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Ragin' Grill will bring "all-American comfort food" to North Hyde Park

NORTH HYDE PARK — Ragin' Grill is about two weeks from opening on W Kennedy Boulevard in the former Make-A-Wish Foundation office.

This isn't Jim Cheatham's first rodeo with the "fast casual" chicken and ribs concept. The CEO of Fun & Food Management operated the Ragin' Ribs restaurants from 1999 through 2003. Heart surgery slowed him down, but now the hospitality industry veteran is raring to go.

Ribs, burgers, rotisserie chicken — nothing fried — will be served in the 50-seat restaurant and delivered in a 5-mile range. Side dishes include corn on the cob, smashed potatoes, collard greens, baked beans and macaroni and cheese. A fresh fruit skewer comes on every plate.

"All-American comfort food,'' says Cheatham, who was president of one of the first and largest Wendy's franchise chains.

The ribs and chicken are rubbed and marinated according to his secret recipes, then chargrilled. The formulas for two rib sauces, a spice rub and a chicken marinade are locked away in a safe deposit box, he says.

Cheatham, who is already selling Ragin' Grill franchises, expects home delivery to be more than 60 percent of the business.

Community service is important to Cheatham, who says he will dispatch a driver to deliver a Meals on Wheels route every day and send food once a month to the Fisher House next to James A. Haley VA Medical Center.

Ragin' Grill, 1719 W Kennedy Blvd., will be open daily, Sunday through Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Friday and Saturday until 11 p.m. Call (813) 254-3500.

From financial world to the pizza world

Former New Yorker Michael Whitton flipped his financial wizard cap for a chef's toque when he bought Chubby's, a popular Ballast Point pizza joint, on July 15. The accountant will now pursue a lifelong culinary passion.

George and Zan Fuller, who owned the 50-seat eatery at the intersection of Interbay and Bayshore boulevards since 1982, retired to Anna Maria Island, according to Whitton, 48, of Waterchase in northwestern Hillsborough County.

"All the employees stayed, and I'm keeping the Fullers' menu and recipes," Whitton said. But he's also adding calzones, ravioli and Chicago beefs. New furniture and fixtures will update the restaurant decor.

Chubby's Super Subs & Pizza, 5023 S Bayshore Blvd., is open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Call (813) 831-5557 or visit

Practice your swing and enjoy the AC

Tired of traveling to find a driving range, Realtor Frank Griffin invested about $85,000 in a high-tech simulator to perfect his golf game. He installed the equipment and opened Hyde Park Golf Club in an air-conditioned building behind his 102-year-old Bay Street home.

"It's the same simulator Tiger Woods practices on," said the two-time Palma Ceia Golf and Country Club champ.

Griffin charges $25 per hour, plus a one-time $5 membership fee. For $60, you can book the facility for the entire evening.

"Come practice before or after work," he said. "Once I get to know them, they get an access code to come in anytime. One group comes at 8:30 at night and plays till 1 or 2 in the morning."

The simulator uses PGA tour technology to display 45 courses from around the world on a 9- by 15-foot screen. Ball speed, launch angle, spin rate and path are computed, exactly as if you were playing the course live. Surround sound captures the pings and splashes when the ball lands.

Call (813) 300-5700 or visit

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Ragin' Grill will bring "all-American comfort food" to North Hyde Park 08/18/11 [Last modified: Thursday, August 18, 2011 4:31am]
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