ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (FOX 13) - Michael Janecek is living the dream. As owner of the landmark Paradise Grille on Pass-a-Grille Beach, he's found his own little slice of paradise.
"There's nothing like this and it is history. I am a proud owner and operator and I couldn't think of a better way to make a living," Janecek said.
So before you hear his story we'll have to take a trip back in time about 90 years or so. Then, the beach Paradise Grille sits on was a hub of activity.
"In the early 1900's, 1917 or there abouts, they built hotels on this exact site," Janecek explained.
But soon there was trouble in paradise. Fire burned down the historic buildings not once, but twice.
It wasn't until 1969 when St. Petersburg businessman and record producer Phil Gernhard stepped in, and, as they say, the rest is history.
Gernhard who was known for the hit song Snoopy vs. The Red Baron among others, rebuilt the building in its present form.
"It hasn't really changed its shape, everything has been the same since 1969 or there abouts," Janecek said.
And when Janecek bought the grill, he transformed it into a beacon of rest and relaxation just like the old days, but with a new twist. "The first 8 years that I owned the place, I worked here every day," Janecek aid.
New paint, a roof, and brand new seating was added. Even big business wanted a piece of paradise, Coca Cola is the grille's biggest sponsor. But Janecek says it's the new menu, and family friendly charm that brings travelers from across the globe to the historic eatery.
"It's the vibe, the family feeling. Once people come here for the first time they just fall in love with it," he said.
For some, the Paradise Grille is the stuff dreams are made of: An oasis in the sun for world travelers,
Bay Area beach combers, and a local man living the Florida dream.