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Goody Goody restaurant gets a new life

Goody Goody things come to those who wait.

After a nine-year (on-and-off) quest, Richard Gonzmart is holder of the secret sauce recipe spread on hamburgers grilled at one of Tampa's most iconic dining spots - the Goody Goody restaurant.

He purchased rights to the Goody Goody name, the secret sauce and a few pieces of furniture, including the Goody Goody sign, from former owner Michael Wheeler.

Plans are to "restore the luster of its storied past," says Gonzmart, who is owner of the Ulele restaurant on Tampa's Riverwalk and a fourth-generation co-owner of the Columbia Restaurant Group which includes the Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City.

A wrecking ball knocked down the Goody Goody restaurant on Florida Avenue one year after its closing in 2005, demolishing an 85-year-old landmark.

The restaurant opened in 1925 on Grand Central Avenue (now Kennedy Boulevard) and also later had a location in Seminole Heights next to a neighborhood movie house. In 1930 Goody Goody opened downtown at 1119 Florida Avenue.  It was Tampa's first drive-in restaurant, with male car hops hustling delivery orders to customers who waited in their cars. As World War II began, female car hops, known as the "Goody Goody" girls, took over.

Inside, customers sat side by side in metal chairs and schoolroom desks. The Goody Goody brand got its start selling barbecue at "pig stands" in the Midwest. 

Gonzmart is a long-time fan of Goody Goody hamburgers and its house made butterscotch pies. Leaving his office on Saturdays, he frequently phoned his pick-up orders for a bag of hamburgers with pickles, onions and secret sauce. 

"They didn't know who I was or my connection to the Columbia," he says in a press release announcing the sale agreement. "But they knew my voice and my order."

Once a new location can be found, Gonzmart hopes to re-open Goody Goody sometime in 2015. If all goes well, he might consider additional Goody Goody locations.

"He's actively looking for a site," says Michael Kilgore, chief marketing officer for the Columbia Group. "It's premature to give much detail."

Read more articles by Kathy Steele.

Kathy Steele is a feature writer and editor at 83 Degrees Media in the Tampa Bay region of Florida.
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