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Colonnade restaurant to celebrate 75 years on Bayshore in Tampa

SOUTH TAMPA — Babe Ruth played the last game of his career, President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the Works Progress Administration and Lois Whiteside opened the Colonnade in the summer of 1935.

There were four stools at the tiny drive-up burger joint with the classy name and the Bayshore address. Lois' teenage sons, Richard and Jack, spread the word.

Soon the Colonnade became South Tampa's No. 1 teen hangout, a second home for generations of Plant High students.

"At one time, we sold more fountain Coca-Cola than any restaurant east of the Mississippi other than the Varsity in Atlanta,'' said Jack Whiteside Jr. "We mixed it by hand, with a shot of cherry or vanilla.''

And into every Coke, Lois plunked an olive.

"I wish I knew why, but no one knows," said Stacey Whitfield, part of the family restaurant's management team consisting of her father, Jack Jr. (Smokey), her uncle Richard "Dickey" Whiteside III and his son, J.D. Whiteside.

"We bought olives by the barrel,'' recalled Jack.

On Saturday, the Whitesides will thank four generations of supporters at a 75th anniversary celebration at the landmark restaurant, 3401 Bayshore Blvd. From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., guests can buy drinks and pie for 75 cents and shrimp or chicken wing baskets for $7.50.

Lee Bentley, 91, a customer since day one, has been invited to cut the cake at noon. Classic cars from the 1930s through the 1960s will make nostalgic props for customers such as Sandy Turkel of Davis Islands.

"It was the only place we all went,'' said Turkel, a Tampa native.

"It was a given — after any school activity or a drive-in movie, you ended up there,'' said Turkel, who graduated from Plant High in 1955. "It was very tiny inside, so waitresses took your order, and you jumped from car to car visiting."

Jim Crosby, 76, would pick up his steady girl, Gail, now his wife of nearly 54 years, in his 1949 Ford Club Coupe and zoom over for burger baskets.

"It was our first venture into freedom, those of us who managed to get a car,'' said Crosby, as loyal a customer as ever. "You honked to get the carhop or flashed your lights."

Added Gail, "We spent hours there, cruising for friends, like the kids do at the mall today."

These days, the wharf-style building, renovated in 1974, is known for its expansive view of Tampa Bay and grouper served 10 ways.

But don't hesitate to ask for an olive in your Coke.

. If You Go:

Colonnade 75th Anniversary Celebration

When/where: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. today; 3401 Bayshore Blvd., Tampa

Fried shrimp, catfish, chicken wing, crab cake, cheeseburger and hamburger baskets will be available for $7.50; soda, domestic draft beer and homemade pie will be 75 cents. Cake will be complimentary. Proceeds from a lemonade stand, a nod to the founder's first food venture in the 1930s, will benefit the Special Operations Warrior Foundation.

For details: Call (813) 839-7558.

Colonnade restaurant to celebrate 75 years on Bayshore in Tampa 07/10/10 [Last modified: Saturday, July 10, 2010 12:58am]

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