Monday, March 24, will be the last day of business in Tampa for the Palm Restaurant at 205 WestShore Plaza. Twenty-eight locations remain open all over the country, including one in London and two in Mexico. About 40 people are out of jobs — 13 servers, seven service assistants, five managers, an executive chef, a sous chef, line cooks and dishwashers.
The first Palm was opened in New York City by Pio Bozzi and John Ganzi in 1926. As natives of Parma, Italy, the duo wanted to honor their hometown by naming their restaurant after the city; however, the New York City clerk issued a license for “The Palm” at the business registration office, misunderstanding the men's heavy Italian accents.
Steaks and sketches were both adopted traditions that make the Palm stand out amongst other restaurants. The caricature tradition began when, instead of singing for their supper, artists paid their tab by painting an original portrait on the wall. The idea spread, and colorful caricatures can be found at every Palm restaurant.
Steaks weren’t a part of the original Palm menu, either. During the Palm’s early years, when a steak was ordered, Ganzi would have to run to a nearby butcher shop, buy a steak and then cook it to order. They were later added to the menu due to the increasing frequency of requests.
Rich and Sue Tron dined at the Palm on Wednesday for one last time. They had been in a few days before, but didn’t get to say goodbye to their favorite server and manager, who have become like family to them. Heartbroken, Sue reminisced.
“Our daughter and son-in-law’s first date was here. They also had their rehearsal dinner for their wedding here. We always came for special occasions and are sad to see it go," Sue Tron said.
The high-end steak house posted on their website, "We are truly grateful for the loyalty our customers have given us for nearly 13 years."
Word on the street is that they already have another tenant, although mall officials have yet to announce who will occupy the space.