities of recent years, watching as many of the good real estate deals were "gobbled up by the big fish."
Despite any concerns or regrets, he said he plans to continue building a diverse real estate portfolio based in Orlando. And with a growing roster of downtown employees, Faine has a steady stream of tenants for the single-family houses he has started purchasing, with 10 properties in his holdings now. The goal for now, he said, is to hang on to the houses rather than flip them.
And in consultation with his girlfriend, who is about to graduate from nursing school, he is building a French-modern house in Winter Park, near Lake Sue.
"I love Orlando. I go to big cities like Chicago and New York and you almost get lost," Faine said. "Orlando is more like a small city. You're familiar with a lot of people. You don't get lost. Done right, you can make an impact that would be felt."