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Pizza in oven; ribs a-comin'

With all the big-chain restaurants that have gobbled up Hernando in recent years, it's not surprising that two more would choose to tuck in.

The first is Papa John's Pizza, a Louisville, Ky.-based pizza chain with more than 700 outlets. On Tuesday, it opened a pizza delivery and carry-out business at 3496 Deltona Blvd.

"It's a really good-looking market," said Chuck O'Brien, general manager of the business, which employs 25 people. "The kind of product that we have (pizza, cheese sticks and bread sticks) fits this kind of area."

Pasco Properties of Holiday owns the Spring Hill Papa John's and two others, one in Port Richey and one in Holiday.

If the Spring Hill business does well, Pasco Properties may open other Papa John's restaurants in Brooksville and Hudson in the next six months, O'Brien said.

Also, Rich's Bar-B-Q plans to open Dec. 10 in the former Golden Corral Family Steakhouse building on U.S. 19. The 160-seat restaurant will serve barbecue chicken, pork, ribs and steak cooked in an open pit. Meals will cost in the $5 to $6 range, said Reggie Tillman, who will manage the restaurant.

A family-run business, Rich's Bar-B-Q restaurants are in Jacksonville and Green Cove Springs in Clay County.

The company's Green Cove restaurant was among six Golden Corral sites that had closed.

Rich's Bar-B-Q owner Richard Tillman is the brother of Sonny's Real Pit Bar-B-Q founder Floyd "Sonny" Tillman. He spent six weeks looking at the other sites before settling on Spring Hill, said his son, Reggie.

"We chose Spring Hill because everything is expanding pretty rapidly down there," Reggie Tillman said.

Executives at Brooksville-based Regional Healthcare Inc. were eager to put their spin on events in bankruptcy court last week.

The day after the Times published a story that Regional's leading creditor _ CNA Insurance Cos. of Chicago _ got court approval to buy up other creditors' claims, giving CNA more voting power, Regional issued a news release that gave its own version of what happened.

"CNA's REQUEST REJECTED," read the headline on the release, referring to a separate ruling by the judge rejecting CNA's request to file a competing plan of reorganization to Regional Healthcare's.

The judge allowed Regional to buy $272,000 worth of hospital equipment, against the objections of CNA's attorneys, who quibbled about the cost and necessity of the purchases, the release said.

"We do not think that CNA's purchase of claims will have any effect on the outcome of the case," the statement read. "RHI intends to continue to operate both hospitals (Spring Hill and Brooksville) as full-service acute-care hospitals and has no intention of selling them."

Some more details on the planned Federal Express station at the Airport Industrial Park.

Spokesman Armand Schneider said the station won't be hiring locally. Instead, it will draw about 20 employees from other Federal Express locations in Ocala, Leesburg, Brandon and Port Richey, where the company has a small delivery booth.

The station is expected to open Feb. 1, Schneider said. Federal Express has signed a lease with Pearson Industries, which will construct an 18,100-square-foot building for the overnight delivery giant.

For now, the company will continue to use Tampa International Airport to ship packages.

Bottom line: The new station will mean more convenient service for customers, and Federal Express drivers won't have to drive as far to pick up or deliver packages.

Gary Schraut of Century 21 Gavish Realty, which worked with others to attract Federal Express to the area, said he thinks the station will not only benefit businesses in the park, "but will raise the confidence level of the people coming here."