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    New generation's Pappas' bistro opens

    [Times photo: Jill Sagers]
    Pappas Grillmarks - New World Bistro & Bar in Largo has been transformed at a cost of $750,000 and given new menus, including takeout dinners.

    By CHRISTINA K. COSDON

    © St. Petersburg Times, published October 16, 2000


    LARGO -- Jinny Pappas was teary-eyed in May when she told customers the popular restaurant she and her husband, George, had operated for 26 years would be closing.

    In its place would be a new, totally different restaurant, she said, a project of the couple's 26-year-old son Nick, who was joining the family business.

    Now, after four months and a $750,000 investment, the transformation is complete and a sleek, modern Pappas' Grillmarks -- New World Bistro & Bar has opened.

    Gone are the Victorian antiques, old-fashioned pictures, frilly knickknacks, carpeted floors and pink and white decor.

    Customers now walk on wood and terrazzo floors and dine in black booths and at tables with subtle overhead lights strung across raised ceilings. The walls are painted in rich earth tones.

    Televisions at a sit-down bar show regular programs or, at the push of a button, give customers a view of their lobster or steak being prepared in the kitchen.

    "The booths are new -- we only had tables before," Pappas said. "And we didn't have a sit-down bar. The idea for having cameras in the kitchen came from a customer, and kids really seem to get a kick out of watching their burgers cooking on the grill."

    There is seating for 170, an increase of about 20 seats, he said.

    "We wanted a warm and comfortable bistro atmosphere," said Pappas. "We definitely don't want to be known as a Greek restaurant."

    A new executive chef, Scott Klein, was hired to create a menu to match the restaurant's contemporary image. Only the Greek salad and a few Greek dishes have been retained. The new lunch and dinner menus feature tapas, seafoods and steaks, pastas and vegetarian dishes. A matinee menu also offers a variety of meat and seafood entrees.

    Other new touches are rotisserie chicken and dinners available for takeout. Soon there will be a drive-in window at the back of the restaurant, Pappas said, for customers to pick up their food.

    Improvements to the 5,700-square-foot building included a new roof, a new air-conditioning system and updated kitchen equipment. There's more parking, too. A store on the north side of the building was torn down to make way for new parking spaces.

    "I knew the restaurant was overdue for a change, but I resisted," Mrs. Pappas said. She said she was comfortable with the Victorian decor and the menu noted for its tangy Greek salad. "Then my son gave me the book Who Moved My Cheese and that did it," she said, smiling. "I was ready for change.

    "But I never dreamed it would be so dynamic. I'm a convert."

    Grillmarks is at 607 N Clearwater-Largo Road. Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Matinee dining is from 3 to 5:30 p.m. The restaurant will be open for Thanksgiving, but closed on Christmas. Call 584-6235.

    Physicians provide 'eat yourself slim' kitchen

    Chef Guillaume Alinat was busy last week showing off the newly completed kitchen at the Montignac Nutrition & Vitality Center opened earlier this year by local Dr. John Kilgore and Dr. Christine Laramee, his wife.

    At the business' grand opening Wednesday evening, visitors were treated to hot and cold hors d'oeuvres made by Alinat in the new kitchen, built so people can sit around the stoves and watch or participate.

    Trained in the culinary arts in his native France, Alinat will give his first hands-on cooking class the evening of Oct. 19 on the cuisine of Provence. The following evening will feature souffles, casseroles and seafoods prepared in the "eat yourself slim" method of Frenchman Michel Montignac, who was in town for the open house. Cooking classes on Oct. 26 and 27 will focus on barbecue dishes, vinaigrettes and salad dressing. A six-week course is scheduled to start Oct. 28.

    During the week, Alinat will prepare lunches at noon for a small group of people seated at Cafe Montignac's kitchen bar. The lunches will change each day and feature one menu, one price.

    Kilgore, an orthopedic surgeon practicing in Clearwater, and Laramee, a family physician with a practice in Belleair Bluffs, learned about the method two years ago. They attended Montignac method clinics in Canada, flew to France to meet the author and bought a franchise that includes all the states except California.

    The couple opened their first weight-control center and food boutique in April at 800 E Bay Drive, Largo. The cooking school and catering service are the newest additions to the business. Call 581-3434.

    Center Bay offices sold to St. Pete Beach family

    Center Bay office building at 4175 E Bay Drive, Largo, has been sold for $2.2-million to Tim Kalyvas and family of St. Pete Beach. The three-story building built in 1976 has 50,688 square feet and was 85 percent leased when it was purchased. Elliott M. Ross of the Ross Realty Group, Clearwater, represented the buyers.

    The Midland Cos. promotes three

    Brent Dismuke, of the Midland Cos., has been promoted to vice president, syndication/product development for Midland Equity Corp. He will be responsible for structuring all the Midland corporate tax credit offerings and updating quarterly tax credit and loss projections for each fund by investor, in addition to other duties.

    Suzanne Pixley-Schlueter has been promoted to vice president, syndication/accounting and monitoring for Midland Equity Corp. Her work will include the review of operating partnership tax returns and the updating of tax credit projections.

    Michel K. Mikkola has been promoted to assistant vice president, Southeast regional manager. He will be responsible for all loan originations within a 10-state Southeast region.

    Midland, a group of companies specializing in multifamily debt and equity financing, is based in Clearwater at 33 N Garden Ave. and has regional offices in Baltimore, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

    - News of businesses and business people can be faxed to the Business Digest at 445-4119 or mailed to Business Digest, 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756. We are interested in new and unusual businesses, promotions, expansions and major new contracts. Photos can be sent, but not all will be used and they cannot be returned.

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