Soul Survivors

The happy return of Atwater's.

Atwater's Cafeteria — the St. Pete gold standard for collard greens, corn bread and chicken — reopened earlier this month after being closed several weeks for remodeling. Improvements include a fresh coat of paint, new floors, central air and heat and renovated bathrooms. Manager Tom Jones, a stepbrother to the Atwater children, assured that customers will find the "same good food," if not better.

Atwater's has won awards for its soul food and Southern cooking, including Best Soul Food in the Planet's 2005 Best of the Bay issue. Opened in 1965 by Elzo Atwater, Sr. and his wife, Mattie, the restaurant moved to its current location, 895 22nd Ave. S., in 1977.

Atwater's is open daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Call 727-239-2781 or 727-823-7018.

Gaga for Granola

The former chef of Mazzaro Coffee & Italian Market has taken on a new project in downtown St. Pete serving "just the things I love to make," said Margaret Guidicessi. She opened Bowl-A-Granola, a cereal bar and café located at 230 Fourth St. N., at the end of November. The focus of the café is, not surprisingly, granola. There's prepackaged granola, a bar where you can make a bowl of it with milk, as well as cakes, muffins, and fresh fruits and juices.

Bowl-A-Granola is open Mon. through Fri., 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Guidicessi also has a booth each week at the downtown Saturday Morning Market. Call 727-251-7137 or visit

New Café Don Jose under construction

A Temple Terrace staple for 30 years, Café Don Jose will have a new home this summer. The local favorite for Spanish fare is moving a few blocks north to 12350 N. 56th St. Construction on the new building began last month, and is scheduled for a July 1 reopening.

Owner Julio Ruiz expects that the restaurant will need to close down for several days just prior to the move so that equipment can be transported from the old locale, but the current location will operate normally until then.

Ruiz, who took over the restaurant in 2001, said high rent and the desire for a better location were the reasons for the move. The new Mediterranean-style building will offer better exposure than its current location in the Sherwood Forest strip mall, he said.

There will be a portico for valet and drop-off, and a clock tower, which Ruiz hopes will eventually become a landmark in Temple Terrace. In addition, the new digs will have more room for customers and waiters, a larger bar and a fireplace in the lounge area.

Ruiz doesn't plan to make any significant changes to the menu. "If it's not broke, don't fix it," he said. For info, visit

Fish Tales to open in Pinellas Park

A second Fish Tales Seafood House has opened at 6769 U.S. 19 N. in Pinellas Park. The new site has a different feel than the original, which is outdoors at the Harborage Marina, 1500 Second St. S., St. Pete. The restaurant, featuring seafood, sandwiches, skillets and salads, is located in the former home of the Hickory Smoke House Bar-B-Q Restaurant, which closed several months ago after 30 years of business.

Famous Dave's to open 10 Bay area locations

Despite the closing of such long-time barbecue favorites as the Hickory House and Roger's Real Pit Bar-B-Q, Minnesota-based Famous Dave's Legendary Pit Bar-B-Que has signed an agreement with JP's Bar-B-Que North, LLC, of Fort Myers, to open 10 franchises in the Tampa Bay area.

Famous Dave's specializes in St. Louis-style pork spareribs, Texas Beef Brisket and all things barbecue. The restaurant currently has branches in 29 states, with the first in Florida opening soon in Fort Myers.

The company is currently in the process of looking at sites in the Bay area. Locations and opening dates will be forthcoming. Visit

In other news...

About 30 people gathered in the auditorium of the St. Pete Main Library on Dec. 7 for an international culinary arts awards ceremony. The vibe was reminiscent of a Christopher Guest movie (think Waiting for Guffman), but as Noreen Kinney herself put it, "you have to start somewhere." Kinney, the self-proclaimed pioneer of New Irish cuisine, regaled the audience with stories of her career as a traveling gourmet.

Kinney conceived of Cordon d'Or Cuisine (Gold Ribbon Cookery for the French-challenged) in 1985, and has spent the last 20 years "spreading the word" of her "Accolade for the 21st Century," she said. But she had not presented the award to anyone until this year, when she handed out 18 glass globes to the big winners of her first annual cookbook and culinary arts contest. Recipients came from as far away as Mexico and California to receive their trophies in categories including Best Recipe, Best Cookbook Cover & Title and Culinary Entrepreneur. The only local winner, Largo's Marty Martindale, won the title for Best Website,

Kinney hopes that her awards will give "recognition to the people behind the scenes. They deserve as much recognition as the restaurants and chefs."

For more information, visit

Know of restaurants opening or closing? Have news of new chefs, new dishes or other culinary gossip? E-mail [email protected].

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