Frank Chivas has become one of those whirling dervishes that the restaurant industry occasionally breeds. Sitting atop a pile of restaurants (Salt Rock Grill, Island Way Grill, Marlin' Darlin, Rumba), he's gearing up to launch the seriously ambitious Marina Cantina at the Clearwater Harbor Marina (estimates on Chivas's expenditure run from $1.5 to $2.5 million) by the beginning of 2014. But that's evidently too far off in the future.
By the end of April, Chivas and crew will launch Salt Rock Tavern in the space formerly occupied by the Melting Pot in Oldsmar. Right next door to Rumba, with another restaurant called Hot Tuna poised to open in May, the shopping center will be something of a dining destination.
"It's a great location, and growing," says Chivas. "It will be like a laid back Salt Rock, with burgers, pizza, rotisserie chicken and Parmesan truffle fries."
The new project will feature 35 craft beers on tap, with a special emphasis on local beers, and the tavern will showcase bourbons, with drinks served in mason jars.
"We weren't going to do anything to the space and then we redid everything," Chivas says. "We're adding an outside bar, and we've used recycled materials for the tables and booths."
Chef Tyson Williams has been tapped to oversee the kitchen and much of the rest of the staff will be sourced from Chivas' other restaurants. Despite the fact that the restaurant launches just after "high season," this isn't easy because it's been a busy spring. Chivas says January and February were two of the best months of business his restaurants have ever seen.