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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

Seafood Shack interrupting, not selling

Ham Jones is closing his Seafood Shack for two or three weeks but that doesn't mean he's selling the Cortez landmark restaurant, he said Tuesday.

A persistent rumor surfaced again this week among his staff that a sale is "a done deal," and Jones attributed that to a staff meeting a couple of weeks ago. "It's just staff perception," he said. "I told them that we were closing Sept. 7 for cleanup and some restoration, but we'll reopen in early October.

"Now, it's just possible that some people who have been looking at it could make a decision during the shutdown, but there's no indication of it now. Not a thin dime has crossed my palm so far, and none is in sight."

The restaurant's Showboat seagoing dining room/party facility, laid up for several weeks with a broken paddlewheel, will undergo a massive Coast Guard inspection during that time, too.

The big wheel broke while the ship was under way and repairs have been extensive and lengthy. Everything has been reassembled and the vessel will go north to Hendry Boat Works in St. Petersburg in mid-September for the inspection.

It will be subjected to a thorough going-over, including a laser study of the hull, Jones said. "We have a regular Coast Guard inspection every year, and then every 30 months the boat has to pass a really serious inspection. This is the one."

And it's all at Jones's expense, including the salary of the Coast Guard officer heading the inspection.

The marina adjacent to the restaurant will remain open during the hiatus, Jones said.