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Date of Issue: March 16, 2006

Rotten Ralph's celebrates, new lease signed

Rotten Ralph's Waterfront Restaurant at the end of South Bay Boulevard in Anna Maria isn't going anywhere, at least for another two years.

The landmark restaurant signed a two-year lease agreement March 8 with property owner Galati Marine to stay in its current location. Rotten Ralph's recently celebrated its 18th anniversary.

"This calls for a celebration," said owner David Russell, son of founder Ralph Russell. "I can't say how pleased I am with the Galati family and everyone involved in the negotiations."

Russell had originally been told by the Galatis last May that they planned to remodel the facility and would not renew Russell's lease when it expired on July 31, 2005. But Russell and the Galatis reached an agreement to extend the lease until the end of April 2006, allowing Russell time to search for a new location.

The Galatis had indicated Russell would have first chance to bid on a new lease after the restaurant was renovated, but Russell needed to stay in business while the remodeling took place.

He said he had looked at several locations, including the Seafood Shack in Cortez and the Bradenton Beach City Pier, but none were as good as the present site.

"It's a pretty happy day around here," he said. "I'd like to think our regular patrons know where we are, and new visitors to the Island quickly learn of our uniqueness down here at the end of Anna Maria. It's great we're going to be staying at least for two more years."

The restaurant was established by Dave's late father, Ralph Russell, and was known for its trademark "rotten food and service."

Russell said he believes a restaurant has been at the location for at least the past 30 years, if not more.

After a number of owners failed in the location, Ralph and wife Doreen Russell bought the restaurant in 1988 and gave the facility a new name and a fresh outlook. Ralph passed away in October 2004.