Dec 15 2023

Lanai extension

We decided to extend the lanai once more and began to get estimates since December 2022, with three companies. Two are the same that we solicited for the front porch screen.

The one who did my front screen came on January 4. But the estimate didn’t come till two weeks later, after my repeated texts and emails. On February 14, yes on Valentine’s Day, their office called asking me, if they’ve dropped the ball and bla bla bla … As it turned out, the other estimator is in my house so I said I’ll call you back. To my surprise, they called again two days later, asking us to sign with deposit $1,000, so we can get documents for HOA approval. I’m flattered, and wondering, in such short span, what has happened that they’re actively pushing?

Work permit is out for inspection. Pour the border

The steps are as follow:

  1. pick your contractor/company
  2. wait for the contractor’s engineer drawing, for the county permit – they submit
  3. I’ll get hoa approval – if you’ve one
  4. the contractor tears down the existing lanai
  5. taking care of irrigation
  6. contractor pours the outline of the new lanai border
  7. paver company comes to lay the pavers
  8. contractor comes to build the new lanai

After we get hoa approval in early November, I contact our paver guy, who then told us, the pavers we needed are out of order, won’t be in till mid December, no guarantee.

So, little Irene goes to google … finds a shop that in Jacksonville that has the identical pavers in stock. Buying from them is easy but schedule the delivery is very difficult. First, they asked if I would unload the three pallets. I can’t: each weight 3,120 pounds. Then they went silent for a week, during which time, I told my paver that I’ll go with him, wait till December.

A week later, the Jacksonville company asks me, IF I’m still interested to buy from them, if so, they can deliver tomorrow.


Contact my paver again … who said it’s ok to buy elsewhere. It was delivered the next morning, Nov 10th. The cost is $500. The track comes with Moffett. IF you like me, often wondered why a huge track with so little stuff on it, wonder no more.

An additional interlude / episode: anciently, I deleted their quicklook bill in my email. For a couple of hours that afternoon, I couldn’t receive their bill – knowing if the bill isn’t paid, they won’t come tomorrow. Oh boy …

Now, with the pavers in my possession, I happily inform both the contractor and paver, that I’m in business now.


Howie and his boys come to tear down the lanai


The saying that when it rains it pours seems to fit our situation. We didn’t see much of rain lately but just when the pavers begin to preparing the ground, rain came. And non stop for a couple of days. Where is my sunny days for months on end, when I needed it? My little project has to wait, and wait …

… Nov 17, putting down the pavers

Nov 18, sealing the pavers

… the swing hammock egg chair

Dec 5 2023

Hales Blackbrick

Hello Irene What an abusive review.

4812 N Dale Mabry Hwy,
Tampa, FL 33614

… more pix on Google Maps, and Yelp; on going dispute.

I usually use the same review on my site and elsewhere. But this one will vary because Google Maps, for example, has 5,000 (?) work limitation. So this review here on my site will have more details, especially this is an ongoing matter, as of January 14, 2024.
Identifies as women-owned
Identifies as Latino-owned
Identifies as Asian-owned

We officially opened November 15th, 2022. During this time we will be opening for Dinner first Tuesday through Sunday; closed on Mondays. Once the staff is up to speed we will add lunch hours.
a year ago


I’ve been writing reviews on various sites for a few years, mostly on restaurants. This year is the first time (if I remember correctly) that I got restaurant owner/manager strong or angry rebuttals. Not one, but two. Hales is the second. Reading more reviews now, I found Hales is very vindictive and combative. To anyone who gave them a lower rating, such as 3 star out of five, they’ll say (usually by business manager Anthony J.) don’t come back: you however are not; you were not kind; we’re not the restaurants for you, etc. My initial rating was 3 but after their senseless and unreasonable rebuttal, I lower it to ONE…

By the way, Anthony J had changed his rebuttal a few times, from abusive to parasite … powerless wannabe to petty … Is this character assignation?

Below is my review.


My original 3 stars review:

Probably will return: one of better fusion restaurants in Florida, but the meat quality is subpar.

Location: off a busy road
Outdoor seatings: yes
Decor: funky, thoughtful, nostalgic, glasses dominant.
Tableware: simple and tasteful.
Stems: looking good
Fresh flowers: yes
Service: mostly to the point but some could use more training
Food: well presented, although bit too sweet
The bar dishes out cocktails rather non stop.

Chef Richard’s impressive mobile home parked in the lot, “our away home,” said his wife Jenny.

I made reservation on OpenTable. Upon entering, a male manager (?) and a couple of maître d’ – hostesses by the door to the left greeted us. The man also mentioned that Jenny, the wife of the chef will come to talk to us, before they led us to our table.

Wine. The diner has low ceiling, which made the glasses more prominent. With good stems I’d think the staff know what to do. Not our server. She came with a nearly empty Riesling. The manager chased her over to our table with an unopened bottle, and handed to her. I don’t know the circumstances of this act. When it was my turn, I ordered Joel Gott cab. Again she came with a bottle that’s nearly empty. She pours slowly, as if unsure what to do. She stops. Then pours more. Stops. Then empty the bottle… an amusing experience.

On the menu, the only Chinese charachers read 不是那么中国, which Google translates to ‘not so Chinese’. Motto, warning or an excuse? The food is mostly Chinese, a few with bewildering explanations. For example Tiger Shrimp, they listed:

    1. Chengdu Kung Pao
    2. Ginger
    3. Peanuts
    4. Lantern Chili

I’ve beef with ‘Chengdu Kung Pao’: just exactly what does it mean here?
Gongbao or Kung Pao chicken is a popular dish, named after one Sichuan imperial official whose job title was Gongbao, palace guardian. When I order a Gongbao chicken, although it varies from region to region and restaurant to restaurant, but it’s safe to bet that ingredients such as chili 🌶️ bell pepper 🫑, ginger onion 🧅 etc. are usually included. Here at Hales, ‘Chengdu Kung Pao’ that followed with specific ingredients, is redundant and sounds silly. … oh I forgot this is fusion.

For food, we have

  1. Spare ribs – so so
  2. Hawaiian Prime ribs – the worst: way too much fat. Pls serve decent meat
  3. Eggplant – wonderful
  4. Tiger Shrimp – tasty and succulent
  5. Mushrooms – wonderful
  6. Lamb chops – the decent parts of the dish is tender & yummy. For the money they charge, they need to put better meat on the table.
  7. Yangzhou fried rice – I won’t order it and didn’t try. My friends commented “it’s greasy”. Many dishes come with delicious white rice, more of Korean (stickier) than Cantonese (dry n hard)
  8. Chocolate cake for two – average, served with soup spoons
  9. Coffees: are lukewarm – a Cardinal sin!!

The better Cantonese restaurants serve their spare ribs tender and moist. Theirs is neither: looking unappetizing, dry and could use more cooking time. I like bones, so have no bone about the boneyness of it.

Lamb chop is well presented. After the meat is gone, I put a few grains of white rice to the bowl and mixed up with the remaining colorful vegetables. No need to frown, my beloved Nainai was fond of doing this, who was a great and creative chef, faithfully cooked for one – my grandfather Yeye. This is one way to keep my happy childhood time with her alive. He loved her, his last concubine, till the end. My memoir of her is nearly completed – in search of a book agent -:) or coming out on Amazon in 2024, tentatively titled Beijing Bathhouse Blues.

Jenny, the lady of the house came to chat with us briefly. Her husband Richard has the night off. On the big dessert spoon (the server said it’s a big cake – love her quick wit!) the wife said, she made a mental note of it. I think it’ll taste better with a smaller spoon.

I also asked her about the Peking duck which we didn’t order. She said … Long Island ducks (?); steamed thin wrapper; smoked, … and some cooked sides. The first two sound promising. But cooked sides?!? Cucumber and scallion are served raw to balance the duck. Oh well, maybe this is where the fusion comes in. I’m a dinosaur 🦖 🦕

Just so you know I’m on the hunt for a decent Peking duck. Do let me know if you know one, tia.

When the bill came, it was one – at least ask us if we’d like separate bills? Oh well.

Happy holidays to you all, be well and be merry.