Dining: Middle Grounds Grill Celebrates 10 Years

A decade ago, Treasure Island’s beloved Robbie’s Pancake House transformed into Middle Grounds Grill, a culinary haven for seafood and steak lovers. Superb food, service and cocktails coupled with an elegant, boutique wine list and craft beers, brings locals and visitors flocking to this superb restaurant.

PN caught up with Dan Coover, who proudly said Middle Grounds is still a family affair. His dad, brother Scott and sister-in-law Wendy Coover, even Scott’s son, little Scott, are all involved in the restaurant, although Dad heads out to Montana in spring just after the bi-annual May classic car show at the restaurant.

What’s the secret to their success? “We get the freshest fish possible every day and deliver a dining experience that is like no other, especially with the aquarium that makes you feel like you’re dining under the sea,” says Dan. “We also offer wet-aged steaks, upscale entrees, delicious sauces and unique seasonal dishes in a casual, comfortable atmosphere without the fancy white tablecloths.”

You can get treated like a VIP in a tuxedo or flip-flops. It’s a local hotspot, with nightly light live music seven nights a week during season (including April), a full bar that you can dine at, magnificent martinis, a tempting kids menu, daily happy hour (4:30-7), $12.95 early bird specials (4:30-5:30) and ½ price wine bottles on Wednesday. There’s valet parking and a private banquet room that seats 48 for receptions and parties.

Earlier this year, Middle Grounds refurnished the patio with new tables and chairs making it more of a hip lounge experience where you can drink and eat as well. For Easter and Mother’s Day, the restaurant opens at 3 p.m. and serves the regular menu with a few holiday favorites, such as lamb for Easter.

Seafood rules here. The best fresh fish from here and around the world is delivered daily. Hogfish it sells out quickly. One of the most popular dishes is a three nut-crusted, fresh local, black grouper, served with mango beurre blanc.

On the apps and salad side, big hits are the Key West chowder, grilled Mediterranean octopus salad, fresh smoked mahi fish spread, tangy ginger calamari, coconut almond-crusted shrimp, artichoke gouda dip on toast points and Prince Edward island mussels hand-selected for presentation and delivered live on ice.

For meat lovers, order the 18 oz bone-in cowboy steak topped with gunpowder onion rings, New Zealand lamb shank, stuffed veal scaloppini or herb-crusted pork tenderloin.  Says Dan: “All of our steaks are certified angus beef, wet aged unlike Bern’s that uses a dry aged steak and a totally fabulous flavor.” Get your steak Oscar style with crabmeat, asparagus and hollandaise sauce or served with a lobster tail.

Save room for desserts and after-dinner drinks, especially the deep-fried cheesecake rolled in Rice Krispies, the chocolate lava cake and tangy key lime stack with tuile cookies.

Middle Grounds serves some of the most innovative sauces to pair with their dishes. Right now, the chimichurri and mango habanero sauces have my vote. “The customers drive what dishes stay on the menu,” says Dan proudly. “It becomes a signature dish because they love it so much and tell their friends.”

So if you want to enjoy a little dish of paradise, head over to Middle Grounds Grill. Open at 4:30 daily.
If you get there too early, stop in next door at Coffee Grounds for a cocktail or vanilla cafe latte.

FYI:  Open 4:30 daily.  10925 Gulf Blvd., Treasure Island; 727-360-4253, wwwMiddleGroundsGrill.com

Treasure Island Beach Sign Design Contest

Ahoy artists. The City of Treasure Island is hosting a design competition to create beach signs. The contest is open to everyone ages 10 and older. Help keep beaches healthy and looking good by designing a sign to help promote litter prevention. Finalists will be selected in five categories and have their art featured on one of the City’s new beach information signs.

 Best Overall
 Best Anti-Litter Message
 Best Original
 Best of ages 10 to 14 years old (at the time of submittal)
 Best of ages 15 to 18 year old (at the time of submittal)

Submission Guidelines: Clip and fill out the entry form next to this article. Each entry must be accompanied by a separate entry form.

 The entries must be on a single sheet of 8.5” x 11” paper, landscape.
 Use white, non-glossy paper; do not laminate.
 Any art medium may be used (e.g., colored pencils, crayons, paint); however, computer graphics will not be accepted. Artwork must be hand-drawn.
 Artwork must be flat (e.g., no glued pieces or glitter) and able to be scanned.
 Avoid using brand names in the artwork.
 A description of no more than 75 words must accompany the artwork (space provided on the entry form). Label each entry on the back in pencil (marker bleeds through the artwork)

Artwork should be mailed or delivered to no later than 4 pm March 31. Beach Sign Art Contest, City of Treasure Island – City Hall 120 108th Avenue Treasure Island, FL 33706.

Treasure Island Holiday Happenings

santa-mailboxSanta’s Mailbox  December 1 through December 16, Santa will personally answer letters from all boys and girls who drop off or mail letters to his mailbox located in front of the Treasure Island City Hall at 120 108th Avenue. Santa’s elves remind everyone to have a return address on their letters.
An Afternoon at the North Pole will be held on Saturday, December 17th from 1-3pm at the Treasure Island Community Center, Gulf Boulevard at 106th Avenue. Activities will include a visit from Santa Claus and live holiday shows throughout the afternoon. Enjoy a magical afternoon cookie decorating, making holiday arts & crafts projects, train rides, face painting, and enjoying interactive entertainers. The event is free to the public.                  
 
31st Annual Treasure Island Holiday Lighted Boat Parade and Celebration is scheduled for Sunday, December 11th at The Club at Treasure Island, 400 Treasure Island Causeway. The Holiday Celebration begins at 4:30pm with the Boat Parade leaving the Club at 6:20pm. Bring one unwrapped NEW TOY or provide a cash donation to the “Christmas Toy Shop of Pinellas” or “The Edward’s Family Foundation” to the Recreation Department at City Hall or Treasure Bay on Paradise Boulevard by Friday, December 19th   to receive a family pass to watch the parade from a spectacular vantage point, and participate in the events at the Club.  Live entertainment, a visit by Santa and Mrs. Claus, cash bar and food will be served poolside.  For additional information, please call the Club at (727) 367-4511, ext. 236
 
Recreational Camp for Children ages 5-12 years old will be held from Monday, December 19th through Friday, December 30th from 8:00am to 5:00pm. There will be no camp on Monday, December 26th. Activities will include games, sports, arts & crafts, movies and field trips. Registration is held at the Recreation Department inside City Hall at 120 108th Avenue.  Registration forms are also on-line at www.mytreasureisland..com.  The fee for the camp is $25/day for Treasure Island residents and $30/day for non-residents of Treasure Island (discounted weekly rates are available).
For additional information, please call the Treasure Island Recreation Department at (727) 547-4575, ext 237.

Welcome Diny Jewelers to Treasure Island

Beverly J. Diny is a highly-trained and trusted, experienced fine jeweler who focuses on her client’s particular wants, needs and desires. An innovator with strong interpersonal skills, Beverly has more than 33 years of experience in the fine jewelry business. She and her husband Pete own two Diny’s Jewelers, one in Middleton, Wisconsin and a new one on 107th Ave., just north of Treasure Island’s clock tower.

When I first met Beverly in 1983 when she and Pete opened their first store in Darlington, Wisconsin, a small agricultural city of 2,500 people. When they moved to Stoughton, Wisconsin two years later, I followed them. In need of several appraisals from a jeweler I trusted, we became friends. Our friendship continued as they moved their store to Madison and then finally to Middleton where they have been for 14 years. We have become good family friends! That happens to Beverly a lot.

dinys-jewelers

About 10 years ago I invited Beverly to a girl’s week in St. Petersburg. I kept saying to everyone, “we have got to get to the beach”. Beverly fell in love with the beach and the community that I had been telling her about for years. We parked in the public parking area near the Bilmar and set up in front of Sloppy Joe’s for an afternoon of sun and fun.

She has been returning to the Bilmar 2-4 times a year for vacation ever since 2010. When her store space came up for sale, she had to have it. She obtains, or creates your very own personalized custom jewelry. A diamond expert who travels to Antwerp, Belgium to buy diamonds directly for stock, she takes personal orders. Beverly is dedicated to continuous satisfaction with every individual experience. She constantly invests in continuous training. She uses this knowledge to provide such high quality, delicate care to each customer that they often become long-lasting friends. Call 727.827.7902 or visit Dinys.com, DinysJewelers.com and soon DINYSofFlorida.com.

Diny Jewelers is located at 130 107th Avenue, Treasure Island, In Clock Tower Plaza. 

Story by Janet West 

Treasure Island Women’s Club Raises More than $8K

treasure-islettes-2The Treasure Island’s Women’s Club, the Islettes, raised more than 8K to benefit the community.

On March 12 at the Treasure Island Community Center 250 people attended an Islettes fundraising event that brought in more than 8K. This is one of the largest total the Islettes has brought in during one day in its 60-year history. President Mary Cox was delighted and said it is so gratifying to know that 100 percent of the proceeds will help fund many needed projects. Millie Fant, the Chairman, for the Beautification Committee, together with numerous Islettes members worked tirelessly on the luncheon, raffles, silent auction that included generous donations by local businesses and fashion show provided by Macy’s Department store and modeled by Islettes members.

The Treasure Islettes meet on the fourth Monday at 7 pm of each month from September to May at the Treasure Island Community Center. The Islettes welcomeall women who have an interest in volunteerism for more information contact the Treasure Islettes by email at treasurei2@aol.com or Marian Alton at 727-360-0164.

Bingo runs every Thursday at 6:45 pm and 7:45 pm at the Treasure Island Community Center, One Park Place, Treasure Island (behind Walgreen’s).

treasure-islettes-1

Picture 1: Julian (the former Mayor of Treasure Island) and Chairwoman Millie Fant, take a break from the Islettes fundraising event

Picture 2: Islettes – Marian Rada, Pauline Green and Marian Alton take a break from the festivities

Treasure Islettes Christmas Donations

As the holidays approach, most people think about spending time with family and opening gifts but for others, the holidays can be lonely.  This year the Treasure Islettes decided to give monetary contributions to the non-profit organization Be A Santa to A Senior. A national charity that makes the season happier for and helps provide much-needed items to homebound, financially challenged, lonely seniors in Pinellas county. Additionally, 24 residents at the Florida Sherriff’s Youth Ranch and Villas were given gift certificates to make their Christmas brighter.

treasure-islettes-christmas

Through their extensive fund raising efforts and volunteer service hours, the Treasure Islettes have supported their community and other charitable organizations since their inception in 1955.  Fundraising projects include weekly Thursday night Bingo.  Please join the Islettes Thursday evenings for games.  Early bird games begin at 6:45 pm and regular games at 7:45 pm.  They have a great snack bar, free coffee and cash prizes – so come and spend an evening with the Islettes and support your community.  The games are held at the Treasure Island Community Center located behind Walgreens. For more information about the Bingo games please contact, Marian Cox at 727512-9102.

The Treasure Islettes meet on the fourth Monday evening of each month from September to May at the Treasure Island Community Center. More information about membership can be obtained by calling Marian Alton at 360-0164.

Holiday Happenings in Treasure Island

santa-mailboxSanta’s Mailbox – December 1 through December 18, Santa will personally answer letters from all boys and girls who drop off or mail letters to his mailbox located in front of the Treasure Island City Hall at 120 108th Avenue. Santa’s elves remind everyone to have a return address on their letters.

An Afternoon at the North Pole will be held on Saturday, December 19th from 1-3pm at the Treasure Island Community Center, Gulf Boulevard at 106th Avenue. Activities will include a visit from Santa Claus and live holiday shows throughout the afternoon. Enjoy a magical afternoon cookie decorating, making holiday arts & crafts projects, train rides, face painting, and enjoying interactive entertainers. The event is free to the public.

Celebrate the Season Lighted Boat Parade and Holiday Celebration is scheduled for Saturday, December 19, 2015 at The Club at Treasure Island, 400 Treasure Island Causeway. The Holiday Celebration begins at 4:30pm with the Boat Parade leaving the Club at 6:20pm. Bring one unwrapped NEW TOY or provide a cash donation for “The Edward’s Family Foundation” to the Recreation Department at City Hall or Treasure Bay on Paradise Boulevard by Friday, December 18th to receive a family pass to watch the parade from a spectacular vantage point, and participate in the events at the Club. Live entertainment, a visit by Santa Claus, and complimentary chili, hot dogs, Christmas cake, hot cider and cookies will be served poolside. For additional information, please call the Club at (727) 367-4511, ext. 236.

tiboatparaderoute

Recreational Camp for Children ages 5-12 years old will be held from Monday, December 21st through Friday, January 1st from 8:00am to 5:00pm at the Treasure Island Community Center, Gulf Boulevard at 106th Avenue. There will be no camp on Thursday, December 24; Friday, December 25 and Friday, January 1st. Activities will include games, sports, arts & crafts, movies and field trips. Registration is held at the Recreation Department inside City Hall at 120 108th Avenue. Registration forms are also on-line at www.mytreasureisland..com. The fee for the camp is $25/day for Treasure Island residents and $30/day for non-residents of Treasure Island (discounted weekly rates are available).

For additional information, please call the Treasure Island Recreation Department at (727) 547-4575, ext 237

FINAL WORD by Julian Fant

treasureislandpirateWhen I first arrived in Treasure Island 54 years ago, it was to accept the position of Executive Director of the fledgling Treasure Island Chamber of Commerce on 108th Avenue. The Selection Committee had chosen me for the position due to my experience as Tourism Director of the Chamber in my native St. Augustine. 

On arrival, I was met by the Chamber of Commerce president, the late Richard Slezak. After a tour of the growing resort city, Mr. Slezak stated, “I want you to meet a special individual.” 

We drove to a residence on Paradise Island, and I was introduced to Ida Ortt, who was then President of the Treasure Islettes, a dynamic women’s club, founded by Mrs. Ruth Dowling in 1955. Little did I know at the time that this group had played such an amazing role in so many community projects since their founding, or that they would become an organization in which both my wife and I would become involved, and remain involved to this day! 

After I was elected as Mayor in 1965, I realized just how many wonderful projects, equipment, scholarships, life-saving telemetry, police and fire innovations, beautification, and hundreds of other items too numerous to mention had been provided by the Islettes!  

The Islettes will soon arrive at the unheard of total of ONE MILLION dollars in such contributions to the community. As I learned during 25 years in public office, we are the envy of many other cities in the State, due to this wonderful organization. 

I am proud and honored to be considered an Honorary Treasure Islette and of my Millie who this month celebrates 60 years of being an Islette!   

Julian W. FantMayor (ret.).  Commissioner (ret.)

Exercise Group Supports Local Pet Shelter

ti-jazzercizeThe Treasure Island Jazzercise group kicked their July 6th exercise session up a notch by dedicating the class to the Pet Pal Animal Shelter, a no-kill, non-profit shelter located in St. Petersburg. Class members donated supplies, cash and gift cards – a total value of over $600.00 to benefit the shelter.  Hopefully some dogs and cats will find new homes with class members!

Beside the obvious benefit of regular workouts to maintain a healthier lifestyle, the group has bonded over their combined efforts toward community improvement. Fund raisers for favorite charities are incorporated into their class schedule several times a year. This follows Fitness Instructor Eileen Arsenault’s philosophy that exercise workouts should be both fun and inspiring. She states, “We’re not just improving our heart health, we are increasing our capacity for compassion.  All of this while having an incredible amount of fun!”

Eileen, a certified Jazzercise and Sport Yoga instructor, leads a variety of different types of exercise classes which encompass all levels of ability at four locations, Redington Shores Town Hall, Indian Shores Town Hall, Treasure Island City Hall, and Clearwater Sun Watch on Island Estates. The classes include simple yoga for beginning and moderate exercisers, regular Jazzercise dance mix sessions for moderate to heavier workouts, Jazzercise Strength60 for fat burning with muscle toning, and Jazzercise Personal Touch for weight training and body sculpting. All classes are moderately priced. For more information and to obtain the full class schedule email Eileen at eileen.fitnesssimple@gmail.com or contact her by phone at 727-481-3995.

Treasure Island & Islettes 60th

treasureislandpirateBoth the city of Treasure Island and its dedicated ladies’ auxiliary, the Treasure Islettes, celebrate their 60th anniversary this year. The only major event for the city is free to all “A Very Treasure Island 60th Birthday Party” on Saturday, May 2, kicking off at 4 pm in Treasure Island’s Community Center Park.

The party features legacy musicians who have played Treasure Island venues over the years. No other official events are budgeted, according to Jeff Jensen, City
 Public Information Officer.

Headlining the show at 8 pm is the big-band swing of the 22-piece Tomkats Jazz Orchestra, the Bilmar Beach Resort’s house band for over a decade.

CornFused kicks off the show with their blend of guitar, mandolin, banjo, slide, upright bass and gorgeous vocals, infused with the improvisational elements of jazz to create a sound all their own. Next at 5:30 are Sarasota Slim and his band. A true Florida cracker who plays blues, funk, boogie and slide guitar with heaps of warm Southern charm, he’s as authentic and talented as they come, earning his “Sarasota Slim” nickname from Rock Bottom (with whom he played, in The Jungle Bushmasters and The Cuttaways).

Florida native T.C. Carr, one of the premier harmonica players, and his original American blues and roots band Bolts of Blue, take the stage at 7 pm. T.C. is a familiar performer to many on the Gulf beaches “back in the day” as a founding member of the Mad Beach Band.

The big event is produced by the City of Treasure Island Parks & Recreation Department and is presented by Saunders & Walker, Consumer Justice Attorneys. Food and beverages are available in the Bucky the Pirate Food Court. Concertgoers should bring a lawn blanket or beach chairs, and parking is available for $15 in the parking lots surrounding the Community Center Park.Info: 727-547-4575 ext. 237.