TAMPA — The Columbia Restaurant Group announced Wednesday that it has selected the Parkland Builders Group of Tampa for construction of the reimagined, 3,300-square-foot Goody Goody restaurant in Tampa's Hyde Park Village, with a target opening of spring.
The brainchild of Richard Gonzmart, this is a resurrection of an iconic Tampa restaurant known for its pies and bags of hamburgers "POX" — that's pickles, onions and the fabled secret sauce. Gonzmart may have nailed the secret sauce in his test kitchen on Florida Avenue, but the construction hasn't been easy.
"I thought it would be open in November, and it isn't even started," Gonzmart said by phone Wednesday. "Now we've learned they're going to be tearing up the sidewalks in front of our building. That's contributed to the delay. I wish I could say we'll be open in March or April, but I won't if the sidewalks around the front entrance aren't finished." He added with his characteristic glass-half-full optimism: "This gives me more time to get things right."
After nine years of off-and-on negotiations, Gonzmart purchased rights to the Goody Goody name last year from Michael Wheeler of Tampa, who had owned it since 1981. Hiring the right architect, Morris Nathanson Design of Pawtucket, R.I., was easy, Gonzmart says.
"They've done the rebranding of Johnny Rockets. They have done lots of these Art Deco-type diners from yesteryear. They understand the Goody Goody look. We had to go with someone who gets it."
The decision to choose Parkland as contractors was a bit more serendipitous.
"It was a fair bid process and they earned it. But I went to Jesuit High School, which was a big fraternity of sorts. We share the same values. There was a young man whose father was a mentor to me during a tough time when my father died. I didn't realize his son, Carlos Cisneros, was a part of Parkland Builders."
The other reason Parkland may have gotten the bid: "Their agreement is that they'll build it out in 63 days."
The overall look aims to capture "that old flavor," with wooden school desks and vintage metal chairs, the rehabbed historic Goody Goody sign (for which they had to get a variance because it was larger than what is permitted in Hyde Park) and a green and yellow color scheme that Gonzmart hopes will "have a feeling of freshness today."
Despite construction delays, staffing at Goody Goody has continued apace. David Ellis, a longtime Outback executive, has been brought on as operating partner, and Luis Rodriguez, formerly of Locale Market, will serve as the Goody Goody baker.
And just as the Hyde Park location opens its doors, it's time for Goody Goody No. 2, which debuts in June at Tampa International Airport along with a new coffee concept Gonzmart is working on and a Ulele Bar and Grill.
Will there be more after that?
Gonzmart hesitates to say precisely, but he's enthusiastic that, "If I'm lucky, I'm going to help a lot of people make a great living."
Contact Laura Reiley at [email protected] or (727) 892-2293. Follow @lreiley.