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Everybodys' business

Grillsmith to land at auto shop spot

The restaurant at 1108 S Dale Mabry will seat 200 inside and 50 on an outdoor patio. Lunch and dinner will be served.

Published June 4, 2004

CASUAL GOURMET COMING: A second location of GrillSmith, a restaurant founded in Clearwater, will rise at 1108 S Dale Mabry Highway, ending speculation about what will take over the Western Auto building that was demolished two months ago.

Some of GrillSmith's main players are Mark and Bob Johnston, co-owners of the Melting Pot chain, and master chef Marty Blitz of Mise en Place fame. Not surprisingly, GrillSmith's concept can be described as Melting Pot meets Mise en Place, with an open grill configuration similar to Carrabba's. Todd Dziubek, formerly of Carrabba's, is another GrillSmith founder.

The 5,911-square-foot restaurant will seat 200 inside and about another 50 on an outdoor patio. Lunch and dinner will be served, and dinner entrees should range from about $7 to $16.

The restaurant's arrival - between Jetton and Watrous avenues - will also mean a facelift for its neighbor, Hancock Fabrics, said John Hotchkiss, director of leasing and acquisitions for the property's owner, Ellis and Company.

The exteriors, along with 5,200 square feet of new adjoining storefront space, will be built in the Craftsman style, like J. Alexander's restaurant up the street.

Construction should begin by July 1, with a tentative restaurant opening by February or March, Hotchkiss said. Hancock Fabrics' exterior makeover should be complete by Nov. 1. No tenants for the new retail space have been selected yet.

The first GrillSmith opened in Clearwater's Countryside Square early last month. The menu features twists on comfort food and conventional salads, sandwiches and steaks.

SOHO? WHAT ABOUT NOHO? The name of Jessica Raia-Long's new restaurant, NoHo Bistro, has a nice ring of defiance to it.

Who cares about SoHo, or South Howard Avenue? Sure, as Tampa's Restaurant Row it's one of the most popular places in the city.

But there's also a North Howard Avenue. It may not be as picturesque, but you can still see some of its early grandeur where it cuts through Old West Tampa. And like South Howard did in the mid 1990s, North Howard is bound to redevelop into a vibrant thoroughfare.

"I think things are definitely moving north of Kennedy (Boulevard)," she said.

Raia-Long opened her restaurant at 1912 N Howard Ave., a few blocks north of Interstate 275, on May 12. She actually took over the building Feb. 1 for her catering and personal chef business, Tonight's Menu. As business grew, she decided to make some room in the 1,000-square-foot building for dining and take-out.

She's starting small. There's seating for only seven diners, and she serves just lunch, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. The decor and the menu have a French provincial bistro vibe. Items include sun-dried tomato turkey loaf, gourmet sandwiches on European-style breads, Sicily-style pizza and Vermont salad.

Raia-Long's mother and sister - an impressionistic painter and interior designer, respectively - helped decorate.

Raia-Long, a graduate of the New England Culinary Institute, continues to operate Tonight's Menu from the bistro. In the future, she may expand the restaurant.

HOW THEY DO IT IN BRAZIL: Pia Trujillo isn't sure why more salons around here don't tout the Brazilian wax treatment.

"I am from Colombia," she said. "Maybe I am more open about it."

She should be. She recently opened a beauty salon that offers the Brazilian wax, a hair removal process that goes well beyond the bikini line.

Pia Esthetics opened in late April at 3312 W Bay to Bay Blvd., between Concordia and Ferdinand avenues in Palma Ceia. The 605-square-foot shop also offers permanent makeup, full body waxing, massages, body scrubs and facials. Trujillo plans to add a nail technician for manicures and pedicures later this month. A grand opening event with free face treatments, massages, paraffin hand rubs and cocktails is planned for July 8.

Still stuck on the Brazilian wax thing? Well, it's not just popular in Brazil.

"In Miami, Brazilian waxes are all over," said Trujillo, a native of Cali, Colombia. "You also see them a lot in New York, L.A. - all the big cities.

Pia Esthetics is open 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday. Call 831-2418 or go to

- Do you know something that should be everybody's business? Call 226-3394, or e-mail

[Last modified June 3, 2004, 11:21:26]

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