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Hold the order: Steak, shake soon

The restaurant across from Plant High will be able to sate those steakburger desires by the end of the month.

By MICHAEL CANNING, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 7, 2002

DOUBLE STEAKBURGER, FRIES, SHAKE: Not sure what made us think of those words. They just came out.

It's not as if the old Steak n Shake across from Plant High has been closed for reconstruction all that long. Maybe, what, nine weeks? And after all, it's only a fast-food restaurant. One of thousands just like it.

TITO PUENTE'S COUSIN IN YOUR HAIR: Longtime Tampa resident Millie Puente, like all wise musicians who haven't made the big time, keeps a day gig to fall back on. Hairstyling's her thing.

Now she's working at Tampa Bay Barbers and Beauty Ltd., which had its grand opening Saturday at 2901 W Columbus Drive.

Freddy Vega, who owns the business with his wife, Rosanna, says his shop can handle all comers, particularly those into ethnic hairstyles. Fading, braiding and blowouts are no problem. The salon has two waiting rooms, one with video games.

Vega, a descendent of Spanish Ybor City immigrants, has deep barber roots in Tampa. His family first opened a barber shop on Armenia Avenue in 1927.

Puente also has a hair salon legacy here. In 1994, she opened a beauty salon with other family members on W Hillsborough Avenue near Dale Mabry Highway. They sold it a few years later.

Puente's music career has been her main focus. A singer and percussionist, she relied heavily for inspiration and exposure on her cousin Tito, arguably the most famous and important Latin musician of the 20th century. She spent many years recording and touring as a backup musician in Tito's band and others. In 1990 she released a Grammy-nominated album, Tito Puente presents Millie P.

In the wake of Tito Puente's death in 2000, Millie Puente is trying to revive her music career, and deal with what she describes as the resentments of relatives who were jealous of her close relationship with Tito. She's writing a book about it. "The book is going to be very interesting," said Puente. "There's going to be a lot of tension over it." She's also working on a tribute album to her late cousin, and dividing time between her Latin bands here and in her native New York.

Catch her when she's in town and you can see whether she handles the clippers as well as she handles a pair of timbales sticks.

HMM. MAYBE NINE WEEKS does seem like a long time. But like we said, it's just a burger joint.

Although we couldn't help but notice last week that the new red neon Steak n Shake signs were put up, along with those distinctive black-and-white striped awnings. Progress!

And that banner! It said, "Coming soon, Steak n Shake."

Coming soon.

Double with fries. Thick shake.

CVS TBA: It's like chicken salad without the mayo. Xtreme's parking lot without the Beamers.

There's a new CVS Pharmacy on the corner of MacDill Avenue and Gandy Boulevard -- and no Walgreens drugstore staring it down.

The Rhode Island-based CVS chain now has 4,000 locations, spokesman Todd Andrews says. So competition usually comes with the territory.

Construction started late last year. It meant the demolition of an ABC liquor store and rebuilding it one lot west on Gandy. Andrews says the CVS store is tentatively scheduled to open July 15.

OKAY, SO WE CALLED Steak n Shake marketing Vice President Vick Yeandel. He says the new, larger restaurant should be open in two weeks.

"We're shooting for the 21st," he says.

Chili Mac in June. You know you want it.

-- Do you know something that should be everybody's business? Call 226-3382, or e-mail

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