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Everybody's business: Get ready for bargain safaris

By MICHAEL CANNING and PATTY RYAN
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 25, 2002


Helmets? Check.

Shoulder and elbow pads? Check.

Tuesday Morning will open Tuesday morning, bargain bounty hunters. Never mind the sign that says you have to wait until Feb. 5. You read it here. Tuesday is the soft opening.

The nation's leading seller of discount and closeout home furnishings and gifts has 481 stores, eight of which are super stores -- like the one in Britton Plaza on South Dale Mabry Highway. That's 24,000 square feet of free-for-all, come 10 a.m. Tuesday.

The Dallas-based company, founded in 1972 by Canadian Lloyd Ross, opens eight times a year for three to eight-week event selling periods, which are based around the retail industry's peak selling times. That means the store is closed for re-stocking for all of January and July, and one weekend for the other 10 months. The schedule helps to build anticipation among bargain-craving shoppers.

MORE TAPAS ON TAP: As South Tampa's unchallenged purveyor of tapas for almost five years, Ceviche now has company a half mile north on Howard Avenue. A sort of tapas mini mall is materializing on the 300 block of Tampa's restaurant row. One will offer tapas, or appetizer-sized dishes, in the traditional Spanish and Mediterranean styles. The other gives the concept a pan-Asian presentation.

One of Tampa's more stylish restaurateurs, B.T. Nguyen, quietly opened theYellow Door at 311 S Howard Ave., two weeks ago. Per tradition, there are a few big-bucks, entree-sized meals on the menu (exotic snapper, royal family fondue). But most of the choices are small plates handy for passing around the table, with prices ranging from $5.95 to $12.95. Laos, Vietnam, Korea, China, Japan, Singapore, India, Malaysia and Cambodia all fly their flags on Yellow Door's menu.

The exotic food, sharp atmosphere and a chic wait staff may remind South Tampa foodies of Nguyen's other venture, Cafe B.T. at 3324 Gandy Blvd.

Right next door, at the site of the former New England Lobster Pound, Sangria's is taking shape. Scheduled to open on Valentine's Day, it will present tapas in their traditional Spanish/Mediterranean form. Co-owner Rui Pedroso, a former Ceviche chef and Lisbon native, said, "I am a French-trained chef, but that's not where my heart is. This is the food I grew up with."

A small portion of the menu will offer Mexico's version of tapas (botanas), courtesy of co-owner Victor Perez. The Mexican native has collaborated in the kitchens of the Estela's Mexican restaurants in Wimauma, Davis Islands and Brandon. Even a Scottish finger delicacy, Scotch deviled eggs, will make an appearance.

The atmosphere will be sunny old Spain, with much of the decor and tableware coming from the Iberian peninsula. Tapas prices will range from $4 to $10.

FLOWERS AND FOOD: Sunset Park florist John Salas, owner of American Beauty Florist, is opening a restaurant next door at 3333 S Westshore Blvd., with partner Lou Duperon. They hope to have the Calypso Club open by the first week of February. The fare will be familiar Latin American staples -- beans and rice, roast pork, ropa vieja -- along with steaks and meatloaf. Open for lunch and dinner, the Calypso will partly convert to a lounge after dark, when tables will be pushed aside to make way for music and dance.

Salas says they will apply for a full liquor license.

- Do you know something that should be Everybody's Business? Call Michael Canning at 226-3408 or e-mail him at canning@sptimes.com.

The Find: Lucky Bamboo

photo
[Times photo: Stefanie Boyar]
Pondscapes in South Tampa sells lucky bamboo; arrangements start at $15.
Pondscapes manager Kevin McLeod would rather sell one stalk of Lucky Bamboo than two. Better three than four. It's a Feng Shui thing, and odd numbers are better than even. Lucky Bamboo, a harbinger of wealth, has taken off in south Tampa, bringing prosperity to those who sell it and perhaps to those who buy it. The stalks, from Sri Lanka and China, stalks cost $1 to $15 apiece. Elaborate, curled arrangements run more. McLeod, who started carrying Lucky Bamboo just six months ago, says it now accounts for about half his weekly sales. For more information, contact the store at 4213 S Manhattan Ave.; telephone, 839-8062.

- PATTY RYAN

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