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Pepin Restaurant has a suitor; Hooters says it isn't the one

The landmark Spanish restaurant at 4125 Fourth St. N started in 1974 and continues to be operated by the daughter of the founders.

JAMES BORCHUCK | Times

The landmark Spanish restaurant at 4125 Fourth St. N started in 1974 and continues to be operated by the daughter of the founders.

ST. PETERSBURG — An offer has been made on Pepin, the landmark restaurant at 4125 Fourth St. N. While the owners are considering selling, they say they don't have plans for a sudden closing.

"This is not going to be a quick departure. The city means too much to us," said Monique Massaro, who runs the restaurant her parents started in 1974.

"My father always said if somebody is going to offer us the right price, we are always for sale," she added. "Someone made us an offer. We're just waiting to see how things may pan out. … Things are being considered on both ends."

While some customers have heard that Hooters wants to buy Pepin, Massaro said she doesn't yet know who made the offer. About a month ago a broker approached her and her husband but did not name the party that is interested in buying the restaurant.

"That is a rumor," Hooters president Neil Kiefer said through a spokeswoman. He added that the company, which originated in Clearwater, has not purchased Pepin and did not comment further.

A mainstay for anniversaries, prom dates, banquets and business lunches, Pepin is perhaps the best known Spanish restaurant in Pinellas County. Its specialties include pompano that is baked while it's encased in salt and then filleted tableside. Another trademark is its house salad with green olives, tomatoes and grated Parmesan cheese.

Pepin employs about 25 people. "We want to approach this in a good way and let our staff know and have plenty of time," Massaro said.

Hooters has a restaurant at 10400 Roosevelt Blvd. If it were to open in the Pepin location, it would be about 20 blocks from WingHouse Bar & Grill.

Contact Katherine Snow Smith can be reached at (727) 893-8785 or kssmith@sptimes.com.

Pepin Restaurant has a suitor; Hooters says it isn't the one 12/18/10 [Last modified: Saturday, December 18, 2010 3:30am]
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