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Neighborhood Report

Flamingo cafe finds a bigger nest nearby

The breakfast and lunch hangout is one of five tenants that will subdivide an old grocery. Subway will move in, too.

By SUSAN THURSTON, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published December 20, 2002


The Pink Flamingo Cafe, a longtime breakfast and lunch hangout on Davis Islands, is moving up the street into the old Davis Island Super Market.

Frank Gregorio, owner of the grocery on E Davis Boulevard, said the restaurant will be one of five tenants to occupy the store, which closed in October after more than 45 years. Others include a Subway and, possibly, a dry cleaners and a wine shop.

Construction on the stores started this week and will take about four months. Gregorio plans to invest approximately $325,000 to subdivide the grocery and upgrade the exterior with a new awning and landscaping, he said.

"It will definitely be an improvement," he said.

The mini plaza will give the Pink Flamingo much-needed space. The cafe seats 60 in cramped quarters and has a tiny kitchen.

"Everyone is always complaining that I should have a little more room," said owner Sal DiBlasi. "All I'm doing is shifting down the street with more parking and elbow room."

DiBlasi will keep the same menu and small-town atmosphere. He'll add a few tables and some space to walk around but little else.

"I want to keep it as original as possible," he said. "I don't want to lose the warmth or the feeling of the place."

DiBlasi took over the cafe nearly six years ago, although it has been around for about 22. It serves hearty homestyle meals, such as banana nut French toast, pasta Florentine and grouper sandwiches.

He decided to join Gregorio because his lease expired in August. DiBlasi knew Gregorio from his many trips to the grocery store and felt the time was right for a change.

He hopes his customers will follow.

The cafe will move into the center sometime next summer. Depending on construction, Subway could move in a few months earlier.

Gregorio, who lives in Odessa, closed the grocery after struggling to compete with the big chain stores. He worked at the store for years and finally bought it 10 years ago.

Semiretired, Gregorio intends to stay involved as property manager.

-- Susan Thurston can be reached at 226-3394 or thurston@sptimes.com.

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