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New P.J.’s pays homage to old location
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P.J.’s Oyster Bar moved from 500 First St. to 415 Second St. and has reopened for business.
INDIAN ROCKS BEACH – The owners of P.J.’s Oyster Bar are blending the legacy of their old location into the look of their new restaurant at 415 Second St. in Indian Rocks Beach.

The artists are about 90 percent done with their painting on the exterior of the restaurant, which is now open. Renovations began about a year ago, said co-owner Steve Palmer.

“We are doing a tribute to the old P.J.’s building. Kind of paying homage to the 30 years over there.” Palmer said.

The Vitale Brothers of St. Petersburg, who have painted numerous signs and murals on businesses, are re-creating a picture of P.J.’s former building and parking lot, which was at 500 First St.

“When you look at this building, it’s going to look like the old P.J.’s,” Palmer said.

The Palmers, Steve and Rebecca, decided to move their restaurant to the building across the street to accommodate their customers.

“To be honest, we had so many requests for people to sit outside, listen to music and have dinner outside – we didn’t have any place to offer that over there,” he said. “We got so big, too many people. We needed a bigger place,” said Palmer.

Also, the Palmers believe the rent at the old location, $12,000 a month, was too steep. They own the new restaurant’s building, which is about 100 square feet larger than the old building and sits on two square acres. The new restaurant has 195 seats inside and 75 extra seats for outside dining. A new feature is a patio and tiki bar.

The building had been a bank, which presented some challenges.

“We had a big 25-foot steel vault in the middle of it. We had to deal with that because we couldn’t move it. So we had to work around that. We built a restaurant around the vault. We decided to make the vault a video game room for the kids,” Palmer said. “I have a T.V. monitor outside in the restaurant so the parents can watch their kids playing the games.”

The kitchen also is larger, making life easier for the seven employees who have been “operating in a shoebox for 30 years,” Palmer said.

“This new kitchen is just mammoth. It looks like the Queen Mary, and its stainless steel top to the bottom, from wall to wall,” Palmer said.

Statues of the Blue Brothers greeted patrons in front of the old P.J.’s for about five years. Now they are embedded in concrete and “not going anywhere,” Palmer said.

“Everybody likes to get out there and take their pictures with the P.J.’s sign behind them,” Palmer said.

The Palmers have owned the restaurant for seven years. Rebecca has been a long-time employee, “since day one,” Steve said.

“That’s why they (previous owners) sold it to us because they knew we wouldn’t get rid of anybody, and they knew we would keep everything the same. And we did. All we did was clean it up,” Steve said.

So P.J.’s likely will continue to be an Indian Rocks Beach institution for years to come.

“It’s going to be 25 to 30 years. I don’t know if I’ll last that long, but I hope it does,” Steve said.
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