Call it the Thai wars.

The slogan of the newest restaurant coming to downtown Hollywood has some folks there hotter than a dish of Penang curry. "Time to Change Your Thai," reads the huge sign posted outside the soon-to-open eatery. "Get Excited! Authentic Thai Food is Coming to Hollywood," claims the advertisement for the restaurant, Hollywood Thai, posted on a city Website.

Whoa, is all this an obvious slam against the other, already-successful Thai restaurant in downtown Hollywood, Try My Thai?

Fans and friends of Andrew Vaz, the popular owner of Try My Thai, think so. Some are even threatening a boycott. "I will never, ever step foot in there, and you can quote me on that," said Debbie Segal, one of the main downtown landlords. "That's not the way we do business in downtown Hollywood. We all support each other."

Craig Gereau, who is planning to open Hollywood Thai on Hollywood Boulevard October 15, just one block from Try My Thai, does not deny that his slogan is aimed directly at his competitor. But hey, it's just part of that always hilarious free-enterprise system. "I'm trying to have a little pun with my competition," he says. "My neighbors think it's funny. This is America. Any competition is good competition." Gereau goes on to say that he "doesn't care" for Vaz's food. "It's a tad bit sweet for my taste, and the rice is not authentic," he says. "But I lived in Bangkok for four years."

Vaz -- whose wife, Tai, is from Thailand and does all the cooking -- has no problem with Gereau's pun, saying "I admire his skills; he's good at getting publicity." But he takes a swipe of his own at his competitor, saying "I wouldn't open another Thai restaurant one block away. That's not a good location. There is no Thai restaurant in all of Emerald Hills and Hollywood Hills; he should go there."

And it was showdown time at the Broward County corral last month. County officials and state legislators faced off in the commission chambers over the seemingly arcane issue of whether the county should merge the 33-member Port Everglades firefighting unit into the county fire department.

County Administrator Roger Desjarlais argued that the merger would improve services and save money. Most of the 15 state lawmakers insisted that the merger violated the county's promise to keep the firefighting unit separate when it took control of the port in 1994. Desjarlais blasted the legislators' intervention as a violation of home-rule powers and hinted at a lawsuit. Sen. Skip Campbell (D-Tamarac), the delegation chairman, and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Weston), reminded Desjarlais that they are the superior authority -- and warned him not to make legal threats. Dueling lawsuits!

Just when the bullets were about to fly, Sen. Steve Geller (D-Hallandale Beach) announced that he had to leave to take his son to Sesame Street Live for his third birthday. "I thought this was Sesame Street," Campbell muttered. In the back of the room, Geller's wife, Laurel, held up their son, Marc, who scampered down the aisle, took a bow, then did a gleeful lap around the chambers as everyone sang "Happy Birthday." After the Gellers left, the other children in the room reconvened, and the crossfire intensified. As Desjarlais scowled, Campbell decided to name a committee to consider drafting a bill to block the merger.

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Tom Walsh
Contact: Tom Walsh