BRANDON — Every weekend night for more than a decade, the area's finest jazz musicians and most discriminating jazz connoisseurs congregated at Della's After Dark.
Starting this weekend, they'll have to find somewhere else to go. Della's After Dark has closed.
But the news isn't completely bleak.
"We didn't close because business was bad," said Beverly DellaGrotta. "We hope to, and expect to, reopen once I find the right situation."
DellaGrotta owns Della's, the venerable breakfast-and-lunch bistro that transformed into Della's After Dark on weekend evenings. The restaurant is still open and still thriving. It's business as usual there, DellaGrotta said.
She opened Della's 25 years ago, and her son, Alex, who is a chef, approached her with the idea for Della's After Dark 11 years ago. Since her restaurant was empty at night, it seemed like a natural idea. And it worked out great while her son was running Della's After Dark.
"For a very long time, it was a reliable place to go to find great jazz on the weekends," said Philip Booth, a jazz musician who frequented Della's After Dark as both a performer and a fan. "As a musician, it was a great place because the audiences appreciated the music, which isn't always the case with a restaurant gig."
Della's After Dark was prominent enough that Downbeat magazine mentioned it in a story a few years back about the best jazz venues in cities around the country.
But Alex DellaGrotta moved out of town some months ago so his wife could pursue business opportunities. A couple of other people ran Della's After Dark subsequently, but neither of them worked out, Beverly DellaGrotta said.
So now the jazz club is closed, and she said she's not going to rush to reopen. This time, she said, she's going to make absolutely sure she has the right people running things.
It's an unusual business arrangement — she doesn't own Della's After Dark, but it's in her restaurant when she's not there — so she has to find people who will provide a quality experience for customers and with whom she'll feel compatible.
There's no timetable for the opening, she said.
Meanwhile, Della's, the restaurant, is still open for breakfast and lunch from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. It's at 608 Oakfield Drive, just east of Kings Avenue. Call (813) 684-3354.
Bagelicious and More expands to Brandon
BRANDON — Linda Carr had lots of restaurant experience, mostly with franchise operations, but had never owned her own place.
So before she opened her first Bagelicious and More in Wesley Chapel three years ago back, she wanted to educate herself.
"I went to bagel places and did any job I could," she said. "I scrubbed toilets, anything, just so I could learn about bagels and learn about the business."
The strategy paid off. She's just opened her third Bagelicious and More, at 1232 Kingsway Road, just south of Windhorst Road.
Bagels, made fresh every morning, are a specialty, but, as the name implies, there's more. Bagelicious and More has an extensive breakfast and lunch menu The whole menu's available any time, so patrons can have a burger for breakfast or an egg and cheese sandwich for lunch.
It's all counter service, and everything's available to go, but there's also seating available.
It's open from 6 a.m. until 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. Call (813) 446-4403.
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