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Leo’s Italian, Biff-Burger to be redeveloped into car washes

Veronica Brezina

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A Woodie's Wash Shack. File photo.

Nostalgic and popular restaurants Biff-Burger and Leo’s Italian Grill are scheduled for demolition, to make way for new car washes. 

Plans filed in the Southwest Florida Water Management District show the Woodie’s Wash Shack franchise plans to redevelop the Palm Harbor Italian restaurant at 33286 U.S. Highway 19 for its 6,000-square-foot car wash. 

Leo’s Italian Restaurant first opened in Dunedin in 1996 and then changed its name to Leo’s Italian Grill in Palm Harbor on Curlew Road. The owners moved to the current 9,339-square-foot restaurant on U.S. Highway 19 in 2012. The restaurant is most notably known for its music, karaoke and pizza. 

Leo’s Italian Restaurant. GoogleMaps.

The Woodie’s Wash Shack that will rise at the site is an express car wash inspired by the woodie car and surf culture of the 1950s, which is reflected in  Woodie’s surf wagon logo. 

The plan to reinvent the sites into Woodie’s Wash Shack is part of the brand’s bigger plans to integrate into the Tampa Bay car wash business scene. 

The company’s website lists over a dozen new locations that will open in Tampa Bay. However, its existing presence in St. Petersburg is anchoring the company’s strategic growth. The Woodie’s Wash Shack at 5601 66th St. N. in St. Petersburg serves as the prototype for the company’s Southeast expansion. Woodie’s is also the official car wash of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. 

Meanwhile, another car wash is expected to be built at the site of the former Biff-Burger at 3939 49th St. N. 

The owners of Biff-Burger, a popular burger and shake restaurant that opened in the 1950s in St. Petersburg, auctioned the restaurant’s equipment and furnishings serval months ago.  

Biff-Burger. Photo by Bill DeYoung.

Public records indicate a developer was intending to file a special exception application to build a car wash; the exact name of the business was not included. A source tied to Woodie’s said he was not aware of Woodie’s seeking that location, and the company’s website does not list the address as a future car wash site. 

Biff-Burger, an acronym for “best in fast food,” last switched hands earlier this year when Justin Basil, manager at Tampa-based Rockwell Investments, purchased the two parcels it sits on in a $1.4 million deal. 

This location is known for its elements of the “classic” Biff-Burger architecture, with an existing original road sign, according to the business description. Adjoined to Biff-Burger is Buffy’s Southern Pit BBQ, which is recognizable by the pink ’57 Chevy on the roof.

The business has faced financial woes in recent years. 

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Avatar

    Gary Johnson

    March 15, 2022at3:03 pm

    Car washes are at every mile or two
    Don’t need so many of them . They are eyesores
    .when they go out or business then the rotting remains will look bad.

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