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Of food and more mundane matters

A sports bar moves in. Local pies take the cake. And parking spaces and dentists are in the offing.

By MICHAEL CANNING, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published July 5, 2002


THE 'MAC' IS BACK ON SOHO: The lamentably late McHale's Chophouse, the upscale barbecue spot that went out of business in September, has been reincarnated to fill yet another niche on Restaurant Row.

Mac's Sports Pub opened last week at 808 S Howard Ave. and picks up the torch dropped by MacDinton's, which recently reconfigured as an Irish-themed restaurant and pub.

The old McHale's lofty Western ranch vibe is intact. But now sports paraphernalia and mirrors with liquor logos dominate the walls. The old dining rooms have been converted into a media room (eight TV screens and booths), a billiards room and a game room lounge with Internet golf, foosball and darts.

The adjoining former Tuscan Oven restaurant, which also closed last year, is a banquet hall. Paul Paluzzi, who with former Buccaneers lineman Tom McHale owns the two restaurants, said they can cater for up to 100 there.

For those who miss the Chophouse barbecue, a few menu items are on Mac's new menu. Or you can visit the McHale's Chophouse at 1215 W Brandon Blvd.

PARKING GARAGE REPLACING KARL BUILDING: The former Frederick B. Karl Legal Center downtown is being demolished to make way for a parking garage. Before you thunder "Is nothing sacred?" keep in mind that the 28-story County Center, a block west, is also named for the former county administrator.

That's not going anywhere any time soon.

The county is building a nine-story, 570-space garage to serve courthouse and County Center overflow parking, according Dan Myers of the county's real estate department. After demolition of the Karl Legal Center, plus two adjacent buildings on the south side of the 700 block of E Kennedy Boulevard, construction should begin in September.

The $8.5-million garage is to open by February 2004.

It is currently referred to as the Pierce Street Parking Garage, but Myers said there's a good chance it will be named after someone before it opens.

MIKE'S PIES RISE AGAIN: A banner outside Mike's Pies on S MacDill Avenue proclaims the news. His Key Lime Pie, Pecan Pie Knee Buckler and Heath Bar Crunch Pie were first place winners at this year's American Pie Council National Championship.

Mike Martin has sliced up the competition there before. This year's best Key Lime Pie is his third consecutive. His Pecan Pie Knee Buckler marks his second victory in the nut pie category (won a few years back by his Reece's Peanut Butter Pie).

In case you were wondering, this year's Heath Bar Crunch brings a first victory in the crucial open-cream category.

In business for 10 years, Mike's Pies supplies Palma Ceia Golf and Country Club, Tampa Yacht Club, Guppy's on Indian Rocks Beach, Cha Cha Coconuts, Smokey Bones Barbecue, and Cheeseburger in Paradise, among other places. His MacDill Avenue store also sells pies, pie slices and coffee drinks direct to the public.

Martin encourages his employees to test the wares, but he said he eats more pies than anybody.

"Quality control," he calls it. "It's a job I take very seriously."

DENTISTS MOVING IN: at 3410 Henderson Blvd. The former Simplicity Plan Prearrangement Center, at the northeast corner of De Leon Street, has been gutted. It will be fashioned into a professional office building. The main tenant will be Paramount Dental, an HMO owned by dentist Nick Kavouklis.

The 1969 building will have a brand-new look by the tentative move in date, late October, said Mike Benitez, of project developers Capstone Group. There will be 4,000 square feet available for another tenant.

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

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