Ciccio's restaurant in Tampa Palms could reopen sooner than expected
TAMPA PALMS - Ciccio's Lodge in the City Plaza closed nearly two weeks ago, but restaurant owners may reopen at a new location earlier than expected. The Ciccio's Lodge management has been overwhelmed by the show of support it's receiving since the restaurant closed Jan. 5, managing partner Robert Garofano said. "I know first hand what impact we have had on the New Tampa community," Garofano said. "We would like to be back serving the community. We just couldn't come to a meeting of the minds" with the leasing agent. Garofano and his business partners wanted to remain at City Plaza, he said. But they were unable to finalize a deal to make it possible."We were looking for some adjustment in the size of the space or the rent," Garofano said. The leasing agent for City Plaza at Tampa Palms could not be reached for comment. The restaurant has received strong support on its Facebook page since closing. Its managers have launched an intense search to find a new location in Tampa Palms or New Tampa. "It's a very strong community that's very supportive of small independent business owners," Garofano said. In 2009, Garofano and his business partners opened two trendy restaurants, Ciccio's and The Lodge, under one roof at 16023 Tampa Palms Blvd. West. Ciccio's originally operated out of a smaller, adjacent storefront as the well-established Ciccio & Tony's restaurant. The Lodge, an eatery with a large, traditional menu that caters more to families, was owned and operated by the same group that owns Ciccio & Tony's. Both restaurants combined to form Ciccio's Lodge and operated out of a 4,400-square-foot space that included a shared kitchen. When economic conditions in Tampa tumbled, the restaurant's owners decided they needed to downsize in space, Garofano said. "We needed to change the operations to match what we were doing with the South Tampa and St. Pete operations," Garofano said. They are searching for commercial space in 2,400-square-foot to 2,600-square-foot range. Garofano said he is ready to resume what was a successful business in Tampa Palms. "It was emotionally overwhelming to shut down," he said. "It was tough for me and my family. We are looking at every possibility."
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