Make us your home page

New restaurants land in Largo, despite economic slump


The national economy may be sputtering and businesses everywhere struggling, but this city is seeing a burst of economic activity when it comes to new restaurants. On Walsingham Road, three eateries have recently opened, including Mike's Pizza and Pub, Beef 'O' Brady's and a Village Inn. Farther east, across from Largo Mall on Seminole Boulevard, a McDonald's is being built. Up on Belcher Road, Billy Jack's Burger Shack opened Sept. 2.

"Some people might not agree, but things seem to be on an upswing,'' said Cky Ready, a Largo city planner. "Now we're seeing renovations and new buildings.''

A case in point is Mike's Pizza and Pub, at 14477 Walsingham Road, owned by Mike Dodaro along with his niece and nephew, Jennifer and Sal Dodaro.

Because the business has been averaging about 200 customers a day, the family, which also owns Mike's Pizza and Deli Station on 49th Street in Clearwater, is spending $40,000 on an expansion.

In about a month, in a tiny building in front of the restaurant, the Dodaros will open Mike's Tap House. It will not only offer customers a place to check out more than 30 types of beer, it also will help with the restaurant's overflow crowds.

"The reason I knew we could succeed, even with the economy the way it is, is because of the reputation we already have made. Also, even in a down economy, people still eat pizza,'' said Dodaro, who learned his trade while growing up in his father's Chicago restaurant, Salvatore's Pizzeria.

"The neighborhoods surrounding the new restaurant are sturdy, and that helps as well,'' he said.

Lisa Lima Kingston, owner of Beef 'O' Brady's, agreed. She unlocked the doors to her new restaurant at 13847 Walsingham Road on July 13.

For 10 years, she ran a smaller version of the business from the Publix Shopping Center on Clearwater-Largo Road. Last year, she decided to close that place and open "a bigger location that would draw in more customers,'' she said.

"I am seeing double the customers on a weekly basis than what I saw before I closed the other location in 2010,'' she said. "Even when the economy is not so great, people know they can come, watch a football game on our televisions and enjoy an inexpensive meal.''

At Billy Jack's Burger Shack, 1479 S Belcher Road, Bill McLemore is hoping to see the same results. He opened Sept. 2, serving up his specialties, chicken wings and grilled burgers. Sports fans can watch games on 22 big-screen televisions.

McLemore, who decided to move his restaurant from Palm Harbor when his lease expired, said he chose Largo because, "I knew Largo as being a good, working-class community.'

"I want to become part of the neighborhood, and Largo has that family feel," he said. "I want to see the same faces every day, and I have no desire to be reliant upon tourists and vacationers.''

Teresa Brydon, Largo's economic development director, said she's thrilled at the recent activity in the city.

"I think there are interesting signs when it comes to growth in this area,'' Brydon said. "Don't forget the McDonald's near the mall. I know it is simply a McDonald's, but McDonald's doesn't build a lot of new restaurants. Instead, they renovate existing ones. That they are doing it in Largo says something for this area.''

Piper Castillo can be reached at

New restaurants land in Largo, despite economic slump 09/12/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 13, 2011 6:29pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Home of Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman hits market at $3.45 million

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — The Davis Islands home of Tampa Bay Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman is back on the market for $3.45 million after a brief hiatus.

    The Davis Islands home of Tampa Bay Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman is on the market for $3.45 million. [Courtesy of Hi Res Media]
  2. Trigaux: Halfway through 2017, a closer look at six drivers of the Tampa Bay economy


    We're nearly halfway through 2017 already, a perfect time to step back from the daily grind of business and ask: How's Tampa Bay's economy doing?

    Is there one theme or idea that captures the Tampa Bay brand? Not really but here's one possibility. The fun-loving annual Gasparilla "Invasion" of Tampa is captured in this photo of 
The Jose Gasparilla loaded with pirates of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla on its way this past January to the Tampa Convention Center. In the future a vibrant downtown Tampa or St. Petersburg may be the better theme. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  3. Will new laws protect condo owners from apartment conversions and rogue associations?

    Real Estate

    Danny Di Nicolantonio has lived in St. Petersburg's Calais Village Condominums for 33 years. Annoyed at times by the actions, or inaction, of the condo board and property managers, he has complained to the state agency that is supposed to investigate.

    That has left him even more annoyed.

    A bill passed by the Florida Legislature would affect places like The Slade in Tampa's Channelside district, where cCondominium owners have battled a plan to convert homes into apartments.
[Times file photo]
  4. Walmart opens first Pinellas County in-house training academy


    Seminole — It had all the hallmarks of a typical graduation: robe-clad graduates marching in to Pomp and Circumstance, friends and family packed together under a sweltering tent and a lineup of speakers encouraging the graduates to take charge of their future.

    New Walmart Academy graduates are congratulated Thursday morning by associates during a graduation ceremony at the Walmart store, 10237 Bay Pines Boulevard, St. Petersburg. The Walmart location is one of the company's training academies where managers complete a one week retail course. David Shultz and Richard Sheehan, both from St. Petersburg, get high fives from the crowd.
[SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  5. Lawsuit: Florida contractor fakes death to dodge angry homeowners

    Human Interest

    SEMINOLE — For weeks, Glenn Holland, 67, crawled out of bed before the sun rose to look for a dead man.

    Last year Glenn and Judith Holland said they paid a contractor thousands of dollars to renovate their future retirement home in Seminole. But when they tried to move in on Dec. 14, they said the home was in shambles and uninhabitable. They sent a text message to contractor Marc Anthony Perez at 12:36 p.m. looking for answers. Fourteen minutes later, they got back this text: "This is Marc's daughter, dad passed away on the 7th of December in a car accident. Sorry." Turns out Perez was still alive. Now the Hollands are suing him in Pinellas-Pasco circuit court. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]