SULPHUR SPRINGS — Lots of people dream of spending their retirement on the waterfront, but Vernell Woods laughingly admits that her vision is a little different than most.
Woods, a retired schoolteacher and a onetime restaurateur, has decided to wade back into the restaurant business.
Vernell's Seafood Plus officially opened last week in a 1925 building called the Harbor Club, which houses several small businesses next to the banks of the Hillsborough River.
"This is one of my visions," Woods said. "This is my retirement. I'm not a person that could stay home."
The restaurant, at 915 E Grant Ave. near Nebraska Avenue, is open for lunch and dinner and specializes in crab (blue crab, snow crab, Dungeness) and a variety of fish including catfish, trout, grouper and mullet. Vernell's also serves shrimp, collard and turnip greens, macaroni and cheese, baked beans, zucchini casserole and other sides.
The restaurant seats about 25 inside, but much of the action happens on the patio, where there is plenty of room to watch the fish jump or look for the occasional alligator. Small boats go by and a family of manatees occasionally shows up, Woods said.
Hours at Vernell's are 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Clean cuts, clean cars
One of South Tampa's quirkier business concepts — an auto detailer sharing space with a barber — is back in full operation.
Maria May, owner of Maria's End-to-End Auto Detailing at 1101 S Howard Ave., has hired a haircutting specialist to fill the adjacent space once occupied by Robin Caryl.
A longtime favorite among clean-cut South Tampa guys, Caryl had to close her shop last year after undergoing major surgery on one of her arms.
May had been trying to sell the Howard Avenue building and close her business, but with the real estate market so unpredictable, she recently decided to reopen the barbershop.
Stylist Lisa Merriweather moved into Caryl's old digs last month and renamed the shop Couture Cuts.
"I'm a stylist and a barber, but a stylist first," said Merriweather, who said she has been cutting hair privately in South Tampa for three years. "I use a lot of shears, not a lot of clippers."
Merriweather is available Monday through Friday for both walk-ins and appointments. For more information, call Maria's shop at 254-9699.
Let's Eat to reopen
Nearly a year after its flagship store closed in South Tampa, meal assembly business Let's Eat announced last week that it would reopen next month in a new, larger space at 3415 W Bay to Bay Blvd.
The delays were related to the company's decision to make the location a franchise, said Scott Daigle, who with his wife, Laurie, purchased the rights to the location. The Daigles and sister-in-law Kelly Akeman have tentative plans to open the store in early to mid May.
Daigle, who works full time in commercial lending, said his wife had been a customer at the original South Tampa location, despite Daigle's initial doubts.
"I'm the so-called cook in the house and I was always like, 'I would never go to that place,' " Daigle said.
"Having now done my due diligence, it is the kind of place that whether you burn water or classify yourself as a gourmet cook, it's a nice helper."
A number cruncher by trade, Daigle said he also has determined that "you cannot buy the materials and put (meals) together for less than you can if you do it with us."
Tentative hours for the location will be 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
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