Eating in Pinellas
Bob Griffin, publisher of Best Restaurants magazines, tips us to what's going on with restaurants in Pinellas. Despite all the gloom and doom, it looks like there's a new crop of restaurants on the horizon.
Dakota's Grill & Bar (formerly Monterey Bistro), 7924 Ulmerton Road, Largo, (727) 536-7380; casual American fare.
The Red Room Cafe & Sports Grill, 999 N Missouri Ave., Largo, (727) 586-5170.
Latitudes, 13111 Gulf Blvd., Madeira Beach (coming soon).
Don Alvino of Jack Willie's and Tarpon Turtle is working on two new restaurants in the condos across the street from Eddie's Bar and Grill in Dunedin.
There has been a change at Captain Jack's in Tarpon Springs. It is now owned by Mike Lowe, who also owns Catches and Pappas Riverside Restaurant, and evidently he has done a great deal to renovate the property.
Keegan's Seafood Grill in Indian Rocks Beach was purchased recently by the Schowowski family (parents Jon and Jacque, sons John and Rob). John has worked in local favorites such as Frenchy's, Beach Bistro and King Fish.
Though the ownership at Marlin Darlin (2819 W Bay Drive, Belleair Bluffs, (727) 584-1700) hasn't changed hands, it has added a new "Key West Grill" concept for a more casual atmosphere in these tough times.
Laura Reiley, Times food critic
Tampa dining shuffle
Mariposa Mexican Grille (17623 N Dale Mabry Highway, Van Dyke Commons shopping plaza, Lutz, (813) 264-1212) is changing its name. Owned by Rand Packer, formerly chef at Roy's in Tampa, the restaurant hit a snag because a restaurant of the same name in Colorado started grousing. The new name is Mekenita Mexican Grille. Same menu, same vibe, just new name (a riff on Rand and wife Tiffani's daughter's name, up there in lights).
Jasmine Thai, which consistently wins top Thai honors with Zagat despite an increasingly crowded local field of worthy Thai contenders, has closed its Kennedy Boulevard location. The N Dale Mabry location is going strong, and at the end of October a West Shore location will open. Stay tuned.