Leon High School
Class of 1959
First, an excerpt from my "Then and Now Tour Page" created in 2007 ...
CLICK ANY PHOTOGRAPH TO SEE A LARGER VIEW.
Paradise Grille Closing
If the menus above don't work for you, try the text menu at the bottom of the page
... From Leon, I drove on over to the former home of Mutt & Jeff's Drive-in. The location is still a restaurant, but now it's the Paradise Grille.
Mutt & Jeff's Drive-in (THEN)
Paradise Grille on Mutt & Jeff's corner (NOW)
Closeups: Mutt & Jeff's and Paradise Grille
Los Robles' gate - still looks
the same to me
The article on the right was in the 12/29/2010 Tallahassee Democrat.
I'm not a subscriber, so couldn't read it all without paying $2 .... and I'm cheap.
If you're a subscriber, click on the graphic and, if it's still there, you can read the entire article.
Here's a little bit: Owner Fincher Smith, who with Drew McLeod opened the midtown landmark in July 1992 in the former Mutt and Jeff's Drive-In, said the popular restaurant will close as soon as he runs out of food.
Below are a bunch of photos that were included.
CLICK ANY PHOTOGRAPH TO SEE A LARGER VIEW.
Owner Fincher Smith looks out from inside his Paradise Grill & Bar Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2010 at the corner of Meridian and Seventh Streets in Tallahassee, Fla.
Ed Meadows, Scott Carswell, Lee Meadows and John Kerce chat after lunch at Paradise.
Owner Fincher Smith chat with Parky Parkhurst
about his Paradise Grill & Bar .
Jean Gonzalez Wingo enjoys lunch with a friend.
A drawing of Mutt and Jeff's Drive-In, from 1981.
A sign near the street in front of Paradise.
Daily mail delivery has been made to a
largemouth bass mailbox at Paradise.
Long-time customer Ryals Lee
enjoys his lunch at Paradise.
And finally, some words I got from Nancy Wheaton email - she got the article from her sister:
This is a follow-up to yesterday's story.
Paradise Grill & Bar, a Tallahassee landmark for more than 18 years, is closing its doors this week.
Fincher Smith, who opened Paradise with Drew McLeod on July 15, 1992, said he's ready to try something new. He's serving dinner tonight for some of the restaurant's regulars, but is planning to shut down when the kitchen runs out of food.
"I'm too old for this business," the 54-year-old said. "I want to go out on a positive note. Business is good — it's not great, but it's good."
Located at one of the city's most eclectic intersections — where North Meridian and Thomasville roads cross Seventh Avenue — the casual restaurant has deep roots. From 1948 to 1981, the site was home to Mutt & Jeff's Drive-In, a hangout for generations of Florida State and Leon High students.
Caroline Claiborne had perhaps her final lunch at Paradise on Tuesday: two slaw dogs and sweet potato fries. She remembers coming to Mutt's in the late 1950s. "We're going to miss this restaurant," she said. "I stayed here more than I should have growing up. It was a good baby sitter for a lot of parents in Tallahassee."
Smith and McLeod kept Mutt's signature coleslaw-topped barbecue hot dog for the Paradise menu, but added plenty of twists. It is best known for fresh Gulf grouper, served atop a salad or as a sandwich or entree. It was also one of the first local restaurants to feature Jamaica jerk dishes and other Caribbean flavors.
Paradise also enjoys a large back deck and stage, where countless local bands — from Eli to King Cotton — developed a loyal following.
Orin Walker plays guitar with Blacksheep, a classic rock band that was scheduled to play at Paradise on New Year's Eve. He learned earlier this week that the party had been canceled. "I'm surprised and disappointed. They have a lot of regular customers. It's been a great place for the band to play," Walker said. "I feel sorry for everyone that works there."
At its peak, Paradise employed about 20 people. Kenny Bondurant, 32, has been a manager and bartender at Paradise for 13 years. His mother, Gail Mock, had been the general manager. He learned officially on Monday that he will need to find a new job. "I saw it coming, but I'm going to see this to the end," Bondurant said. "With the increase in bars and restaurants in Midtown and going into our slow season, I'm not surprised."
Smith and McLeod also owned Finni's Grill & Bar on St. George Island from 1996 to 2008, when Smith bought out McLeod. They opened Paradise long before Midtown exploded into a dining destination during the past five years.
"Midtown is great," Smith said. "I'm hoping a younger person will want to buy this place and keep it going. I've got an opportunity to get out, so I'm getting out." While Smith is hoping to sell Paradise, his 2009 property taxes are overdue and he owes $11,537.11. He also hasn't paid property taxes for 2010, but that bill isn't due until March 31, 2011.
Deeno Kitchen, a regular at Paradise and Mutt & Jeff's before that, was working his way through a Cuban pork sandwich and fries Tuesday when he was told that this is the restaurant's final week. He remembers stopping by Mutt's after class at Sealey Elementary next door in the fall of 1951. The New York Yankees-New York Giants World Series baseball game was on the radio, and he immediately became a Yankees fan. "Nothing lasts forever, but when you've been born and raised here, some changes take you by surprise," Kitchen said. "I don't know if a new owner would have the same connection to Tallahassee."