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Beef 'O' Brady's owner gambles on Brooker Creek Golf Club location

In 2003, golfer John Downey hit a ball 511 yards, a long drive record he said stood for more than two years.

The Safety Harbor resident hopes for a similar smash with the Beef 'O' Brady's he opened this week at Brooker Creek Golf Club on Tarpon Woods Boulevard.

Downey and Beef 'O' Brady's believe the opening marks the first time a major chain restaurant has opened on a golf course.

"Things are tough right now for restaurants," Downey said, "so we tried to think outside the box."

Downey, 32, left Florida State University to pursue a career in professional golf. He came to specialize in the long drive, a distance competition, and became one of the game's top competitors.

He owns another Beef 'O' Brady's in North Port, which he opened in 2006. When the opportunity came, Downey and his wife, Donielle, decided it would be a good move to open another closer to home.

The final result after a month of renovating part of an existing structure on the course: 4,700 square feet of space, a full menu and bar plus 23 high-definition, flat screen televisions.

The Beef 'O' Brady's company, Downey said, is committed to charity work and sponsoring local youth and adult athletic teams. He's hoping to become a part of North Pinellas' community fabric.

Already, he's hired almost 40 workers.

The restaurant starts serving lunch at 11 a.m. and closes at 11 p.m. Starting Nov. 1, and through the golf season, the restaurant plans to open for breakfast at 7 a.m. and stay open as late as midnight.

Tuesday, snowbird Vinny Truscelli, who has played the course for more than 20 years, took in the interior of the new Beef 'O' Brady's and was impressed.

"The decor and the ambience are nice," he said.

Truscelli, 75, said he planned to get a hamburger for lunch.

Greg McClimans, who owns the course with his wife, Rebecca, changed the name to Brooker Creek Golf Club from Tarpon Woods Golf & Country Club a month ago.

He said he's done considerable work to improve the course, which is open to the public. Bringing a Beef 'O' Brady's, he said, is part of that effort.

"We wanted a name brand to come in," McClimans said. "It was the fit that we were looking for."

Will Van Sant can be reached at vansant@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4166.

Beef 'O' Brady's owner gambles on Brooker Creek Golf Club location 10/21/09 [Last modified: Thursday, October 22, 2009 11:13am]
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