Jul 28, 2014
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East Bay Family Restaurant Unites Generations

The homestyle eatery on East Bay Drive employs many of owner Al Likmeta's 13 children.

East Bay Family Restaurant Unites Generations East Bay Family Restaurant Unites Generations East Bay Family Restaurant Unites Generations East Bay Family Restaurant Unites Generations East Bay Family Restaurant Unites Generations East Bay Family Restaurant Unites Generations East Bay Family Restaurant Unites Generations East Bay Family Restaurant Unites Generations

 

Sometimes business names don't give you any clue what the business is about. With , no one will ever have that problem.

The family-owned eatery, which opened in late August in a small strip mall on East Bay Drive, specializes in fresh, homemade meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

And chances are no matter which meal you order, it will have been bought, prepared and served by a member of the Likmeta family.

"We have 13 children, ages 21 to 41. There is usually four, five, six of them here at any given time," patriarch Al Likmeta said on a recent afternoon.

"I still have to take care of everything, and sometimes I have to put them in their place, but it's good," he said.

The large Albanian family — Likmeta has 20 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren — has always been tight-knit, going back to its days in New York. After moving to Florida, the family transferred that togetherness to the restaurant business.

Likmeta used to own the Athens Grill on South Myrtle Avenue in Clearwater, and most of his kids worked there. But he got out the business 18 years ago because of health issues.

Some members of the Likmeta clan went in different directions, but many stayed in the restaurant business.

Susan, the eldest daughter, started waiting tables at Athens Grill at age 13. She owned four different places in the Tampa Bay area before moving to Las Vegas to work in a restaurant she didn't have to run.

"I enjoyed it because when you own a place, you're married to it," she said. "It was a nice break for me."

Recently, with his health problems behind him, Al Likmeta got the urge to get back into the business.

So when a friend pointed out an available location adjacent to the driving range, Likmeta went in to see it, made the owner an offer and was surprised when she accepted it on the spot.

"My wife, Sherifa, and my kids were thrilled," he said. "I told them, 'You cook, and I'll buy the place'."

Likmeta made a call to Las Vegas and asked Susan to come back and manage the new restaurant. After a "minute's hesitation," she agreed to the proposal to reunite the family under a restaurant roof once again.

"It's exciting because we're doing this together," she said. "Now I don't have to do as much as before because I have my brothers and my sisters and my father here to help me."

Without advertising, the restaurant has already been drawing crowds with its hearty helpings of old-fashioned, home-cooked meals. "Everything is homemade; nothing is canned," Likmeta said.

Lasagna, lamb shanks with spinach and rice, beef stew and daily fresh soups are some of the more popular dishes, and the breakfast menu, featuring steak and eggs, omelettes and original home fries, has been a big success.

"Dinner has been a little slow so far," Likmeta said, because many people aren't aware the restaurant is open until 8 p.m.

Once everyone learns what's behind the name, he hopes, that could change.

Address: 1555 East Bay Drive, Largo

Phone: 727-216-6132

Hours: 6 a.m.-8 p.m. daily

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