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By SHARON L. BOND, Neighborhood Times Business Editor
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 26, 2002


Mobility settlement for Pepin

ST. PETERSBURG -- Pepin Restaurant has agreed to make changes in three areas of its building at 4125 Fourth St. N as the result of settlement of a lawsuit.

George E. Locascio of St. Petersburg sued Pepin, alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Locascio uses a wheelchair and is well-known in St. Petersburg and elsewhere for challenging owners of buildings he believes do not measure up to the requirements of the ADA.

Pepin, a longtime St. Petersburg restaurant that serves classical Spanish fare, agreed to make changes called for in an expert's report on better access for the disabled. In agreeing to the changes, however, Pepin denied it violated the ADA.

The changes involve three areas: the men's restroom, the entrance to the restaurant and areas of the parking lot, said Kip Roth of Tampa, Locascio's attorney.

Roth said there was not enough clear floor space in the men's restroom. "You can't maneuver in a wheelchair in there," he said.

The restaurant's entrance has a ramp for wheelchair users that is too steep, Roth said.

The problem in the parking lot is that when the disabled use spaces reserved for them, they must roll behind parked vehicles when moving from their vehicles to the restaurant. That, Roth said, is against Florida's accessibility code because wheelchair users are too low to be seen by drivers backing out of spaces.

Pepin must complete the changes by Oct. 31, according to the settlement. The owners of the restaurant did not want to comment for this story.

Grocery site owners seek buyer

SEMINOLE -- The owners of the vacant Kash n' Karry on 10884 Park Blvd. are actively seeking buyers, said Jimmy Johnson, executive director of the Greater Seminole Area Chamber of Commerce.

The asking price is $3.5-million.

"A lot of people thought they didn't want to sell the property," Johnson said. The old grocery store and its 6.2 acres have been vacant since 1990. Seminole city officials consider the Kash n' Karry site among the top vacancies they need to fill.

Johnson said he recently met with a member of the family that owns the site, Mary Jo Castro of Tampa.

"They are actively showing the property. There is interest in the Kash n' Karry property," he said, adding that Castro would not tell him who is interested.

Johnson also said the owners are willing to divide the property.

Macaroni Grill opens Thursday

ST. PETERSBURG -- The new Romano's Macaroni Grill, located in the Sears parking lot at Tyrone Square mall, opens Thursday at 11 a.m.

It will be the Italian family restaurant's first outlet in St. Petersburg. Others are in Clearwater, Tampa and Brandon.

The Tyrone Macaroni Grill will seat 275 diners, with booths down one side and open tables. The chain is owned by Brinker International, which also owns Chili's.

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