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Monday July 28th 2014

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Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

Updates From the Ever-Changing Pensacola Food and Retail Scenes
by Jessica Forbes & Sarah McCartan

SORRY, WE’RE CLOSED

The Spotted Dog
As of Christmas Eve, The Spotted Dog permanently closed its doors on Palafox Street. Owned and operated by mother-daughter duo Sandy and Ashley Dickerson, for the past two-and-a-half years, this flagship downtown pet boutique and bakery had been a hot spot for pets and their owners alike. Along with hosting their own recurring Yappy Hours, they have been involved with community events such as Barktoberfest, and have played a supporting role in promoting a pet-friendly Pensacola. Not to mention, they served as proud hosts for the IN’s first ever pet photo booth event this past summer.

Although the store is no more, The Spotted Dog plans to continue frequenting Palafox Market on Saturdays, so your pup can still go home with a bag full of their deliciously healthy home-baked dog treats. Be sure to follow along with The Spotted Dog on Facebook to know when they will be at the market, and to view a listing of the locales around town that stock your pet’s favorites so they don’t have to go without in The Spotted Dog’s absence. They’ve also alluded to further announcements coming soon via their Facebook page. facebook.com/pages/The-Spotted-Dog/201626243206971

Berry Yogurt
If you are a die-hard fan of fro’ yo, chances are by now you’ve noticed that Berry Yogurt on 9th Avenue has shut its doors. Although Berry Yogurt may be gone, the good news is 32 Degrees Yogurt Bar on Bayou Blvd., and Beach Berry Yogurt on Main St. are both still operational with fro’ yo and toppings a plenty. Plus, longstanding establishments such TCBY’s on both Bayou Boulevard and 9 Mile Road have shifted to the DIY model, so there remains plenty of options for you to get your fro’ yo fix on.

WE’RE ALSO CLOSED (BUT NOT FOR LONG)

Nacho Daddies/Khon’s on Palafox
No more nachos, at least not for now. That’s right. Nacho Daddies, downtown’s Tex-Mex “go to,” quickly and quietly closed its doors just in time for the turn of the New Year. According to social media channels, Nacho Daddies is said to be possibly considering revving back up in the form of a food truck or even a new permanent locale, both yet to be determined.

As for the vacant space itself, it’s undergoing a fast and furious remodel and will soon reopen, this time to serve as home to Southeast Asian cuisine. Hilton Pensacola Beach Gulf Front’s sushi master Chef Dot is stepping out to bring his skills into his own space—one by the name of Khon’s on Palafox. Khon’s will come complete with a sushi bar, Asian tapas and of course, sake. The drink menu is also said to feature 50 beers in the bottle, and five Rogue Beers on tap. Khon’s is set to open March 1. 34 S. Palafox, facebook.com/khonsonpalafox.

Open Water 850/ Beef O’ Brady’s
If you didn’t get to suck down some oysters in the brief time that Open Water 850 was open, it’s a bit too late for that now. Irony or not, Open Water’s enclosed space on Palafox wasn’t especially open, nor was it open for very long. Perhaps it takes a well-established entity to break the cycle of this seemly doomed location? We are about to find out. From Club Ice to oysters, the Palafox space is once again dramatically changing face—this time into a sports bar. Popular chain Beef O’ Brady’s will be giving the location a chance. So if you needed one more place to watch a sports game on the big screen, you’re going to get one. 22 S. Palafox

Jerry’s Cajun/ Shux Oyster Bar
Get ready to shuck and suck. Although this time there was no actual fire involved, the new Al Fresco location of Jerry’s Cajun has closed its doors after ousting the man himself, Jerry Mistretta, amidst what certainly appeared to be another quick-fire happening. And no sooner is the tucked away corner space nestled behind Al Fresco’s air stream trailers set to reopen next month as something else—this time, an oyster bar. Shux Oyster Bar will be bringing ice cold oysters on the half shell, as well as those of the fried variety to Palafox and Main. Plus, there will be a mix of burgers and salads for those who prefer to steer clear of seafood. 501 S. Palafox , eatalfresco.com

WE’RE OPEN

Picasso Jazz Club
Officially opened Nov. 22, 2013, Picasso Jazz Club combines the artistic passions of owners Brad and Ally Hunt. Patrons of the Hunts’ previous business, Pink Picasso Gallery & Studio, will likely recognize Ally’s work in the Jazz Club space, as she applied her artistic eye to decorating the interior of the club. General Manager Rudy Rivas oversees all of the intersecting aspects of the Picasso experience including regular jazz jams and performances by featured musicians. Chef Michael Johnson incorporates locally grown ingredients into a Lunch menu showcasing a range of flavorful soups, salads, and sandwiches, and a dinner menu that includes similar items, as well as a cheese plate and a variety of entrées. So if you haven’t made it in yet, consider stopping by and checking out a venue that allows customers the opportunity to slow down and enjoy a relaxed experience focused on quality flavors and sounds. 19 S. Palafox, picassojazz.com

Norma’s at DUH
Longtime favorite lunch spot Norma’s is back, at an all-new location in DUH Home and Garden’s expanded campus on 9th Avenue. Norma’s has the kitchen during lunch service and Type by Chef Blake Rushing occupies the spot in the evenings. While the IN has mentioned Type previously, we realized that Norma’s new location needs a little time in the limelight too, as it has been a favorite of locals and people in this office for years. At Norma’s during the day, soups and salads—including the signature Champagne Chicken Salad—as well as bread pudding are part of the spread. And given that there is almost always a wait at this happening lunch spot, it gives you the perfect opportunity to go shopping and be inspired by the décor options on display in DUH. 501 N. 9th Ave.

Xiscali Mexican Restaurant
When hometown favorite Hall’s Seafood closed last year, many lauded the passing of a quiet fixture in the restaurant world of Pensacola. The Hall’s building didn’t sit vacant for long; however, with the opening of Xiscali Mexican restaurant on Oct. 26, 2013. Fans of Mexican food who live, work or play in the downtown area can rejoice at the addition of the table-service establishment, complete with a bar serving up margaritas in glass goblets—the best way to enjoy that beverage, of course. Menu items include chile rellenos, shrimp enchiladas, and chimichangas as well as combination platters a plenty. Xiscali (the “X” is pronounced with a “Ch” sound) has décor best described as modern with a twist of Aztec influence, and the clean lines as well as its view of Pensacola Bay distinguish it among other Mexican restaurants in the area. 920 E. Gregory St.

So Gourmet Pensacola
So Gourmet occupies what is literally the top spot on a corner dedicated to culinary experiences. Located above sister store Bodacious Olive, So Gourmet began hosting cooking classes on Dec. 5, 2013, with its teaching kitchen becoming the dedicated instruction area on the corner. Betsy LeGallais of “Sagacity Wellness” and Sue Shattuck of Gourmet Mom’s Inc. partner to offer weekly cooking classes during lunch hour—noon to 1 p.m.—on Tuesdays, covering a different topic each week. Guest chefs and health professionals also offer classes throughout the week, and the “Brain Food” series pairs food with presentations from guest speakers such as UWF’s Rick Harper and professionals from the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC).

And between the kitchen tools, accessories, and ingredients featured at both So Gourmet and Bodacious Olive, this corner of SoGo—the recently coined nickname for the area south of Government Street—offers all the skills and materials to get you chef-ing it up in style. 407 S. Palafox, sogourmetpensacola.com

WE’VE MOVED

Taste of India
If you’ve recently traveled to Taste of India’s previous location at Cervantes Street and panicked at the site of construction—and also haven’t found news of its move on the restaurant’s website or Facebook page—worry no longer. In late 2013, Taste of India relocated from its place in East Pensacola Heights to East Gregory Street. The restaurant’s new spot on the north side of Gregory Street between Richie’s East and McGuire’s puts it just a hop, skip, and a jump from downtown along the thoroughfare of eateries leading to Gulf Breeze and the beach. The newly renovated space is open and stylish, and still features Taste of India’s signature lunch buffet spread of Indian and Pakistani dishes as well as a full menu and table service at both lunch and dinner. 810 E. Gregory St, newtasteofindia.com.

Cactus Flower Café West
In addition to relocating, Cactus Flower Café West, with its move from Gulf Beach Highway to Highway 98 in September 2013, has also significantly expanded, which is good news for fans of the beloved local restaurant. With a reputation for the freshest Mexican food in Pensacola, Cactus Flower Café West continues the Cactus Flower tradition of serving up delicious California-style Mexican cuisine, accommodating both vegetarian and vegan diets with ease. At the Highway 98 location, the café has more than doubled its former seating capacity, which will grow further with the opening of an outdoor seating area in spring.

Like its counterpart on Pensacola Beach, the Westside location also features a full bar and nightly drink specials, and is one in the expanding number of Cactus Flower Cafés throughout the region. Locations in Navarre (opened 2008), Dothan (2011), Gulf Shores (2012), and Pensacola Beach (February 2013), as well as an outlet in Valdosta, Georgia set to open in February 2014, have steadily been exposing the south to one of Pensacola’s favorite eateries. It would be no surprise if the Cactus Flower Café family continues to grow. 6881 Hwy. 98 West, facebook.com/CactusFlowerCafeWest

Urban Objects
In its new location on Palafox, next door to The Leisure Club, Urban Objects continues to showcase some of the freshest modern lighting, furniture, and home décor accessories in town. As of November, Urban Objects became a distinctly stylish stop during Gallery Night, and is providing some of the most ogle-worthy and consistently shiny window displays downtown. But what else would you expect of the local design fan nirvana, which since 1998 has made tastes from its previous locations on 12th and 9th avenues? From tableware to wall sconces, there is something for just about everyone. The new location even features a shop dog, Louie—all the more reason to stop by and say hello. 128 S. Palafox, facebook.com/urbanobjectspensacola

Fiore
It won’t be moving for another month, but we’d be remiss not to note that Fiore will be relocating to downtown in February. Fiore’s specialty is floral design for any occasion, including home, garden, wedding, and other special events. Owner Shannon Pallin reports that the new space on Main Street, just west of Al Fresco, will have a more open floor plan and will accommodate a wide range of new products, as well as classes on topics such as painting, calligraphy, and, of course, all things floral. Fiore is currently securing new vendors weekly, and many of the new products will be items not available elsewhere in Pensacola according to Pallin, including sweet treats from New Orleans-based confectioner Sucré. Currently located at 824 E. Belmont St., Fiore will move to 15 W. Main St. at the end of February 2014. fioreofpensacola.com

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RUMOR HAS IT

Let’s be honest. We all know the rumor mill never sleeps, especially in a small town. That said, since we’ve pretty much heard it all by now, we decided to take the opportunity to satisfy our curiosity, and put to rest some things that have been circulating through the grapevine regarding downtown developments.

The Artisan Space
As construction remains underway at The Artisan building situated at the southeast corner of Palafox and Main streets, certain portions are getting closer to being open to the public, the first being Mainline Art House. The gallery space will be focused on contemporary style, original artwork. Curators are currently working with several local artists and artisans to bring an eclectic group of drawings, paintings and sculptures to the public, with an opening exhibition scheduled for the beginning of February. Additionally, there will be select high-end retail items to complement the works and drive more would-be collectors into the gallery. For updates and a preliminary list of artists, visit mainlinearthouse.com.

As for the remainder of The Artisan’s first floor plaza-level retail spaces are concerned, we’ve certainly been hearing our fair share of whispers and can—gladly—somewhat confirm at least a few things. While the following shop listings are not 100% committed, current prospects include: women’s apparel and accessories, men’s apparel and accessories, a fitness studio, a bookstore, a jewelry store, a furniture and interiors store, and two restaurant food uses for the one story building adjacent to Jackson’s Steakhouse. The lineup is in the process of being finalized within the next 60 days. After securing what has been referred to as the “optimal mix” of tenants and deciding who and what goes where, the hope is to have the tenants open for business in late spring 2014.

V. Paul’s Italian
In the vacant space where Distinctive Kitchens once operated, an ambiguous sign directs individuals to visit the website unveilingsoon.com. While the website hosts construction updates and photos, it has yet to tell the public exactly just what will be unveiling soon. But now, we get to tell you, as our stomachs rumble with excitement just thinking about it: an Italian restaurant by the name of V. Paul’s is in the works to open in the not-too-distant springtime future. Brought to you by Jaco’s Bayfront Bar and Grille owner David Hambrick, and Paul Bruno, this locally operated establishment will include seating for around 200 diners, plus an additional event space doubling the occupancy. Two grand entrances will lead into this dynamic space, which will allow for both open and more intimate dining setups. The restaurant will have an entire glass-front facing Palafox. To sign up for email updates and see photos of the progress, visit unveilingsoon.com.

PNJ Property Plans: Affordable Housing & YMCA
It’s been announced that the Pensacola News Journal space will, in the not too distance future, be turned into housing—affordable housing to be precise (depending on your definition of what’s affordable). As published in the IN’s Jan. 6 “Buzz” column, Quint and Rishy Studer have purchased the PNJ building, which will over time become the site of 350 housing units. Furthermore, rumor has it that part of the property could potentially be the future location of a new downtown YMCA.

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STAYING FRESH

Not only is the new year a prime time to introduce new eateries, it’s a fine time for existing establishments to step up their game to keep their loyal customers on the edge of their seats and draw in even greater crowds. The following are a few local eateries that have made some fresh adjustments and notable changes to their lineups recently.

The Yard
1010 N. 12th Ave.
Between the introduction of “Bingtaco” Tuesdays with opportunities to win tickets to Vinyl Music Hall shows, a revamped menu, and the announcement of a soon-to-be delivery service, this “taco hospital” is continually freshening things up. The Yard’s newly launched everyday menu includes a lineup of burritos, action-packed quesadillas and tacos, and even a lush, Abita-infused appetizer — Drunken Spicy Black Bean Dip with Andy Gator. Not only has the Yard kept ample vegan options on their new and improved menu, they have branched out further into the caveman world offering Paleo Wednesday specials fresh off the grill. Although still referred to as an unsolved mystery, expect more details on their future delivery service to be announced soon. For ongoing entertainment and a look at the new menu, follow along at Facebook.com/easthillyard.

Constant Coffee & Tea
615 Scenic Hwy.
If you haven’t yet stopped by the recently opened Constant Coffee and Tea to indulge in a signature beverage and sweet treat from the pastry case, you now have yet another reason. Not only has Constant Coffee & Tea already expanded their one of a kind beverage menu, there is now another palate-pleasing appeal — light lunches. Constant Coffee & Tea has teamed up with The Magnolia chef, Kiley Bolster, and is now incorporating lunch into their daily operations. Preliminary lunch offerings have included hummus, chickpea and chicken salads, with more options being added. Peek at photos of latte art and the growing lunch selections at Facebook.com/Constantcoffeeandtea.

The Leisure Club
126 S. Palafox
The Leisure Club is taking a new approach to weeknight dinners beginning immediately, thanks to the addition of a “grab-and-go” cooler case. In addition to sipping on wine or a beverage from the coffee bar, as an alternative to their traditional dinner setup, weeknight evening patrons will be able to select from a stocked case of TLC signature items. Selections range from pimento cheese and parfaits to newly added dinner menu items like sesame chicken salad with cilantro and jalapenos, and of course, desserts. Although the grab-and-go cooler is a different approach to weeknight dinners at TLC, it offers a versatile experience and provides the opportunity to take a little something with you on the run or sit down, stay and enjoy the ambiance, and on certain evenings — live entertainment. Meanwhile TLC’s breakfast, lunch, weekend and brunch setups will remain the same. To keep up with daily specials, visit facebook.com/theleisureclub.

Staying Alive: The Elbow Room
2213 W. Cervantes St.
As 2013 came to a close, the IN happily dispelled the rumor that The Elbow Room would be closing. In case you missed the memo, this half-century old establishment is not going anywhere. Not now, and hopefully not ever. Instead it is being transferred into good hands — new management dedicated to keeping the nostalgia alive, while welcoming inviting enhancements. The IN sat down with said management and will be eager to divulge a few discoveries in the near future. In the meantime, now is a prime time to return to this Westside staple for signature grub, games and drinks.