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New Pass Grill looks like the cleanest bait shop you’ll ever see. Fishing lures, Old Florida prints, oars, nets and flippers adorn the walls.
Longboat Key Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013 5 years ago

Circle update: Sayonara sushi, hello hamburgers

by: Katie Hendrick Community Editor

Attention, diners: The pink quadrant of St. Armands Circle has had some major culinary changes within the past month.

Tokyo Japanese Steakhouse, at 29 N. Blvd. of the Presidents, closed some time the first week of December. Diana Corrigan, executive director of the St. Armands Circle Association, of which the owners were members, first noticed the vacant restaurant on Holiday Night, Dec. 7.

“They never hinted that they were retiring or going out of business,” she said, adding that she has no idea what happened or what type of business will take Tokyo’s place.

Aaron Shaffer, a sales associate at Pepper Palace, three stores down, expressed similar surprise. One morning in December, he found the store’s garbage cans filled with refuse from the restaurant and a 40-inch television sitting on the curb.

The Pepper Palace, which opened Sept. 7, stocks more than 3,000 products, primarily hot sauces, marinades, pickled items, salsas, butters and jellies.

“These are all gourmet items you won’t find at a grocery store,” said owner Shaun Douglas. For indecisive customers, the shop offers more than 200 tester products. Two of the most popular: the “hottest sauce in the universe” and “nasal napalm.” Try either, and your get your photo taken, which plays on a continuous loop in a digital photo frame. 

On the heels of Tokyo’s exodus came a new, but familiar business, six doors down. New Pass Grill, sister to the 84-year-old City Island restaurant of the same name, opened Dec. 28, in China Pavilion’s former location, 19A N. Blvd. of the Presidents.

The menu items — hamburgers, fish and chips, chicken salad and subs made with Boar’s Head meats and cheeses, just to name a few — match the original restaurant’s, as does the bait shop décor. (Think: no-wake signs, straw hats, fishing lures and mounted fish).

The only discernible differences?

“We don’t actually sell bait and we’re not on the water,” said server Sara Perrine.

What the new New Pass Grill loses in waterfront ambience, it makes up for in convenience.

“It’s been a hit with employees on the Circle,” Perrine said, explaining that the restaurant’s fast counter service suits customers dining on a short lunch break. “Good food and reasonable prices don’t hurt, either,” she added. All three attributes should make it a favorite with families, especially during season, Perrine predicts.

“I think they’ve hit a homerun,” she said. “There’s no other venue like this on the Circle.”

Pepper Palace
Address: 23 N. Blvd. of the Presidents
Phone: 552-8397

New Pass Grill
Address: 19A N. Blvd. of the Presidents
Website: newpass
Phone: 388-3119

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