I have to admit that I love spice, whether it be the delicate blend of a good curry, the robust laugh of someone thoroughly enjoying the moment, or anything that adds interest to life in general. There is nothing like character, diversity, originality, ZEST! What a bore life would be if we were all the same. It saddens me that America is morphing into a generic country. Strip malls, chain restaurants, budget retailers...BLAAAAAAAAAA
What I absolutely love about Tarpon Avenue, and the Sponge Docks, is that somehow this area has been unaffected by all of that. The rich history of the working sponge and shrimp industry is still apparent, original buildings are still standing, and many family owned businesses are still in operation, some in their 100th year! Time stood still here, and I can tell you, that I like it. There is something comforting in familiarity and routine. I enjoy watching Tarpon Avenue come to life each morning. The locals pass by with their daily meat and groceries from Acropolis Meats & Deli, Scooter Guy buzzes up for his daily caffeine fix at Undergrounds Coffee House, and the same guys are sitting in front of Toula's Trailside Cafe each morning, reminiscing about old times or just getting away from the wife.
There is more to Tarpon Ave. than meets the eye, and one only has to explore the shops and restaurants here to realize that. Yesterday I was chatting with Manny, from Red Rose Antiques, and was surprised to learn that he spent 45 years working in the Garment District in New York City designing gowns & wedding dresses. Manny not only sells antiques at his shop, but does alterations and dress designing, as well!
Wouldn't this beautiful tea set from Red Rose Antiques make a wonderful Mother's Day gift?
Artist's Faire Art Gallery & Gifts is home to 25 local artists, and also houses the Chamber Of Commerce.
I was quite taken with this original painting titled "Wild Parakeet" by Heather Risley.
Feeling Bookish? Back In The Day Books is a great escape from the hustle and bustle of some of the large book retailers.
"While the focus of the store is selling books which are collectible, rare, out of print, fine
bindings, etc., we have plenty of affordable books for the everyday reader. We have
worked hard to recreate the atmosphere of the bookstores of yesteryear. With all of the
changes in the bookworld we like to think that we are carrying on a tradition by allowing
the browsing of actual books in a brick and mortar bookstore (we even have an exposed
brick wall). We hope to become a destination for the travelling bibliophile." The owner
and operator of the store, Boe Rushing, has been dealing in books full time since 2001,
after practicing law in Florida for eight years. Cozy up on the large leather couch
surrounded by wood, brick, and books, glorious books!
If food is your fancy, Tarpon Ave. has some of the best dining that I have experienced not only locally, but can honestly say I've had meals here that top anything that I've eaten in fine restaurants in Chicago, Scottsdale, or Boston. Currents for fine dining and Manolo's Bistro are open evenings and reservations are suggested. Zante Cafe is open for lunch and dinner, and not only has excellent Cajun and Mediterranean food, but has one of the most unique decors I've ever experienced. A must see! Toula's Trailside Cafe and Danny K's Alley Cafe are open for breakfast and lunch. I have read that Danny K's Rueben On Rye is to die for, and I have died and gone to heaven eating Toula's blueberry, cream cheese french toast.
Menzer's Antiques is home to artist Melissa Menzer, who takes everyday objects and turns them into works of art.
Tarpon Antiques & More has many beautiful lamps, statuary, ceramics and glassware.
Tarapani's Department Store sells fine art & antiques, has been in operation for four generations, and is in it's 100th year.
Robert Held Glass featured at Tarapani's.
Tarpon Ave. has the largest selection of antiques in our area, and many of the shops specialize in one thing or another, which makes for really interesting shopping.
Antiques Forever specializes in signed Navajo and oriental pieces. Carters Antiques has a huge selection of fine jewelry and better quality costume jewelry. Court Of Two Sisters has an upstair area full of consignment furniture. Finders Keepers Sells ladies fashions and accessories as well as antiques. Unique Designs Salon not only does hair, but has an eclectic mix of antiques, and everything for every taste and every budget. Faklis Department Store sells shoes, luggage, does shoe repair and offers orthopedic services. Judy at Global Folk Art has baubles and beads from around the world, offers printing services, and sells for others on Ebay.
Whew, and that's not all. Tarpon Ave. has a barber, three hairdressers, a real estate office, an insurance agent, Suntrust Bank, a bicycle shop, Tranquil Hues Boho Boutique, Tarpon Springs Historical Society (free admission), nightclubs with great live music, a glass blowing studio about to open as well as an artist's co-op.
Last but not least we are very excited that we have a new tavern opening soon! Tarpon Tavern, opening June 2012, is an old world craft beer tap house and wine bar located on the Pinellas Trail one half block north of Tarpon Avenue. Great food and live entertainment inside, as well as outside in the cobblestone courtyard.
In his most recent Sundance catalogue, Robert Redford writes: ""The key to our future may lie in our past. This can apply to today more than ever as we lose more and more remnants of past times in America that are erased by globalization, real estate development, and the corporate and industrial push for more growth. These staples of early American life: the local post office, the general store, and mom & pop landmarks are now mostly memories."
Let's all support our local businesses, and keep the jewel that is Tarpon Springs thriving for many years to come.