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Feel-good atmosphere fills cafe

By SHARON GINN, Times Correspondent
Published August 31, 2007


TAMPA HEIGHTS - Hal Bailey wants his new Harold's Caf to be a one-stop place that folks in Riverside Heights and Tampa Heights can swing by for a quick breakfast or lunch and feel good on their way out the door.

"It's the kind of place I've always wanted in the neighborhood," said Bailey, who lives in Riverside Heights. "We have sweet things to eat with your coffee and offer some friendly, happy-to-have-business faces here."

Harold's Caf "Hal" is a nickname for Harold, and he liked the nostalgic sound opens Saturday at 442 W Columbus Drive, just east of North Boulevard. Bailey has been working in real estate for the past several years but said he has always wanted to open his own restaurant.

The caf offers espresso drinks, fresh and infused ice teas, salads, sandwiches and breakfast items. Bailey also plans to sell box lunches that customers can pick up with their coffee on the way to work.

Hours are 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Much of the seating will be outside, and "well-mannered" dogs are welcome, Bailey said.

"I'm hoping for a more South Tampa feel to it, and I think there's plenty of people here to support it," Bailey said. "Everything (nearby) is Spanish food and Cuban food, which is very delicious, and I love. But this is something a little different."

Fuel stop in Hyde Park

Joe Kozlar gets a lot of post-workout business at his five smoothie shops around the Tampa Bay area. But at Kozlar's newest store in Hyde Park Village, he'll be trying to attract a more mainstream clientele.

JJ Smoothy Caf, which will open in early October in the former Chico's storefront - two doors down from Lifestyle Family Fitness - will offer a convenient alternative to fast food, Kozlar said.

"The nice part about Hyde Park is that it's a community that is densely populated with a lot of young people and families, a lot of people into a healthier lifestyle," Kozlar said.

He said his shops make low-fat, low-calorie smoothies made with fresh fruit and no added sugars or syrups. The new caf will have wraps made with lean chicken and beef as well as other "healthy energy" food items, he said. Catering will be available.

"Everything we carry is for the healthy lifestyle, the active person," Kozlar said. "You won't find anything that's fattening. I don't even carry Gatorade because it's full of sugar."

JJ Smoothy Caf will have indoor and outdoor seating, and will be open 8 a.m.-9 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m.-6 p.m. on Saturdays.

Monstah move

Allen Berube is always looking for ways to boost business at his Monstah Lobstah seafood store. His most creative marketing strategy probably was auditioning this spring for Spike TV's Ultimate Fighter 5 reality show.

The 5-foot-8 native of Maine is a mixed martial artist who was eliminated in the first round. But his latest plan might be even more effective.

Berube last week moved Monstah Lobstah from West Bay to Bay Boulevard to a storefront at 1531 S Dale Mabry Highway, conveniently located just south of Publix. He hopes his upscale seafood, mostly takeout shop will dovetail nicely with the location.

"I wanted to be right on Dale Mabry," said Berube, who opened Monstah Lobstah in 2002. "I looked around a little while. I wanted to move in August, since it's our slowest month. And it worked out. Our traffic went from 8,000 cars a day (passing by) to like 75,000."

Berube was able to add more seating despite a slightly smaller footprint. The new location has six tables and is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

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

The find

Fashion belt

Fashionista, buckle up the season's new look - a patent leather and gold belt, $190, found among the trendy fashions and accessories at Paradise Island Boutique, 3316 S Westshore Blvd. Call 805-2060.

[Last modified August 30, 2007, 22:27:12]

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