Ahoy! Bonefish coming ashore

In case five seafood places aren't enough for lovers of the fruits of the briny deep, The Bonefish Grill, one of OutBack Steakhouse Inc.'s seafaring offspring, will be coming ashore at the Hollymead Town Center January 9, according to proprietor Scott Hutson.

 The Florida-based seafood chain is known for its daily specials and for cooking its salmon, swordfish, trout, halibut, sea bass, and lobster tails over an oak-burning grill. It's yet another link in Outback Inc.'s super-chain, which boasts 1200 locations worldwide in addition to concept restaurants like Bonefish, Cheeseburger in Paradise, and Carrabba's Italian Grill.

Like the Outback, Bonefish will be high-volume and casual, with a promise of fast and friendly service. A slight twist will be what Hutson and the company literature refer to as "polished casual," meaning the servers wear chef aprons and show you the wine label before they pour. But you can still bring your children.

"There'll be nothing like it in the north end of town," says Hutson. "It will be great for people out there who don't want to go all the way downtown to get good seafood. And we make great martinis."

Right now, Hutson and his crew are working out of a training trailer at the Hollymead location and trying to put a staff together.

"It's not so easy finding staff at this time of year, " admits Hutson, but with Outback Inc. watching Bonefish's back, we're sure the surf will hit the turf on time.


Sheba sashays away

 Storyteller and restaurateur James "Abba" Watts reports that New Year's Eve will be the last night of business for his African/Caribbean restaurant, Garden of Sheba.

 Abba blames the condoization of his location– the Michie Building, owned by Gabe Silverman's Town Square Associates – for the closure, but he also admits that the off-the-Mall site has made getting business harder than it should have been for a place offering vegetarian/fish dishes with the many flavors of the African diaspora.

"Business has been pretty good considering we haven't been very visible," he says. "We've survived by word of mouth, which has been terrific, a testament to our appeal."

Tucked just off a shady patio outside the former Live Arts Space on Market Street, the Garden of Sheba not only offered tasty lunch and dinner fare, but also hosted the Whole World Theatre improv troupe on Thursday nights, as well as a variety of musical acts.

Abba says the crew will still offer catering, and that while they're not actively searching for a new locale, they're open to tips about where to relocate.

Patrons who will miss the flavorful eclectic cuisine– we've heard raves about the tofu barbeque– might consider sending Abba some suggestions for a new venue. And they'll probably be happy to know he's available for hire as a personal chef– just in time for holiday parties.

James "Abba" Watts