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Hulk Hogan, wrestler ... and restaurateur?

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  • | 5:59 a.m. November 2, 2012
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It isn't easy keeping a secret when it involves an entrepreneur as flamboyant as the wrestler Hulk Hogan, aka Terry Gene Bollea.

Workers are putting the finishing touches on the redesigned restaurant currently known as Crabby Bill's at the Bay Harbor Hotel on Tampa's Courtney Campbell Causeway.

The site is abuzz with activity, and trucks and cargo containers have commandeered one of the parking lots. Hotel employees and contractors officially remain mum on the project, but they admit — hush, hush — that Bollea is involved with the Rocky Point restaurant project, potentially as an investor or owner.

“Lawyers are working it out,” a contractor told Coffee Talk Tuesday, with a deal expected to become official in January. Hotelier Ben Mallah bought the hotel in April and has been upgrading the property's exterior and interior.

Painters have slathered the restaurant walls with the wrestler's trademark yellow, in this case, a distinct mustard shade, with red trim. When the transaction is complete, according to contractors and hotel sources, the restaurant is expected to be renamed the Kingfish Grill and Tap House, which has other locations in the Tampa Bay area.

But is the wrestling champ really on the verge of putting his stamp on the eatery, with planned entertainment involving wrestling? Happy Nook, general manager of the Bay Harbor Hotel, has seen concepts come and go, and he isn't so sure. “Where is the contract?” he asks.

“Yes, there is a Hulk Hogan beach shop in Clearwater — it just opened this past Saturday. But where is the signed agreement for this restaurant? I haven't seen it,” Nook says.

As for the yellow walls and upgraded finishes at Crabby Bill's, those are just elements of a long-planned makeover, he says. “We changed to different concepts of color.”

Rumors have been swirling about the wrestler's potential investment, Nook admits. But so far, nothing is concrete. “If and when Hulk Hogan signs a contract, you'll be the first to know.”


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