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Convenience, sushi and a view

Harbour Island gets a not-so-conventional convenience store with the opening Saturday of the Island Oasis.

Published October 3, 2003

CONVENIENCE ON HARBOUR ISLAND: My idea of an island oasis? If you're talking about Harbour Island, how about a nice sprawling park with lots of trees, facilities and a sweeping waterfront vista open to all?


Shawn Kaplan's idea is more feasible. His Island Oasis marks its official opening Saturday and will offer all the goods of a typical convenience store, plus a bistro of sorts that dispenses takeout or eat-in sushi and other foods.

Actually, the sushi part of the business, Simply Sushi, has been operating from the 1,200-square-foot space, 401 Channelside Walkway, for three weeks. Before that, it shared space with Juice Craze across the street.

Now that Kaplan has his own place, he will try to fill what he feels are a few unfilled niches in the neighborhood, including delivery service to Harbour Island, Davis Islands, downtown and parts of Hyde Park.

Customers can eat at the Oasis, too. There's counter seating for eight, and outdoor seating for another 10. Sandwiches, wraps, soups, and Ben and Jerry's ice cream are on the menu.

Island Oasis, among shops inside Post Harbour Place apartment complex, is neighbors with Southern Exchange Bank, Cafe Dufrain, That's Amore restaurant, Star Cleaners, Inadon Web Design, Sun Splash tanning salon and Juice Craze.

By the way, Island Oasis also has a sweeping waterfront vista.

SMOKING AT MALIO'S: Just don't throw your butts into the nice new pond. That's why Malio got nice new pedestal ash trays filled with sand.

Malio Iavarone says the state's new indoor workplace smoking ban "hurt our liquor sales pretty good for July and August." So he had an outdoor canopied bar built on the north side of his namesake restaurant, at 301 S Dale Mabry Highway.

About 10 can sit at the stainless steel bar and benches. Iavarone takes delight in the adjacent 50-foot, $22,000 fish pond. Fifty different plants, including palms and birds of paradise, line the edges. A waterfall gurgles. Koi, goldfish and turtles swim below.

Work was completed two weeks ago. A covered outdoor area for smokers also is being added to Iavarone's Steak House on Himes Avenue near Carrollwood. That place is run by Malio's brother Carmine.

YBOR KICKS FOR SALE: Kicks on Seventh, Ybor City's "One stop sin shop," as its sign says, could change hands soon. Business owner Rande Friedman, who opened five years ago at 1516 E Seventh Ave., says he is currently negotiating to sell the shop.

He's planning on moving to Miami so he can concentrate full-time on his current part-time job, selling XTC Leather of New York clothing items to retail stores and boutiques.

Kicks currently stocks exotic clothing, lingerie, costumes, boots, wigs, sex toys and other gifts.

OLD RIO BRAVO GOING ITALIAN: Tampa's not exactly short on Italian restaurants, particularly in the area of the former Rio Bravo restaurant, which closed in July at 1102 N Dale Mabry Highway.

Rumors of an Italian chain occupying the former Tex-Mex restaurant lead to speculation that it would be one we already know, such as Bucca di Beppo. Turns out, it will be a Tampa newcomer, Johnny Carino's Country Italian.

Like Bucca, Johnny Carino's offers huge family portions designed to feed four or more, along with individual meals. But rather than mid-century Little Italy, Johnny Carino's decor is more like a Tuscany farmhouse.

Permits for the restaurant are still pending, according to Pamela Jones, marketing director for al dente LLC, the local franchisee for Johnny Carino's. She said she can't say when the restaurant might open.

Based in Spicewood, Texas, Johnny Carino's has more than 400 locations in the United States and the Middle East. Florida has two locations, in Spring Hill and Sarasota.

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

Hand-thatched mirror

Mirror, mirror on the wall, take me away from it all. You'll think you are in the South Seas with this mirror surrounded in straw, which sells for $50 at the Bali Bay Trading Company. Choose round, square or rectangular designs at the store's locations at 3423 Bay to Bay Blvd. and 4222 N Florida Ave. Call 831-8446 or 238-3295.


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