St. Petersburg Arts Alliance Seeds Arts Endowment Fund at Community Foundation of Tampa Bay

The St. Petersburg Arts Alliance is proud to announce that it has established an arts endowment fund at the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay to support St. Petersburg’s arts and cultural non-profits. 

performing-arts-check“The St. Petersburg Arts Endowment will help ensure the sustainability of our arts and cultural community,” states John Collins, Executive Director of the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance.

“During the three years the Arts Alliance has grown, we have saved $10,000 to establish the fund.  It’s not much, but it’s a start — unheard of for a 3-year old organization.  Now we want it to be “owned” by everyone in Tampa Bay who values the arts.  It is our plan to seek donations to the fund.”

City Council Member Darden Rice states, ”The establishment of this endowment further demonstrates St. Petersburg’s commitment to the arts and its recognition of the arts as a thriving economic and centrally cultural aspect of our region.” 

Wayne Atherholt, Director of the Office of Cultural Affairs adds, “Creating an arts endowment is critical to the future of the arts in St. Petersburg.  It forms the foundation for all citizens who love this city to leave a legacy that will live in perpetuity to support the arts which are at the core of what makes St. Petersburg a vibrant, creative and most livable city and its growth will make St. Petersburg an even more important city in the global arts world which in turn benefits artists as well as arts organizations here.”

The Community Foundation of Tampa Bay and the Arts Alliance will seek gifts to the endowment fund.  The endowment will generate annual earnings that the City’s Arts Advisory Committee may award to arts and cultural non-profits through the established grant award process.

Collins adds, “We are fulfilling a commitment made several years ago to the St. Pete Arts Funding Committee, and then to City Council and the Mayor’s Office when they approved the establishment of the Arts Alliance as a private non-profit partner.  And now the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance is the umbrella organization serving all our arts and cultural community: advocating for the arts, facilitating the growth of the arts community and driving arts-related economic development in St. Petersburg.” 

Photo ID L to R: Deborah Kelley, SPAA Treasurer and John Collins present the check to Molly James, Vice President of Philanthropy.

St. Pete Arts Alliance Has Key Role in Nationwide Americans for Arts Survey

ballerina-artThe Arts Mean Business!  

That’s the message as the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance (SPAA) announces  the Arts & Economic Prosperity® 5th study for Pinellas County.  

Americans for the Arts, the nation’s non-profit organization advancing the arts and arts education, is conducting the study nationwide.  It’s the fifth study over the past 20 years to measure the impact of arts spending on local jobs, income paid to local residents, and revenue generated to local and state governments.

The SPAA also is excited about its upcoming MUSE Awards Benefit … the major fund -raiser that celebrates artistic inspiration. The unforgettable night of gourmet fare, art and entertainment is set for Friday, January 29, at the downtown Museum of Fine Arts. (See accompanying story for details.)


SPAA Executive Director John Collins told Paradise News,  “As one of nearly 300 study partners across all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, the Arts Alliance will collect detailed financial data about our county’s nonprofit arts and culture organizations including theater and dance companies, museums, festivals and arts education organizations.”

“Many people don’t think of nonprofit arts organizations as businesses, however this study will make clear that the arts are a formidable industry in our community — employing people locally, purchasing goods and services from local merchants and helping to drive tourism and economic development.”


“This study is a major year-long commitment for us; however we believe it is essential to have Pinellas County represented.  We will partner with all our Pinellas Arts colleagues to collect surveys from attendees at arts events using a short, anonymous questionnaire that asks how much money they spent on items such as meals, parking and transportation and retail shopping, specifically as a result of attending the event.  Surveys will be collected throughout 2016, with results released in June of 2017.” “As we did with the Arts Shine Here economic development report for St. Petersburg, I expect this study will demonstrate that when we support the arts in Pinellas, we are making an investment in an industry, one that supports jobs and generates government revenue and is a cornerstone of tourism.”

Previous studies have shown that the average attendee spends $24.60 per person, per event, beyond the cost of admission.  Those studies have also shown that, on average, 32% of arts attendees travel from outside the county in which the arts event took place, and that those cultural tourists typically spend nearly $40 per person — generating important revenue for local businesses and demonstrating how the arts drive revenue for other businesses in the community.

Collins added  “Our Arts Alliance also will be raising funds to conduct the Pinellas County study. Currently nearly 300 regions are participating, including 13 statewide partners, 100 cities or towns, 113 counties, 46 multi-city or multi-county regions and nine cultural districts.”  

Board Urges Support

The SPAA board of directors is completely supportive of the Arts & Economic Prosperity® 5 study. 

Among the comments:

Wayne Atherholt, Director, Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs and ex-officio member, told Paradise News, “It is critical that St. Petersburg and all of Pinellas County participate in the Americans for the Arts Study.  This is a national survey on the economic impact of the arts and I’m very happy our St. Petersburg Arts Alliance could step up and take the lead on this countywide survey.  The St. Petersburg Arts Alliance is our primary contract agency for the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs.  

We rely on them to implement so much of what the city’s initiatives are and the alliance does an incredible job – as it represents all arts organizations from all over the city.”Added Board Chairman Richard Wood, COO, Eagle Datagistics,  “We are delighted to be asked by our countywide arts and cultural non-profits to produce the study for the Americans for the Arts. Since Pinellas County has not had a study produced in ten years, we are eager to play a role in the study and encourage the community to participate in the upcoming MUSE fund-raiser.In addition, we will re-engage our colleagues from the PinArts coalition to work with us. This study fits with our recent SPAA 3 year strategic plan, and our data analytic approach to the business of the arts.” 

Duncan McClellan, Board member, glass artisan and strong SPAA supporter said, “The SPAA is playing a major role in the overall development of the Tampa Bay area, as illustrated by the New Study of Economic Impact of the Arts and Culture. The Arts Alliance is a wonderful umbrella organization, supporting every arts discipline in the area. Through the power of Art, the neighborhoods, culture and community of the St. Petersburg and Tampa Bay areas have been radically changed. Our MUSE gala brings entire communities together in wonderful ways, promoting camaraderie around art and celebrating the area’s artistic and cultural diversity.”

SPAA’s John Collins emphasizes, “Since we launched in early 2012, our St. Petersburg Arts Alliance has strived to be the community voice, the umbrella organization for the arts — facilitating artists, arts organizations and creative businesses to work collaboratively; empowering the growth of the arts community, and driving arts-related economic development.”  

To donate to the Arts & Economic Prosperity® 5 study for Pinellas County visit

SIDEBAR- SPAA Annual MUSE Awards Benefit, January 29, Museum of Fine Arts

SPAA’s major fund-raiser celebrates artistic inspiration, as the MUSE Awards will again be an unforgettable night of gourmet fare, art and entertainment. Executive Director John Collins invites the community to “join us for this must attend annual event – Friday, January 29 at the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg.”

Adds City Cultural Affairs Director Wayne Atherholt,  “The MUSE awards event is a fun and celebratory evening that I always enjoy.  It is a great opportunity to recognize people who have contributed so much in the arts.  We are very lucky to have so many incredibly creative people amongst us – it is what gives St. Petersburg that intangible vibe and energy that is felt in so many districts and neighborhoods throughout the city.”

MUSE will again be an unforgettable night of gourmet fare and art for sponsors, art patrons, artists and creative business owners. No stiff tuxes, no boring speeches, no sit-down, rubber chicken dinner – just art, camaraderie and a great pARTy’  to celebrate the Muses of St Petersburg.

MUSE recognizes the breadth and beauty of art and culture in St. Petersburg, and honors the  “Muses”  who continue to inspire and guide our city to its standing as an international arts destination.

Proceeds benefit the Arts Alliance’s programs and services including ArtWalkArtBeat, Arts Education, the SunLit Festival, and the lamppost banners displayed around the City proclaiming “The Arts Shine Here!”

The MUSE 2016 Visual Arts Award goes to Steven Kenny. His 26×40, oil on canvas –  “The Pinnacle” depicts a moment of creative equilibrium. A ballet dancer gracefully balances on the pinnacle of a mountaintop at the height of her artistic potential. Her feet rest on the black egg of inspiration from which future ideas will be born. She wears a tutu made of twigs an imaginative nest of her own design in which she feels perfectly at home. Her headdress is a white bird, a symbol of expression, freedom and visionary innovation. Artist pulled and autographed prints are now available online for $150 with a portion contributed to SPAA. They can also be ordered at the event. For more information on Steven Kenny’s work:

Each year, Duncan McClellan, artist, Board member and strong SPAA supporter, has been asked to make a special award for deserving recipients. “I am honored again,” he said, “to make a very special bow of thanks for Steven Kenny and other very special MUSE honorees. This is one of many examples illustrating how the SPAA pulls together the Arts community, encouraging them to support, promote and celebrate each other.”

Last year’s benefit sold out!  Tickets are $100 for the pARTy at 7:30 pm and are $150 up to $25,000 for the Curator’s Sponsor Reception at 6 pm. For more information, access the website at 

Story By Steve Traiman

[Editor’s Note: Thanks to John Collins, Wayne Atherholt, Richard Wood and Duncan McClellan for their excellent comments, background and photos.]

[Steve Traiman is President of Creative Copy by Steve Traiman in St. Pete Beach, offering freelance business writing services. He can be reached via email at]    

The Art of Eating at Castile on St. Pete Beach

castille-1The beautiful city of St. Pete Beach is located just south of Treasure Island, about a 15- minute drive to the ever evolving City of St. Petersburg. Year-round sunshine, white pristine beaches, and proximity to an art-conscious community, make it a popular tourist destination.  Lately, life is so good on this barrier island community that tourists love it so much they decide to stay.

Not only is the selection of family style eateries getting better on the beaches, but upscale dining, often in a casual atmosphere, draws more tourists as well as locals to dine here

Castille, a lovely restaurant across from the Gulf, has gathered a loyal following. Not only is the Hotel Zamora (in which it is located), the newest hotel erected on St. Pete Beach in 20 years, but it is elegant and distinctively beautiful, including an incredibly picturesque 360 degree rooftop bar.


The 36-room Hotel Zamora was launched in 2014 with the talented Tim Dorsey as its chef, but recently they hired a new executive chef, Louis Scaramuzzi.

In a conversation after my first visit, Scaramuzzi told me he recently headed up the Baystar group made famous by seasoned owner Frank Chivas and the late Tom Pritchard, who together created several renowned restaurants on the beach and in Clearwater. 

Scaramuzzi’s 25 years of culinary experience, including a strong influence by the much revered and legendary Auguste Escoffier, the father of traditional French cooking, sets the tone for dining at Castile.


According to Scaramuzzi, he is a protégé of the late Charlie Trotter, the Chicago “wonder” chef of international acclaim. Having been a fan of Trotter’s extraordinary creations and dined at his famous restaurant (and owning all of his five cookbooks), I immediately noticed a similarity to Trotter’s attention to detail.

Castille, since opening, made its mark on the first day by Chef Ted Dorsey who has since moved downtown to The Mill on Central Avenue.

The restaurant is named after an historical region in Spain and has already gathered a loyal following. And rightfully so.

To test out the new chef, I decided to invite several friends accustomed to fine dining to help me evaluate the menu. I discovered that though Executive Chef Louis Scaramuzzi is a diminutive guy, there is nothing small about the extraordinary flavor and presentation of his cuisine.


Castille is tastefully decorated and obviously influenced by the dazzling hills of Zamora, Spain, an area dedicated to the enjoyment of life and, of course, great cuisine.

Placemats are now used instead of the original white tablecloths but they blend well with the casually elegant decor. Lovely wood tables, both inside and out, blend well with the casual ambience.

Tapas-like appetizers are brilliantly executed, and I strongly suggest ordering several to share.

Lightly dusty calamari is served with a sour orange saffron aioli and is perfectly fried.  A “flight” of ceviche is as fresh as it gets, with fresh with tuna and shrimp and a well marinated conch. The dish includes jicama (a crispy root veggie) yuca and plantain chips.

On our first visit, we requested the “tapas” first, but main courses came out before we are finished. Nonetheless, since we were almost finished with our appetizers (which we gobbled up) we accepted the main courses without mention of the early delivery.

A “house cured “pork belly dish is beautifully presented, Charlie Trotter style, and though many will find this too fatty a dish (I mean, what do you expect when your order pork belly?), I feel it is perfect with its mango chutney and lovely au jus.

On my first of two  visits, rather than delivering main courses to those who  order specific dishes,  the waiter asks “who ordered what”? We each claim our order, but having been a waitress for a number of years I recognize the importance of  serving the right dish to the customer, not a difficult task. At a casual restaurant one does not mind this kind of service, but at an upscale restaurant attention to detail is fundamental.

This did not happen on my subsequent visit. The service was adequate, though not outstanding. The waiter noticed my notebook, declaring that he knew I was reviewing the restaurant.  I thought this was odd that he would admit such a finding. Most waiters would not let on such an observation, but this waiter seemed to glory in his find. So much for trying to dine anonymously.

Nonetheless, I love the new menu, my favorite being Duck Confit with a lovely white cassoulet. The waiter was not aware of the correct pronunciation, but it really didn’t matter since we understood the history of this amazing dish.

Seared colossal scallops are spanking fresh served over a lovely creamy risotto. Another winner is the Paella which one of my guests declared to have plenty of “seafood in every bite.” The finfish and shellfish are delish. Yet, I prefer this classic served in a sizzling paella pan and with rabbit, which is a necessary element I learned from the most famous paella maker in Spain who cooks in Valencia, Spain.

My guest Barbara, who has dined all over the world, is still raving about the pasta dish she enjoyed.  Her next choice, she says, will be the house made Pappardelle with a Prosecco wine sauce and stuffed meatball.

On the second visit a combo flan dish with passion fruit, mango, and guava, is a hands-down winner. There is only one other offering, the chocolate dome that will be appearing on the menu, according to our waiter.

Dining alfresco, on the lovely outdoor patio overlooking the pool, is my preferred choice. Inside dining is loud. This may be appreciated by younger patrons, but the acoustics are too loud for me. I could barely hear my guests speak.

The consensus of all five of my guests is that they would certainly return. And, I too look forward to tasting even more innovative dishes by Chef Scaramuzzi., in particular, those of Spanish origin. He is quite a talent and much appreciated addition to the beach.

How fortunate we are to have such talent where once we had only the Maritana at the Don CeSar and Guy Harvey’s Rumfish.

Chef Scaramuzzi’s Mediterranean cuisine, along with a first-class wine list includes reasonably priced choices like the a smooth Rodney Strong Pinot Noir (Vintage 2013) for only $39.

Chef’ Scaramuzzi’s use of ingredients indigenous to Florida should continue the success that Chef Dorsey initiated at this splendid restaurant by the beach.

Castile, located in Hotel Zamora, 3701 Gulf Boulevard, St. Pete Beach

(855-926-6721 •

Cuisine – Mediterranean

Accept most credit cards, reservations accepted, full bar, free valet parking for guests.

Joyce LaFray, one of Florida’s premier food experts, is an author of more than 15 books including Cuba Cocina, The Tantalizing Flavors of Cuba, Tropic Cooking: The Cuisine of Florida & the Caribbean and Key Lime Cooking. Joyce dines anonymously and pays for her meals)


Walgreen’s St. Pete Beach Classic Expected Traffic Delays

spb-classicSaturday, January 17th, 2015 from 6:30 AM to 10:00 AM

– Gulf Blvd south bound lanes will be closed from Gulf Winds Dr (6000 block) to 44th Ave. All traffic travelingsouth bound from Gulf Winds Dr to 44th Ave will occupy one of the north bound lanes on Gulf Blvd.
– Gulf Blvd will be completely shut down from Gulf Winds Dr (6000 block) to 75th Ave. Gulf Winds Dr will handle all north and south bound traffic for this area.
– Gulf Blvd will remain open from 93rd Ave to 75th Ave but will experience traffic delays due to heavy runner and walker (pedestrian) south bound movement.
– Blind Pass Rd sound bound lanes will be closed from 93rd Ave to 75th Ave. All traffic traveling south bound from 93rd Ave to 75th Ave will occupy one of the north bound lanes on Blind Pass Rd.
– Blind Pass Rd will be completely shut down from 75th Ave to Gulf Winds Dr. Gulf Winds Dr will handle all north and south bound traffic for this area.
– Runners will pass St. John’s and St. Alban’s ~7:20 AM to ~7:50 AM.

Sunday, January 18th, 2015 from 6:15 AM to 10:00 AM

-Gulf Blvd south bound lanes will be closed from Gulf Winds Dr (6000 block) to Pinellas Bayway. All traffic traveling south bound from Gulf Winds Dr to Pinellas Bayway will occupy one of the north bound lanes on Gulf Blvd.
– Gulf Blvd will be completely shut down from Gulf Winds Dr (6000 block) to 75th Ave. Gulf Winds Dr will handle all north and south bound traffic for this area.
Gulf Blvd will remain open from 93rd Ave to 75th Ave but will experience traffic delays due to runner and walker (pedestrian) traffic south bound movement.
– Pass-A-Grille Way south bound lane will be closed from Pinellas Bayway to 22nd Ave. Alternating one-way traffic, controlled by police, will utilize the north bound lane of Pass-A-Grille Way (~6:45 AM to ~8:45 AM).
– Pass-A-Grille Way will remain open from 2nd Ave to 21st Ave but will experience traffic delays due to heavy runner and walker (pedestrian) north bound movement (~7.15AM to ~8:00 AM).
– Gulf Way will remain open from 22nd Ave to 2nd Ave but will experience traffic delays due to heavy runner and walker (pedestrian) south bound movement.
-Vina del Mar bridge will be coned off to create one center vehicular lane. Alternating one-way traffic, controlled by police, will utilize the center lane with runners and walkers occupying both sides of the bridge,outside of the vehicular lane (~6:30 AM to ~8:30 AM).
– Blind Pass Rd south bound gutter lane will be closed from 93rd Ave to 75th Ave. All traffic traveling south bound from 93rd Ave to 75th Ave will be restricted to a single south bound lane on Blind Pass Rd (~7:55 AM to 9:50AM).
– Blind Pass Rd will be shut down from 75th Ave to Gulf Winds Dr. Gulf Winds Dr will handle all north and south bound traffic for this area.
– Runners will pass Pass-a-Grille Church on Gulf Way ~7:15 AM to ~7:40 AM and on Pass-A-Grille Way ~7:20 AM to ~8:00 AM. 
– Runners will pass St. John’s and St. Alban’s ~7:50 AM to ~9:30 AM.

Treasured Tales – Treasure Salvors

spb-logoRecent stories in the print and electronic media concerning the finding of hundreds of gold and silver coins in extremely shallow water off the east coast of Florida by recreational boaters brought back memories. Among them were news accounts of the exploits of Mel Fisher, one of the earliest (and most successful) treasure salvors

In place of today’s highly sophisticated deep water robots, Mel and his crew of young divers recovered early treasure such as gold and silver coins and bars from a fleet of treasure ships sailing from South America and Mexico to Spain. The fleet was overtaken by a powerful hurricane, and most (if not all) were driven ashore in relatively shallow waters along the lower east coast. This impressive recovery was followed by others, and climaxed by the discovery of the wreck of “Nuestra Senora de Atocha” in less than 6O feet of water, west of the Florida Keys. 

It was, by far, the most immense treasure trove discovered to date, but not without great personal loss to the Fisher family. Mel’s young son, Dirk and Dirk’s wife were both drowned when one of the search vessels in which they were sleeping suffered a ruptured pipe, capsized and sank.  After investors in Mel’s company were rewarded with gold, silver and precious stones, a “treasure museum” was established in Key West. A second and third were established in Sebastian and St. Pete Beach, Florida. 

The St. Pete Beach Treasure Museum, which was located where Silas Dents restaurant is today, closed after a couple of lackluster seasons and a reported robbery.  The other two museums and a website, still bring back memories of the romantic and turbulent days of Florida’s early visitors.

Authors note: I went to this web site, and found some interesting data, plus some video footage which may be of interest. More water than the Great Lakes?

I can still recall my excitement as a small fry when my parents would surprise us kids with a trip to Salt and Juniper Springs in our old Dodge with a wicker picnic basket, packed with good food.  Very few paved roads to and from the Ocala National Forest, but a very special occasion!  

Story by Julian Fant

Evolving with The Undertow Beach Bar for the past 25 years

undertow-4Happy 25th Anniversary Undertow, I owe you my life.

I sat on your upper deck today and watched in wonder as the sun sleepily set under a brilliant red sky and I saw a silhouette of my son stand up with wobbly toddler legs in sugary sand and run screaming from his older sister around the beach volleyball courts and I couldn’t help but be grateful for what this amazing bar has meant to me over the years. 

For me it started in 1997, freshly 21 and ready to explore every beach cocktail I could find. Everyone I knew spent their nights at The Undertow, and so would I. A perfect place to escape from the sun to cool off and watch the vibrant colors unfold in warm summer sunsets, the Undertow was like a second home, and soon owners Paul Nicklaus and his sister Karen Browning would become like a second family. 


The Undertow Beach Bar first opened on June 25, 1990 nestled between a few boutique hotels, a paradise tucked away just north of the Don Caesar Hotel, where the world’s best sands are waiting for you to make an impression. It was a humble beginning; a small gazebo was almost hidden behind a large Spanish style home that had been converted into a 17-room resort known as the ‘Archway Villa’. A brother and sister team of entrepreneurs talked their father who owned the resort, into letting them open a bar in the back. They offered beer and wine to local patrons in the winter and an occasional tourist in the summer. They had a signature bar top, with a lazy river flowing through it with miniature rubber ducks that sent silent messages to the patrons across the bar. 



Five years later, Paul & Karen bought the adjoining property, an 8-unit motel called the Bel Mar and they demolished the original Archway Villa. They worked together to redesign the building to expand into an enclosed bar complete with a new liquor license and added a Kitchen with a four-star chef. The Undertow quickly became a fixture on St. Pete Beach with it’s perfect locale, gorgeous bartenders and perfectly poured cocktails. They offer something for everybody. I loved to watch the “Tow” as we regulars call it, transform throughout the day. An early breakfast with locals on the beach in the morning, a watering hole for hot and thirsty beach goers throughout the day, and an amazing place to meet gorgeous singles at night. The beauty of the Undertow is, there isn’t one clientele or niche they focus on. They truly have something for everyone. 


undertow-2If you asked Paul or Karen their secret to growing a successful beach bar, they would probably nonchalantly say, something like “it’s simple: have fun, be safe, respect the beach.” But I’ve noticed something remarkable over my years of patronage. Both Paul and Karen are passionately committed to evolving. They are two of the busiest people I know and they never stop for long to bask in what they’ve built. They are constantly changing, rather, improving their environment. Every few months, the entire staff gets a new line of custom swim suits to wear to work. It seems like every year Paul is working on some major rebuild to the property. He has added a second story deck, extended the bar on one side, tore a section of the bar out and added video games and pool tables. It seems like every time I turn around, they’re bringing the Tow a fresh new look, without removing the nostalgia, the spirit” of the Undertow I’ve come to love. 

undertow-710 years ago, I stopped considering the Undertow for a place to meet singles, although I’m positive others carried on for me. That’s because one day while walking to through the parking lot I saw the woman of my dreams sitting in a lawn chair, waiting to direct cars into the parking lot. While she waited, in her delicious undertow bikini, she was reading an obnoxiously thick book about capitalism and I was hooked. I married her 15 months later. Today we have 4 beautiful children and while we’ve evolved from the late nights and late mornings we spent together in the early years, the Undertow evolved with us as well. Paul and Karen both started having their children around the same time as we did, so little by little, there was a new family attraction added to the beach sand for the kids. We’re lucky when we get to stay past sunset now, but I love that I still get to take our kids to the very spot where I fell in love with their mother. And the first Saturday after Thanksgiving, I know Paul and his brother-in-law Lance, along with a few close friends like Rick, Derek and “Capoosh” will be waking up early and pruning their yards for decorative palm leaves, so we along with hundreds of other locals, can take our family Christmas photos with the Undertow’s signature giant Sand-Snowman. 


I’ve heard a lot of small business owners talk about their staff as being “part of a family” but I never really believed it until I met Paul & Karen. My wife worked for them for 6 years while she finished up school and waited for me to take her off the market. 10 years later, she still talks to Karen regularly and we always make sure to swing by and see them anytime we’re in town. Paul & Karen came to the hospital when our babies we’re born, “we wouldn’t miss it for the world” Karen says. My wife’s cousin Kat has also worked for the Undertow for over 15 years. She’s now an R.N. in a hospital, but still can’t bring herself to quit working at the Undertow because she loves it so much. They have several other employees, who aren’t blood relatives, that have stayed there for over 15 years. That’s unheard of in this industry and it speaks volumes to me about the kind of people Paul & Karen are. 

It’s not just a business, it’s a safe haven, a community of people who love the beach and want others to love and respect it to. They were one of the first bars on the beach to stop using plastic straws and opt for a more expensive and ecologically friendly paper straw because they care about the sea turtles that frequent their sandy shores to lay eggs. They’ve also hosted events such as the three-day Hawaiian Tropic charity pageants benefiting the Humane Society, a beach crawl supporting cancer research and fundraisers to help save the turtles and manatees.






Sure they have the most beautiful bartenders on St. Pete Beach, sure they have the most perfect sand in Florida. Sure they have the best open beach atmosphere one can find. But it’s the fact that they’re the whole package, thatI will always love. Thank you for introducing me to my wife and making these gorgeous kids possible and thank you for always welcoming us back with open arms. 

Happy 25th Anniversary, may you have 100 more just like it!

Story by  By D.B. Thomas

Estate & Trust Legal Services Provided Here Since 1948

As you might imagine, our barrier islands looked very different almost 70 years ago when Arthur T. Ratcliffe started a law firm here in 1948 and moved it to its present location in the early 1950’s.

The Don CeSar is the only existing major resort that predates the firm. Most of the homes on the beaches were built in the following decade. The office was located in St. Petersburg Beach then and there were separate towns named Pass-a-Grille, Don CeSar and Belle Vista. After a close vote, consolidation incorporated all of the island as St. Petersburg Beach in 1957. 


Residents chose to shorten the name to  ‘St. Pete Beach’  in 1994 presumably to distance the beach town from St. Petersburg, which had been nicknamed ‘wrinkle city’ by folks using Citizen’s Band (CB) radio before the advent of mobile phones. Gulf Beaches Elementary was a new school, built across the street from the Catholic Church. Both opened in 1951. F. Richard Hitt, began working with Ratcliffe in 1975 and took over the practice in 1980, when the firm became Ratcliffe & Hitt, Attorneys at Law, PA.  While practice areas remain the same as ever, specializing in wills, trusts, estate and trust administration, powers of attorney, living wills, health care directives, and other areas of estate planning, the need for such services continues to grow as more baby boomers approach retirement. 

Change continues today as Victoria S. “Vickie”  Jones takes over as Principal of Jones & Hitt, Attorneys at Law, PA, the new name of the former Ratcliffe & Hitt, the oldest law firm in continuous practice here. Practicing law for over seven years since earning her B.A. and J.D. degrees at Stetson University, she started with the firm in 2014. Heading the support staff for Jones & Hitt is Joe Withrow. With the firm since 2001, a graduate of St. Petersburg Junior College, Joe works in the firm’s legal services areas. F. Richard Hitt remains active in the firm.


libraryThe Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce will have an official ribbon cutting for the newly renamed firm on Thursday, January 14, 2016, 5pm at their offices, ½ block northeast of Bank of America in St. Pete Beach, at 433 76th Ave.

Managing Partner Victoria Jones is very active in the Tampa Bay community. She is an active member and Ambassador of the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce and its Beaches Referral Team. She is a member of the St. Petersburg Bar including the Young Lawyers Division and Probate & Guardianship Section; SPCA Professional Advisory Council; Suncoast Hospice Professional Partners Council; Suncoast Estate Planning Council; Better Living for Seniors; and the Sunshine City Kiwanis (President 2011-2012).

New Principal Victoria Jones is honored to continue the legacy of the firm, providing excellent legal services to their many loyal clients as they enter their 68th year, and looks forward to expanding the business and helping new clients with their estate planning needs. People’s circumstances and tax laws are constantly changing. If you have not appointed a health care surrogate, do not have a living will, or have not had your estate plan reviewed by a Florida attorney in the last five years, it would be prudent for you to make an appointment soon. A little planning could save your children or loved ones a lot of trouble and perhaps some serious money as well.

For more information, contact Victoria Jones, Jones & Hitt433 – 76th Avenue, St. Pete Beach FL 33706 Phone: 727-367-1976, Email:

Story by Steve Traiman

Eat Healthier & Save Money at… St. Pete Beach Produce & Deli

When I first met “Odi”, my nickname for OdiseArmata, he had opened an indoor produce stand next to Scoops Ice Cream. He has moved and expanded twice since, becoming an eat-in deli as well as a conventional deli to go operation. He also married his sweetheart from the old country and their son has turned two.spb-deli

Imagine a deli that serves the best Boars Head meats and cheeses and sells them by the pound for $1-$2/lb less than the cheapest competition. Add to that a produce store with fresh new arrivals directly from the farmers market 3 times per week. Then add a kitchen that serves a terrific Lemon Chicken soup, one of the finest Gyros, Chicken Souvlaki and Deli sandwiches, Greek Specialties, wraps and fresh salads. 

Save room for one of the homemade desserts, or Apple Pie, Rice Pudding or Protein Bars.  It is really more than a produce and deli, with a huge selection of local honeys, some wines you find no where else, a varied selection of Mediterranean specialty foods, the best deal in town on olive oils, vinegars, olives, goat and Feta cheeses and a great deal more.One of the very best offerings in the store is in a  ‘salad case’  right next to the register. There is homemade salsa, Tzatziki Sauce, Beet Salad, Grilled Eggplant, Stuffed Peppers, Greek Sausage, several flavors of fresh hummus, fish spread, chicken and tuna salad loaded with fresh veggies, and terrific, incredibly fresh Orzo Spinach Salad, Quinoa and Tabouli

spb-deli-odieWitOdi’s most recent expansion, the kitchen has doubled in size, more seating was added, shelved products were moved to the front and the selection was expanded.

A brand new catering menu offers fruit, veggie, meat & cheese platters, plus sandwiches and wraps, popularly priced for tailgate parties, birthdays, anniversaries, condo association meetings, brokers opens, most anytime you need to feed from 6-20 people.

Visit, call 727-564-0101 or stop by 6355 Gulf Blvd. on St. Pete Beach.

Story by Peter A Roos