W. Howard Rooks was a regular at Mattison’s Steakhouse at The Plaza. Rooks, a local real-estate investor who bought Town Plaza II, which includes the building where the restaurant once operated, in 2004, liked the steaks and the seafood, along with the dinner and the dancing. Debbie Keeton and Gary Deary were regular performers at the restaurant, and whenever Rooks walked through its doors, Keeton would begin to sing the Roberta Flack tune “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.”
“It was just a lot of fun,” Rooks says with a smile.
Then, in July 2008, Mattison’s owner, Paul Mattison, closed the restaurant with plans to re-open it in October. But, that September, Mattison decided to close the location at 525 Bay Isles Parkway and focus instead on his other three restaurants and catering service. Now, every so often, Rooks gets a call from a friend who wants to know about the restaurant.
“When are you going to do something with that place?” they ask. “We want to go back.”
The answer: Rooks has been trying to find a tenant for nearly two years. When Mattison decided to leave in 2008, Rooks thought he would have little trouble finding a new tenant for the restaurant, which boasts a grand piano, private wine room, bar and fireplace. Then the economy declined further, and the restaurant remained empty. Last year, Rooks thought of opening a catering facility in the building, an idea to which he is still open. But he thinks it would also be a prime location for another steakhouse. Rooks is possibly willing to be a partner in a restaurant venture and says he would be willing to arrange a flexible lease for summers, which are typically slow for Key restaurants.
“One of the main features is it’s good for entertainment, and it could be good for special events,” he said.
The building, which is modeled after the Plaza Hotel, in New York City, still includes most of the artwork that it had when it was occupied by Mattison’s.
“It’s an elegant restaurant just as it is,” Rooks said.
Open for Business
Town Plaza II currently has four operating business and four vacancies.
LHS Enterprises Inc., 30 Ave. of the Flowers, is owned by Larry and Roberta Straff and has operated in its location since 1999. The business sells women’s sportswear to stores.
Nosh-A-Rye, 23 Ave. of the Flowers, opened under the ownership of Barbara Bowman in 2002. The casual, kosher-style restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Pancache Beauty Salon & Spa, 22 Ave. of the Flowers, was purchased by current owner Joanne Nicholson in 2008. The salon offers haircuts, styling and coloring, body treatments, facials and other salon and spa services.
Your Fitness Instructor, 20 Ave. of the Flowers, was opened by Petar Sibinkic in January and offers personal training and fitness instruction.
Currently, Town Plaza II has four vacancies at units 25 (site of the former Mattison’s Culinary Outfitters), 26, 27 and 29.
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