Saturday, February 18, 2012

Columbia Restaurant Offers Private Label Spirits

The Columbia, Florida’s oldest restaurant, has created a private label spirits line honoring the 106-year-old restaurant.  Don Casimiro Classic Silver Rum is named for Casimiro Hernandez, Sr., the “Don” of the Hernandez-Gonzmart generations, who left his home in Havana for a new life in Ybor City in 1902 and opened the original restaurant in Ybor City, cigar capital of the world. Chacho Bourbon Whiskey is named for Evelio “Chacho” Hernandez, Casimiro's youngest son, who roasted coffee for the family business for over 55 years.

Chacho Bourbon Whiskey is a small-batch, aged in oak, 121-proof bourbon. Don Casimiro Classic Silver Rum and Chacho Bourbon Whiskey will be served Columbia locations, and sold in their gift shops.

Columbia restaurant is located on Gulf Blvd at the Shoppes of Sand Key

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Dixieland Jazz Classic Weekend

An official document signed by Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard proclaims Nov. 18-20, 2011, to be Suncoast Dixieland Jazz Classic Weekend. The 21st annual Suncoast Dixieland Jazz Classic will runs November 18-20, Sheraton Sand Key Resort, 1160 Gulf Blvd. and Marriott Suites on Sand Key, 1201 Gulf Blvd.  

The annual festival features a mix of classic and contemporary jazz, swing, blues, soul, ragtime and Cajun/Zydeco music. There will be swing dancing, Sunday gospel service, and a post festival mixer. Other events will include a parasol parade, clarinet clambake, banjo and washboard extravaganza, festival divas, piano presentations and jam sessions. This year's festival will be the biggest ever, attendees will have an opportunity to see dozens of bands, with an estimated 130 sets expected to be played by artists such as Barbary Coast Dixieland Band.
The Suncoast Dixieland Jazz Classic is a nonprofit organization providing opportunities for local youth study and perform traditional jazz. Annual scholarships are awarded both independently and in partnership with the Suncoast Jazz Society.

Weekend badges are $100, daily badges for Friday and Sunday are $40. Daily badges for Saturday are $50. For information, call Bette Marnell at 536-0064 or visit

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Columbia Restaurant Grouper Bilbao Recipe

 Indredents for 1 serving:
4 (3-inch) slices potatoes, each about 3/8-inch thick
Oil for deep frying
Columbia Seasoning*
3 slices beefsteak tomatoes, about 1/4-inch thick
1/4 of a large Spanish onion, sliced 1/8-inch thick
8-ounce fresh grouper fillet1 1/2 ounces olive oil
1 1/2 ounces white wine, plus additional for serving
1/2 of a lemon

Heat oven to 400F. Cook potatoes in deep fryer 6 minutes. Layer potatoes in 8-inch cazuela dish (see note) about 3/4-inch from sides. Season to taste with Columbia Seasoning. Layer tomatoes on potatoes. Season with additional Columbia Seasoning. Top with onions. Put grouper on onions. Drizzle with oil and wine. Squeeze lemon juice on top and place remaining lemon half in baking dish. Season to taste with Columbia Seasoning. Bake 20 minutes. Remove from oven, place on plate. Drizzle or spritz with wine.

*Seasoning is sold in gift shops and A cazuela is a clay dish that is safe for the oven, stove top and microwave.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

No Plans Yet For Cabana Club

The Belleview Biltmore was purchased months ago, but there's still no indication of what will become of the property. The new owners aren't rushing to sell or develop the property, and anything is possible - including saving the historic hotel. They are currently analyzing the costs of maintaining the hotel long term while looking for a development partner or buyer. Current plans involve marketing all of the hotel's properties as a package to potential buyers or developers, including the golf club and the Cabana Club on Sand Key.

Questions arose though, after internet real estate listings were found that listed the hotel, golf club and Cabana Club separately. This listings were posted on commercial real estate webiste Loopnet, by Florida Growth Realty. They listed Betsey Lurie as the contact person, and the listings said they were verified on January 11th 2011. The current owner says they know nothing about the listings and do not have immediate plans to sell the properties. The listings have since been changed, removing Florida Growth Realty as broker, and list Betsey Lurie as the broker. As of March 12, her real estate license in inactive.

After some digging, it appears this is not the first time Florida Growth Realty has been involved in questionable property ads. The St Pete Times ran a story last year about the Seminole Mall that referenced a false property advertisement. According to Robert Lurie, broker for Florida Growth Realty, his secretary accidentally posted the property listing on the internet. Other internet complaints were found as well.

Meanwhile, residents are breathing easier for the time being. Some Sand Key residents opposed the previous owner's plan for a beachfront hotel on the Biltmore's Cabana Club property. The current owners do not have any plans to develop the property for now. And there is a glimmer of hope for Belleair residents who fought for preservation of the Belleview Biltmore. The new owners have met with a historic property developer.

Zip Line Proposed For Sand Key Park

Investor Dev Pathik, founder and CEO of Sports Facility Advisory and Clearwater Canopy Tours, wants to build a zip line trail though Sand Key Park. Pathik currently operates zip line tours in Hawaii and now wants to also offer them closer to his Clearwater headquarters. The Hawaii zip line facility is so popular, tours must be booked 5 weeks in advance. The trail would attract worldwide tourists and add tens of thousands of hotel room bookings, according to his proposal.

Zip lines are seats suspended by cables that are attached to very tall towers. The proposed trail would have four or five zip lines and three or four footbridges suspended on telephone poles 35 to 40 feet high. The highest structure would be an entry tower which Pathik hopes to build on a “spoil mound” near the Sheraton Sand Key, with a combined height of 75 feet for the tower and the mound.

While he Pinellas County Parks Advisory Board likes the idea of tree-top level environmental tours of Sand Key Park, Sand Key residents and Clearwater City Council have questions and concerns. Pathik made a presentation Monday to the Clearwater City Council on Monday. It's unknown at this point if the county can move forward with the project without the council's approval. The project might require city building permits and height variances for the towers. The Sand Key Civic Association is meeting with condo associations and planning a town hall meeting on April 4 at the Sand Key Sailing Center.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Beach Walk Benefit Walk This Weekend

The 2nd annual Beach Walk will be Saturday January 22, 2011. Sponsored by Chapel-by-the-Sea and RCS Food Bank, the Beach Walk raises funds and food to RCS Food Bank in Clearwater. Registration for Beach Walk open sat 7:30 a.m. at the Palm Pavilion on Clearwater Beach and the Beach Walk starts at 8:30 a.m, followed by a pancake breakfast. A raffle will be held following the Beach Walk with proceeds going to the RCS Food Bank.

The 2 mile course will go along the beach, turning at the Hyatt and returning along the beach walk and Mandalay ending at Chapel-by-the Sea, with entertainment provided throughout. Participants receive a Beach Walk T-shirt ind items from local merchants. Registration is $12 for adults and $9 for children 6 to 18, breakfast is $.

Participants and supporters are encouraged to bring nonperishable food donations to the Beach Walk. For registration call Shari Maxwell at 446-0430.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Cabana Club and Biltmore Under New Ownership

After months of rumors, it's official- the Belleview Biltmore is now owned by KAWA Development. The investment group consists of brothers Raphael and Daniel Ades, and another partner. The group purchased the mortgage on the property for $8 million, and now control the hotel, as well as the golf course and Cabana Club in Sand Key.

According to Raphael Ades, they will focus first on paying bills and keeping the golf course in operation and later decide what to do with the hotel. Legg Mason (now Latitude Management Real Estate Investors) mortgaged the property for $26.8 million with intentions to restore the hotel.

The future of the property is still unclear. In October, Ades said his group was primarily interested in the golf course and had plans to upgrade the 136-acre golf course. In November, Senior Care Group said it was negotiating with the investors to possibly restore the Biltmore and convert it into an assisted living facility. Ades has recently said they may separate the properties or find another party interested the properties as a whole.

Sand Key News