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Rocky Point restaurants explore new look, flavor

Four restaurants owned by one company are undergoing millions of dollars in renovations.

By MICHAEL CANNING, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published August 2, 2002

Specialty Restaurants Corp. is spending $6-million to upgrade its four-restaurant stake in the Rocky Point area.

The Rusty Pelican, Whiskey Joe's, Crawdaddy's and Castaways are all undergoing renovations.

"The company is putting a ton of money into these restaurants," said Randy Palmer, general manager of the Rusty Pelican.

He said the renovations should be completed from October through December.

Specialty's Rocky Point flagship, the Rusty Pelican at 2425 N Rocky Point Drive, and its neighboring Crawdaddy's will be the most radically affected.

The Pelican is losing it's exposed roof beam and barn loft interior theme. The ceiling has been closed, white oak has replaced cedar, and chandeliers hang where silk lamps once did.

"It's more elegant and contemporary," Palmer said.

The four banquet halls are being redecorated in the same theme.

Specialty Restaurants also recently hired Bob Coll as executive chef for the Pelican.

The director of sales and catering, Daryl Baer, says Coll will institute a new menu in a couple of weeks. New World cuisine and classic Florida seafood dishes will dominate.

Crawdaddy's, a more casual restaurant with a rustic creole fish camp theme, is closed for construction. It will become a three-story building, with added banquet facilities and outdoor gazebos and deck space.

Palmer said the Rusty Pelican and Crawdaddy's projects are budgeted at $2-million each.

The still more casual Whiskey Joe's will have an expanded deck, patio and soundproof wall built to shield the Rusty Pelican from its outdoor entertainment noise. Its shantylike theme will remain, Palmer said.

Castaways, 7720 Courtney Campbell Causeway, will receive an upgraded kitchen and expanded dining room. Its renovations and those of Whiskey Joe's will cost about $1-million each, according to Palmer.

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