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Face-lift, revival proposed for building in Dade City

A city commissioner's husband buys the spot, planning additions including a rooftop bar.

By MOLLY MOORHEAD
Published February 7, 2007


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DADE CITY - The new owner of a Seventh Street building has big plans for the downtown spot, including a restaurant and rooftop bar.

The 1953 building is home to two antique shops, a hair salon and a casual restaurant with an ice cream shop. Its brown, dated exterior is about to get a face-lift.

David Hernandez bought the building, 14129 Seventh St., in December for $680,000, according to county records. Hernandez, who is the husband of City Commissioner Camille Hernandez, would not comment on his plans.

But an architect's rendering depicts a Mediterranean makeover: stucco walls, wrought iron balcony and gas lanterns along the outside. Inside will be a new elevator going up to the roof. Staircases are being added on the north and south ends.

Edna Gonzalez, owner of Tropical Breeze Cafe, said her restaurant will move to the second floor, allowing her to expand the seating and the menu. The cafe serves moderately priced Cuban dishes at lunch and dinner. Gonzalez plans to keep the current menu items and add some finer fare, such as steaks and lobster.

"We want to still be able to cater to the customers we have now," she said. "We don't want to exclude anyone."

But the future looks fancy. Gonzalez said she will apply for a full liquor license and hopes to recruit someone to run a cigar bar.

"I think cigars and Cuban food go hand in hand," she said.

The restaurant will have seating for about 200 diners, including 17 tables on the outdoor balcony overlooking Seventh Street.

One floor up will be a first for Dade City: a rooftop bar and grill with panoramic views of downtown.

"Think about parades and events in town," Gonzalez said. "Who's not going to want to be up on that rooftop?"

She and her husband, Louis, will continue to run a small ice cream parlor on the first floor - an homage to the building's former tenant, Kiefer's Pharmacy, which housed a soda shop. The rest of the ground floor will house five retail outlets, Gonzalez said, including the businesses there now.

Hernandez plans to begin construction in June, with a target completion of September, Gonzalez said.

"He's not going to sit on it," she said. "He wants it to move fast."

City officials must approve the renovations plans for fire code compliance and other issues. City Manager Harold Sample said he doesn't anticipate any problems.

"It'll be a major redevelopment downtown, in a good way," Sample said.

Gonzalez, who opened Tropical Breeze Cafe about three years ago, said the time is finally right for such an ambitious project.

"There's more people in this area than ever," she said. "The biggest complaint everyone has is, 'What do you do here at night?'

"I think people are so ready to stay locally, to not have to drive to Tampa. People are coming out - they're just looking for stuff to do."

Molly Moorhead can be reached at 352 521-6521 or toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext 6521. Her e-mail address is moorhead@sptimes.com.

[Last modified February 6, 2007, 23:03:14]


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