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Everybody's Business: Barbecue, beer, art glass

The force behind the new BJ’s Alabama Barbecue, at 3307 S Dale Mabry, is April Moreno, center, who is flanked by her daughters Brandi Williams, left, and LaMaria Mathis, second from right. Mathis’ daughters are also shown: Nena, 6, and Savannah, 8, right.


The force behind the new BJ’s Alabama Barbecue, at 3307 S Dale Mabry, is April Moreno, center, who is flanked by her daughters Brandi Williams, left, and LaMaria Mathis, second from right. Mathis’ daughters are also shown: Nena, 6, and Savannah, 8, right.

VIRGINIA PARK — Her last name may have changed, but April Moreno promises there's nothing different about her signature sweet barbecue sauce.

Back when she was still April Campbell, Moreno owned the popular Gandy Boulevard spot Mrs. Campbell's Original Alabama Bar-B-Q. It closed in 1999. This week she opened BJ's Alabama Barbecue, at 3307 S Dale Mabry.

The "BJ" is a reference to "Big John" Stephens, her father and the founder of Big John's Alabama Barbecue on 40th Street, which has been open for 40 years. Big John's sauce is spicy; his daughter's is sweet.

Her dad always told her that "if other things don't work, people are always going to eat," Moreno said. She tried real estate for years but decided to get back into the barbecue business because people were still asking about her sauce. Her daughter, LaMaria Mathis, is her partner.

BJ's will offer ribs, chicken, beef, pork and sausage, with sides like green beans, macaroni and cheese, collard greens and french fries. The building has a drive-through (it once was a Church's Fried Chicken). Hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.

Upscale sports bar

Revamping a building that once housed a series of adult nightclubs was more trouble than Nina Carroll expected. But she said the result — Nina O's Grill and Bar — was worth it.

Carroll has partnered with John Kucik, the building's owner and an Orlando businessman, to create what they call an upscale sports bar.

Nina O's, at 4502 S Dale Mabry, may open as early as this weekend.

The restaurant features 11 flat panel TVs with speakers at every table so customers can choose which music or TV program to listen to. But "our primary focus is on food," Carroll said. "We're not going to have pool tables …it's going to be a place more for couples watching sports."

Carroll owned the Sportin' Around Pub and Deli on Gandy Boulevard, which closed in 2004 when Walgreens took over the aging shopping center and built a new store. She also has been a chef and manager at several private clubs.

Carroll said she is keeping the Nina O's menu casual and affordable, with her signature chili, burgers, wings, stuffed mushrooms, fried green tomatoes and quesadillas.

The restaurant will seat about 100 diners in 2,100 square feet, with an additional 350 square feet on the patio.

Nina O's will have a full bar and will serve food daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., though on weekends the bar likely will stay open until around midnight.

Davis Islands art glass

For part-time Davis Islands resident Kim Sprague, her new path was clear.

It was time to open another shop like her Key West art glass boutique, Glass Reunions, this one near her second home. It should open early next month at 233 E Davis Blvd.

Sprague said she carries work by more than 200 American glass artists. She'll be selling everything from small baubles (ornaments, jewelry) to large blown glass chandeliers.

Sprague and her husband have owned a house in Davis Islands, which is where their grandkids live, for years. Seventeen years ago, she opened Glass Reunions on Duval Street in the Keys, where she lives. For 10 years before that, she owned an art glass store in Richmond, Va., and lived there.

"For years I did stained glass myself," Sprague said. "I used to sell my work to 300 galleries across the U.S., and then I started looking around and there wasn't anything like that in Virginia. Now that's all I do — I run the retail store and don't do any of my own stained glass."

Glass Reunions will be open Monday through Saturday. Hours aren't set yet, but the store will have later hours Thursday through Saturday.

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Everybody's Business: Barbecue, beer, art glass 07/03/08 [Last modified: Monday, July 7, 2008 10:00am]
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