Tampa City Council says yes to quirky restaurant backed by Rays' Evan Longoria

Published Aug. 23, 2013

TAMPA — Tampa Bay Rays slugger Evan Longoria and his business partners on Thursday won initial City Council approval for a late-night restaurant featuring duckpin bowling.

Longoria is an investor and part-owner in Ducky's Sports Lounge at 1719 W Kennedy Blvd., near the University of Tampa.

Ducky's will have a Tampa-influenced menu (think thin-crust pizza, but also deviled crab and media noche sliders) and four duckpin lanes — much like standard bowling, but the balls are smaller and the pins squattier.

The council approved the restaurant, which will serve alcohol and stay open until 2 a.m. Sunday through Wednesday and 3 a.m. Thursday through Saturday.

"The reason for extending the hours is to fill this void in the marketplace for full-service, late-night dining other than the Village Inn on Dale Mabry Highway," Ducky's attorney Gina Grimes said, "because that's really about it after 10 o'clock."

Longoria says he wants to create the kind of late-night supper option he sees in other big cities.

"I plan on hosting not only my teammates, but opposing teams' players and my colleagues in both the NHL and NFL for post-game dinners," he said in a letter to Mayor Bob Buckhorn. "After night games, we often don't arrive for dinner until nearly midnight. We will be serving a full menu from opening to close."

A final council vote is scheduled for Sept. 12. The restaurant aims to open in early October.

In other business, the council approved:

• Up to $452,520 in incentives if a local insurance services company expands its operations in Tampa.

Economic development officials have identified the firm only as "Project Crimson." State law allows names of companies seeking such public support to remain secret.

The company already has 652 local employees. It is thinking about adding 838 more by the end of 2018.

To get the money, it would have to expand and pay at least 115 percent of Florida's average wage, or $47,581 a year.

Officials say Crimson also is looking at moving to Nevada, Pennsylvania or Ohio.

Under Florida's qualified target industry tax refund program, Crimson also would receive $2 million from the state and up to $251,400 from Hillsborough County.

• The rezoning for the 36-story Residences at the Riverwalk. The 400-foot-tall tower will have 380 apartments, a 620-space parking garage and 10,000 square feet of ground-floor shops and cafes.

For the project, developers will reconfigure Tyler and Cass streets — both one-way — into slower-moving two-way streets and will create a larger arrival plaza at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. Developers plan to phase in the work so it does not disrupt Straz Center performances.