SOUTH TAMPA — The caricatures on the wall of the Palm restaurant are crying at the news that the tony watering hole known for steaks and giant lobsters is closing Monday.
"So much competition, so many good restaurants," said general manager Mark Colbath, "where we used to have a captive audience.
That said, the upscale Westshore Plaza corner has been slammed with customers as they've heard the news.
"I haven't had this many reservations since Valentine's Day," Colbath said. "If they had been coming this regularly, I wouldn't be closing." A lot of people are coming by to take photos with their caricatures."
Colbath, single father of 10- and 13-year-old children, was asked to stay on with the Palm organization but prefers a complete career change. "I'm looking to get out of the restaurant business and be more of a father," he said. "I want to stay in town where I've made a lot of great friends."
Popular bartender Kevin Gallagher has already had his last day. Wayne Toepher will be there Monday mixing his famous martinis. Both men have been at the restaurant since the beginning, 13 years ago, said Colbath.
The upscale steakhouse was founded in New York City in 1926 and has about 30 locations nationwide. In Orlando, said Colbath, the Palm continues to do well at the Hard Rock Hotel in Universal Studios. "We could be back in this market with the right offer and location."
In the meantime, he'll stay Monday night "until the last customer waves goodbye."
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Dog groomer Sherrie Davis works by-appointment-only at the new W Kennedy Boulevard location of Pampered Pets. After almost eight years in Hyde Park, she looks forward to increased visibility, especially for the retail corner where she features dog toys, treats and clothing.
Pampered Pets, 2612 W Kennedy Blvd,; is open 8 a.m. to 3 or 4 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, (813) 875-2229.
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