New in Clearwater Beach
Baystar Restaurant Group (Salt Rock Grill, Island Way Grill, Rumba Island Bar & Grill, etc.) is on the move again. A conversation with Frank Chivas last week revealed that Salt Rock Grill is gearing up for changes — its Salty Seas bar will undergo a conversion to a craft beer room by springtime. Chivas is even looking into brewing Salt Rock's own beer. And a new project called Marina Cantina is slated to open late this year at the city marina in Clearwater Beach. Necessitating a full build-out, exact opening dates are not yet know for this new casual taqueria.
Hapa closes, Pelagia reaps bounty
The bad news is that, after seven years, Brett and Nina Gardiner closed their charming Restaurant Hapa in Oldsmar this New Year's. The good news is that Brett Gardiner has landed at Pelagia Trattoria as sous chef. Gardiner worked with Pelagia's current executive chef Andrew Basch years ago at Oystercatchers at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay where Gardiner was lead cook and sous chef, and then later Basch came to Restaurant Hapa to work with Gardiner. Together they will continue the loosely Italian/Mediterranean idiom that has made the restaurant at the Renaissance Tampa International Plaza Hotel so highly regarded. For information, or reservations, call (813) 313-3235 or go to pelagiatrattoria.com.
More beach bits
It looks like Smoking Joe's BBQ is moving in the spot previously occupied by Bruce Caplan's Fetishes on St. Pete Beach. The Seabreeze Island Grill at 17855 Gulf Blvd., Redington Shores, is aiming for a Jan. 23 opening date. And Scalliwags, a new pirate-themed restaurant in Indian Rocks Beach is going into the space that used to be Bar Luna at 1511 Gulf Blvd.
Taco Bus redux
A ribbon-cutting ceremony with Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn has been announced for the newest location of Taco Bus, to be unveiled Jan. 24 at 505 Franklin St. in downtown Tampa. While this event is by invitation only, the new taqueria will be open to the public after that.
St. Pete Brasserie changes
As of Jan. 1, Justin Chamoun became the new owner of St. Pete Brasserie on Central Avenue. No word yet on what this will mean for the menu or staffing.
'Po boy riches
Rick Parsons started his first Ricky P's at 6521 Fourth St. N in St. Petersburg in the space that used to house Your Belly Deli, then added a little outpost inside Bob Lee's Tire Co. at 1631 Fourth St. N in St. Petersburg. It was recently announced that he will open a new Ricky P's at the site of the former Savannah's Café, which closed in May at 1113 Central Ave. It aims to be selling po' boys by Fat Tuesday.