DUNEDIN — When Dion Falzon took over a 28-year-old community favorite, he wanted to take the foundation and make it better.
He assembled his "ace team," including General Manager Pete Jutis and Chef Chris Falzon, his younger brother. And since Falzon bought Kelly's and the Chic-a-Boom-Room at 319 Main Street in 2017, the team has worked daily to transform it into their style.
In March, Falzon and Jutis changed the name of Kelly's to Crown and Bull and slapped on their new logo, Falzon's 8-year-old white English Bulldog Huey, wearing a crown.
"We're planting our flag and we're staying," Falzon said. "We want to build up something we're really proud of."
As part of the changes, they added new leather booths, a wine cellar and new bars. The former dirt lot in the back of the Chic-a-Boom-Room has been paved and set up with fireplaces, with live music playing every night of the week.
And he's not done. They have a plan to turn the upstairs loft of the building, which was built in 1918, into a speakeasy.
From 1989 on, former owner Virgel Kelly's life revolved around Kelly's and the Chic-a-Boom-Room. He opened it just before downtown began renovations and made it a mainstay in the community for decades afterward. The work was tiring, he said.
"I could just see myself passing upstairs behind the desk," he said. "It was time for a change."
Kelly said Dunedin is the best place in the world to do business, but the choice to sell the restaurant was easy. He did worry the reduced pace would be a hard adjustment. In his free time, he's spent time at Blur, a club he helped open, and visiting his mom.
"I really enjoy it, the things I could never really enjoy," he said.
At Crown and Bull, Falzon said they're working to turn the restaurant into a place more locally sourced, healthy and organic. Their meat comes from a farm in Fort McCoy and their greens from Life Farms in Clearwater, where a large chunk of the farm is dedicated to meeting the store's needs.
Items down to the Bloody Mary mix and honey are sourced locally. Condiments and sauces are made in house. On the slanted roof of the building, chef Chris Falzon grows peppers he uses.
Dion Falzon, who grew up in Dunedin, said he respects the history of the building — it's plastered on the walls of the restaurant in framed photos of old Dunedin — and wants to be part of the community. They held a fundraiser for a local boy without a leg and got him a prosthetic. This month, they'll be holding a beach cleanup on Honeymoon Island where people who fill up a bag get a free meal.
"We're trying to be pillars in this community," Falzon said.
Contact Romy Ellenbogen at or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @Romyellenbogen.