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Noodles are their new specialty

The Noodle Lounge will have dishes based on classics from Thailand, Japan and Vietnam.

By MICHAEL CANNING, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published August 16, 2002


B.T.'S NOODLING AROUND: One of Tampa's most consistently stylish restaurateurs, B.T. Nguyen, plans to open her third restaurant with husband/business partner Norman Batley shortly after Labor Day.

Creators of the Yellow Door on Howard Avenue and Cafe B.T. on Gandy Boulevard, they will open the Noodle Lounge next door to the cafe, in the former site of Little Caesars.

The small restaurant will continue Nguyen's modus operandi of giving pan Asian tradition New World panache. Inspired by the big city noodle houses up north, her noodle bowls will be based on classics -- Thailand's pad Thai, Japan's udon and Vietnam's pho -- but with a lighter accent. More broth-based. Not so much fried.

All noodles will be made from rice and produced on the premises, Batley said. "All noodles, all the time," he chimed. He expects to use organic herbs from Ruskin.

Popular Cafe B.T. drinks -- Jasmine iced tea and lime aid -- plus Vietnamese versions of fruit smoothies will round out the menu. The lunch and dinner items will average about $8.

Regulars know to expect stylish decor and natty wait staff. Nguyen promises a Zen motif with cool colors, natural textures, and "a very strong emphasis on balance." Servers may be outfitted in black T-shirts with quotes from Confucius.

Nguyen's reluctance to give a specific opening date reminds us of one of the Grand Master's better-known one-liners: "Silence is a friend who will never betray."

* * *

LAW FIRM INHABITS OLD KENNEDY HOUSE: One thing Austin, Ley, Roe and Patsko cannot be accused of is being superstitious. Part of the extensive renovation of the firm's new office at 2620 W Kennedy Blvd. included taking down the old hex sign.

For many years, the chimney of the 1925 two-story house had a white circle with a vertical line sticking down from the bottom, like a lollipop.

Former tenants Frank and Donna Hamilton, whose law firm occupied the house from 1975 until earlier this year, say the symbol was a gypsy hex sign meant to keep away evil spirits.

New co-owner Joe Patsko said, "I've also heard that it was a sign that meant that any gypsies passing by should stop in and pay tribute."

Nonetheless, the house's restoration called for trimming the chimney below the roof line, and doing away with the symbol.

As for the evil spirits? "We hope they stay away," Patsko said with a laugh.

Hamilton, who has moved his firm into a converted former garage in the house's back yard, said his firm bought the house from Cody Johnson in 1975. He said Johnson claimed to be "King of the Southern Gypsies" and had lived in the house since the mid-'50s.

"He was a character," recalled Hamilton.

Austin and Ley are now in the middle of moving from their old office on the 29th floor of the Lykes building downtown. Patsko said the house's renovation is almost complete, and new landscaping will soon follow.

* * *

NEIGHBORHOOD DENTIST CHANGEUP: Dr. Edward Linebaugh, who has practiced for almost 40 years at 612 De Leon St., has been joined by 32-year Brandon dentist Dr. R. Geoffrey Weihe.

Weihe is assuming Linebaugh's Hyde Park North practice, but Linebaugh will stay on for about a year before retiring.

Weihe, a past president of the Hillsborough County Dental Association, and his wife, Ann, are longtime Golfview residents. This move, which involves the sale of Weihe's Knights Avenue practice in Brandon, satisfies their desire for an office closer to home.

And yes, Linebaugh's grandfather gave his name to a Tampa road.

* * *

MALL NEWS: Recently opened stores at International Plaza include: Adrienne Vittadini, women's designer sportswear with a "Euro-American" point of view, and Champs sporting goods.

New stores and their tentative opening dates are: the Children's Place, designer clothes for kids, Sept. 3; Kay Jewelers, Aug. 23; Solstice, fashion eyewear, Sept. 28; Marco's Salon, hair styling, Oct. 15; Morgan de Toi, French women's clothing, Oct. 29; AT&T Wireless, Oct.1; Harry and David, fruit gift company, Sept. 16.

Sbarro, the ubiquitous Italian mall restaurant chain, will also open sometime in the fall.

* * *

LA QUINTA COMING TO GANDY: The familiar faux bell tower of La Quinta Inn will stand sentinel at 4620 W Gandy Blvd.

Ground broke last week, and the hotel is tentatively scheduled to open in April, said Randy Evanchyk, La Quinta vice president of franchise development.

Evanchyk said the location will be a "La Quinta generation two" structure, meaning 40 units, interior corridors, meeting rooms, pool, fitness room and continental breakfast area. It will cost about $3.2-million, he said.

The reason La Quinta picked this location? "Traffic flow," said Evanchyk.

You know what "La Quinta" means? "the Quinta."

Okay, okay. It really means "The Villa."

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

THE FIND

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Made in Italy, Jax sunglasses offer UV protection; they're shatterproof and scratch resistant. Prices start at $59.99 at Heads and Tails Gift Store, 4524 W Kennedy Blvd. Call 282-3783 for hours.

-- AMY SCHERZER

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