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La Floridiana by Will Moriaty
   Now in our ninth calendar year
    PCR #437  (Vol. 9, No. 32)  This edition is for the week of August 4--10, 2008.

The Chattaway -- A Florida Phenomenon!  by William Moriaty
"Pineapple Express"  by Mike Smith
Kiddie Matinee Memories – Part 1  by ED Tucker
DVD Grindhouse: "The Vampire's Coffin" (1958) by Andy Lalino
Mr. Bungle: California  by Bobby Tyler & Jake Tipton
I'll Take 'Trivia, TV and TV Trivia' For A Thousand, Please, Alex by Lisa Ciurro
From Green & Gold To Green & White .... NFL: No Fun League .... King James To Europe? .... Madden 09 Releases .... Favre Sets Another Record Without Playing .... Rays On Fire  by Chris Munger
Really, This Song Sucks! .... Movie Notes .... Passing On .... Viva Las Vegas! .... Welcome Aboard .... And The Oscar For 1980 Should Have Gone To...  by Mike Smith
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The Chattaway -- A Florida Phenomenon!

If you're looking for a restaurant that has all the bohemian ambiance of Key West or Coconut Grove, but you can't afford the time or money to drive down there, or...

If you're looking for juicy, delicious hamburgers that are reasonably priced...

Then look no further! For in the Tampa Bay area there is a culinary treasure than incorporates both of these elements! It is called the Chattaway and is located at 358 22nd Avenue South on the southeast corner of 4th Street South and 22nd Avenue South in St. Petersburg.

From Tampa, take I-275 south to the 22nd Avenue South interchange and turn left, heading east. From the south, take I-275 to the 26th Avenue South interchange, turn right, but immediately get into the far left turn lane at the 31st Street South intersection. Head north on 31st Street South getting into the right lane and take a right onto 22nd Avenue South. Stay on 22nd Avenue South heading east. As you approach 4th Street South, get into the left lane as the right lane will become a Right Turn Only lane at 4th Street South. Pass over 4th Street South and pull into the first driveway on your right which is the parking area for the Chattaway restaurant.

A Diamond Anniversary
Although the Chattaway occupies a building that was originally constructed as a grocery store in 1922, its beginnings go back to 1933 when the Chattaway Drive-In was born! For years the Chattaway was a destination for hungry travelers either going to or leaving from the Bee Line Ferry that operated at the end of 4th Street South transporting passengers across Tampa Bay between Pinellas and Manatee Counties before the advent of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge (see PCR #170).

In 1951 the restaurant's famous "Chattaburger" was born and is the star feature on the menu that continues to delight the palette and senses of its patrons to this very day. The Chattaway has a staff of approximately 20 employees. One of them, Bonnie Morris, had by the year 2005 worked for the establishment an astonishing 55 years! Be sure to bring cash as it is one of the few and rare cash-only restaurants left. I assure though, you won't go away hungry or disappointed.

A Magical Place
Once you enter the premise from beneath a vine covered archway that also serves as a bridge over a flowing man-made stream, the magic of Chattaway starts to grab you. The outside perimeter at the parking lot is lined with claw foot tubs artistically painted and planted with tropical flowering shrubs and vines, while there is a waterfall that leads to a blue pebble "beach" inside the restaurant that features yellow rubber duckies, pink flamingos, and a wooden alligator. The outdoor patio is largely shaded beneath tropical trees, giving a Key West feel similar to Kelly's Restaurant (See PCR 197). Everywhere you look is a tribute to a colorful tropical feel infused with a wonderfully individualistic artistry and sense of place and history so sadly lacking from America's corporate fast food joints bent on mono culturing for the masses.

As colorful wild parakeets fly overhead and nest in the abundant foliage, enjoy the great taste of the Chattaburger along with a big gulp of refreshing raspberry tea. For the health conscious there are salads and lighter fare as well.

So for a laid back remnant of what Old Florida was like before the modern day hustle and bustle, and for a memorable dining experience that won't cost big bucks, you owe it to yourself to visit the Chattaway in St. Petersburg where a sign of the building says "It Only Looks Expensive!"

The sign for the Chattaway facing 4th Street South in St. Petersburg. The Chattaway celebrates its 75th Anniversary as a restaurant this year!This bas-relief of a flamingo on the front of the building is but a prelude of the other kitschy treasures to be found along and amongst the restaurant's outside patio.
The sign proclaiming "It Only Looks Expensive" as one approaches the parking lot.The vine-covered arched bridge leading into the Chattaway's outside patio area.
Framed by a Frangiapani (Plumeria rubra) in the foreground is the water fall that serves as the headwaters to the stream under the arched bridge.Most streams lead to the ocean and this one is no different as evidenced by this wary swimmer in a blue pebble beach populated with a gator, dolphins, pink flamingos, beach sand and other Florida icons (notice the pink claw foot tubs in the back ground)
Sign, sign, everywhere a sign, and the Chattaway is no exception. The street sign declares this to be "Jillian's Place" while the remain two signs declare that "THIS ISN'T A GARDEN It's a Botanical Masterpiece" and "Unattended children will be given an espresso and a free puppy".Underscoring its tropical feel is this native tree of the Florida Keys and the Bahamas, the Geiger Tree (Cordia sebestena) seen in its glorious Halloween orange bloom in the parking lot of the Chattaway.

"La Floridiana" is ©2008 by William Moriaty.  Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2008 by Nolan B. Canova.