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Tampa institution returns as Goody Goody opens in Hyde Park Village (w/video)

Mike Smith of New Tampa waits for doors to open at Goody Goody about 5:30 a.m. He was first in line at 4 a.m. for the grand opening of the new restaurant at 1601 W Swann Ave. in Hyde Park Village. Smith, who was born in Tampa in 1952, says some of his earliest childhood memories are of Goody Goody. [CHERIE DIEZ | Times] 
Published Aug. 24, 2016

TAMPA — Goody Goody is officially back in business.

Owner-impresario Richard Gonzmart's revived version of the longtime iconic Tampa-based burger chain opened its doors to the public Tuesday morning at 1601 W Swann Ave. in Hyde Park Village.

Gonzmart swung open the distinctive "GG" monogrammed doors at 6 a.m., an hour before schedule.

"We're opening early," he said. "We're not on Ybor City time."

Michael Smith was delighted — he was the first customer in line, having waited outside since 4 a.m.

"I was going to Goody Goody in the '50s," said Smith, 64, a retired Hillsborough County sheriff's deputy who lives in New Tampa. "It was part of growing up. It always felt like home when you went to Goody Goody."

Smith had his heart set on Goody Goody's most famous item, the POX burger. The initials stand for pickles (two slices, no more, no less), onions (chopped into large chunks) and the secret sauce, a tangy tomato-based concoction slathered on a loose-textured beef patty (in the new iteration, it's Florida-raised beef).

"I might have two," Smith said.

The restaurant was already busy serving customers about 6:45 a.m. when Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn arrived in a restored 1925 Model T truck with Goody Goody's logo emblazoned on its sides and Gonzmart and his 7-year-old granddaughter Amelia Turner riding in the back.

Before cutting the opening ribbon with the help of a gaggle of Gonzmart grandchildren, Buckhorn applauded the restaurant's rebirth in Hyde Park Village as both a sign of the city's growth and a reminder: "We can't ever forget how we got here."

Buckhorn wasn't the first politician on the scene. Tampa City Council member Harry Cohen represents District 4, which includes most of South Tampa. He arrived about 6:30 a.m. "My family had a business downtown," the Tampa native said, "so Goody Goody was part of life." His most vivid memory, he said, was the butterscotch pie.

The new Goody Goody serves a menu based on classic recipes from the original chain, which operated in Tampa from 1925 until the Florida Avenue location downtown closed in 2005.

In addition to the burger, other old favorites include lime freezes, egg and olive sandwiches, and the dreamy butterscotch and coconut cream pies. Another memorable but long-gone Tampa restaurant gets a nod — the milk shakes are made with Old Meeting House ice cream.

But the new Goody Goody has a much larger menu than the original. There's an expansive breakfast menu, served all day (and with an Ybor City touch: Naviera coffee, roasted in Ybor and offered as American roast, espresso or cafe con leche).

The lunch and dinner menus include classics like patty melts, shrimp po' boys, fried chicken and meatloaf, as well as updated dishes like a Goody dog with spicy pickled green beans, an ahi tuna and avocado club and a black-eyed pea salad.

Goody Goody also serves beer and wine. Most menu items are priced below $10. The most expensive dish, a fried grouper and chips plate, is $14.95.

Gonzmart, the restaurateur who runs Ybor City's 110-year-old Columbia Restaurant (and its several other locations) and opened Ulele in Tampa Heights in 2014, negotiated for years to purchase the rights to the Goody Goody brand. He announced his plans to bring back Goody Goody nearly two years ago, and he and his staff spent countless hours developing and testing recipes.

The original 1940s-era sign that sits above the new restaurant was rescued from a salvage yard and restored last year. The restaurant is also using aluminum chairs from an original Goody Goody location, as well as a few of the wooden school desk chairs that graced the Florida Avenue site. All of it melds well with the new restaurant's contemporary take on retro diner design, which features sleek stainless steel and warm green and gold tiles and upholstery.

A couple of hours after the doors opened, Gonzmart was still working the bustling room while nibbling on a cinnamon roll. "I feel like an expectant father," he said. "The baby looks healthy!"

The second and third customers through the restaurant's doors were Tampa lawyer Frank de la Grana and his son, Frank de la Grana III, who just took the bar exam. The older de la Grana is an old friend of Gonzmart's: "Richard and I went to grade school together. We went to Sacred Heart, then to Jesuit (High School)."

Going to Goody Goody was "a treat" when he was a kid, de la Grana said. "We used to sit outside in the car" in the drive-in spaces.

Smith, the retired deputy, was still hanging out and chatting with other customers long after he'd finished breakfast.

How was the POX burger?

"Both of them were good."

Did they taste the way he remembered?

"Oh, yeah."

Contact Colette Bancroft at cbancroft@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8435. Follow @colettemb.

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