SEMINOLE HEIGHTS — Earl R. Kelly Jr. carved a new career for himself when he opened Smokin' Oaks Barbeque in April.
The Tampa native holds a master's degree in psychology and had worked as a clinical therapist in Pinellas County.
"I've had my fill of that,'' he said.
Now, at Smokin' Oaks, an experienced chef handles the cooking chores while Kelly runs the bare-bones 16-seat restaurant. The site, on Sligh Avenue off 15th Street, previously housed a florist and is not far from where Kelly grew up.
"No frills, just chicken, beef and ribs slowed-cooked to perfection," said the King High School grad, "especially our Texas-style beef brisket."
He recommends the Big Sloppy, a combo platter of chopped brisket, chicken breast and sausage with two sides. Those could be coleslaw, potato, macaroni or spaghetti salad, baked beans or collard greens. For dessert, try the sweet potato pie or choose from three kinds of pound cake: marble, double chocolate and lemon.
Smokin' Oaks, 1501 E Sligh Ave., is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, until 10 p.m. Friday and until 9 p.m. Saturday. Call (813) 735-6004.
Tae kwon-do school opens in South Tampa
"Got beast?'' is the motto of the Traditional Tae Kwon-Do Center of South Tampa. Traci Welch, the homeschooling mother of two boys, realized how much they benefited from the Korean marital art and opened her own school at 3617 Henderson Blvd., Suite C, near the corner of Swann Avenue.
"One son is now 17 and has a black belt, the other is 13 and is a blue belt,'' said Welch, who also trains in the ancient art of self-defense at the center she opened in January. The school employs instructors trained by Kwan Jang-Nim Brunner.
"Master Brunner opened one of the first traditional tae kwon do schools in the area,'' she said. "We use his specific curriculum, but we are not a franchise."
Programs for children and adults emphasize self-restraint, kindness and humility six days a week. Visit southtampataekwondo.com or call (813) 350-9400.
Clover boutique offers trendy clothing, deals
Funky women's fashions fill Clover boutique, a former Platt Street flower shop painted bright orange to be as eye-catching as the accessories inside. At the tiny building between Four Green Fields and Publix, owner Tabatha Christianson turned a walk-in refrigerator that once chilled roses into a dressing room.
Price and style matter most to Christianson, who opened March 1. "Most dresses, tops and skirts cost less than $30,'' she said. Shop on the eighth day of any month and she'll donate any profits from that day to a charity.
Clover, 212 W Platt St., is open noon to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays. Call (813) 254-3286.
Decorators team up with furniture retailer
Enrique Crespo and Kylie Italiano, formerly of Mode Interiors, recently joined furniture retailer Casa Nova to create the Casa Nova Design Group.
"We've always done a lot of referrals with them, so we formalized the relationship about six months ago," said Stephen Gay, one of the owners of the business on Bay to Bay Boulevard. Other partners are Charles Hounchell, Barbara Lynch and Linda Connelly.
Crespo is a graduate of Savannah College of Art and Design; Italiano studied at International Academy of Design & Technology. Combined, they offer nearly two decades of experience.
"They are chameleons," Gay said. "Neither is specifically traditional nor modern."
Casa Nova, at 3119 W Bay to Bay Blvd., is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, noon to 4 p.m. Sundays and by appointment. Call (813) 837-8282.
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