New restaurant to take Hot Rods’ spot

A lawsuit shuttered Hot Rods Country BBQ in 2013.

Two weeks ago, the quirky Lutz restaurant, locally famous for ‘swamp bat’ and hot sauces, met the wrecking ball.

Hot Rods Country BBQ, a Lutz landmark, closed in 2013. The restaurant recently was torn down to make way for a new, unnamed restaurant at Sunset Lane and Livingston Avenue. (Kathy Steele/Staff Photos)

Hot Rods Country BBQ, a Lutz landmark, closed in 2013. The restaurant recently was torn down to make way for a new, unnamed restaurant at Sunset Lane and Livingston Avenue.
(Kathy Steele/Staff Photos)

County records show the property changed hands in December 2015 when Sunset Livingston LLC bought Hot Rods from Champor Corp Inc., for $525,000. Winter Park-based Alton Lightsey is listed as the registered agent for Sunset Livingston; Lutz real estate broker Jerry Shaw is manager.

Plans are to build a new restaurant with an outdoor patio. The as-yet-unnamed restaurant will serve beer and wine, and could have a few barbecue items.

Co-owner Jerry Shaw said, “It’s going to be home-cooked, family style food.”

The beer and wine license received approval in January.

Next comes settling on a restaurant name, drawing up construction plans, and getting the building permits, Shaw said.

No ribbon cutting is set, but Shaw hopes to open the restaurant within six months or so.

“It’s a matter of getting the drawings completed and approved,” he said.

A dirt lot is all that is left of Hot Rods Country BBQ. The restaurant was torn down to make way for a new restaurant from owners Sunset Livingston LLC.

A dirt lot is all that is left of Hot Rods Country BBQ. The restaurant was torn down to make way for a new restaurant from owners Sunset Livingston LLC.

Hot Rods became legendary in Lutz for its offbeat menu items and rustic décor.

It opened in 1998. A lawsuit over debt led to the restaurant’s closure in May 2013.

Rod Gaudin started Hot Rods with a barbecue pit, next to a country store he had at Sunset Lane and Livingston Avenue. He later converted a wood-frame house into the restaurant. Customers walked onto the porch and opened the front door with a water-spigot handle.

Hot sauces tantalized with names such as “Scorned Women,” “Endorphin Rush,” and “Mosquito Blood.”

Typical dishes were barbecue and cornbread. Atypical dishes were ‘swamp bat,’ ‘lizard tail’ and ‘armadillo eggs’ — known respectively as quail, beef steak and cheddar cheese poppers.

State inspectors revealed the swamp bat secret to a Tampa Tribune reporter, though Gaudin’s lips were sealed on the subject.

Published March 30, 2016

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