Make us your home page

Old Leatherbacks site to learn new tricks as Brown Boxer Pub and Grill

Brown Boxer owners Wasim Nabulsi, Jeff Brown and Jay Thomas, from left, stand in their Clearwater pub and plot plans for Madeira Beach. 


Brown Boxer owners Wasim Nabulsi, Jeff Brown and Jay Thomas, from left, stand in their Clearwater pub and plot plans for Madeira Beach. 

CLEARWATER — It takes some guts to open a restaurant in a spot where others have failed. That's what the Brown Boxer Pub and Grill did last year, opening in a Clearwater Beach spot where an Outback Steakhouse had closed.

And that's what it's doing on Nov. 11 in downtown Madeira Beach, in a prominent spot that has been vacant for some time.

The new place is at 15000 Madeira Way, the site of the former Leatherbacks Steakhouse. After Leatherbacks closed, a replacement called Rad Finz Coastal Cuisine was supposed to open last year but never did.

Brown Boxer owner Jay Thomas noticed the empty site because he kept driving past it on his way to visit John's Pass. "I like the traffic that goes through there, coming off the Tom Stuart Causeway," he said.

He decided to clone what has been successful at his Clearwater pub: a menu of wings and other entrees, dozens of TVs showing sports, live music nightly, and a mix of indoor and outdoor seating. The porch will be dog-friendly, which is appropriate since the restaurant is named after Thomas' one-eyed dog.

"We're a casual pub and grill. A lot of people say we're a sports bar, but we're not," said Thomas, a Philadelphia native who got his start managing Hooters franchises up North. "We try to hit every segment: older folks for dinner, a happy hour for locals, music after 10 for a younger crowd. People who come here for dinner have no idea what happens here at night when we're rocking and we turn into a club."

Thomas and his partners, Jeff Brown and Wasim Nabulsi, opened the first Brown Boxer in July 2010 at the Pelican Walk shopping center on Clearwater Beach.

An Outback had opened there in 2003, and officials had hoped it would breathe new life into the shopping strip on Mandalay Avenue. But it eventually closed.

Thomas and his crew took over, knocked down the Outback's exterior walls and installed garage doors that can be raised.

"It makes the inside seating seem like outdoor seating," said Clearwater City Council member John Doran, who has frequented the place. "I think he has successfully followed that model of going in after somebody else has given up. They've made going there a social event. That corner is becoming more active, and it's gratifying to see."

Madeira Beach officials can only hope that the new Boxer livens up the Madeira Way corridor.

That site has a long history as a dining spot: Before it was Leatherbacks, for 40 years it was a local institution called the Apple Family Restaurant. The Apple, a favorite breakfast and lunch stop for tourists and businesspeople, was owned by Pat and George Schontz.

"The new restaurant is going to be a great thing for Madeira Way, which has been asleep since Leatherbacks closed," said Pat Schontz, a former Madeira Beach mayor. "It should really bring some action to that end of town."

Mike Brassfield can be reached at or (727) 445-4151.

The Brown Boxer Pub and Grill

Clearwater Beach: 483 Mandalay Ave., (727) 441-6000

Madeira Beach: 15000 Madeira Way, (727) 391-1704

Old Leatherbacks site to learn new tricks as Brown Boxer Pub and Grill 10/29/11 [Last modified: Friday, October 28, 2011 1:13pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa is 15th-most popular city to move to with U-Haul


    TAMPA —Tampa is undoubtedly a destination point, at least according to U-Haul.

    Tampa is the No. 15 destination for people moving with U-Haul trucks. | Times file photo
  2. Florida's economy growing faster than other big states and far better than U.S. overall


    When it comes to economic growth, Florida's running alongside the leading states and well ahead of the United States as a whole.

  3. Westshore Marina District project takes shape with another acquisition

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — One of Tampa Bay's prime waterfront areas took another major step toward redevelopment Friday as WCI Communities bought 2.35 acres in Westshore Marina District.

    WCI Communities, Lennar's high-end subsidiary,has paid $2.5 million for 2.35 acres in the Westshore Marina District for 35 townhomes. WCI is under contract  to buy an additional 9.5 acres.
[BTI Partners]
  4. Posh Guy Harvey RV park to open in Tampa Bay with $250,000 cottages


    HOLIDAY — Love those Guy Harvey T-shirts with the soaring marlins? In the not too distant future, you might be able to kick back in your own Guy Harvey cottage in the first-ever Guy Harvey RV park.

    Renderings of the clubhouse and an RV cottage site of the planned Guy Harvey Outpost Club & Resort Tarpon Springs.
[Guy Harvey Outpost Collection]
  5. Port Tampa Bay secures $9 million grant to deepen Big Bend Channel


    Port Tampa Bay has secured a $9 million grant from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the widening and deepening of the Big Bend Channel in southern Hillsborough County.