Tomorrows Floors Available Today!

Woody’s Kitchens & More 
located at 4737 34th St. S (US19) in St. Petersburg, has a long tradition of introducing new and innovative products. Owner, John Gerelus, has a long history in the renovation industry. Having experience with all types of flooring, John’s enthusiasm for Karndean’s new line of
flooring is contagious.

Woody’s is proud to introduce
our newest floor line, LooseLay Longboard, to the Public. LooseLay Longboard is a PVC plank with cushion and grip bottom. Loose Lay can be applied directly to any flat, dry and square surface or directly over existing tile with minimal preparation.

LooseLay Longboard flooring is tough, waterproof, easy to clean, beautiful to look at and mimics wood flooring faith- fully. Unlike wood and tile flooring, LooseLay Longboard is durable, easy to install; you could even do it yourself!

Low Maintenance… Easy to Clean…Waterproof… Durable…Lifetime Warranty

LooseLay Longboard Luxury Vinyl flooring has the timeless look of natural wood and is available in 12 designs from rustic to contemporary.

Woody’s is the areas only Gold Level Dealer of Karndean Luxury Vinyl Flooring. Take a look on
their website, or visit Karndean.

They invite you to their showroom to see LooseLay Longboard display call John today at, 727-864-4819.

Woody’s Kitchens 4737 34th Street South (US19) St. Petersburg

Discover The Roost

If you like chicken, you are gonna LOVE the Roost! For locals & visitors alike, this is a terrific alternative.

The Roost serves delicious ‘Northern Style’ chicken and homemade sides that change daily; from fresh veggies, mac n’ cheese and cornbread to homemade desserts. The Roost uses a fast pressure-frying method of preparing chicken that incorporates very little oil and results in the healthiest, crispiest, juiciest chicken you’ve ever tasted and their crispy coating is completely gluten free!

All entrees include cornbread or biscuit, a chicken breast plus choice of 1-3 legs, thighs or wings. With two pieces you get two sides, three or four pieces, you get three sides (for really hungry folks!). If you want to trade dark meat for white, it’s only $2.  Add a side for another $2 or get a 4 Sides Only Meal for $7. Everyday there’s a choice of six homemade side dishes from a tantalizing menu that includes farm favorites such as sweet coleslaw, carrot raisin salad, collard greens & black eyed peas, tangy cole slaw, potato salad, Waldorf salad, corn pudding, broccoli rice casserole, cheesy potatoes, ginger carrots, squash souffle’, mashed potatoes & gravy, baked beans, sweet potato pie, cauliflower bake, mac-n-cheese and served with homemade cornbread or biscuits fresh daily. Save room for the delicious home-made bread pudding, crisp, cobbler or cake of the day.

The kitchen is open from 11 am-10 pm daily except Tuesday. Real sweet tea made daily or order a cocktail from the full liquor bar (where you can stay and party even after the kitchen closes). Bar snacks served in the bar after 10pm.

You can dine outdoors at the old-fashioned picnic tables, inside in the quaint, updated dining room, or at a high top or on a tractor seat in the bar. Wooden tables seat parties up to twelve people and the pale blue walls feature rustic art, tractor parts, plow discs, curio shelves, and nostalgic lighting. With free wifi and a kid-friendly atmosphere, The Roost even allows your leashed dog on the patio with you. Water bowls and treats provided!

Friendly servers deliver your chicken hot and your beer icy cold. You can also order to-go meals or boxes of chicken. It’s tastier, healthier, ecologically packaged (all biodegradable and no plastic), Local, and the same price as the Colonel’s! Where else on the beach can you dine for under $10? Come home to The Roost!  The Roost 7141 Gulf Blvd. @ 72nd Ave., St. Pete Beach 727-317-3629

Neptune Grill Turns Six: Zeus Dines Here; So Should You!

Opened on January 11th, 2011 by Gus Vartsakis (you know him from Skidders), Neptune Grill is one of eclectic Gulfport’s star dining attractions, serving some of the best Greek cuisine this side of Mykonos. His lovely daughter Dia Vartsakis is co-owner, managing the restaurant with grace, humor and wit.

Across from the Gulfport Casino, this family owned and operated restaurant just celebrated their sixth-year anniversary. With a beautiful view of Boca Ciega Bay, you can enjoy casual dining indoors and out (dog-friendly), sports on TV, cocktail bar, craft beers, good wine & happy hour 1-6 pm ($3 wells/house wine; $2.25 Bud Light draft); Margarita Monday ($3 house/all day), ½ price Wine Bottle Thursday and Sunday happy hour prices all day ($3 Bloody Mary/Mimosa).

Check out the kid’s menu, build a burger Tuesday, Taco Wednesday, Sunday brunch 11 am – 3 pm (crab benedict, Greek omelet) and an early bird special daily (3-5:30 pm, except holidays) and live music Friday/Saturday with Hector on Thursday.

Executive Chef Tony Papantoniou prepares every dish cooked to order, using the freshest and finest ingredients to purvey delectable Mediterranean/Greek dishes (saganaki, gyro, pastitio, moussaka, chicken souvlaki, Greek salad, hummus, spinach pie) seafood, filet mignon, lamb chops, pastas and chicken plus gluten-free and vegetarian options. Save room for baklava and rice pudding.

With great service, you’ll feel pampered and well-fed and welcomed by the local patrons. Kind of like Florida’s cheers, Neptune Grille is the “the restaurant & bar where everyone knows your name.”

If you want an authentic and enjoyable meal, refreshing beverage, and an amazing time, Neptune Grill has a stool waiting for you!

Who knows, you may become a regular too and meet Zeus, the king of canines.

Article by Nanette Wiser

Neptune Grill, 5501 Shore Blvd. South Gulfport, FL 33707

Monday – Thursday   11:00 am- 9:00 pm
Friday & Saturday 11:00 am- 10:00 pm
Sunday 11:00 am – 7:30 pm

Local History Museums Boost Their Communities

Readers of Paradise News are fortunate to have a trio of outstanding history museums that annually attract thousands of residents and visitors to a continually updated series of exhibits, speakers and events.

Gulf Beaches Historical Museum

The Gulf Beaches Historical Museum is an all-volunteer destination at 115 10th Ave. in historic Pass-A-Grille. Volunteer Coordinator Lance Peterson told Paradise News, “Since we opened nearly 24 years ago, it has been part of Pinellas County and Heritage Village.  All volunteers are part of the Pinellas County Volunteer Program and have County ID cards. Most volunteers begin as docents, which means, they greet visitors to the museum, explain the building and local history of the museum.  They also show different exhibits and explain their meaning.”

In March, the Museum holds an annual Island Festival in the museum and on the street in front and the park between 9th and 10th Avenues.  This year, the building, originally home of the area’s first church, is 100 years old and the City of St Pete Beach celebrates its 60th anniversary. So the City and Museum are partnering in holding an expanded Island Festival.

This event will be from 9 am to 4 pm. Events include a European Car Club, bands, vendors throughout the park, food, beer and wine, all outside the museum.  Volunteers will greet visitors inside the Museum, to see constantly updated historical exhibits as well as a gift shop that includes books by local authors.  Peterson continues, “We will need volunteers for set-up and tear-down, manning tables along 10th Avenue, helping with crowds and working inside and outside the museum.

“Anyone wishing to volunteer as a docent in the Museum can call and leave a message at 552-1610 or go online and contact me at If you wish to work the Island Festival you can utilize the above means or go online to and click on ‘Historical Anniversary Celebration’ and select an area you would like to work with.”

Spencer Lucas, President, Friends of  the Gulf Beaches Historical Museum; Sally Yoder, Collection Manager; and Bobby Ross, Gift Shop Manager, join Lance in emphasizing, “We appreciate this opportunity to reach out to the community and encourage everyone to visit the museum and, maybe, sign up to become part of our family.”

Gulfport History Museum

Gulfport enjoys a reputation as a haven for artists, great restaurants, and a boater’s paradise. Upon visiting for the first time, people revel in the way it reminds them of the Florida that once lived in every town.

No one understands how much old Florida matters than the Gulfport Historical Society (GHS), the 501(c)(3) that operates the Gulfport History Museum with the generous support of members and the City of Gulfport.

Society Secretary Cathy Salustri tells Paradise News, “Every community in Florida wants desperately to set themselves apart, and in Gulfport, our strength lies in our history. At the Society, we believe our history is our future, and we want to share both with you. But what, exactly, is our history?

“We’re descended from blockade runners — some may choose to call them pirates, but we choose to call them men trying to feed their families — and, later, drug runners. As the community evolved, we developed into a haven for artists and the LGBTQA community, something that makes us proud to this day — that crusty fishermen and the LGBTQA community can exist harmoniously. Our job as the guardians of all these histories is to protect and preserve them as one. 

“The Society is very fortunate that Volunteer Coordinator Margarete Tober has revived the vital volunteer program. We have about 20 now and we’re always seeking more volunteers –there’s always a need for more — to help digitize our history, help people with research requests, and keep the doors open as many days as possible.”

Hours: Tuesday, 10 am – 2 pm; Fri.-Sat.-Sun., 1 to 4 pm; other times by appointment.  

Society Chair and Gulfport Councilwoman Christine Brown emphasizes, “We’re also in desperate need of donations — right now, we’re raising money to help with a wildlife exclusion (we’ve had a rat problem and they’re starting to nest in our history, which is not ideal) — and bequests.

“We’re a 501(c)(3), so donations are totally deductible. Memberships, too, help fund our preservation efforts — we’re looking to revive the Gulfport Historical Register that documents local historical buildings, and that will take an influx of cash. Anyone can join on our website at  or at any of our porch parties, held the third Friday of every month.

“Members enjoy our speakers and porch parties, where we bring in historians from across the state to talk about Florida history and how it relates to Gulfport, incorporated 107 years ago in 1910. Members also receive the Society’s regular newsletter, the Historian. Throughout the year we plan special events that change as do the desires of our membership. Coming up in mid-February is new exhibit celebrating our unique ‘Pink Flamingo Tour of Homes.’’’

Joining Brown and Salustri are Treasurer Nicole Spence, Curators Daun Fletcher and Rob Burkhart, and City Liaison Gail Biron, who note, “We protect and celebrate our seaside village’s past, and preserve today’s memories for the Gulfportians of tomorrow. Please join us.”

St. Petersburg Museum of History 

Celebrating its 95th birthday this year, the St. Petersburg Museum of History has been Sharing the Stories of the Sunshine City for nearly a century on the beautiful downtown waterfront at 355 Second Ave. NE at the Pier entrance.

Pinellas County’s oldest museum originally opened in a City-donated old aquarium building as the St. Petersburg Historical Society. Through the determination of city pioneers like Mary Wheeler Eaton, it began collecting artifacts, natural history specimens, archival documents, photographs, papers, and as Executive Director Rui Farias notes, “boxes of unknown treasures that were just dropped on our doorstep during the night.

“Today, the Museum’s mission is to collect, preserve and present Florida history – specifically St. Petersburg history. We now have over 50,000 artifacts, photographs and documents in our collection, and it’s growing all the time through local donations.

“Expansion over the years created numerous exhibit galleries that feature world-class traveling exhibits such as Shipwreck! and Fighting for the Right to Fight: African Americans in WWII, as well as permanent exhibits of the area’s history and even a 3,000-year-old Egyptian mummy. And hanging from the ceiling is a working replica of the Benoist airboat Tony Jannus piloted across Tampa Bay for the world’s first commercial airline flight in 1914.

“The Museum also features an interactive archives library that is open to the public for research, or just good old history hunting!”

Current traveling exhibit through March 5 is Fighting for the Right to Fight: African American Experiences in WW II, on loan from the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. Permanent exhibits include The Sunshine City: St. Petersburg history from the Civil War to the Green Benches; Life. Death. The Afterlife: King Tut’s tomb and St. Pete’s oldest resident – a real 3,000-year-old Egyptian mummy; Piering through the Past: A photographic journey of St. Pete’s waterfront piers; Local Art. Local Stories: An art exhibit of Mark Dixon Dodd and others depicting the history; and Schrader’s Little Cooperstown: Certified by Guinness as the World’s Largest Collection of Autographed Baseballs. The nation’s pastime helps teach American history!

Along with world-class exhibits, the Museum of History presents a number of events during the year for all interests and ages: Happy Hour with the Historian – An Evening of Wine, Words and Wisdom: Six times a year with entertaining authors and their unusual stories of Florida history; Cocktails on the Courts: Major annual fundraiser highlighting the City’s unique tourist past, at the world-famous St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Courts; Florida Humanities Council Speaker Series: Four times a year, with iconic historians offer a different perspective on Florida’s unique, if not weird, history; Two-Headed Calf Fest: Celebrating the animal that has been a part of the Museum’s main exhibit since the 1920s, it offers live music, craft beer, a food truck rally and local artists; Beers on the Pier:  A unique craft beer festival that features craft beer from Florida and other regions; and City Builders Camp: summer history program for children.

As a 501(c)(3), the Museum is actively collecting artifacts, photographs, documents and even architectural pieces of our area’s past – and is even expanding the scope to all of Florida. The Museum is always looking  for donors, members and volunteers! Contact Director of Education and Museum Curator, Nevin Sitler, at 727-894-1052, ext. 206, or email

Our area is truly blessed with three outstanding and distinctive history museums. Take advantage of what each offers with your own visit, and if you can, get personally involved in any or all of the trio. 

Article by Steve Traiman

[Editor’s Note: Special thanks to Lance Peterson, Gulf Beaches Historical Museum; Cathy Salustri and Christine Brown at Gulfport History Museum, and Rui Farias at St. Petersburg Museum of History  for their excellent input 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]

Pink Flamingo Home Tour 2017

Do you love kitsch? If you do, don’t miss the annual Pink Flamingo Tour of Homes March 4th highlighting the best of eclectic Gulfport. The annual fundraiser for the Gulfport Area Chamber of Commerce, its been a grand spring tradition since the 1990s.Each year, the Tour focuses on a different neighborhood to make it easy for walkers and bikers to enjoy the  community event.

This year, the tour begins with  registration at the Tomlinson Park, 55th and Tangerine Avenue in Gulfport. The tour is situated on a level route of less than 2 miles. There’s also trolley and bus service from 11 am to 5 pm and is provided free for those who are unable to walk the route. Guests walk at their own pace and may visit the homes in any order.  All visitors will be provided with a tour book containing a map, which will show the scheduled trolley stops and the homes open for viewing. In addition to the tour, some of the event sponsors offer specials in their ads for enjoying Gulfport fun before or after the tour.

The event organizers take great pride hunting for the right mix of homes and its a huge honor to be included in this whimsical home tour. Homes may be selected because they are very small, very large, very colorful, absolutely gorgeous, original, newly renovated or just “out there”. You’ll be amazed at the wonderful garden spaces and backyard retreats. Whether you are thinking of paving your backyard, creating a lush oasis with water features or raising chickens, you can see it all on the tour. With “tiny” homes being all the rage, there’s even one on the 2017 tour. For those who have always wanted to know what the Blueberry Patch is all about, this is your opportunity as it will be on the tour from 11 am to 5 pm.

Tickets: $20 in advance; $25 day of event. Tickets can be purchased online at or in person at the Gulfport Welcome Center or Beach Bazaar, both of which are located in downtown Gulfport on Beach Blvd.

Article by Karen Love

For more information on the Pink Flamingo Home Tour, contact Karen Love at or 770-497-1139.

Tiny Marta by Joseph Godinho – Sanctuary Tiny Homes Tiny Marta was inspired by one core belief: that beauty and simplicity can exist  simultaneously and in perfect harmony. With its open layout, soothing neutral  colors, clean stainless appliances and touches of wood to  connect you with nature, you will feel you are in a much larger home despite its mere 24 feet in length. Marta boasts one large sleeping loft surrounded by windows and outfitted with a full size bed custom shelving and storage solutions to keep life’s necessities organized and out of sight. The bathroom, accessible through a custom barn door contains a full shower stall, sink, composting toilet, and built in shelves to hold toiletries. Marta’s kitchen is truly one of a kind…offering tremendous cooking space, a stainless stove,  refrigerator, two burner cook top and full size sink. Every week some of us watch Tiny Houses on HGTV. “Could you actually live in one?” asks Patricia Dunham, a Gulfport-based business consultant with a true love for the Tiny house movement. You might ask, what’s the big attraction?  “People are realizing they’d prefer to spend time with loved ones, traveling, hobbies or on community  activities, rather than working to support a big house, high  utility bills, property taxes, insurance, a large rental or  mortgage payment and maintenance. Many know we have way too much stuff. e are  working to pay for things which, in many cases, we don’t use.

In addition to touring some of Gulfport’s wonderfully eclectic, funky homes, You will actually have the chance to tour a tiny house at the Pink Flamingo Home Tour on  Saturday, March 4, 11 am –  5 pm, sponsored by the Gulf-port Chamber of Commerce.” Be sure to stop in, say “Hello,” and tour the lovely, Tiny Marta, and “get some of your Tiny House questions answered.” For more, email or call 407.865.2744 •

The Morean Arts Center Turns 100

The Morean Arts Center, the first art gallery south of Atlanta, is turning 100!

Drawing inspiration from the past 100 years, the Morean has created and enhanced a variety of offerings to the community in the form of master artist workshops, elevated events, classes in a variety of mediums, hands-on programs and the opening of the new garden space at the Chihuly Collection now located at 720 Central Avenue.

What started as one location has transformed into several amazing arts experiences, reknown in the U.S. and winner of many kudos. “I have seen two decades of change and growth here. Expanding from 7th Street into the Train Station and the new Chihuly gallery has been in keeping with 100 years of service to the Arts in St. Petersburg,” says Valerie Scott Knaust, Director of the Morean Center for Clay.

History: The Morean Arts Center’s story started in the early 20th century when a group of local artists in need of a place to work, teach and display their art connected with the Florida Winter Art School.

The Art Club of St. Petersburg – the first art gallery south of Atlanta – settled into space provided by the Florida Art School in their building on Beach Drive.

As St. Petersburg and surrounding areas grew, so did the Morean Arts Center from its informal beginnings in 1917, to become an integral part of the country’s top arts destinations.

After several relocations and name changes, the Morean Arts Center settled at its current location on Central Avenue. Today, the Morean offers programs for all mediums, styles, skill levels and ages housed in four locations in downtown St. Petersburg. The locations include the Morean Arts Center, Chihuly Collection, Morean Glass Studio & Hot Shop and Morean Center for Clay.

At the end of a century of steady growth, the Morean Arts Center continues to provide a place for the arts in St. Petersburg. Staff, board members, artists, teachers and volunteers have witnessed the Morean Arts Center grow and become an institution where one can explore creativity and push boundaries.

Curator of Exhibitions, Amanda Cooper, has seen the Morean grow in her nearly 20 years as a staff member. “Being part of the Morean means approaching art in a way that is challenging and exciting, yet not intimidating,” said Cooper. “If you’re a local artist, we will be your champion. If you want to learn a craft, we’ll teach you skills in a welcoming atmosphere. If you see something you love in an exhibition, you can buy it and own it forever (or at the very least, touch it without anyone slapping your hand away).”

Cooper states, “The Morean has survived and thrived in this community for a century because it is a scrappy, risk-taking organization that adapts quickly to changing culture and the needs of the people we serve, all with a passion for art and a desire to share that passion with others.”

Chihuly Collection…In 2010, the Morean Arts Center opened a permanent display of Dale Chihuly’s unique installations in order to provide proceeds to support ongoing educational programming and exhibitions. The Chihuly Collection fired up local interest in glass art, and the Morean opened its own Glass Studio & Hot Shop to provide educational programs and demonstrations.

In October 2016, the Chihuly Collection moved to its new location at 720 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg, Fla. 33701, in an effort to unite three of the four Morean Arts Center locations. ­Executive Director of the Chihuly Collection Andy Schlauch said, “The new location was re-imagined to allow guests the ability to experience the detail and creativity associated with Dale Chihuly’s work.”

The Collection boasts the return of the theater as well as an outdoor garden space set to open in early 2017. Included in the new space is also a temporary exhibition space to host rotating exhibits perfect for work from glass artists around the country. Admission also includes a demonstration at the Morean Glass Studio & Hot Shop directly across the street where visitors can witness a live glass-blowing demonstration conducted by local artists.

St. Petersburg is a “hot” commodity for the growing glass culture. The Chihuly Collection was at the forefront of the glass movement in the city and is proud to connect people with not only Dale Chihuly’s glass art, but art from national and local artists whose pieces find temporary homes in the Collection’s rotating exhibits, said Schlauch.

Education: To celebrate the artists who created the foundation of the Arts Center, master artist workshops were developed in 2016 and launched in 2017 to welcome back notable artists who have made an impact on the Morean and patrons alike. Some of these artists, including Sam Abell, Tom McCarthy and Joe Pintz, are bringing their talent back to the Morean to connect with old and new faces and help foster growth of the education program.

The Morean also offers seven different class session start dates in which teachers return for three to six weeks to teach classes in mediums such as drawing, painting, jewelry, glass, photography and digital, clay, print making, metal sculpture, and fiber arts.

Jonathan Harrison, Director of Education, said the education department looks for relevant and intriguing options for classes to attract a range of individuals in the community.

“Our teachers are artists themselves, and many have been with us for years,” said Harrison. “The fact that we can invite returning artists back to the Morean and also host our range of classes gives individuals multiple opportunities to find something that fits within their schedules, skill range and interests.”

In addition, the Morean continues to connect with its overall vision of becoming a national model for creative community engagement and economic development by offering free programs to connect individuals with art. These programs include Saturdays and Sundays at the Morean, a free program for families to drop in and create an art piece as a family, as well as programs such as Fall Art Frenzy, a themed, all-day event for families.

Exhibitions: This year, the Morean is hosting special exhibitions to highlight art and artists both new and returning.

Kicking off the 100th Anniversary in exhibitions is Major Mud 3 and The Journey: Photographs Along the Way, juried by Sam Abell. Sam Abell, known for his work with National Geographic, chose 32 pieces out of almost 400 to be displayed in the first exhibit of 2017. The work focuses not on the destination of a journey, but how you get there — A beautiful linkage to the Morean’s journey to 100 years and the milestones accomplished and surpassed throughout the century.  

The next exhibit, on display from March 11 – April 30, is Fresh Squeezed:

Emerging Artists in Florida. Amanda Cooper, curator of exhibitions at the Morean Arts Center, said there were more than 80 submissions and only six were selected. All artists are local to Florida, including the quirky and intriguing Brian Feldman who will be setting up shop in the Morean Arts Center’s gallery window in the form of an orange juice stand.

For the price of one guest’s drawing of a glass of orange juice, Feldman will make the guest his or her very own glass of OJ to enjoy inside the Morean. The wall behind Feldman is envisioned to be filled with drawings by the end of the exhibit. Immediately following Fresh Squeezed, the remaining exhibits displayed include 100 Years/100 Artists, 99th Annual Members Show, Street/Urban Art Showcase & Josette Urso Solo Show, and the 2017 Holiday Show & Sale.

Nurturing Young Artists: Educating children about the arts, and offering them access to gallery and exhibition space has been a key component of the Morean Arts Center’s mission throughout its 100 years in the St. Petersburg art community.

The Morean Arts Center continues its celebration of youth in art with 20 Years of Word & Image: Arts in Education Partnership. Students in Pinellas County are tasked with writing a few words as well as creating a piece of art to tie in with this year’s theme, “On My Block.”

Cooper said this exhibition is one of the best the Morean offers. “Most of these kids have never seen their art in a professional gallery before, and we give them the opportunity to see their works framed and displayed in a popular exhibit.”

Following Word & Image includes An Artistic Discovery: 36th Annual 13th Congressional District Art Competition and Let’s Create! 2017 Summer Camp Exhibition.

The Morean Center for Clay: located at 420 22nd Street South, St. Petersburg, Fla. 33712, hosts its own exhibitions in conjunction with the Morean Arts Center on Central Avenue. Currently, the Center for Clay is conducting its Florida Heat Woodfire workshop in which more than 1200 pieces are loaded into the anagama kiln to be fired continuously for three days. Directly following this workshop is the Florida Heat Surface workshop and gallery show. Both of these workshops are national, drawing participants and nationally recognized artists from almost every state in the country.

The Center for Clay’s exhibitions also feature works from Artists in Residence (AIRs), a program which allows applicants to present their work in hopes of gaining one of the six coveted spots in the program.

In exchange for various work duties at the facility, the AIRs are able to have studio space and access to some of the best equipment and gallery space to both expand and display their work.

Additional exhibitions at the Morean Center for Clay include a Joe Pintz Solo Show, Artist in Residence Exit Shows, Morean Center for Clay Members Show, NEW Artist in Residence Show, Jeremy Randall Solo Show and Wood Fire Workshop Gallery Show to close out 2017.

Events & Art  Happenings

To celebrate their 100th Anniversary, it will be a year-long amazing moveable feast and outrageous parties: Cocktails at the Collection, Night Blow at the Hot Shop, 100th Birthday Party: 7th Annual Great St. Pete Cupcake Contest, Eat Rich, Play Dirty, and a New Year’s event to celebrate the start of our second century of bringing arts to the community – Masque 100 – The Party of the Century set for December 31, 2017.

From these events, patrons can expect the normal – or not so normal – festivities the Morean is known for, only heightened. For example, The 100thBirthday Party: 7th Annual Great St. Pete Cupcake Contest is expected to exceed its normal attendance of more than 1500 people at the Morean Center for Clay as each cupcake station’s job is to make the Morean’s 100th birthday extra sweet!

With that in mind, Masque 100 was created as the culmination of the Morean’s 100th Anniversary and a send-off to celebrating the next century of the arts in St. Petersburg.

Masque 100 is an exclusive, elite and ticketed New Year’s Eve event where one can expect to be transported to a world of mystery, history and elegance. Ring in the New Year with some of Tampa Bay’s most notable individuals in a venue that also reflects almost 100 years of history.

Potter’s Precision Imports is Paradise for German Car Enthusiasts

We’ve been driving foreign cars since before they got popular. While I loved my 1962 Peugeot station wagon and Renee relied heavily for a while on her 1982 Volvo, we later settled in on classic Mercedes-Benz. We could buy one with 100,000 miles that still looked new, for a tiny fraction of original price. We still have a 1987 Mercedes diesel station wagon in the driveway. The challenge was generally finding mechanics to keep them safe and reliable.

Over the years there have been a few shops locally we’ve been very happy with. Lately, we’ve been telling you about the fast-growing two-year-old shop that is hiring some of the best talent in town. Tom Potter opened Potter’s Precision Imports around the corner from his old workplace at the local Mercedes dealer late in 2014, with his good friend Steve, a master German car mechanic who loves working on the older classics. Thanks in part to advertising in Paradise NEWS, Potters Precision was soon outgrowing its two-rack shop and Tom started planning an expansion.

Having been a mechanic and service writer himself for many years, Tom learned good practices from the manufacturers. He knows the trustworthy, reliable mechanics in the area and many know and trust him with their futures. Richard Webb, for example, left a 19-year career as service writer for the Crown dealership to join Tom at Potters Precision Imports.

Now I am happy to say, facility size is no longer a limiting factor for Potter’s Precision Imports. Their new location at 4200 31st St. N. Bldg. F, Unit D, St. Petersburg, FL 33714, while a little tricky to find at first without directions, is otherwise perfect for the long term. While storage of vehicles was always an issue at the prior spot, a secure, fenced field provides not only safe storage, but plenty of room for future expansion.

“It will be a while before we outgrow this building,” says Tom, who built his ‘open office’ space in the part’s room upstairs, overlooking the entire shop. “We now have eight racks, including a state of the art Hunter alignment system, center post tire changer and road-force balancing equipment, and all the computers needed to properly diagnose problems on virtually any German automobile. We want to be able to take care of whatever our customers need, and we are dedicated to saving them money when we can, without sacrificing quality. That is why we have standardized on top quality replacement items, like Bosch and Wurth. We shop for the best prices on tires and OEM parts and pass the savings on to our customers. My favorite moment is when a new client comes in for a second opinion and I find a problem is something tiny, like a leaking vacuum hose instead of an expensive repair,” says Tom.

We’ve been assembling a stellar crew of dedicated professionals that love quality automobiles & are dedicated to protecting their clients’ families and their automotive investments.”

For an appointment for service in warranty or not, call Tom a Potter or Richard Webb at (727) 914-8968. Please tell them you read about them in Paradise NEWS!

Story by Peter Roos

The Palladium Theater

If you love jazz, dance, comedy and culture, check out downtown St. Pete’s award-winning, historic Palladium Theater, home to the main stage Hough Hall and intimate Side Door. Both the Mahaffey and Ruth Eckerd Hall bring acts to this venue in addition to those booked by the Palladium directors under the artistic direction of Paul Wilborn.

Established by a group of arts philanthropists in 1998, The Palladium’s central mission has been to serve all of Tampa Bay as a performing arts center that welcomes everyone and serves the entire community.

In 2007, the Palladium Theater became part of St. Petersburg College. In accepting the property, the College re-committed to the Palladium’s mission of serving all of Tampa Bay, while adding college functions where appropriate. Under the umbrella of St. Petersburg College, the Palladium enjoys support that helps assure the theater’s long-term future as a vital part of the cultural life in Tampa Bay.

With its two venues, the 850-seat Hough Hall, as well as its intimate award-winning 175-seat candlelit listening room, The Side Door, The Palladium fosters artistically and culturally diverse performing arts, educational and film programs that bring artists and audiences together in a first-class professional, affordable setting. Consistently ranked as one of Tampa Bay’s best, most affordable venues for innovative performances and events (classical, jazz, blues, theatre, opera, Celtic, comedy, dance, educational, literary), fundraisers and provides a full-service, affordable rental facility for artists, producers and community organizations.

Giving back is part of the mission. For example, on Feb. 19, Mutts Gone Nuts performance benefits the St. Petersburg Free Clinic. The Palladium nurtures partnerships with established and emerging local artists and cultural organizations that use the theater as a venue and showcases selected programs of St. Petersburg College, giving students opportunities to work intimately with renowned touring professionals as well as with local artists, such as February’s Jazz Festival.

An Artistic History

One of the nation’s oldest and most distinguished builders, the George A. Fuller Construction Company, completed construction of the building in 1925. The company’s namesake building, The Fuller Building was completed in 1902 in New York City – better known today as The Flatiron Building. Other NYC buildings constructed by the company included the Dag Hammarskjöld Library at the United Nations, and Lincoln Center. In Washington, D.C., Fuller built the Supreme Court and Lincoln, as well as the National Cathedral.

The Palladium Theater, now on the National Register of Historic Places, was born in June 1998, when a group of local leaders, headed by Paul Stavros, Bill and Hazel Hough, Mary Wyatt Allen, George Rahdert, and Gus and Frances Stavros, forming The Palladium Theater Inc., took possession of the 73-year-old First Church of Christ, Scientist.  The price, $575,000 covered the building and two parking lots; by today’s prices, the purchase counts as a very good investment. A year after the transfer, the Palladium Theater played host to the Florida Orchestra. It has been presenting music, drama, dance, and virtually every other kind of performance ever since, with an emphasis on showcasing local performers, composers, and writers.

The change from church to theater included some $300,000 of alterations. Seats in the mainstage concert hall, the 850-seat Hough Hall, were removed at the front to allow for a usable stage. The most noticeable changes, however, were the acoustic cloud under the ceiling (that absorbed sound that would otherwise continue upwards into the arched ceiling) and the grid from which the theater’s lighting system is suspended. Other changes included modem sound, light, and electrical systems, a sprinkler system, handicapped access. Installed in the last two years, the concert hall  now boasts a state of the art sound system, making the theater nearly acoustically perfect, The original 1926 Skinner organ remains in the building and is included in selected performances.

The conversion of the downstairs Sunday School room into the Stavros Great Room, a facility still used for meetings, parties, and smaller events, is now the Palladium’s second successful performance venue. The award-wining, 175-seat  “Side Door,” is firmly established as Tampa Bay’s best, most intimate listening room for singer songwriters, jazz, blues, and so much  more.

The hallmarks of the Romanesque Revival style are easy to see. The golden brick Fifth Avenue facade is a little unusual; stucco was much more common. But the terra cotta roof is typical of the style, as are the finely detailed Corinthian capitals that top the limestone pillars across the facade. Climb the front steps and you can see the high vaulted portico and the ceiling’s richly detailed metal chancellors. Inside, you see how well the basilica’s plan works for the Palladium and how well it worked for the church. Aisles flanking the high central space provide efficient circulation and easy access to the theater’s seating.

Most visitors to the Palladium are awed by the exceptionally beautiful tiles created exclusively for and found throughout the building. These tiles were ordered from the workshop of Ernest Batchelder, a renowned artisan who became known worldwide for his arts-and-crafts-style tilework. All of the Palladium’s handcrafted tiles, including the floor tile, were made in Batchelder’s California workrooms and shipped to St. Petersburg.  PN

Upcoming Perfomances:

Visit for more amazing 2017 shows.

February: Laugh your socks off with Upright Citizens’ Brigade (2/17) and get your King on with Chris MacDonald’s Memories of Elvis (2/11).  Laissez le bontemps roulet with Beausoleil (2/18) or get classical on 2/14 with Tampa Bay Symphony or (2/8) with the Palladium Chamber Players.

March: Rock out to The Florida Bjorkestra (3/19) or twist with Chubby Checker & The Wildcats (3/23).  Beatle-lovers will enjoy The McCartney Project (3/16) and sixties fans can get ack with The Yardbirds with Vanilla Fudge (3/5).


If you sign up for Paradise News FREE weekly e-newsletter on the top right of our website, you will be entered into our contest for a pair of tickets for Life on Venus, The Music of Bowie and Bjork (3/19) or The Resurrection of Stevie Ray Vaught: Billy Evanochko (3/30).  

Go to: The Palladium, 253 5th Ave., N, St. Petersburg, 33701; 727-822-3590

Where To Eat & Drink:

Stop by the Hollander Hotel for a pre-theater nosh.

If it’s Thursday, you can enjoy 50% off bottles of wine and a customer appreciation dinner special for $12 that includes soup or salad, entree and a scoop of ice cream after 4pm. Every night is a good time at the alfresco bar and Taproom, where the craft beers flow and the burgers and sandwiches are yummy. Check their website for entertainment, from magic to live music.

The Hollander Hotel, 421 4th Ave. N, St Petersburg, 727.873.7900

Street Parking:

On-street parking between 5th & 7th

Avenues N, from Beach Drive to 2nd Street is designated as Residential Parking Permit zones from 8 am to 8 pm daily with  2-hour parking allowed without a permit.  Permit holders are exempt from the 2-hour parking limit.

Parking Options Convenient to the Palladium:

  • Palladium Lots: Palladium parking is available in the lot across Fifth Avenue from the theater or in the lot adjacent to the theater.
  • Souzou Asian Fusion  (727) 823-4050, 425 Fifth Avenue N., one and a half blocks due west of the Palladium. Ample parking anytime and free valet during restaurant hours for Palladium patrons. Just show your ticket to the Palladium, and enjoy parking at no charge.
  • SP+ Parking  (727) 242-1225 – 350 Third St., N., one block south, then one block west of the Palladium: 350 spaces; garage parking at $1 per hour; payment via debit/credit card; unattended; open 24/7; 20 cameras aid St. Pete staff to monitor security; advance reserved parking available.

Story by Nanette Wiser

Downtown St. Pete’s Most Romantic Restaurants

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, plus there’s almost always something to celebrate; like birthdays, anniversaries… or a “just because” romantic dinner, maybe a second or third date. (Don’t get too romantic on a first date. It’s creepy.)

So, how do we define a romantic dinner? A picnic in the park with wine and cheese can definitely be romantic, but for this list we’re going with the more elegant as most people do when they’re celebrating a special occasion like Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, birthdays, or even Mother’s Day. You might want to bookmark this list for future reference guys (and ladies). That’ll help you to score points with your better half when future romantic dinners are required.

A romantic dinner or restaurant can have different meanings to different people.

What makes a restaurant romantic? Some things could be; warm, low lighting, candle lit tables (fake candles work), pleasant décor, harmonious colors, elegant furnishings, a good wine list, ambience, good view, low background music, and of course, great food and service.

What did we leave out? Raise your hand if you guessed it. If you did get it, you might be a local. What’s the romantic requirement not on the above list?  Low noise or no noise. It’s a fact of life, especially in Downtown St. Pete, that it is nearly impossible to find a good restaurant that doesn’t get noisy when they are busy, and they’re often busy. We had to remove noisiness as a disqualifier or there would only be one or two restaurants on the list.

In case you’re wondering, Valentine’s Day is on a Tuesday this year. All of the restaurants on the list offer outdoor seating, which can still be nice in February.

Rococo Steak:  In a 1920’s manse, this baroque-chic steakhouse serves grass-fed beef, seafood, small plates & wine. A member of our FB group, Lindsey Foss said, “We are big fans of Rococo. They really go out of their way to make you feel special and create a beautiful ambiance.” We’ve found the same to be true. They also do a lot of weddings in their elegant, grand setting, and they are one the only restaurants on the list that we’ve never heard get noisy.

655 2nd Ave. South  (727) 822-0999

IL Ritorno:  IL Ritorno has an intimate setting with rustic brick walls and a view of the new/temporary park across the street. The setting and the amazing food remind us of being in Manhattan. The service is impeccable and you won’t find food like this anywhere else. It’s old country Northern Italian with a modern twist. The wine selection is not huge, but it is unique and high quality. They have some small batch wines from Italy that you can’t get elsewhere.

449 Central Ave., #101  (727) 897-5900

The Birch & Vine: Choice New American kitchen featuring a seasonal menu & cocktails in a modern interior with a patio. In the Birchwood boutique hotel on Beach Drive, the main restaurant is The Birch & Vine. They also have a rooftop lounge called The Canopy that has a smaller menu, drinks and spectacular views of the water, parks and Beach Drive.You could arrive early, start at The Canopy for the daytime views. (You do need to be early for this as the sun sets at 6:21 pm on Valentine’s Day in 2017.) Either way, you can finish the evening with a nightcap at The Canopy with the night time views.

340 Beach Dr. NE (727) 896-1080

Sea Salt: Sea Salt St. Pete is one of the grand anchor tenants of Sun Dial Shops in the heart of Downtown St. Pete. They are an excellent 5-star gourmet restaurant with the freshest fish (most of it local), largest selection of oysters and great steaks with several dishes having unique eclectic twists that us foodies love.

183 2nd Ave. North (727) 873-7964

Brick & Mortar: Rustic-chic nook with seasonal, New American fare, unique wines & craft beers, plus outdoor seating. It’s a little more casual, but quaint with amazing food creations that you’ve never heard of, nor can you get anywhere else. They usually do not take reservations. This is the first Valentine’s Day they are going to be opened, and at press time, they were considering taking reservations just for this day. We will update when the info comes in.

539 Central Ave., (727) 822-6540

Gratzzi Italian Grille: Who knows food and romance like the Italians, eh? Fuhgettaboutit! Gratzzi Italian Grille is a long established favorite right in the heart of Downtown St. Pete. On nights that other restaurants have half of their tables empty, Gratzzi has a wait around the block. They have something for everyone with all the Italian classics covered, to exotic specials like Gambas, (Gigantic Mediterranean Prawns that could beat up a lobster – their lobster dishes are amazing too), Rack of Elk and the Veal Ossobuco is to die for! Mama mia!

211 2nd St. South (727) 623-9037

Parkshore Grill: Refined space for steaks & seafood paired with fine wines served inside or on the sprawling patio. Parkshore Grill is another long-established favorite that was here long before the restaurant boom and still stands tall with excellent cuisine, professional service and an elegant setting in the scenic heart of Beach Drive. Try the Beef Wellington, The Parkshore Filet Mignon & Lobster Tail, Parkshore Salad and the Blue Cheese Stuffed Meatballs. The Parkshore Martini is a favorite as well.

300 Beach Dr. Northeast  (727) 896-9463

Cassis American Brasserie: Not quite as old as Parkshore or Gratzzi, they have evolved nicely over the last 7 years and have really upped their game. Not only do they have excellent cuisine, but a professional staff in the front and back. They bake their own bread and make all of their desserts in-house as well. They are in the heart of Beach Drive with great people watching and beautiful views of the park and Tampa Bay.

170 Beach Dr. Northeast (727) 827-2927

Article by Kevin Godbee •
Photo credit: Barry Lively

Editor’s Note: We asked founder Kevin Godbee if we could share his recent online posting on downtown’s romantic restaurants with Paradise News. Be sure to read our Romantic Interludes which features two of their favorites, The Pearl and Castile.  We are HUGE fans of how he and his partner Lori Brown know EVERYTHING about dining and spirits. Visit and like them on Facebook. – Nanette Wiser

Romantic Interludes

What’s love got to do with it? Everything, especially in February.

Don’t limit romancing your honey to just Valentine’s Day.  Here are some  exceptional restaurants, getaways and ideas for showing them just how much you care.


Many beach and downtown hotels offer special romance packages, some combining dinner and spa pampering. Check out the Don Cesar, The Vinoy, Hollander Hotel, Safety Harbor Resort & Spa, Innisbrook Resort & Spa, Hotel Indigo, Tradewinds Island Grand Resort and Opal Sands.

Just opened is the magnificent Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach where every contemporary guest room faces the ocean or Intracoastal Waterway featuring water-inspired décor and floor-to-ceiling windows with most offering balconies. Guests can dine and imbibe at Doc K’s, the pool bar and grill; eSKPades, the barista and lobby bar; or Ocean Hai, the resort’s signature dining experience and the only Asian Fusion restaurant in Clearwater Beach.

Additional services and amenities include an open-air lobby, a pool overlooking the beach, the full-service Spa Pallavi and a 24-hour fitness center.


Orlando: “Romantic Retreat” at Bohemian Hotel Celebration. Available now through Feb. 19
(407) 566.6000

  • One night in one of our luxurious rooms
  • Romantic turn-down service which includes a bottle of champagne, chocolates and rose petals
  • Breakfast for two to be used in the Lakeside Bar & Grill

St. Augustine: Casa Monica Resort & Spa. Available now through Feb. 19.
(904) 827-1888

  • Luxurious room accommodations
  • Romantic carriage ride for two around the city’s colonial buildings, downtown parks and historic bayfront.
  • Gourmet breakfast for two in Costa Brava (up to $50)
  • Bottle of chilled champagne
  • Chocolate dipped strawberries
  • Beautiful in-room flower arrangement


A romantic meal is half décor/ presentation (you eat with your eyes) and half unforgettable nibbles. Some like to start a meal with aphrodisiac classics (oysters) and end with decadent chocolate desires. Find exceptional raw or charbroiled oysters at The Island Grill & Raw Bar in Tierra Verde.

We love Chill’s and Madfish in St. Pete Beach, Middle grounds in Treasure Island and Salt Rock Grill in Indian Shores. If sushi is your thing, share a special roll at Osaka in Redington and Nori Thai in St. Pete Beach.  For steak and seafood, look no further than 1200 Chophouse and Maritana Grille at the Don CeSar. Go casual at RumFish Grill where a lobster tail dinner, crafted cocktails and the aquarium never fail to amaze.

Want more? Graze on this romantic rendezvous & make reservations NOW!

Aqua Prime: Whether you dine alfresco or in the restaurant, you can enjoy the Valentine’s Day special all week long Feb. 12-18, plus the regular menu. Entrée features include pan-seared wahoo with saffron beurre blanc sauce, ribeye or seared sea scallops and Prince Edward Isle mussels.

213 Gulf Blvd., Indian Rocks Beach 717-330-7724

Castile Restaurant: The love celebration starts early at Castile, the stunning waterfront restaurant in St. Pete Beach, with a  special prix-fixe menu, available Feb. 10 & Feb. 11. Priced at $55 per person (exclusive of tax and gratuity), the special three-course menu, expertly crafted by Executive Chef Nicolas Lebas, will showcase the restaurant’s Mediterranean fare and regional freshest catches. Guests can nibble from a prix fixe or a la carte menu. Enjoy a delectable dinner by the water or inside the romantic dining room, featuring succulent dishes such as Lobster Cream with butter poached lobster medallion and Espelette pepper oil or Fresh Mediterranean Turbot with ovenroasted sunchokes, winter black truffle and Manchego foam.

Valentine’s Day menu items will also be available as specials.  Live Music: On Fri., Feb. 10, lovebirds and guests alike will be serenated by the vibrant sounds of Latin Jazz band A Deeper Shade of Soul. The band will also perform on Tuesday, Valentine’s Day.

360° Rooftop Lounge: Come dance the night away! The gorgeous rooftop lounge with unrivaled views of St. Pete Beach (Sunset Capital of Florida) and enviable sunsets will get the love party started on Saturday, February 11 with live music by the popular rock reggae band Offshore Riot. Love birds (and those looking for love) will also enjoy specialty cocktails.

FYI: Castile Restaurant 360° Rooftop Lounge, 3701 Gulf Blvd. in Kimpton Hotel Zamora in St. Pete Beach. 727-456-8660

Leverock’s: Still serving that amazing clam chowder and creamy dreamy key lime pie,  Leverock’s has been great since 1948. Best of show are the crab cakes, escargot, sashimi, fish spread, mahi mahi and shrimp.

840 Pasadena Ave. S., St. Petersburg 727- 367-4588

O’Bistro: Just about sweetest Sunday brunch in town, especially the eggs benedict and bananas foster crepes.  At dinner, the lump blue crab cakes, seafood crepes, flat iron steak, grilled king salmon and chicken or Greek salad delight.  

6661 Central Ave., St. Petersburg 727-381-1212

The Pearl: Chef Karim’s fine dining menu and friendly staff can’t be beat. With $12 Early Dinner Specials that includes soup or salad and entrée, $5 martini and house wine drink specials from 4 – 6 pm & Full Premium Bar. Experience the Sushi Tuesday (Bar only, 6 pm-8 suggest reservation) and more! Live Flamingo & Latin Music with Yvan Garcia on Friday & Saturday 7 pm.

163 107th Ave., Treasure Island 727-360-9151

Selene: Selene is like dining in the Greek Islands.  Try the quail, branzino, rack of lamb, seared octopus, tuna. Full bar with Happy Hour (4 – 7pm) specials, $4 house wine, wells, craft beers & domestics $3. Gourmet appetizers a bargain at HH ($6-7). Daily specials. Live music on Friday and Saturday.

4945 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach 727-317-2064 or 317-2065

Verducci’s Trattoria & Sea Fire: Have you tried these restaurants for homemade sauces, elegant pasta dishes (best lasagna, clam linguine) and entrees such as the veal piccata, chicken marsala, sautéed seafood and homemade pastas? Even the desserts are made inhouse and the mimosa pizza is out of this world. (béchamel sauce, mozzarella, corn,  speck and goat cheese)  

7736 Blind Pass Rd., St. Pete Beach, 727-363-7900

Villa Gallaci: A classic Italian bistro helmed by the charming Luigi, the seafood, veal and gourmet pastas are to live for.  Fine dining at its best and some of the best Italian wines pair nicely with the delectable dishes.  

109 Gulf Blvd.,Indian Rocks Beach 727-596-0200    PN

By Nanette Wiser