Chip Weiner photographiC arts
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NOW THAT’S LIVING: Sit down and enjoy.
By David Warner
40 ❘ MAY 13-MAY 19, 2010 ❘ cltampa.com
CHIp WeINer pHOTOGrApHIC ArTS
know. It’s kind of a fraught moment to be celebrating Gulf beach towns. Because right now, the people who live and work on the beaches aren’t exactly in a celebratory mood. When we determined months ago that we’d concentrate on the coastal communities from Pass-A-Grille to Clearwater for our annual Summer Guide issue, we expected there might be some pushback. After all, in our past paeans to summer in Tampa Bay, we celebrated air conditioning and swimming pools and ways to escape the heat, and here we were planning to tout the virtues of fun in the sun. But summertime is the season when a good part of the rest of the world comes here, so why shouldn’t we hit the beaches, too? And we discovered, or rediscovered, local haunts and tourist favorites that deserve year-round attention, whether the temps are 45 or 95. But heat, it turned out, would be the least of our worries. “Drill, baby, drill!” morphed into “Spill, baby, spill!” and Gulf Beach fishermen, hoteliers, restaurateurs and residents were forced into an excruciating limbo state somewhere between hope and panic — wanting to believe the analyses that suggest our shoreline will escape damage, but wondering if reports of tar balls in Alabama and oil-soaked birds in
Louisiana would be echoed here. And they know, no matter what happens, that the fickle vacationing public may already be making other plans. Which is why, as it turns out, the theme of this year’s Summer Guide makes more sense than ever. Tourists from Toronto or Frankfurt or the Bronx might be getting scared off our beaches, but we who live here know: The water’s still clear. The restaurants are still serving seafood. The I’m-on-vacation vibe still kicks in the minute you cross a causeway bridge going west. Accordingly, it’s vital right now for us to support the businesses along the Gulf, because who knows? They may need us to survive. So please, check out the listings and profiles in this special map guide. Try a restaurant you’ve never tried or browse through a shopping district you’ve not visited for a while. Elsewhere in this issue, read Mitch Perry’s report on the future implications of the spill; consider the joys and tribulations of beach living in columns by Catherine Durkin Robinson and Kate Bradshaw; learn the lore of blue crab chilau from Andy Huse’s Florida Foodways story; and check out this week’s listings section for a special added guide to all of the area’s beaches. Life may not be a beach. But now and for the foreseeable future, a Gulf Coast beach town is still a mighty nice place to do some living.
The west coast home of maryland-style jumbo lump crab cakes since 1977 Just minutes from the beaches. Plenty of FREE parking. View Map on our website. 2913 Beach Blvd South, Gulfport | (727) 343 2583 Open daily at 4pm | Open Sundays at noon | Closed Tuesday Be sure to follow us on Facebook:
www.facebook.com/pages/Backfin-Blue-Cafe and our website www.backfinbluecafe.com
, LS E OP , QU E T ARE TOO I UN TH W S R OR OK OOK RE! U O YO CE F E C E, C ALO N R I AR S G U L SO THE KEW GET A D OF Y, B GA D R LE AN UT
THE PLAZA 100 | 100 INDIAN ROCKS RD. N. BELLEAIR BLUFFS, FL NW CORNER OF WEST BAY DRIVE & INDIAN ROCKS RD.
cltampa.com ❘ MAY 13-MAY 19, 2010 ❘ 41
Summertime at Frenchyâ€™s
at your tropical island hideaway thatâ€™s not too far away! Florida residents save an additional 15% off already discounted summer rates when staying 2 or more nights. Plus, youâ€™ll get a Surf nâ€™ Sun Scratch Off Card at check-in. Every cardâ€™s a winner with prizes ranging from a beach bag with two towels or High Tide Slide passes to free Fall Night Certificates or $500 TradeWinds Gift Cards. Offer is good May 1 â€“ September 30, 2010. Reservations must be made directly with TradeWinds at JustLetGo.com/FLREZ or call 800.360.4023.
-0$"5*0/40/$-&"38"5&3#&"$)t888'3&/$):40/-*/&$0. 41 Baymont St. 727-446-3607
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Proof of Florida residency required upon check-in. This promotion cannot be combined with any other special offer, resort credit, coupon or group rate. Offer subject to change without notice.
351 S. Gulfview Blvd. 727-441-9991
SEXUALITY & INTIMACY COUPLES RETREAT â€˘ Lunch IncLuded! NoChildren(under15)Allowed.FreeAdmission
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Retreat Leader: earl nichols, Ph.d., LMFT, certified Sex Therapist Benefits of Attending: 3 Better sex 3 Restore playfulness in your relationship 3 Understand physical, emotional & spiritual intimacy 3 Forgive each other for the past to start anew in the present Regain or strengthen your connection To Register, Log on to www.youandmeWE.org or Call 941.708.5894 Funding for this project was provided by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Grant Number 90FE0132/01. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families. You&Me.WE programs and services are not intended to address the very serious issue of domestic violence. Abuse is never OK. If you feel you may be in an abusive relationship, call the Florida Hotline at 800-500-1119 (www.fcadv.org).
clearwater beach, florida
Mike Losness wears the Haymaker
cltampa.com â?˜ MAY 13-MAY 19, 2010 â?˜ 47
Kelly’s Beach Bar on Mandalay 454 Mandalay Ave., Clearwater Beach, 727447-5080, myspace.com/kellysbeachplace. For those who don’t like to mix dancing or dressing up with drinking, Kelly’s is a relaxed watering hole frequented by Clearwater locals and service industry folks after the sun goes down.
Palm Pavilion Beachside Grill & Bar 10 Bay Esplanade, Clearwater Beach, 727446-2642, palmpavilion.com. This open-air bar and grill is a slightly fancier, calmer and more family-friendly alternative to the booze-drenched bar across the beach at Frenchy’s.
Shephard’s Beach Resort, Tiki Bar, and Wave Nightclub 601 South Gulfview Blvd., Clearwater Beach, 727-442-5107, shephards.com. If you have a boat but don’t like to mix your drinks or food with sand, Shephard’s is your spot, featuring an impressive buffet for those who prefer rocking Hawaiian shirts to bikinis. At night Shephard’s comprises the whole of the club scene in Clearwater, catering to vacationers and visitors with a taste for beer, bands, bikinis, wet T-shirt contests, DJs and dancing. (See Sex & Love Editor Shawn Alff’s account of a night at Shepard’s on p. 64.)
ACTIVITIES & ATTRACTIONS
Caladesi Island Ferry Across from Pier 60 Parking Lot, west end State Road 60, 727-442-7433; west end of Dunedin Causeway, end of State Road 586, 727-734-1501; caladesiferry.org. Caladesi Island was rated number one beach in the world by Dr. Beach in 2008, thanks to three miles of unspoiled and uncrowded white sands reachable only by boat. If you don’t have your own ride, hop on this ferry; the Dunedin boat runs every hour and costs $12 round trip, while the Clearwater version takes longer but guarantees dolphin sightings and free beer, wine and soda for $59 round trip.
Captain Bligh’s Landing 630 S. Gulfview Blvd., Clearwater Beach, 727-443-6348. Sure, it may be a standard putt-and-play place, but the big wooden pirate ship and damp caves pack a little extra punch this close to the beach, and they still have video games!
Captain Memo’s Original Pirate Cruise Clearwater Marina, Clearwater Beach, 727-446-2587, captainmemo.com. The ship looks like nothing more than Captain Hook’s ill-fated vessel, and the two-hour trip includes tutorials on the finer aspects of the pirate life, minus any actual rapin’ and pillagin’ or rat-infested food. At $25 for kids, the price isn’t a king’s ransom, even when you count the inevitable purchases of plastic swords and faux-flintlocks to outfit your budding pre-adolescent pirates. You will have to bring your own rum ration in a flask, but keep it on the down-low.
Clearwater Marine Aquarium 249 Windward Passage, Clearwater, 727441-1790 or seewinter.com. Home of local mascot Winter the dolphin, this waterfront aquarium specializes in the rehabilitation and care of rescued dolphins, turtles and sea otters, who then perform tricks for people like you.
Honeymoon Island State Park #1 Causeway Blvd., Dunedin, 727-4695942, floridastateparks.org/honeymoonisland. Swim, snorkel, fish, shell, birdwatch or just lie on the beach at this extensive state park facility just over the causeway from Dunedin.
Queen Fleet Deep Sea Fishing 25 Causeway Blvd. Slip #52, Clearwater, 727-446-7666, queenfleet.com. These are charter boats for serious fishermen, each rated to hold 150 passengers. You can join in one of the scheduled fishing trips, or rent out an entire boat for an all-day party and fishtravaganza deep into the Gulf of Mexico.
Sand Key Park 1060 Gulf Blvd., Clearwater, 727-588-4852. This Pinellas park is a wide stretch of unspoiled white
sand beach, albeit with amenities that include beach cabanas and surf wheelchairs. Check out the sea turtle nests — from a distance — during the summer.
SHOPPING & SERVICES
Chapel By The Sea 54 Bay Esplanade, Clearwater, 727-446-0430, chapelbythesea.net. The only church on Clearwater Beach, the Chapel is an equal-opportunity house of worship, non-doctrinal and inter-faith, so no one will chide you for your lapsed attendance. More importantly, they do a lot of weddings.
Frenchy’s Seafood Company 419 East Shore Drive, Clearwater Beach, 727-4426411, frenchysonline.com. Yeah, Clearwater Beach is Frenchytown. Here’s where the Frenchy’s fleet unloads fish caught in the Gulf, easily some of the
freshest fish you can purchase in the entire Bay area.
Olde Nautical Shoppe 25 Causeway Blvd., Clearwater, 727-441-3036, oldenauticalshoppe.com. You can tell by the name that there’s some history in this shoppe, which features antiques and reproductions ranging from vintage fishing gear to artifacts from centuries-old schooners.
Psychotic Ink Tattoo and Piercing 432 Poinsettia Ave., Clearwater, 727298-0968, psychoticinktattoo.com. After a day in the sun, what better way to celebrate your trip to Clearwater Beach than with a new tattoo? (Apparently, dolphins are very popular.) But if you opt for a belly button ring — a popular accessory on Clearwater’s bikini beaches — make sure to heal up before heading back to the surf. cltampa.com ❘ MAY 13-MAY 19, 2010 ❘ 43
By Brian Ries
42 ❘ MAY 13-MAY 19, 2010 ❘ cltampa.com
FLIppING OUT: Breakdancers and brave tourists are all part of the nightly entertainment.
THe MAIN eVeNT: And then there’s the natural entertainment…
Without the structure and support of the city, you woudn’t be able to see fire jetting 12 feet into the dusky sky from the mouth of a dude in a jester’s cap; creepy clowns doing what I can only surmise is a beachy version of commedia
dell’arte; creepier clowns accosting families with the promise of elaborate balloon swords and poodles; and breakdancers literally flipping out to neo-retro beats. Toss that change, liberally. Between the press of buskers and spectators
Clearwater Wine Bar and Bistro 483 Mandalay Ave., Clearwater Beach, 727-4468805, clearwaterwinecompany. This intimate wine bar features 40 different pours by the glass, a good beer selection and some simple fern-bar food and Mexican dishes featuring local produce. They also sell wine retail.
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ead west down State Road 60 over the gigantic arches of the Clearwater Memorial Causeway and you’ll know you’re almost at Clearwater Beach by the traffic backed up to the top of the bridge. Like a ferris wheel, you may be stuck at that height longer than you’d like, but the view is spectacular. Like so many barrier islands up and down the gulf coast of Florida, Clearwater Beach is a study in contrasts. White sand beaches and crashing waves backed by tightly packed development that seems to cover every square inch of the island. Kitschy tourist traps sideby-side with independent and historic restaurants and activities. It’s not exactly quaint, but it sums up our state so well you might as well put the whole island into a natural history museum with the tag: Florida. Clearwater Beach does have a few things going for it that sets it apart from much of the rest of the area. The island is bordered by some pretty spectacular parkland: the rolling expanse of dunes at Sand Key Park provides a border between Clearwater Beach and Bellaire Beach to the south, while the unspoiled island paradise of Caladesi Island — just about the same size as the densely populated Clearwater Beach — lies just off the northern shore. That means you can experience the extremes of Florida’s beach wildlife by watching turtles hatch on Caladesi or participating in mating rituals at Shephard’s; cruising the ocean blue on Captain Memo’s faux-pirate galleon or snorkeling into
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eople start to congregate on the sand around Clearwater Beach’s Pier 60 a good two hours before the blazing spring sun approaches the horizon. It’s risky to arrive too early to the nightly shindig, thanks to both the heat and the punishing 12-minute parking meters that will drain the quarters in your ashtray faster than a trip to the laundromat. Besides, you’ll need that change for the talent. Iconic events usually begin with an organic seed nurtured by commercial self-interest. People had been gathering at the huge concrete structure jutting into the Gulf of Mexico to watch the sunset long before the official nightly festival started in 1995, but it took a committee in partnership with the city of Clearwater to turn it into a spectacle. You’d think that might taint the experience, but the reality is exactly the opposite.
is the equivalent of a desultory neighborhood art festival, with one big difference: everything sold at the crafters’ tables has to be made by the exhibitors themselves. That might not add much to your typical sea star painting or kitschy condo art sculpture, but there’s also a group of folks who use the pier as a business incubator much like a weekly farmers’ market, hawking beautiful handmade candles, serious artwork and jewelry that could find a following on alt-craft sites like etsy.com. Add in the nightly live music, and you might find yourself forgetting the whole point of the festival in the first place. But then, in the minutes before Sol’s plunge into the roiling orange waters of the gulf, everything slows down and people turn their eyes from the chaotic beauty on the pier to the natural spectacle out west. And, like a nightly prayer, the sun worship is over within minutes and fire jets back into the now darkened sky.
THe HIGH LIFe: Clearwater Beach’s hotel/condo crunch.
the lively shallows around the pass of Sand Key; eating exquisite Floribbean grouper at Caretta’s or noshing on a Clearwater public beach hot dog. It’s Florida, baby. The good, the bad and the ugly, with a spectacular view.
DINING & NIGHTLIFE
Bait House Tackle and Tavern 45 Causeway Blvd., Clearwater Beach, 727-446-8134, clearwaterbaithouse.com. Buy some bait shrimp and
new weights, rent a boat, eat a grouper sandwich and drink a cold draft beer, all in one convenient spot.
Caretta on the Gulf 500 Mandalay Ave., Clearwater Beach, 727-441-2425, sandpearl. com. Tucked into the Sandpearl Resort as a result of a recent renovation, Caretta is a beautiful and romantic spot to nosh on elegant food while watching the waves crash ashore a few hundred feet away.
Frenchy’s Cafe 41 Baymont St., Clearwater Beach, 727-446-3607, frenchysonline.com. A local favorite, this café is the quiet, no-nonsense father of the Frenchy’s chain. It’s small, but not cramped or noisy with half-naked drunks.
Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill on the Beach 7 Rockaway St. Clearwater Beach, 727446-4844, frenchysonline.com. Frenchy’s is the beach bar in Clearwater. Surrounded on two sides by sand, the open-air hot spot offers a breezy atmosphere with endless views of volleyball games, sunbathers and the surf. The bars are constantly packed with sun-worshippers drenched in salt water and salty margaritas.
Heilman’s Beachcomber 447 Mandalay Ave., Clearwater Beach, 727-442-4144, bobheilmans.com. A Clearwater Beach landmark, Heilman’s has been serving its signature beachchic meat and seafood since 1948.
Indian Rocks Beach, Indian Shores & Redington Shores
By Joe Bardi
hey certainly got the name right. Pinky’s Ice Cream and Candy Shop, a small stripmall storefront in Indian Rocks Beach, is a retro explosion of color and sweets — the type of place that lives as legend in the beach tales of thousands of family vacationers (especially the young ones). The shelves along the walls are loaded with all manner of sugary treats — you name it, it’s probably in here somewhere — and almost all of it is somehow pink. There are even flamingos crammed into every corner of the store. Florida’s signature bird is a favorite of Pinky’s owner Wendy Hatzell, who purchased the shop after relocating to Indian Rocks Beach from Chicago about four years ago. Originally a franchise of Candy Kitchen, the renowned Madeira Beach creamery, Pinky’s still sells Candy Kitchen’s delectable product. (I tried it;
PArrOT HeAD? That’s actually a flamingo hat on Pinky’s owner Wendy Hatzell’s head; the bird is her favorite fowl.
it’s excellent.) Other than the ice cream, though, Pinky’s absolutely drips with the personality of its owner. Hatzell’s mother was an antique collector, and the daughter has inherited the bug. Due to limited space, the only antiques Hatzell is selling these days are antique postcards, along with a healthy number of collectible flamingos. After a good start running the business, Hatzell saw her revenues take a serious dive in 2007. But she says 2009 was better than 2008, and even though the record-breaking cold of this past winter depressed the tourism dollars a bit, she remains optimistic about 2010. Season is well under way, and sugar addicts have started streaming through her door. It’s doubtful that Pinky’s will ever make Hatzell rich, but she’s living the sweet life nonetheless. Pinky’s Ice Cream And Candy Shop, 1401 Gulf Blvd., Indian Rocks Beach, 727-517-7656.
See map on p. 46
44 ❘ MAY 13-MAY 19, 2010 ❘ cltampa.com
dessert and you’ll be ready to beach yourself orcastyle on one of the beautiful nearby dunes for some serious sugar coma-induced sunbathing.
the cake-style donuts are even better. They look, and taste, loved. You’ll love ’em when you eat them, too.” They’ve even got great coffee. Sit inside the historic home that now houses the bakery, soak up sun on the outdoor patio, or drive-thru for a quick donut fix.
FOOD & DRINk
Brewmasters Steakhouse 401 Second St., Indian Rocks Beach, 727-595-2900, brewmastersonline.com. If the idea of a bottomless glass of cheap brewski appeals to you as much as it does to us, look no further: Brewmaster’s is home to the Magic Glass, the often-sought, rarely found free refill on house wines and draft beer (and a mighty fine fried lobster tail, too). You’ll also find giant portions of steak, potatoes, seafood and ribs.
Crabby Bill’s 401 Gulf Blvd., Indian Rocks, 727-595-4825. Yeah, it’s a chain, but that doesn’t distract from the ambiance of this original location, with its rough-hewn, colorful outdoor picnic tables on a big, sandy patio, where you can belly up to the bar and take in the tunes of various sleepy beach bands. Plus, they’re open ’til 2 a.m. every night of the week, so if you ever crave crab legs at 11 p.m., you’ve got a place to go. They’ve also got indoor seating, but why would you want to do that?
Friendly Tavern 18121 Gulf Blvd., Redington Shores, 727-393-4470. Beach bum meets
he Indian Rocks/Belleair Beach/Redington area is a gently curving beach corridor that connects Clearwater Beach to the north with Treasure Island and St. Pete Beach to the south. Subdivided into several unique communities, there’s more to this area than hotels and tourists — though the latter can be said to be the lifeblood of the businesses. Indian Rocks Beach serves as a central hub for this string of neighborhoods, with the largest cluster of bars, restaurants and businesses concentrated here. This is partially because of geography: a significant stretch of Gulf Boulevard is situated on a narrow strip of land running through these neighborhoods, which doesn’t allow for much development. But a lack of businesses can also be by design, which is the case in Belleair Beach, an entirely residential community just south of Clearwater Beach that does not allow commercial development. When hungry in the morning, the locals (and repeat tourists) know to hit up Indian Rocks Beach’s renowned Lighthouse Donuts for their coffee and bear claw (CL Food Editor Brian Ries loves them). Lunch and dinner offer a wealth of options, including seafood (Crabby Bill’s, Guppys, Lobster Pot, etc.), steaks (Brewmasters) and American pub food (Red Lion). Add some incredible ice cream from Pinky’s (see sidebar) for
MMMM…DONUTS: Lighthouse is a favorite breakfast destination.
karaoke idol (cheap drinks mean a longer line for the mic). Serviceable bar food favorites like chili, burgers, wings and fish sandwiches.
The Lobster Pot 17814 Gulf Blvd., Redington Shores, 727-391-8592, lobsterpotrestaurant. com. The final word in Redington Beach fine dining, this tried-and-true seafood spot hasn’t changed much since its inception in 1978 (though ownership has). Expect impeccable service and seafood — much of it flown in fresh daily from around the world.
Guppy’s On the Beach 1701 Gulf Blvd., Indian Rocks, 727-593-2032, 3bestchefs.com/ guppys. Fresh seafood, a laid-back vibe, moderate prices (especially at lunchtime) and the industry cred of owner Eugen Fuhrmann (founder of The Lobster Pot and Mystic Fish) means Guppy’s is the most popular — and packed — place on the beach.
Mahuffer 19201 Gulf Blvd., Indian Shores, 727-596-0226, mahuffer.com. In keeping with its Key West vibe (decorated with dingy bras and all), Mahuffer’s motto is “Warm Beer, Lousy Food, Wurst Place on the Beach. If You Don’t Like It, Hit the Bricks!” What it lacks in tact it more than makes up for in authenticity. You’ll find live blues music and colorful patrons, but one thing you won’t find is Budweiser — they proudly don’t serve it, so don’t ask.
Lighthouse Donuts 215 Gulf Blvd., Indian Rocks Beach, 727-517-8722, facebook.com/ lighthouse-donuts. CL food critic Brian Ries said it best: “The pillowy-soft texture is nigh perfect…
Pinky’s Ice Cream and Candy Shop 1401 Gulf Blvd., Indian Rocks Beach, 727-5177656. See story “The sweets life” above. see IndIan Rocks p. 46
Madeira Beach/ John’s Pass
By Leilani Polk
midst the Caribbean tchotchkes and Tommy Bahama beachwear of John’s Pass Village you’ll find a delightful cast of characters: the denizens of Treehouse Puppets & Treasures. The shop is owned and operated by Pinellas resident Deron Morris, a father of three with a blithe spirit and quirky sense of humor that reveals itself most when he’s hamming it up with his puppets. A chicken gets Jersey ’tude, a whitehaired old man does chin-ups on his own arm rod, a furry-haired flamingo dances with floppy stringcontrolled legs. You’d never guess that before becoming a puppet proprietor, Morris spent 11 years working for a finance company. Laid off in 2009, he spent months searching for a job. On a day when he was feeling
particularly downtrodden, he headed to a place that had always given him comfort: Grandma & Grandpa’s Puppets & Treasures. During the visit, he learned that owners Bill and Connie Peck were trying to retire and sell the shop. The opportunity was undeniable. Morris re-opened the shop as Treehouse this January. When he told his kids he owned the place, his 8-year-old son Simon responded, “So I can have anything in the store?” While Morris admits the transition hasn’t been easy, he’s glad to be in control of his own destiny. “You succeed based on the effort you put into it, not because of some arbitrary corporate decision.” He continues to draw new customers and frugal regulars with a 99-cent section and a huge stock of affordable, family-friendly goodies. But the
real stars are the puppets. Styles run the gamut from marionette to fingersize to full-body big, and the characters are just as varied: policemen, doctors and chefs; pirates, fairies and a wolf in sheep’s clothing; and creatures galore, even Craig Ferguson’s “Wavy the alligator-ocodile.” Morris eventually hopes to offer free puppet shows and how-to workshops. For now, he’s content to sell his wares to kids who’ve been saving up their allowances, and professionals who use puppets as teaching tools. “Any way you look at it, a kid is having fun, or a person is working with a kid. To me, it’s a win-win.” Treehouse Puppets & Treasures, 12975 Village Blvd., Madeira Beach, 727-397-2446, treehousepuppets.com.
UNHAND Me, YOUNG MAN! Deron Morris shows off one of Treehouse’s more elderly inhabitants. IL PH
FOOD & DRINK
Addicted to the Bean 152 129th Ave. W., 727-399-1573, addictedtothebean.com. Located right by the John’s Pass Bridge, this cute coffee shop also has a fine assortment of smoothies and pastries.
Bamboo Beach Bar & Grill 13025 Village Blvd., 727-398-5401, bamboobeachbar.com. Serving drinks near the beach for the past 60 years, “The Boo” is a stand-alone establishment at the northernmost end of John’s Pass Village. The Boo’s atmosphere lends itself well to the laid-lack beachy vibe of the village, with two high-def TVs on the inside and plenty of covered seating on the outside, plus a tiki bar and stage for live music. 48 ❘ MAY 13-MAY 19, 2010 ❘ cltampa.com
Hub’s Raw Bar & Tavern 150 John’s Pass Boardwalk, 727-290-9833, gofriendlyfisherman.com/cove.html. This raw bar is actually two restaurants in one. Upstairs is the main dining room overlooking the boardwalk. On the ground floor is “Pirate’s Cove,” which serves as a sports bar. The place advertises itself as one of the few Pinellas restaurants that will cook fish you caught the same day. Live music nightly. LeILANI POLk
two-mile stretch of Gulf Boulevard runs through the city of Madeira Beach, where the main attractions are pristine stretches of white sand and the tourist-friendly entertainment district of John’s Pass Village and Boardwalk, named for the French pirate John LeVeque who buried (and lost) treasure in the vicinity. In addition to piratical motifs and a fishing pier, John’s Pass present-day diversions include formal restaurants, casual eateries, sports bars, candy stores, ice cream parlors, retail shops ranging from the usual to the delightfully unexpected, and plenty else. Here are some of our favorites, as well as a few that stray from the village area.
The John’s Pass Boardwalk.
Daiquiri Deck 14995 Gulf Blvd., 727393-2706, daiquirideck.com/madeira. This tropical bar and grill draws a college-age crowd with poker, trivia contests and an extra-long daily happy hour (11 a.m.-7 p.m.). There’s live acoustic music on Wednesday and live reggae on Sundays with a weekly limbo contest.
Dockside Dave’s 14701 Gulf Blvd., 727-3929399, docksidedavesgrill.com. Reputed to have one of Tampa Bay’s best grouper sandwiches (locally caught and served five different ways), this place serves downhome food at downhome prices. Also opens for breakfast on Saturdays and Sundays, specializing in eggs benedict, omelets and homemade biscuits and gravy.
The Hut Restaurant and Tiki Bar John’s Pass Boardwalk, 727-399-9559. Touted as the Gulf Beaches’ largest waterfront bar and tiki hut, this is Florida summertime excess: 70-foot waterfront bar, 12 TVs, a colossal 7-by-10-foot screen, and live entertainment. (The Wednesday we visited, a solo steel drum-playing vocalist purred “Copacabana” on the second floor.)
Julio’s Crepery & Cafe 12850 John’s Way, 727-394-8530, juliosfamouscrepes.com. Elvis-crooning Julio Rodriguez Jr. runs this shop and makes fresh-to-order crepes with your pick of fillings, sweet or savory.
Latitudes Waterfront Dining and Chart Room Bar 13205 Gulf Blvd., 727-398-4103, latitudesmadbeach.com. This casual chic waterside restaurant and bar is nestled in the top of a three-story building located along the marina, in a room lined with big picture windows that offer intoxicating
I rD BA
views of the water. All-you-can-eat daily specials, breakfast on weekends (with a Bloody Mary bar) and Major League ball on the TVs.
Thai-Am #2 13037 Gulf Blvd., 727-3989700, thaiam2.com. Tasty, reasonably priced Thai food and sushi in a green building with an extended deck that’s hard to miss. Lunch specials from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. are all $9.95 or less, an $8.95 early bird menu is offered from 3 to 7 p.m., and $1 sushi is served on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Thai-Am #2 also delivers.
Also worth A visit: Waltz Fish Shak 224 Boardwalk Place E, 727-395-0732. Info came in too late for us to include Waltz on our map of John’s Pass, but according to a trusted spy (and most everyone on Trip Advisor), the 7-year-old restaurant is one of the most reliable purveyors of local seafood in the area. “Their mission is to provide the best fresh Florida seafood,” our spy told us, “and they won’t open if they don’t have any. I have eaten there and it’s awesome!”
SHOPPING & SERVICES
I’m Hair For U 13045 Gulf Blvd., 727367-4511. When you need that stylish trim, but don’t want to leave the beach.
Meyer’s House of Sweets 12930 Village Blvd., 727-397-3663, meyershouseofsweets.
com. Mmmm… just the smell of it is enough to draw you in. More than 30 varieties of homemade fudge, plus truffles, handmade chocolates and “specialty” items like chocolate-covered Twinkies. Meyer’s also offers 16 flavors of ice cream, 20 flavors of taffy, and sugar-free treats for those who can’t (or won’t) indulge.
The Spice & Tea Exchange 110 129th Ave. E, spiceandtea.com. Styled to look like an 18th-century trading post, this quaint store (one of 13 independently operated franchises in the country) carries a range of fresh gourmet teas and seasonings. Buy one of the shop’s mortars and pestles and you can grind up your own secret spices.
The Spice & Tea exchange.
Sports Fan-Attic 12929 Village Blvd., 727-393-7941, sportsfanatticshop. com. Get your nostalgia fix at this trove of sports memorabilia in John’s Pass. Take your pick of Brett Favre jerseys: Packer, Vikings, even the Jets. Prefer baseball? Get a Derek Jeter jersey, or better yet Evan Longoria’s #8 Rays uni. There are NFL, NBA and NHL team jerseys as well.
Treehouse Puppets & Treasures 12975 Village Blvd., 27-397-2446, treehousepuppets.com. See story on p. 48.
Vino Florida 12945 Village Blvd., 727-362-0008. This establishment carries wines produced in John’s Pass as well as selections from wineries around Florida. Wine tastings daily.
Ghost Tours of Tampa Bay 150 Boardwalk Place W, Hubbard’s Marina Information Booth, ghosttour.net/stpetersburg.html. The 90-minute tour makes various spooky stops in John’s Pass, the guide revealng tales of buried treasure, eerie tragedies and present-day hauntings. Tours depart at 7:30 p.m. Sun.-Mon., and Weds.Sat.; tickets are $15 adults, $8 ages 4-12.
The Pirate Ship at John’s Pass 140 Boardwalk Place W., thepirateshipatjohnspass.com. Re-live your roguish fantasies aboard this seaworthy pirate ship replica. Among other diversions, families enjoy water gun battles, treasure hunts, pirate stories, and a swashbuckling dance party. Twohour cruises depart three times a day, Mon.-Sat.
Smugglers Cove Adventure Golf 15395 Gulf Blvd., 727-398-7008, smugglersgolf.com. This mini-golfer’s paradise boasts faux tropical terrain, rushing waters, shadowy caves and even live alligators and interactive feeding opportunities. Perhaps best not to chase balls into the water, though. cltampa.com ❘ MAY 13-MAY 19, 2010 ❘ 49
JUNE 17 - 27 PRIX FIXE MENUS AT $25 or $45
mOre menus added every Week at
tamParestaurantWeek.cOm ParticiPating restaurants*
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IndIan Rocks fRom p. 44
rOOM WITH A VIeW: Seafood on the water at Indian Shores’ Salt rock Grill.
The Pub 20025 Gulf Blvd., Indian Shores, 727-595-3172, thepubwaterfrontrestaurant.com. Featuring a beautiful dockside dining area, The Pub is the perfect spot to get your eat on while taking in breathtaking views of the Gulf. Inside, 14 new TVs keep the sports pumping and a hardwood dance floor keeps the decidedly older crowd swaying to the hits of yesteryear.
Red Lion 1407 Gulf Blvd., Indian Rocks, 727-596-5411. It looks like an Americanized British pub — red telephone booth on the front deck and all — and in this case, looks aren’t deceiving. The only surprise is the Floridiana fare (they’re still on the beach, after all). So while the tourists jam up kitschy, tropically themed locales, head to the Red Lion for a relaxing beachside brew.
Salt Rock Grill 19325 Gulf Blvd., Indian Shores, 727-593-7625, saltrockgrill.com. Rustic flavors, upscale dining. Of course, their wood-grill makes everything better, from lobster to pork tenderloin. Floor-to-ceiling windows mean that even indoor dining is akin to eating waterside (minus all the pesky sand).
POINTS OF INTEREST
Beach Art Center 1515 Bay Palm Blvd., Indian Rocks, 727-596-4331, beachartcenter.org. This one-stop art shop has it all: Indian Rocks’ biggest art fest (the annual Beauty and the Beach fine arts show and Chalkwalk); student, faculty and member exhibits; and classes in everything from watercolor, plein air painting and photography to Oriental brush painting).
Indian Rocks Beach Historical Society & Museum 203 Fourth Ave., Indian Rocks, 727-593-3861, indian-rocksbeach.com/historical_society. Learn all there is to know about Indian Rocks’ history and foundation at this charming renovated beach cottage, which houses old photographs, maps, shells, documents and historic memorabilia.
Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary 18328 Gulf Blvd., Indian Shores, 727-3916211, seabirdsanctuary.com. The largest and most successful avian hospital and haven in the U.S., the sanctuary houses injured birds who are eventually released back into the wild. In the meantime, you can get up close and personal with these Florida fliers, from tiny songbirds to powerful birds of prey. 46 ❘ MAY 13-MAY 19, 2010 ❘ cltampa.com
Treasure Island & Sunset Beach
By Mitch Perry
estled between Madeira Beach and St. Pete Beach is the small, laid-back community of Treasure Island, which coexists happily (well, most of the time) with the spring-break-all-the-time revelers who frequent Sunset Beach. The Island has a number of dining and drinking options where you can be served right on the water, as well as a trail that is a favorite place to walk, jog, skate, bike or skateboard in the cool morning or twilight.
FOOD & DRINK
Beach Snoballs 10927 Gulf Blvd., 727415-8326, beachsno.com. The Tangerine Dream at Beach Snoballs won a CL Best of the Bay award in 2009 for “Best Treat on the Beach,” and deservedly so. As we said in 2009, “a SnoBall is a New Orleans delicacy made of shaved ice doused in tasty fruit syrups and, if you’re smart, sweetened condensed milk… The combination will chill you to the bone in the most pleasant way imaginable.” The family-run place offers more than 55 flavors, including Granny Smith apple, coconut, Georgia peach, cafe au lait, wedding cake, cotton candy, strawberries-n-cream and even some sugar-free options.
Caddy’s Waterfront 9000 W Gulf Blvd., Sunset Beach, caddysotb.com. Caddy’s sits on the only strip of beach where you can legally imbibe right on the sand, provided you refrain 50 ❘ MAY 13-MAY 19, 2010 ❘ cltampa.com
he 11,000-square-foot bar & grill Sloppy Joe’s on the Beach is located at the Bilmar Beach Resort, and it really just cries out summertime. It’s got live music nightly (beginning at 6 p.m. on Friday nights, 3 p.m. on Saturdays), lots of televisions that follow the latest games, food, drink (including lots of tropical specialties) and a two-tiered deck for outdoor consumption of said food and drink. Plus, it’s connected to the beach, making it a quintessential fun place to spend some quality, or not so quality time. Sloppy Joe’s is a favorite of both locals and tourists, and that includes tourists from across the Bay. For those of us who can’t afford a long-distance getaway this summer, we can drive on down to the beach from Tampa and in 45
GeTTING SLOPPY: Climb the steps from the parking lot at the Bilmar resort and you’ll find Sloppy Joe’s surprisingly large room with a view.
minutes imagine we’re on vacation — in that cozy, put-your-brain-on-hold sort of way. And it’s an establishment where you can get your drink to go.
from using a glass container. (That arrangement hasn’t always sat well with nearby homeowners; see Kate Bradshaw’s story on p. 8.) The twostory open-air bar and restaurant features live music throughout the week (usually a DJ or a pair of musicians performing covers against a prerecorded soundtrack in the beach culture tradition), tables right on the sand, and icy drinks to sip while watching the sunset. Plus the second-story bar offers one of the best public views of the winding Gulf coastline you’ll find in the South Pinellas beaches. A must.
Captain Kosmakos 9610 Gulf Blvd., 727367-3743, captainkosmakossteakhouse.com. A steak and seafood waterfront restaurant with live music seven nights a week, a bona fide dance floor and older singles on the prowl.
Central Station 115 107th Ave., 727-3601398, centralstationtreasureisland.com. An eclectic sports bar-cum-karaoke club complete with a lighted Christmas tree, friendly bartenders, two stages — one in the front of the room for karaoke that’s hosted there five nights a week, one in back for live music on Sundays and a weekly live blues jam on Mondays with blues-rock trio Standback — plus TVs, a pool table, darts, video bowling, Wii games, a fully stocked jukebox, and a happy hour that lasts from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, and regular weekend specials.
The original Sloppy Joe’s is located in Key West, where (back in Prohibition days in the 1930s) it was first called Russell’s. Owner Joe
The Floridian 230 107th Ave., 727-3676662, floridianrestaurant.com. A Treasure Island landmark and local favorite that boasts the best Cuban sammies on the beach — and it has the awards to prove it.
Foxy’s Cafe 160 107th Ave., 727-363-3699. Internet reviews hail the staff at the Foxy, and who are we to argue? Spunky waitress Teresa Wooley boasted that her restaurant serves up “rockin’ breakfasts.” The menu includes a variety of specialty pizzas, $1 beers every Monday night and daily specials. Reportedly quite popular with Canadians to boot.
Gator’s Cafe & Saloon 12754 Kingfish Drive, 727-367-8951, gatorscafe.com. This sprawling party complex with its outdoor tentcovered patio(ish) area brings a cross-section of Florida sorts to its waterside digs, from bikers (every Saturday is “Bike Night” with Born To Ride) to college kids (it is a UF-themed bar, after all) to beautiful (scantily clad) beach babes (there’s a bikini contest on Sundays). Boaters can tie up their rides to the dock and grab a bite; food and drink specials are offered throughout the day, and live cover bands play throughout the weekend, when DJs aren’t spinning a mainstream dance-friendly mix.
Gigi’s Italian Restaurant 105 107th Ave., 727-360-6905, gigisitalianrestaurant.com.
Russell ran such a disheveled establishment that one of his regulars — Ernest Hemingway — suggested a name change, inspired by a club in Cuba called Jose Garcia Rio Havana which sold liquor and iced seafood. Because Rio Havana’s floor was always wet with melted ice, the patrons reputedly taunted Jose — the Spanish “Joe” — with running a sloppy place. And Hemingway thought the same moniker would suit his favorite Key West hangout. Now the live-and-let-live spirit of Key West carries on in Sloppy Joe’s around the country. In the words of manager Jeremy Busch, “It’s a fun, laid-back, comfortable atmosphere.” Papa would approve. Sloppy Joe’s on the Beach, Bilmar Beach Resort, 10650 Gulf Blvd., 727-367-1600, sloppyjoesonthebeach.com.
This is one of four Gigi’s in Pinellas County. The restaurant has been serving up its old-school menu of steaks, salads, pizzas and classic Italian dishes (including homemade sausages) since 1967. Diners eat in style in square and circular velvetupholstered booths. It’s also got killer Early Bird Specials, none more than $8.
Ka’Tiki 8803 W Gulf Blvd., Sunset Beach, 727-360-2272, katikisunsetbeach.com. Located across the street from Caddy’s, not quite on the beach but only a few steps to it, this Florida folk music landmark presents live performers on a nightly basis; the place also has a few large-screen HD TVs for the sports fans.
Middle Grounds Grill 10925 Gulf Blvd., 727-360-4253, middlegroundsgrill. com. From the subdued elegance of the decor and the sophistication of the food (tangy ginger calamari, lemon infused crabcakes, grilled asparagus salad, wet-aged steaks), you’d never know this place used to be the much-beloved Robby’s Pancake House. But check the dessert list and you’ll see a homage to the restaurant’s past, Robby’s Famous Pancake Berry Stack. Pancakes for dessert — why not?
Ricky T’s Bar and Grille 10601 Gulf Blvd., 727-363-7425, rickytsbarandgrille.com. There are three bar
Have your beer and enjoy it too. ™
Per 12 oz., MGD 64 contains 64 cals., 2.4g carbs, < 1g protein, 0.0g fat.
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St. Pete Beach North: Corey Avenue/Blind Pass/Sunset Way
By Katie Machol
ating back to 1937, Corey Avenue has endured its share of beachside economy ups and downs. As recently as a few years ago, the quaint little shopping district seemed like a ghost town: more stores vacant than occupied, and a scarce amount of activity save from Beach Theatre patrons. But lately, things are looking much improved. Location remains a plus: Corey Causeway, which runs parallel to Corey Avenue, sees 66 percent of all traffic to the islands. The avenue is also one of the few non-metered public parking areas on the beaches, so you don’t have to worry about getting towed after a few hours. On one recent visit, in the middle of a Wednesday afternoon long after spring break, I was pleasantly surprised to see new businesses on either side of the street and quite a number of cars. The Swigwam Bar, for instance: In March, owners Rob Williams and Alice Aitken-Kloss relocated the much-beloved beachside bar to Corey
WeLCOMe BACK: The beloved Swigwam moved from its old beachside location to Corey Avenue in March.
BeACH HeAD: The Beach Theatre remains invaluable to the avenue (and to Tampa Bay).
from its former Gulf Boulevard site behind the old Travelodge (now the hip new Postcard Inn on the Beach), wanting to keep the place alive for its many regulars. The service is as friendly as ever, and they now offer over 40 different
beers, plus $1 drafts every day from 10-12. Then there’s Gone to the Dogs Boutique and Grooming, a trendy shop catering to the canine crowd, offering a huge array of natural and ecofriendly toys, accessories, food, homemade treats
and lunch spot with a neighborly vibe specializing in French favorites like very tasty crepes and croissant french toast.
serving up gourmet classics in an elegant setting — prepare to leave your diet at the door, though. Also renowned for its lavishly decorated ladies’ restroom, a definite must-see.
See map on p. 55 t the northern end of the loooong, looooong town of St. Pete Beach, classy bistros co-exist with fun dive bars; a classic movie theater ups the culture quotient; a not-so-classy (yet infamous) bikini bar entertains interested gentlemen; and bestin-class waterfront bars cluster along Sunset Way. And at the heart of it all, the small-town vibe of Corey Avenue feels livelier than it’s been in years.
FOOD & DRINk
Fetishes Fine Dining 6690 Gulf Blvd., 727-363-3700. www.fetishesrestaurant. com. An intimate, eight-table restaurant offering French/continental fare and an extensive wine list. Mentions in two issues of Bon Appetit, so they muct be doing something right.
Avenue Gourmet 338 Corey Ave., 727498-6466. www.theavenuegourmet.com. See “Corey Avenue: Still kicking” above.
Bavarian House 7115 Gulf Blvd., 727363-4414. www.bavarianhouse.us. The place to go for authentic, homemade German cuisine. German (via Munich) owned and operated.
Cafe Luna 6700 Gulf Blvd., 727-360-7500. www.cafelunabistro.com. An eclectic bistro specializing in Euro-Asian cuisine and gourmet pizzas as well as vegetarian and gluten-free options.
La Croisette 7401 Gulf Blvd. at Corey Ave., 727-360-2253. A popular breakfast
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The Frog Pond 7390 Gulf Blvd., 727363-7205. Biggest brunch in town with mammoth platefuls you won’t see anywhere else. Come hungry, very hungry.
Healthy Hut Market & Cafe 595 Corey Ave., 727-367-HHUT, hhutmarket.com. A brandnew, long-in-the-making health food restaurant, deli and bakery, serving “natural, organic, vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, Kosher” — in other words, all things health-foodie.
Madeleina Cottage 357 Corey Ave, 727367-1727. www.madeleinacottage.us. A taste of British and Continental cuisine on the beach,
Philthy Phil’s 678 75th Ave., 727-367-9977. www.philthyphilsbarandgrill.com. Hidden away on Sunset Way with a waterfront view, second-floor deck dining, and killer Bloody Marys and smoked fish spread.
PJ’s Oyster Bar and Seafood 595 Corey Ave., 727-367-3309. A low-key, fun atmosphere, complete with autographed dollar bills adorning the wall. Who needs a waterfront view to get great seafood?
Sloppy Pelican 677 75th Ave., 727360-7100. www.sloppypelican.com. Two-story waterfront dining (and drinking) with the best-looking (if startlingly young) female servers, cheap drafts and tasty food at nominal prices, plus a great view of the sunset. The Pelican hosts beach bar crawls every weekend, weekly beer pong tournaments and Sunday brunch.
and bath products, as well as in-house grooming. Avenue Gourmet is the newest eatery on the block, serving up tasty sandwiches, bakery items and homemade meals-to-go all prepared by owner Bob Blatchford, a chef from New England. “We’ve done extremely well this year considering the economy and what St. Pete Beach has been going through,” says Kathi Hansen of the Corey Avenue Business Association. Though the owner of Madeleina Cottage Restaurant called recent business “crap,” Hansen says the avenue has had “a pretty good season so far, especially comparing us to BayWalk and Dolphin Village.” And landlords are working with shop owners to help keep their doors open. The Corey Avenue Sunday Market has helped proprietors fill the streets on weekends, though the multiple rain-outs earlier this season put a damper on the event, and the current heat wave won’t help either. But despite the obstacles, it’s great to see this unique little strip still kicking. It’s a beach treasure, and if you’re a mainlander who hasn’t discovered it or returned in a while, it’s time to pay it a visit.
Swigwam 336 Corey Ave., 727-363-7944. See “Corey Avenue: Still kicking.”
Woody’s Waterfront Cafe and Beach Bar 7308 Sunset Way, 727-360-9165. www.woodyswaterfront.com. Great burgers and fish sandwiches and a relaxed, welcoming atmosphere have made this a day-and-night destination for locals and snowbirds of all ages and stripes. It’s right on the water, a Gulf inlet with a view of the southern tip of Sunset Beach and some notably ugly condos. But the water’s a tonic no matter what the surrounding real estate looks like.
SHOPPING & SERVICES
Ah Shoe! 350A Corey Ave., 727-3672400. Unique boutique with women’s shoes, handmade jewelry and accessories. Not like anything you’d find at the mall.
Art Expo Framing 355 Corey Ave, 727-360-2953. www.artexpogallery.com. Offers an ever-changing display of fine art paintings from local and well-known artists, sculpture, glass, pottery and jewelry, as well as innovative designs see st. pete beach noRth p. 55
areas to choose from when you go to Ricky T’s, including the outdoor Ricky Tiki bar, the formalish restaurant inside, and Rickey Lighthouse Bar, where the locals hang out.
Sloppy Joe’s on the Beach 10650 Gulf Blvd., 727-367-1600, sloppyjoesonthebeach.com. See story opposite page.
Tiki Cafe at Thunderbird Resort 10700 Gulf Blvd, 800-367-2473, thunderbirdflorida.com. Everybody knows the Thunderbird, partly because of its strategic location smack at the intersection of Gulf and 107th (aka Treasure Island Causeway), and partly because of the fabulous neon thunderbird emblazoned on its exterior. But it’s also worth knowing for the Tiki Cafe Restaurant (check out the free wine and cheese on Wednesdays) and the poolside tiki bar, which has perhaps the best name on the beaches, Ikky Woo Woo’s Tiki Hut.
Wahoo’s Bar and Grill 145 107th Ave., 727-290-9856, wahoosontheisland. com. Reasonably priced food, live music nightly (including dueling pianos) and happy hour daily.
Books & Bagels On The Beach 138 107th Ave., 727-367-8029. We’re listing this bookstore by its official title, but we were told the name was simply “Books On the Beach” when we dropped in, and we didn’t see or smell any bagels. Nonetheless, this is a diamond in the rough if you’re looking for some reading material in between roasts on the beach. Though there’s absolutely nothing to indicate it from the street entrance, the store hosts an actual U.S. Post Office, along with an assortment of titles; we noticed a preponderance of biographies and autobiographies, including some from the ’90s written by former CNN reporter Peter Arnett, another featuring a very fresh-faced Colin Powell, and Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer’s memoir from just a couple of years ago. You’ll also find a good selection of children’s books focusing on marine life and other general books on the sea. And there are greeting cards, too, among other random paper and book-related goods.
The Cigar Republic 155 107th Ave., 727-388-1410, cigarrepublicbiz.com. Relatively new in town, this place has it all: beer, wine and and espresso bar. And, oh yeah — cigars. The owners boast some of the finest Nicaraguan and Dominican stogies as well as all the cigar cutters, lighters, humidifiers and humidors you could ask for.
European Delicatessen Market 130 107th Ave., 727-363-8537. A rather new market and one of the few places in town where you can pick up Russian, Lithuanian, German and Polish food goods, among other European food imports, including caviar, sausage, beer, deli meats of all varieties, tea, candy and much, much more.
Florida Shell Shop 9901 Gulf Blvd., 727-367-9599, thefloridashellshop.com. Family-owned and operated in its current location since 1955, Florida Shell Shop is, by far, the very best place to pick up any sort of Florida souvenirs. The walls are lined, the shelves jam-packed with
all manner of nautical decorations, gifts, jewelry and shells galore. There are so many affordable goodies that it’s hard to leave without something.
Suncoast Surf Shop 9861 Gulf Blvd. 727-360-7667, suncoastsurfshop.com.
Established in 1966, the Suncoast Surf Shop is located in a two-story neon blue building that houses a huge selection of surfboards as well as skimboards, skateboards, sunglasses, clothing, footwear and surfing gear and accessories (wetsuits, rash guards, leashes board bags and the like). cltampa.com ❘ MAY 13-MAY 19, 2010 ❘ 51
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St. pete beach noRth fRom p. 52 in custom picture framing.
Attic Shoppe 316 Corey Ave, 727-3605647. The next time you need a costume for your friend’s Golden Girls theme party, look no futher than this tiny treasure of a charity shop.
Flipper Clipper 429 Corey Ave, 727322-3729. Funky beach boutique offering airbrush tattoos, henna, airbrushed t-shirts and clothing, and custom artwork on skateboards and skimboards.
Fun In The Sun 350 Corey Ave., 727498-8778. One-stop shop for all of your flag and lawn paraphernalia needs: house and yard flags, windsocks, kites and wind spinners.
Gone to the Dogs Boutique and Grooming 310 Corey Ave., 727-3633200. www.gonetothedogsboutique.com. See “Corey Avenue: Still kicking.”
K. Kringle’s Christmas Shoppe 400 75th Ave., 727-367-1388. www.kkringles. com. It’s as if Santa gave up the North Pole, packed up shop and moved to St. Pete Beach. Offering Christmas decorations and ornaments year-round (including enough miniature villages to form a tiny municipality).
Latin Quarter House of Cigars 7400 Gulf Blvd., 727-393-4000. www. lqhouseofcigars.com. Custom-blended cigars made in-house. Choose from 24 different premium tobacco fills with wrappers from around the world. The shop also throws a great party on weekend nights with complimentary sangria.
The Shell Store 348 Corey Ave.,727-3600586. www.theshellstore.com. This store is pretty self-explanatory: shells, and lots of ‘em.
Shh… Don’t Tell Mama 450 75th Ave., 727-363-0404. email@example.com. The only adult store on the beaches, but with enough merchandise to give The Todd a run for its money.
Simply Perfect 339 Corey Ave, 727-3604141. www.simplyperfectonline.com. Definitely a place your mom (or crazy aunt) would love: kitschy home decor, gifts and baskets with homey pizzazz.
Vincent William Gallery 320 Corey Ave, 727-363-1334. Representing over 40 local professional artists working in a variety of media including stained glass, ceramics, blown glass, sculpture, jewelry, Raku and more.
The Wine Shop 401 Corey Avenue, 727-363-9463. Perhaps the best place on the beach to purchase top-notch vino. Offering $5 wine tastings every Friday from 6-8 p.m.
Wings Beachwear 6705 Gulf Blvd., 727-367-8876. www.wingsbeachwear. com. Beach paraphernalia megastore. Need we say more?
Beach Theatre 315 Corey Ave., 727-3606697. www.beachtheatre.com. Vintage
1939, this theater is a landmark in itself. Daily showings of popular and hard-to-find independent
films, with cheaper ticket prices and concessions (including beer and wine) than most cinemas.
Mermaids 7500 Blind Pass Road, 727363-6833. The closest thing to a strip joint you’ll find on the beaches, this bikini bar
offers dancers in a wide range of ages, private champagne “booths” and glow-in-the-dark, wallto-wall (and on-the-wall) carpeting. The ladies demonstrate their prowess on the pole but can’t remove their tops (and you probably wouldn’t want them to). cltampa.com ❘ MAY 13-MAY 19, 2010 ❘ 55
St. Pete Beach South/ Pass-A-Grille
By David Warner
s it a coincidence that Evander Preston, PassA-Grille’s one-of-a-kind jeweler/musician/ beermaker, looks kind of like Silas Dent, the town’s first certified “character”? The lushly bearded Dent (1876-1952) is commemorated at the Gulf Beaches Historical Museum as a dedicated hermit — “clinically indisposed to most forms of civilization” and content to live in “a palm thatched hut set amid a clump of towering pines.” Evander isn’t exactly living in a hut (his kitchen has built-in woks, a tandoor stove and a “beer rig” given to him by August Busch), but he doesn’t particularly like answering the door to his shop and enjoys answering the phone, “City Morgue, toe tag number, please.” If he’s not a latter-day Dent, he is carrying on a Pass-A-Grille tradition exemplified by a sign in his shop that declares, “Eccentric Club.” Maybe anyone who dares to run a beach-town business has to have a streak of eccentricity, or at least the will to pursue his or her own path. Take Nancy Markoe. She’s a passionate advocate for American crafts — “beautiful things that are meant
to be used,” she calls them. But the former St. Pete Beach commissioner with the eponymous gallery also has a mischievous streak that’s somehow exemplified by her dog Ozzie. A Berger Picard, Ozzie is so big he sometimes blocks customers’ passage through doorways, a fact that just makes Markoe smile benevolently. (Big dogs are popular hereabouts; Evander Preston’s in-store mascot is a Great Dane named India.) Longtime devotion to the area is common among local proprietors. Suzette Rizzo’s artfully cluttered antique shop is a relatively recent addition to the Pass-A-Grille scene, but before moving to its present home the shop was on Corey Avenue for 36 years. “I’ve always been out here,” says Rizzo, whose mother Nancy Burke Prevratil started the business. Her self-described “insignificant partner” in the business, Randy Brown, shares her fondness for Pass-A-Grille and enthusiastically shows off a collection of vintage post cards and photos that reveal the scruffy, isolated island it used to be. The town’s denizens share an awareness of history that’s relatively rare among Floridians. And no one has more stories to tell than Barbara Baker
CRAFTY: Nancy Markoe (seated) with Joey Peters and Ozzie in Markoe’s crafts gallery.
Smith, a volunteer docent at the Gulf Beaches museum. Her knowledge runs deep; she came to the beaches with her family from Indianapolis in 1947, and in 1952 was confirmed in the church that would later become the museum. “She used
to run up and down the beaches barefoot,” says her husband Ed. “Then when she was a teenager she started chasing sailors.” (Sailors like Ed, for instance.) Barbara might tell the story differently; stop by the museum and ask her.
he 7.5 mile-long island formerly known as Long Key became the city of St. Pete Beach in 1957 when the towns of St. Petersburg Beach, Pass-a-Grille Beach, Don Ce Sar Place and Belle Vista Beach were consolidated into one after a hard-pitched political fight. Feistiness remain a constant among the citizenry (St. Pete Beach has been ground zero in Floridians’ battle for hometown democracy), but you can’t blame them. Between the unique small-town charm of 8th Avenue, the beauty of Pass-A-Grille Beach and the presence of one of Tampa Bay’s most iconic buildings, there’s a lot worth fighting for.
(but not monkey balls) and a balcony with one of Pass-A-Grille’s best views of the Gulf.
angle sunset vistas from the Hurricane Watch bar on the rooftop.
FOOD & DRINk
Bella Habana 5905 Gulf Blvd., 727367-1555, bellahabanarestaurant.com. Experience Cuba without leaving the beach. Authentic Cuban cuisine and not-so authentic drinks — phenomenal mojitos nonetheless.
Brass Monkey 709 Gulf Way, Suite 200, 727-367-7620, thebrassmonkey.net. Up a circular flight of stairs is a spacious second-floor restaurant known for its seafood, “monkey wings” 56 ❘ MAY 13-MAY 19, 2010 ❘ cltampa.com
Black Palm 109 8th Ave., 727-360-5000, blackpalmrestaurant.com. The most sophisticated dining spot in Pass-A-Grille, offering delicious twists on traditional South American and Caribbean cuisine (try the paella with orzo, or the “ricanachos” with banana tostones and pulled brisket). The open courtyard on 8th is a lovely place to while away an evening, especially when there’s a live Latin combo playing. The Drunken Clam Bar and Grille 46 46th Ave., 727-360-1800, drunkenclambar. com. Surprisingly more hopping than its beachside counterparts on a Friday night. Small in size but big in entertainment: live bands and sports packages bring in locals and mainlanders alike.
The Hurricane 807 Gulf Way, 727-3609558, thehurricane.com. This rambling faux Victorian is a Pass-A-Grille landmark, a big draw for seafood-seeking tourists and fans of the wide-
Sea Critters 2007 Pass-A-Grille Way, 727360-3706, seacritterscafe.com. Perfectly situated for boaters who want to pull up dockside and grab some fresh seafood and a Bahama Mama. But the landlocked can enjoy it, too, eating right on the water and taking a stroll down the dock to feed the catfish.
Shadrack’s 114 8th Ave., 727-360-8279. A quintessential beach dive bar popular with career drinkers and young hipsters alike.
Starlite Diner 5200 Gulf Blvd., 727-3630434. The classic silver diner serving up classic American burgers, fries and shakes.
The Undertow 3850 Gulf Blvd., 727-3689000, undertowbeachbar.com. The parking lot can be crowded and the bikini-clad bar staff less than welcoming, but the view of the beach (and the beach volleyball) can’t be beat.
Wharf Seafood Restaurant & Bar 2001 Pass-A-Grille Way, 727-367-9469, wharfrestaurant.org. Housed in a former fish processing plant, the Wharf has the waterfront perch and casual seafood fare of a typical beachtown restaurant, but with its 13 TVs, multiple Happy Hours and cozy wood-paneled booths it also feels like the kind of convivial sports bar you’d find in a college town.
A Little Room for Art 111 8th Ave., 727-360-8572, alittleroomforart.com. Just like the name says, this pink-and-white jewel box of a store is a little room packed with art — the eclectic and highly enjoyable output of a local artists’ co-op.
Bamboozle 107 8th Ave., 727-363-6900. Casually elegant women’s wear for a casually elegant beach town, from linen gauze blouses to striped Riviera bags in cotton and jute.
Evander Preston Contemporary Jewelry Design 106 8th Ave., 727-367-
7894, evanderpreston.com. Everyone in Pass-AGrille knows Evander, and anyone who knows (and can afford) fine jewelry knows the elegant funhouse where he sells his witty, gorgeous wares. And now he’s got his own brand of beer. See “Characters welcome,” opposite page.
Mountcastle International Trading Co., Ltd. 107 8th Ave., 727-360-4743, mountcastle.com. A tiny retail outlet for an international dealer in villager and refugee folk art. Just browsing the shop is an education; cards explain the items’ provenance, from Kenyan beaded jewelry to hand-painted Romanian eggs. Open 9-3 Mondays through Fridays; not open weekends.
Nancy Markoe Fine American Crafts Gallery 3112 Pass-A-Grille Way, 727360-0729, facebook.com/nancymarkoegallery. Shops featuring high-end crafts (as opposed to touristy kitsch) are surprisingly rare on the beaches. That may be one reason Nancy Markoe and Joey Peters’ intelligently curated gallery just south of the Don CeSar is coming up on its 25th anniversary. See “Characters welcome.”
Paradiso 104 8th Ave., 727-363-8831. Purveyors of tropical clothing for men and women (Tommy Bahama and the like) accented with touches of the entertainingly glitzy, like jeweled flipflops and sequined sundresses.
Suzette’s Antiques & Oddities 808 Pass-A-Grille Way, 727-388-3381. A big waterfront bungalow, circa 1905, filled with vintage clothing, tools, dolls, postcards, ornaments and more. It’s no wonder the shop’s business card reads “A Day in Pass-A-Grille”; you could easily while away a day here. See “Characters welcome.”
Postcard Inn on the Beach 6300 Gulf Blvd, 727-367-2711, postcardinn.com. Why would the New York Times, Conde Nast Traveler and numerous other travel pundits rave about a converted Travelodge? Because the boutique-hotel décor is a smart mix of surf retro (including boards) and contemporary edge; the restaurant, Wildwood BBQ & Burger, is the well-reviewed Southern outpost of a popular NYC spot; and for all of its charms, it’s surprisingly inexpensive.
TradeWinds Island Resort 5500 Gulf Blvd., 727-367-6461, tradewindsresort. com. A sprawling, something-for-everybody resort, with five pools, 11 dining venues, tennis courts, cabanas, shops, lagoons (with paddleboats) and of course, a beautiful stretch of beach. The resort is holding a Beach Walk for Wishes on May 15, a benefit for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
The Don CeSar Hotel3400 Gulf Blvd., 727360-1881, LoewsHotels.com/DonCesar. Rising like a mirage at the end of the Pinellas Bayway, this big pink 1920s-era hotel is the Gulf beaches’ Taj Mahal — and it’s as enthralling inside as out. An ideal weekend escape for locals, but you can also sample the luxe ambience by getting a drink in the comfy Lobby Lounge or the poolside bar.
Gulf Beaches Historical Museum 115 10th Ave., 727-552-1610. The building itself is a piece of history; it was built in 1917 as the barrier islands’ first church. And inside there’s a trove of information that’s a must for visitors and residents who want to understand what came before, from excavated
pottery of the Tocobaga Indian tribe to photos of PassA-Grille’s first hotel (Bonhomie, $7.50 a week) to stories of how Treasure Island and Redington Shores got their names. See “Characters welcome.”
Suntan Art Center 3300 Gulf Blvd., 727-367-3818, suntanart.org. A multipurpose center for both beginning and professional
artists, with classes, exhibits, gallery space and special events, including sponsorship of a regular Saturday Art Mart across from The Hurricane.
Polynesian Putter 4999 Gulf Blvd., 727360-9678. Old-school putt-putt joint long overdue for a makeover, but you can’t beat the price at $5 a game. cltampa.com ❘ MAY 13-MAY 19, 2010 ❘ 57
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