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Prospects promising for revival of the old

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© St. Petersburg Times,
published June 17, 2001

Maybe this is the year for a chance to revisit old times.

I wrote earlier this week about the possibility of the old Hacienda Hotel in downtown New Port Richey being returned to its old days of food-and-beverage (okay, mostly beverage) glory.

Within a few days I read that work is under way to restore another old friend, the Port Paradise Motel, now renamed the Port Hotel and Marina.

And that reminded me what a pleasant surprise it was a few months ago to stop by and see the new version of the Izaak Walton Lodge in Yankeetown, which had burned to the ground in 1999.

Wow, if this is a time for restoring the faded glory of old wrecks, look for a younger, slimmer version of me in polyester shirts and bell-bottoms hitting the streets any day now.

First, while I'm high up enough up in the column for a mea culpa to really count, I was wrong about the location of the old Silver Spur lounge in west Pasco. I thought it was a car dealership, which it was for a while a long time ago, but it turned out to be a different car dealership and the site is now the location of Hops Restaurant.

For years, it turns out, I've been driving by the wrong car dealership and telling people how many brain cells I killed in that building.

At least I was right about the brain cells.

I managed to convince one reader from Spring Hill that I was right and he was wrong about the location (my belated apologies), but when Betty Kraemer called with the same argument, I said, "What makes you so sure."

"I owned it," she said.

I know when to quit.

When I first discovered the Port Paradise in 1974, it was hot stuff.

It was (God, I hate this word!) "quaint."

The rooms were mini-suites, most with a great view of the river, there was a good restaurant and a really neat bar. You could sit on the porch or balcony outside your room at night and listen to the manatees surfacing for air.

I even spent one honeymoon there, as far as that wife and I know. It was in a wilder, younger time for me, and we never really were quite sure where we were, but weeks later we found the receipts that said we had been there.

And then one day I went back and the yolks on the eggs at breakfast had a funny color and we watched two cockroaches battle on the windowsill, and when we got in bed that night we were covered (not an exaggeration, I mean covered) with fleas. The response of the woman at the desk was to offer us a can of insect spray.

Last year, after being overserved at a place that plays country music (the only condition in which I can listen to country music) I decided to stay instead of drive and the Port Paradise had the only room available in the area. If I had it to do over, I would have slept in my car.

I'm thrilled to hear the place is getting the once over and the new plans sound promising.

Izaak's, a great place for gourmet food and kicked-back living, has risen from the ashes with a brand new exterior that, looks almost exactly like the old building. The food is as good as ever, the upstairs dining room has a fantastic view.

The downside is that the new dining room is where most of the old lodge rooms were, and there are now only two rooms at the inn.

On the bad news front, the Cove Pub and Restaurant near Inverness, home of the best wings in the area, burned down recently under suspicious circumstances and we may have to wait a while for that particular phoenix to rise from the ashes.

Wanna have some fun?

Wait until the New Port Richey Carrie Nation Society (not a real group, just a frame of mind) figures out that a children's playground has been built a few feet away from the proposed new bar and restaurant.

Look for City Council meetings with long heated arguments over the relative merits of being poisoned by arsenic or watching grown-ups act sillier than children as they leave the lounge.

Stay tuned.

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