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FISHBONES RESTAURANT OWNER HOPING TO REEL IN CUSTOMERS
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FISHBONES RESTAURANT OWNER HOPING TO REEL IN CUSTOMERS

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Neil Reitzel was visiting a friend of his in Baltimore last year when he saw the salty, old bait and tackle shop that inspired him to name his new restaurant.

That's how Fishbones Restaurant got its name. Scheduled to open in early September, the smoke-free eatery is at 2119 Walker Ave., Greensboro, next to The Blind Tiger bar that Reitzel co-owns with partner Scott Tobin.Fishbones, which is owned solely by Reitzel, will serve fresh, steamed seafood, soups and chowders and hamburgers for less seafaring souls.

To Reitzel, the name of the place was crucial for setting the right tone. Fishbones strikes just the right chord.

``It does sound very casual,' Reitzel says. ``I don't want it to be the least bit pretentious. The place will look very nice, but I want people to feel very casual.'

A Greensboro native, Reitzel has had his eye on Walker Avenue for a long time. He shopped on the homey strip in the 1970s; in high school, he dated a girl who lived just two blocks off the street.

He and Tobin opened the Blind Tiger in 1988. They later opened the Smokin' Dog take-out restaurant around the corner on Elam Avenue; it has closed.

When the building next to The Blind Tiger recently came open, Reitzel decided it was the best place for him to try another restaurant.

``I've had the bar for that long and was looking to do something else,' Reitzel says. ``There are enough people in the neighborhood who come down to existing restaurants and bars to come here. More and more people are moving in here, young people.'

A seascape mural painted by the owner's brother, Charlotte artist Terry Reitzel, will be part of the restaurant's decor.

The Fishbones menu will include items such as fish tacos, tuna rolls, clam chowder, oyster stew, Maryland crab soup and lots of steamed shell fish. Prices will range from $5 to $15. The restaurant will seat about 40 people.

Friends of Reitzel's employed at other restaurants have helped him develop the menu, and some are coming to work for him in the front and kitchen areas.

Reitzel says he won't employ a chef, per se, but will have experienced help preparing food.

Reitzel expects Fishbones' hours to be 4 to 11 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 4 to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday, with a limited menu from 11 p.m. to closing; and 4 to 11 p.m. Sunday. The restaurant will be closed on Mondays.

Pizza Hut opening

The Pizza Hut Restaurant that has been on its way to Greensboro's East Market Street corridor for more than a year is set to open this fall.

Pizza Hut franchise owner Gil Bland of Tycorp Pizza in Norfolk, Va., says he plans to open the restaurant in six to eight weeks in the East Market Square Shopping Center.

Located across the street from the N.C. A&T campus, the new Pizza Hut will be in a familiar building: the old Parker Brothers Restaurant. Bland says the restaurant hopes to give more dining options to residents in the corridor and to employ area students. He plans to make home deliveries to an area currently not served by Pizza Hut delivery service.

Bland's company has been paying rent on the vacant building for nearly two years and is anxious to get operations going. He says he's excited about being part of the revitalization of the East Market Street corridor, which has been undergoing improvements for the past four years.

``The proximity and walking distance to the students was a factor for us,' Bland says. ``I believe we know the area well, and the student population in terms of customers is exciting. To be that close to a university of that stature is terribly exciting.'

Navelli's

Navelli's Italian Chop House and Seafood Grille is scheduled to open this fall in North Elm Village at Pisgah Church Road and North Elm Street, Greensboro.

The upscale Italian restaurant should be open by mid-October. It will be located in a 5,000-square-foot space that used to house the Mr. Wonton restaurant.

After the Greensboro opening, local owners Steve Willen and Kevin Ronsivalle plan to open another Navelli's in High Point next year. The first Navelli's opened in Blowing Rock 3 years ago.

Sunset Cafe close

After more than two decades in business, the sun has gone down on Sunset Cafe. The once-popular restaurant with the ample vegetarian selections has gone out of business.

Located at 4608 W. Market St., Greensboro, the 24-year-old restaurant closed 2 weeks ago after the real estate company that leases the building evicted the owner.

``We shut them down,' said Dan Pierce, an agent with the Bissell Co. ``If you want to do business, you have to pay your rent.'

Sharokh Sabrdaran and partner Mahmoud Sarmeidani bought Sunset Cafe from former owners Aliza Gotlib and Rene Hendrix in 1998. Gotlib founded Sunset in 1976.

In the 1980s, Sunset moved from its original location on Spring Garden Street to the West Market Street building, which has been used as a restaurant for more than 40 years, Pierce says.

The landlords would like to maintain the building as a restaurant, so anyone with the ability to pay the $4,200-a-month rent should contact Pierce at Bissell.

Taste 2000 final tally

The tally is finally in on Taste 2000, the big restaurant sampling bash that benefits select local nonprofit organizations.

This year's recipient was the emerging Triad Stage, the proposed 300-seat regional theater that plans to open in fall 2001 on South Elm Street.

Taste 2000 donated $23,000, the bulk of its proceeds, to Triad Stage.

It was the most money raised in the four years of doing the event, coordinator Michelle Bolick says.

Rich Whittington, managing director of Triad Stage, says the donation has helped boost his organization past its halfway point: to $2.35 million of its $4.5 million goal.

``When we asked to be considered one of their beneficiaries, we were only at $500,000 in our campaign,' Whittington says. ``Their support has helped put the spotlight on our project. This group stood up and endorsed our project and said it was important to the community.'

The May 4 Taste 2000 featured 24 different restaurants and vendors.

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