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Monday, May 21, 2018
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The Palm at WestShore Plaza to close doors

TAMPA — The Palm, a popular meeting place for Tampa's political and business elite, will shut down at WestShore Plaza next Monday, General Manager Mark Colbath said.

The restaurant will maintain its normal hours until it closes on March 24, Colbath said, although it may stay open a bit later to accommodate well-wishers.

Known for its kitschy caricatures of local celebrities, The Palm opened at WestShore Plaza in 2001 and joined a relatively small collection of high-end steakhouses in the West Shore area, including Charley's, Bern's and Shula's. However, the number of upscale steak and seafood houses in that small neck of town has exploded in more recent years, with new players including the Capital Grille, Ocean Prime, Eddie V's, Mitchell's Fish Market and two Brazilian steakhouses, Boizao and Texas de Brazil.

Colbath joked Monday that he'd like to meet the real estate developer who was able to sell land for yet another steakhouse in the West Shore area.

“I want them to sell my house,” he said.

Colbath said he didn't know all the reasons for its pending closure, a decision that came down from the corporate office. However, he said generally that economic conditions were tough and the corporate leadership made a decision to pull back in Tampa.

Aside from brutal competition, The Palm also complained that its location in WestShore Plaza's row of restaurants left it hard to spot amidst other competitors such as Mitchell's Fish Market and Seasons 52. It sued the mall's operator two years ago and asked a judge to force it to remedy the situation.

Mall General Manager Jay Botsch said mall owner Glimcher Realty Trust had a great relationship with The Palm and he's sad to see the restaurant leave. At least five restaurant operators are looking at the spot, Botsch said, and he hopes to have a new tenant there by this summer.

Colbath said The Palm has 46 employees, who will receive severance payments. He said he expects most to find work at other high-end restaurants in the area.

Since news of its pending closure got out, Colbath said he's been fielding calls from patrons who'd like to take home their cartoon caricatures. They got the honor either by accruing enough points on the The Palm's loyalty club, the 837 Club, or after getting an invitation by the general manager.

Alas, most of the caricatures will get painted over, Colbath said. The restaurant has to turn over the space to the landlord in good condition, and it isn't possible to remove them without ripping the plaster off the wall, he said.

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Twitter: @msasso

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