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Wednesday, Apr 25, 2018
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Channelside’s Tinatapas closes, owners plan new concept

Another major restaurant is closing at Channelside Bay Plaza, at least temporarily.

The Tinatapas restaurant closed its doors this week, as co-owners Guy Revelle and Mark Gibson position themselves for a potential takeover of the struggling entertainment complex by new owners.

“We think it’s time to get ready for the site to reinvent itself,” said Revelle, who has operated restaurants in Channelside since it opened in 2001. “If a good, new group gets Channelside, and does what we think should be done, Channelside is getting ready to go on a great run and we want to be part of it.”

For now, the site will remain empty, but Revelle’s plan is to design an upscale “taco lounge,” restaurant with fresh food and hand-made cocktails — almost a cross-breed between a Chipotle and a nightclub. “Something with some high energy,” Revelle said.

Channelside’s well-known struggles continue to linger through this year as litigation over the property has stretched into several years and the property’s fate is now tangled up in a massive bankruptcy case unfolding in Delaware.

At one point, Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik put in a bid to take over the property (as did several other business people), and Vinik has been buying stakes in land around the nearby Forum where his hockey team plays. Revelle said he favors Vinik’s plan, and with more housing under construction in the Channel District, he remains a believer in the area. Though his lease on the Tinatapas property expired, he signed on for another five years, and said he will do a restaurant project there regardless of who ends up in overall control of the property.

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