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Everybody's Business

Deli's new owner must keep menu

Theo Abbas' gourmet deli on N Franklin will get a new owner but one who will keep things familiar to patrons, Abbas says.

By MICHAEL CANNING and AMY SCHERZER
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 3, 2003


BREAD AND BUTTER SELLING? Franklin Street's leading and, until recently, only purveyor of eastern Mediterranean dishes is for sale.

Bread and Butter Gourmet Deli at 511 N Franklin St. is currently under contract with a prospective buyer, according to Frank Acerra of Select Properties. Right now the deal involves the restaurant and the entire 1910-vintage building it occupies, which also houses the Downtown Sports Pub.

Owner Theo Abbas put Bread and Butter up for sale recently due to a fall he suffered in the summer, which caused brain damage and confined him to a wheelchair. Abbas' wife, Nellie, has taken the reins of the Tampa restaurant, open since 1997, but can no longer handle the commute from their Tarpon Springs home.

Meanwhile, the Abbases have handed over their other Bread and Butter restaurant, in Tarpon Springs, to Theo's sister and brother-in-law. Theo says if he's not well enough to run that location by April 1, he'll sell it to them.

Theo promises the Tampa Bread and Butter will survive intact. It'll be part of the contract, the Jordanian native says. "They must carry the name and do my recipes," he said. After the sale his wife would temporarily stay on as a consultant to help the new owners, he said.

Stay tuned.

FACING OFF WITH THE MALL: Finally there's some new retail on Boy Scout Boulevard to bravely stare down International Plaza across the street.

Westshore Commons may be more modest in size but already boasts a Mattress Giant, Moe's Southwest Grill, Tropical Smoothie Cafe and a soon-to-open Image Station, which offers copying, printing, Web and graphic design, plus photo, video and sound studios.

Two vacant storefronts remain in the plaza, one at 2,100 square feet, the other 1,080, said leasing agent Amy Young. Any kind of retail business is eligible for the spaces, just not another restaurant, she said. You can call her at Trammell Crow Co., (800) 400-5505.

SCULPTING AN YBOR CLUB: The sign over Seventh Street says a restaurant, sports bar, art gallery and nightclub. No, it's not a new wing at Centro Ybor.

Just one joint -- Skulpturz, at 1910 E Seventh. It's upstairs in the historic Buchman building at the former Blues Ship on Top club.

It may sound like owner Ben Zapata is trying to ride too many horses, but he's getting family help. His uncle Diego Zapata is a sculptor from Colombia and will supply several pieces for the decor and to sell. He works with many mediums but is known mainly for his Roman-themed relief sculptures.

Ben Zapata's brother will tend bar, and his wife will cook. The dinner-only menu will range from $10-$19 and will feature Italian, American and Colombian dishes.

The club is still taking shape, and Zapata says many things should come together in about a month. That includes the live entertainment, which will include open poetry on Tuesdays, rock on Wednesdays and Fridays, and in a nod to the club's recent past, blues on Thursdays. Fridays and Saturdays will be DJ nights. Fridays will feature the burgeoning Spanish language reggae called reggaeton (say it right: "reh-geh-TONE"). Saturdays will have salsa and merengue.

Also coming soon will be a souvenir shop selling Diego Zapata's smaller, more affordable artworks. The sports bar aspect of the club is already on line, courtesy of five TVs and one big screen.

Skulpturz is closed Mondays and Wednesdays.

NEW OFFICE NEAR THE BAY: A European contemporary-styled office building has risen among the oaks near the shore of Old Tampa Bay.

The civil engineering firm of Faller, Davis and Associates has built its three-story headquarters at 5225 W Cypress St. It plans to move from its current address at nearby 550 N Reo St. at the end of January, according to president Nancy Faller.

It will occupy most of the building's 10,000 square feet but will set aside some space to lease.

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

Lion King mask

Roar into action like Simba or fly like Zazu in a colorful foam mask by Eco-Brazil. Tiger, monkey and wolf masks are available, too, for $20 each at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center gift shop. Call 222-1029 for store hours.

-- AMY SCHERZER

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