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Patrons stop by Dave's Aqua Lounge to buy items before it closes

ST. PETERSBURG — Even as fans and customers steadily trickle into Dave's Aqua Lounge to buy sheet music, neon Budweiser signs and plastic ash trays as souvenirs of the dive bar they loved, owner Dave Mamber Jr. is secure in his decision to sell the business.

"I had no idea. It's such a great honor to know that you touched the community like this," said the 62-year-old who took over the live music joint from his dad decades ago. "But I'm really excited to close a chapter in my life and open a new one up. I want to start enjoying things people apparently do on a regular basis. For 29 years rarely do I go to bed with my wife and wake up the same time she does or have a long cup of coffee in the morning."

The 4,160-square-foot building at 10820 Gandy Blvd. has been sold but official records don't yet reflect the change in ownership. Mamber isn't talking about who bought it or if they plan to raze the jagged rock building in a prime location to make way for construction.

He first put the word out about five or six years ago that he was interested in selling the business his dad started in 1964. It took a while for a good offer to come around.

"We had one fellow who was going to put no money down and give me $1,000 a month and no interest for 10 years. I was like, 'Thanks Dad for the allowance,' " Mamber joked. "Now a good offer has come along. It's a four-letter word, and in my book one of the better ones, c-a-s-h."

The recession and the increase in other entertainment venues has hurt business in recent years.

"There are usually two or three major events going on on both sides of the bridge," he said.

Recent and past patrons are streaming in to pay $25 for bar stools or $1 for sheet music. A manual cigarette machine with the pull-knobs was priced at $100. Everything is for sale until doors close on Monday.

Times staff photographer Scott Keeler contributed to this report. Katherine Snow Smith can be contacted at (727) 893-8785 or kssmith@tampabay.com.

Patrons stop by Dave's Aqua Lounge to buy items before it closes 12/29/12 [Last modified: Saturday, December 29, 2012 3:30am]
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