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Market, restaurant to liven up MacDill

The Palma Ceia Village on MacDill is getting a specialty market and a new 100-seat restaurant with a full liquor bar.

By SUSAN THURSTON, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published December 13, 2002

The Palma Ceia Village is expanding its menu for dining and shopping.

Owners of the retail center on MacDill Avenue got the city's go ahead last week to open a restaurant with a full liquor bar.

Center officials aren't ready to announce the name or the owner but said the restaurant will rent space near the former Giancola's Market. Albert Docobo, a part-owner of the shopping center, said the current tenants have either expressed an interest in leaving or are at the end of their leases.

The 100-seat restaurant is scheduled to open for lunch and dinner sometime this spring. The menu hasn't been decided, but the decor will be informal, Docobo said.

The restaurant will mark the first in the shopping center to sell alcohol. The Brunchery, which serves breakfast and lunch, is liquor-free. Others in the adjacent Bayshore Plaza -- Spartaco Trattoria Italiana and Yoko's Japanese Restaurant -- serve beer and wine only.

Unlike other wet-zoning requests in the area, this one went through the City Council with little debate. Neighbors did not oppose it, despite concerns from the police department that the restaurant could increase calls for service.

The new restaurant will complement the specialty grocery store opening in Giancola's spot, Docobo said. Center officials confirmed the addition in October but finalized the deal last week.

"I think it's going to be a nice mix," said Docobo, who bought the Palma Ceia Village in 1999.

A group of local and out-of-state investors will run the 19,500-square-foot store, called the Gourmet Market. Managing partner Larry Pesatti and his wife, Mary Tripp Pesatti, will lead the day-to-day operations.

The market will carry many of the same products as Giancola's, such as baked goods, seafood, meat, deli items and produce. In keeping with tradition, it will offer plenty of wine and imported beers.

"We're going to try to bring in a high-end specialty store," Pesatti said. "We don't want to compete with Publix. No Pop Tarts."

The store was scheduled to open in time for the holidays but was pushed back until about mid-February. Pesatti envisions imported chocolates for Valentine's Day.

The owners modeled it after Fresh Market, which has a store in Carrollwood, with its bakery and large selection of produce. It will sell more than 15,000 specialty items, from Jamaican jams to Italian black truffles and Russian caviars, as well as 200 kinds of cheese.

The market is Pesatti's first grocery venture. An electrical contractor, he has never worked in the specialty food business but has years of experience in sales and retail. State records list him as an officer in several businesses, including Creative Surfaces in north Tampa, which specializes in kitchens counter tops.

Pesatti, a Tampa native whose family is active in the Italian Club, said he hopes to carry on the Giancola's tradition. The market has a long history in South Tampa.

"I used to go to Giancola's for wine all of the time," he said.

Ed Giancola ran the market from 1990 to 2001. He bought it from Simon Schwartz, who founded the market at another location on MacDill in 1950 and moved to the current location in mid-1980s.

Giancola sold it to Michael McKenzie, who closed it abruptly in March before the end of his lease.

The new Gourmet Market signed a 15-year deal.

-- Susan Thurston can be reached at 226-3394 or

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