Historic Colonnade Restaurant closes its doors, opens site for new development

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) -– A Tampa Bay area restaurant that opened before World War II is now officially closed.

The Colonnade, a seafood restaurant on Bayshore Boulevard, posted a note on the door Wednesday, informing customers the building and property had been sold. This follows the successful purchase of the property with plans to redevelop the waterfront site. The purchase of the property was a joint venture between Ascentia Development Group and Batson-Cook Development Company.

Tuesday night, April 6th, was the restaurant’s last night of business.

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“We thank the ownership family of the Colonnade for entrusting us with a property where they served the Tampa community for many generations,” said Ascentia Principal Jay Tallman. “We are excited to bring a new project to life along Bayshore Boulevard, and we are confident that what we will propose will set a new standard of excellence for Tampa. We look forward to working with the City of Tampa, neighbors and local leaders as we develop our plans for the property.”

Lois “Mamie” Whiteside and her sons, Richard Jr. and Jack, who were in high school at the time, opened The Colonnade on July 3, 1935. The Colonnade offered a variety of Americana favorites, including hamburgers, fried chicken and a Colonnade original — an Olive in your Coke.  After World War II, the restaurant began serving what it is now famous for — fresh seafood.

The restaurant became a popular hangout for Tampa’s teenagers and over the years the menu evolved, incorporating fresh fish and shellfish.

The restaurant has remained in the Whiteside family for five generations.

colonade 3“The Whiteside family would like to express our deep gratitude to our staff as well as our loyal customers we have served over the past 80 years,” Jack “Smokey” Whiteside and Richard “Dicky” Whiteside said in a statement. “We have been blessed to be part of the city of Tampa and its rich and enduring history. Although the decision to sell was an emotionally difficult one, we felt the time had arrived to move on. We only wish the best to Ascentia and Batson-Cook Development Company in their future endeavors.” Read entire news release here.

The parcel at the southwest corner of W. Julia Street and Bayshore Boulevard is one of the last on Bayshore Boulevard specifically entitled for a high-rise tower.

The proposed project is still in the planning phase, but the partnership is contemplating luxury waterfront condominiums with views of downtown Tampa and Hillsborough Bay.

Based in Sarasota, Ascentia principals have led developments across Florida, including the Tampa Palms neighborhood north of Tampa, the “Beau Ciel” condominium tower in Sarasota and the ultra-luxury “Aria” residential project on Longboat Key. ADG is currently planning a luxury apartment project on Rocky Point and a condominium project in Clearwater, “Elan Island Estates.” Batson-Cook Development Company (BCDC) has partnered with best-in-class developers across the southeast and midwest to deliver successful projects in excess of $2.0B in capital value, in a wide range of asset classes including residential, assisted living facilities, retail and office.

Staff, customers express sadness

Randy, a server at the historic restaurant for 18 years, told News Channel 8 he found out about the closure Wednesday morning, although rumors had been around for a while.

“We had heard rumors, but the rumors had been swirling for years that Colonnade was closing, but they continuously told us that they weren’t closing, that they weren’t selling,” Randy said.

Many people who grew up eating at the Colonnade were saddened to see it close. “I think it’s sad. This is like a landmark here, it really is,” Linda Gleaton said.

The owners plan to donate all of the food and kitchen equipment to Tampa Bay area charities.

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