Welcome to the Family: CELLO’S CHARHOUSE

Warm hospitality begins with the chalkboard welcome sign at the door.  It’s easy to leave the rat race outside when you enter Cello’s Charhouse,  a quaint World War II-themed setting as comfortable as dining in the home of proprietors Sue Cello and Ellen Young.

“My father used to take me to Yankees training games and I was obsessed with the concession stands making money off hot dogs and Coke,” Sue says.

Her fascination with food led to New York Restaurant School, a division of Sarasota’s New College, then to her restaurant on Indian Rocks Road before relocating to Safety Harbor. Inspired by Clearwater’s legendary Kapok Tree and suspicious of big menus that proclaim everything is fresh, Sue developed a limited American traditional/classic menu and her own signature sauces.

Ellen handles the front of the house with aplomb and humor.  “We do things differently.  You select an entrée, a sauce, and–voila—you have created a custom delight.”

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Mouthwatering made-to-order sauces include apple cranberry chutney, mango chutney barbeque and sweet Vidalia onion.  Your choice from five main entrees (chicken, filet mignon, boneless pork chop, filet of portabella mushroom and salmon) is served with a fresh veggie, potato dumplings, beer cheese soup (dotted with popcorn), house salad with vinaigrette dressing (topped with goldfish) and hot flatbread.

A variety of beverages including mint iced tea are available; however, BYOB if you’d prefer beer or wine.

Be prepared to take a “lunch box” home, but don’t forget to try Sue’s delicious desserts, such as lemon bundt or triple chocolate cake.

 This unique dining experience-nostalgic home cooking with gourmet flair and a bit of whimsy-offers substantial portions of fresh food at surprisingly affordable prices.

 Cello’s can accommodate a function for up to thirty people but it’s wise to get a reservation even for two at the little house with big flavors at 143 7th Avenue North in Safety Harbor.  Regulars are just that and seating is limited!   Cello’s is open Tuesday through Saturday 5:30 pm until the last reservation. No credit cards please.  Catering is available for small affairs especially at the restaurant.  Call 727.723-0909.

 Written By Pat Brooks for Destination Tampa Bay Magazine