The old mural of San Remo, Italy, is still on the wall inside Basta's Ristorante, but the color on the walls has changed from white and blue to warm crimson.
In about a month or so, the sign bearing the name of the Italian restaurant that closed earlier this year will change, too. The new name: Chanele's. The new motto: "Where Grown Folks Play."
Co-owner Philip Morrison, a former Pinellas County bailiff who left the Sheriff's Office last year, says the restaurant and club at 1625 Fourth St. S, will be a casual dining spot with a wide repertoire of nightly entertainment.
"I see it as many things for many people," said Morrison, 43, who is making his first foray into the restaurant and club business. He named the restaurant after his 23-year-old daughter.
Opening day was July 3, coincidentally the date of the funeral for Francisco Basta, who opened Basta's Ristorante in 1989. Basta died at 58 on June 17 of liver cancer.
Though vastly different venues, Basta's and Chanele's share a challenging location, with few businesses nearby. Basta's attracted patrons from across Tampa Bay, but it was a following built upon years of service.
"It's a hard place to make it. It's a tough economy right now," said MaryEllen Basta, 56, whose family no longer owns the property. "A lot of people are not eating out now."
Morrison hopes the variety will help him survive. The kitchen, where the most expensive dish is a $7.50 rib sandwich, opens for lunch at 11 a.m. daily. Wednesday is comedy night, with no cover; Thursday is ladies night from 4 to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday nights are reserved for dancing and Sundays for jazz.
Chanele's also inherits a 50-car parking lot behind the restaurant, in addition to the parking that is available out front.
The Basta family is considering reopening the Italian restaurant at another location.
Luis Perez can be reached at email@example.com or (727)892-2271.