Two restaurant closures
We're losing a couple of good ones. On Wednesday, Bistro Bleu on S MacDill in Tampa announced that it will close on Saturday night. Owners Tina Hurless and Tomas Carrasquillo cite tough economic times as the impetus for the closure. Having moved the NoHo Bistro (which became Bistro Bleu) from a really tricky location in West Tampa to a stretch of MacDill not far from Datz, Byblos and a number of other busy restaurants, it's a shame to hear that a greater density of quality restaurants didn't net sufficient new customers.
Bruce Caplan, who opened Fetishes Fine Dining at 6690 Gulf Blvd. in St. Pete Beach in 1994, has a different tale of woe to tell. After 18 years, his landlord sent him a brief note on Nov. 18 saying that the lease was not available for further extension and that Caplan should vacate the property by Dec. 31. Caplan plans to run his fine dining concept through New Year's Eve, at which point he will pack up his Wine Spectator-award winning wine list and his restaurant equipment and put it all in storage. Already looking at possible new locations, Caplan's plan is to mastermind a new restaurant concept in the near future.
Fundraiser for sick restaurateur
Walter Gerbase, longtime owner of Waltz Fish Shak at John's Pass Village in Madeira Beach had a massive brain aneurism on Oct. 25 and was in an induced coma for 35 days after that. Despite long odds, he is starting to recover. It will be a slow process, but as his partner Sue Zirnewskie told doctors, "Walt grew up in the Keys — he goes about doing things in his own time." Friends and family are throwing a fundraiser at the restaurant to raise money for his convalescence on Dec. 13 from 4 to 9 p.m. with live music, a silent auction and drawings. All money for food and drink that night will go toward Gerbase's recovery. Waltz Fish Shack, which remains open, is at 224 Boardwalk Place; for more information, call (813) 205-8080.
New pizza in Gulfport
Cousins Frank and Joe Casselino opened Cousins Pizzeria at 2813 Beach Blvd. in Gulfport on Nov. 28. From New York, they're bringing Sicilian thick-crust square, Neapolitan thin crust, calzones, eggplant parm and a mind-boggling array of what they call Italian ices (read: gelato) to what was once a Laundromat. After owning three restaurants in New York, Frank retired to Florida two years ago to spend every day fishing. It didn't take, and the upshot is that now the two cousins are throwing pies in one of the area's most charming communities. Bonus: They're selling by the slice, a rarity in these parts. For information, call (727) 258-4905.