BRANDON — While driving down Adamo Drive to meet his wife for dinner, Beef 'O' Brady's president Nick Vojnovic spotted a sign: "restaurant for lease."
In his tenure as head of the family sports bar chain, Vojnovic has seen countless signs with similar messages, but this one struck him in a different way. It wasn't in a shopping center, it wasn't in a suburban neighborhood, and it wasn't like any Beef's location.
The more Vojnovic explored the idea, however, the more it made sense. The "outside-the-box" location at 9331 Adamo Drive offered so much potential, Vojnovic couldn't help but wonder why it hadn't happened sooner.
So next month, the community that spawned the original Beef 'O' Brady's will become home to arguably the most unique Beef's — at the Best Western Brandon Hotel and Conference Center.
"We're excited," Vojnovic said. "Best Western is a middle America hotel brand and Beef 'O' Brady's is a middle America restaurant brand. If it works out, we're going to pitch it to all the Best Westerns nationwide."
Beef's recently embraced unique locations, including its first on-campus location at the University of South Florida and plans for a restaurant at the TradeWinds Resort in St. Pete Beach.
The Best Western location, however, would be its first banquet facility and hotel.
Partnering with Beef's is Christopher R. Lewis, managing partner of the hotel owner, the Bayshore Co. Vojnovic initially offered the location to J.J. Massaro, the son-in-law of Beef's founder Jim Mellody who still operates the original Beef's on Kings Avenue and has territorial rights to that particular area.
When Massaro passed, Lewis took it upon himself to install the restaurant in the hotel spot formerly occupied by Robiconti's Rockhouse.
In many ways, Lewis fits the mold for the sports-themed restaurant. He has been involved in youth soccer for years both with Brandon Area Youth Soccer League and at King High. During the initial conversations, Vojnovic and Lewis also discovered they attend the same church: St. Stephen's Catholic in Valrico.
"We think it'll help more people see how nice of a hotel we have," Lewis said. "Hopefully, we will go from being known as a hotel that has a Beef's to a Beef's that has a hotel and conference rooms attached to it."
Lewis has put together a team of restaurant professionals to manage the new Beef's, which will open Oct. 6. It will feature 18 televisions, a full bar and an outdoor cigar bar. Lewis expects a brisk lunch business from workers along the Adamo corridor.
He also plans to make the most of the synergy between the hotel and the restaurant. The idea is to allow sports teams and other private parties to combine the hotel's conference rooms, pool and courtyard with food from Beef's. Kids could play in the pool under the supervision of a lifeguard, change in hotel rooms and then receive awards in one of the conference rooms.
Guests at the Rotary Club of Brandon's Sept. 19 Casino Night will get the first look at the remodeled restaurant. For tickets and information about the Rotary Club event, call (813) 361-3412 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.