The Getaway, the popular waterfront tiki bar and restaurant on Gandy Boulevard, is going to expand in 2019. Sometime.
Six weeks ago co-owners Dave Burton, Scott Tashkin and Karina Tashkin bought the long-shuttered seafood market next door, a 3,543-square-foot building, for $1.2 million.
“We weren’t really that interested in it, originally,” said Burton, whose company, Burton Holdings, owns several restaurants in Tampa (Burton and the Tashkins are also partners in the twin Getaway, in St. Pete’s Skyway Marina District). The property – with a floating dock and a small, dilapidated tiki bar out back – had gone into foreclosure, and was sold at auction.
For Burton and his partners, the opportunity to almost double their footprint – they now own more than two-and-a-half acres of lucrative waterfront – was just too tempting. “There’s so many things we could do with this property,” Burton said. “What we’re leaning towards is just an expansion of our current Getaway setup, rather than do a completely separate concept.”
Penciled in for now are an expanded kitchen, more bars, maybe private event spaces, maybe room for live music, certainly more boat parking.
For now, it’s just brainstorming. “We’re in the peak of our busy season,” Burton, 41, said. “When summer slows down, we’ll take pen to paper and sort out what specifically we want to do. Our gut is telling us to tear down the building and start over with a blank canvas. We’ll use it for a while for additional parking, then figure out what we want to do, structure-wise.”
The Skyway Marina District location opened in the summer of 2018. Like the Gandy Getaway, it features a beachy, laid-back outdoor atmosphere; it’s adjacent to the boat docks at Maximo Marina.
The new place, Burton confesses, was not a slam-dunk. “We struggled a little bit finding the right team, getting the right staff in place … then there was the red tide scare, that probably didn’t help drum up business. Now here it is April, we finally had a few good weeks of peak season. Things are getting better over there. February and March were very, very promising.
“I always tell people it takes a good six months for a restaurant to find its footing. Over there, it might have been more of a struggle because there’s a dynamic to that market we maybe didn’t understand as well as we should have. It’s a different customer base. It’s older, it’s a little bit more tourist. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just that the expectations are different.”
Next on the menu for Burton Holdings is the grand opening of the Gen X Tavern, an ‘80s and ‘90s themed bar and restaurant in downtown Tampa. It’ll join his other Hillsborough properties, Flock and Stock, the Tampa Pizza Co., So Fresh and Holy Hog BBQ.
Gen X, expected to open by the end of April, will be based around pop culture – music and movies, mostly. “It’s important to me to walk the fine line between making people feel nostalgic and going cheesy,” Burton explained.
“I didn’t want to go the Hard Rock or Planet Hollywood. I just wanted people to feel comfortable with the décor, think ‘Oh wow, that’s cool’ and start feeling nostalgic.”
He’s been having fun coming up with snappy names for the tavern’s specialty cocktails and food items.
Running a restaurant – never mind seven of them – can be overwhelming. “There’s a lot to it,” Burton said. “My dad was in the restaurant business as well, and I remember him telling me “When you’re running restaurants, you make more decisions in a four-to-six hour shift than most people make in a week.’
“But I really enjoy it. It fits my personality. I like people, I like talking to people and getting to know their stories … what better way to do that than sharing a meal with somebody?’”