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Eateries, bowling to enliven district

Chicago's Signature Room at the 95th in the John Hancock Center is considering an outpost in Tampa and is one group negotiating for space.

By MICHAEL CANNING
Published June 6, 2003

MORE FOOD, FUN COMING TO CHANNELSIDE: Memories of the entertainment and shopping district's shaky start could fade under a new influx of businesses. Four restaurants and one restaurant and bowling alley combination plan to open there this year.

Chicago's famous Signature Room at the 95th, an upscale restaurant perched near the top of the John Hancock Center, could establish an outpost at Channelside.

There's no projected start date yet. But Signature Room co-owner Rick Roman said "we're working very diligently" on signing a lease with Channelside. "We've been trying to find a city to export our concept to. We like the whole idea of this complex."

Though it couldn't match the original's 95th floor view, Roman said he's very impressed with the downtown Tampa vista from the second-floor space at Channelside. This would be the Signature Room's second outpost, the first being the Signature Room Grille in Woodridge, just outside of Chicago.

Roman said the Tampa Grille's menu would feature an even balance of grilled steaks, seafood and chops, plus the new wine "flights," which give diners a few small samples of wines on a special holder.

Roman envisions a 9,500-square-foot space that would give a nod to the original's art deco interior and feature live jazz and possibly Sunday brunches.

Directly downstairs, another Hooters is expected. Ed Droste, co-founder of the Clearwater-based restaurant chain, says a lease is about to be signed with Channelside. The new Hooters would occupy 6,000 to 7,000 square feet of ground-floor space at the complex's west Promenade entrance.

Droste said Hooters has watched Channelside for some time now and has been encouraged by the recent advent of the adjacent TECO Line Streetcar System and the pending arrival of the other restaurants.

Hooters would feature a circular bar and "a couple little surprises" in design, as Droste put it. He added that the restaurant would open sometime in December.

Across from Hooters, the Millenium Management Group plans to install one of its two new concepts for Channelside. Millenium co-owner Guy Revelle says the yet-to-be-named restaurant will be a "tapas martini bar."

It would seat 185 to 200, serve Spanish tapas and Caribbean small dishes, and feature several martini drinks. It should open in mid- November.

Millenium, which also owns Channelside stalwarts Stump's Supper Club and Howl at the Moon, also plans to open Kingpins in the former site of Pop City game room. Revelle says the 27,000-square-foot space will be a combination of a hip 12-lane bowling alley and "Vegas showroom" style restaurant. The bowling lanes won't all be laid the same direction.

There'll be seating for diners between some lanes, with food and cocktail service at others. Aside from lane-side dining, Revelle said the restaurant will seat 90. Kingpins will also sport a billiards room and full bar. An animated neon sign depicting an eight ball knocking over a bowling pin will highlight Kingpins' mid-century retro look.

Revelle said it should also open in mid-November.

Channelside has also signed to lease 8,900 square feet of waterfront to Grille 29, a steakhouse concept by Orlando's Restaurant Partners Inc. Channelside spokesperson Susan Martin said it should open by late October or early November.

DRY CLEANER DELAYED, BUT COMING: "You've seen that movie the Money Pit, where it's two more weeks, two more weeks?" asks Riverheights Cleaners owner John Hernandez. "Well, I've been like that for four months."

It's hard to miss the exasperation in his voice, especially for those new business or home builders who have ever tried to get a certificate of occupancy from the city.

Though he expected to open his new dry cleaning business in Riverside Heights a few months ago, Hernandez is in the final inspection phase and expects to open within a week from whenever the city gives him the final nod.

Hernandez, who also co-owns B.J.'s Cleaners in Temple Terrace, says he has 20 years experience in the dry cleaning business. As a resident of Riverside Heights, a resurging old neighborhood often overshadowed by neighboring Tampa Heights and Seminole Heights, he recognized a need for a local dry cleaner.

Hernandez says he's invested $450,000 for the new building and land, at 3918 N Boulevard, just south of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Another $200,000 has gone for equipment, he added.

The 3,000-square-foot building sports a Mediterranean look with peach-pink color.

A NEW BOUTIQUE ON S MANHATTAN - Y NOT?: And that's a good response owner Yoly Pierson can use for those who wonder why she didn't open on S Dale Mabry Highway or Bay to Bay Boulevard.

She just prefers the less hectic, more neighborhoodsy vibe her spot at 3645 S Manhattan Ave. affords. Pierson also hypothesized that folks in her Viriginia Park/South Westshore area could use more businesses like hers. So far, she says, she's been right.

Y Not carries clothing, jewelry and accessories that a style hound like Pierson can't normally find in town. When the latest hot things show up in the pages of Vogue, Accessory magazine or In Style, Pierson gets them in fast.

Currently, her scouting has filled her 500- square- foot store with sea glass jewelry from Martha's Vineyard, Mystique handbags and sandals, items from the Calypso bath and body line, Havaianas flip-flops from Brazil and dresses by L.A.'s Julie Autri, New York's Kerri Kahn and Miami's B with G.

She expects to add children's clothing and accessories in about a month.

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

THE FIND: Hurricane supplies

Hurricane season is upon us. The prudent know to stock up on candles, light sticks, ponchos, emergency blankets, water purification tablets and such. The Army Navy Surplus Market, 1312 Tampa St., has it all - and more. The Emergency Preparedness Kit keeps everything ready in a plastic box, $49.99. A battery-powered fluorescent lantern sells for $24.99. Call 229-2172 for hours.

- AMY SCHERZER

[Last modified June 5, 2003, 10:31:22]

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