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Hootie's Dean Felber on restaurants and music

Dean Felber

Dean Felber

By Laura Reiley

Times Food Critic

Hootie & the Blowfish started in 1986 at the University of South Carolina. Over the band's career, they recorded five studio albums, the best known of which was 1994's Cracked Rear View. Dean Felber still gets together with Darius Rucker and fellow bandmates for charity events and reunion gigs, but these days the band's bassist is playing a new tune, as restaurateur of Seminole's new Blowfish Bar and Grill. We caught up with him by phone to discuss his new venture.

Why a restaurant in Seminole?

I've owned commercial property here for eight years. I owned the building that for a long time was Shells Seafood Restaurant before they went down and the economy kerplunked. (There are still a few left.) The last tenant left suddenly and took everything that was nailed down. I came down from Charleston with my friend to check out the mess. It was a long drive and by the time we got home we had cooked up Blowfish.

Is the food business new for you?

I'm kind of a food guy. I'm part owner of a winery in California, Perception Wines in Sonoma's Russian River Valley. We make pinot, zin and chard. And I'm an avid cook. I've taken a couple of weekend warrior culinary classes in Charleston.

So will we see you in the kitchen at Blowfish?

No, I like to cook when it comes to two or three people, but when you start adding numbers I get nervous.

What kind of foods are you introducing to this area?

The first thing that struck me about dining out here is the lack of Southern food on menus. I always thought of Florida as a Southern state. So we're doing shrimp and grits, fried green tomatoes at lunch, and a couple of places in Charleston do these homemade chips with a blue cheese drizzle with some scallions and we're doing those.

Are there any parallels between the music business and the restaurant business?

Yes, 100 percent: If you don't have people with their hearts and their passion in it, it's not going to happen. And like music, the restaurant business is a grind and a half. You've got to get out there every day and be ready for it, and keep a smile on your face.

Laura Reiley can be reached at lreiley@tampabay.com or (727) 892-2293. Follow @lreiley on Twitter.

Hootie's Dean Felber on restaurants and music 05/28/13 [Last modified: Monday, May 27, 2013 3:31pm]
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