Pipo's and Skyway Jack's restaurants expanding in St. Petersburg

"We're starting to expand a little out now, we have the Tampa market saturated," explains Hernandez. "We're looking at a place in Brandon that's 2-3 months out, and a place in Lakeland that's about a month from opening."

Opened last week, just a few blocks away, is an outpost of the landmark Skyway Jack's in central St. Pete. Although billed as Skyway Jack's Pancake House (11140 4th St. N., St. Petersburg, 727-576-2900), the menu still sticks faithfully to about 95 percent of the items offered at the mother ship, according to manager Denise Abel, who started as a Jack's waitress 27 years ago. The way she tells it, the place is working out kinks that have nothing to do with the food. "I didn't realize how off the wall we were over there," says Abel. "It's hard to blend that in a regular restaurant setting, but that's what we're trying to do!" After talking to her for even just a few moments, I don't think she'll have any difficulty building some characterful color into the new Skyway Jack's.

Looks like the area on north 4th in St. Petersburg is getting lively, thanks to two Bay area restaurants looking to expand.

Signs have gone up advertising a new location for Pipo's (9939 4th St. N., St. Petersburg, 727-576-PIPO), the Tampa-based Cuban mini-chain. Ramon Hernandez (who splits ownership of the Pipo's locations with his brother), predicts that the spot will be open around the end of the month, depending on the inevitable problems. And that's not all.

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